Ideas from the Front

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If there is one thing that New York city solo Gary Wachtel has learned during 20 years of marketing his practice, it is that a full-page Yellow Pages ad trumps a 2-by-2 inch square.

So he’s applying the same more-is-more philosophy to his Web site, revamping it to add a more eye catching feature: video.

Indeed, Wachtel is one of a small but growing number of lawyers starting to use video as a way to grab—and hold on to—a potential client’s attention. “If someone has the opportunity to see a one-to-two-minute video that talks about a legal issue of interest to them, they are more apt to contact that lawyer, especially when they can see the lawyer’s face and demeanor,” Wachtel says. “It helps them determine whether they can work with that lawyer.”

Wachtel recently decided to add video to his Web site because, as he puts it, in a world where people want information quickly, they no longer have the patience to scroll through pages and pages of dry information on a Web site in search of an answer. He engaged a professional producer to craft a series of informational videos for his Web site that features him explaining various aspects of New York real property law, including landlord-tenant disputes and property sales.

He also uploaded his videos to Google Video, a video sharing Web site. He is one of several other lawyers who have turned to such sites as the latest way to market themselves to a broader population.

Law firm marketing consultants expect the number of lawyers employing video as a marketing tool to only increase as the technology becomes less expensive and easier to use.

Ross Fishman, a marketing consultant in Highland Park, Ill., believes the earliest adopters of video will probably bear the most fruit from their investment. But he cautions these lawyers not to sacrifice quality. If attorneys and firms are just making quick videos to upload to video-sharing sites like YouTube, they will likely get lost in the shuffle, he says.

“The problem [with video] is that it’s difficult and expensive to write and produce high-quality video marketing, and those who are inclined to use a free service like Google Video to market their law firms are less likely to spend what’s necessary to do it really well,” he says.

Not Just For Small Firms

Fishman also expects to see more corporate law firms embracing video for marketing purposes as they continue to follow the trail so often blazed by tech-savvy solo and small firm practitioners.

One firm that has already embraced video is Denver based Holland & Hart. It has partnered with client Frontier Airlines to produce short subject videos for the airline’s free in-flight television channel, Wild Blue Yonder. The five-minute segments, called Business Class, do not follow the talking-head fare typical of many in-flight business channels. Instead, the firm worked with a production house to create eye-popping video profiles of two firm clients that manufacture skiwear components and clothing, says Mark Beese, Holland & Hart’s self-described “marketing guy.”

Though the video segments do not directly promote Holland & Hart, the firm is mentioned as the sponsor and executive producer (think insurer Mutual of Omaha and the Wild Kingdom TV show). The videos also can be seen on the firm’s Web site. Beese hopes the segments catch the attention of some of the estimated 10 million travelers who fly Frontier each year, all of whom have Wild Blue Yonder playing free in televisions recessed into the seat backs they face. The firm has produced four videos for the airline, and it plans to survey business travelers later this year to see whether they have served their intended purpose.

“The goal was to position us as a leading law firm working with innovative, successful companies,” Beese says. He hopes that doing this in an innovative way will make people say, “Oh, that’s different.”

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