A Law Firm Marketing Blog Series Edition #23
Welcome back to our blog series, in which we talk with some of today’s most knowledgeable legal marketing minds. In this edition, we feature Arizona attorney and video marketing expert Robert Gruler.
We hope hearing the thoughts and ideas shared by the people in these blog posts, will inspire you to make positive changes to your marketing strategies. The biggest goal of this series is to get the conversation going, so let’s dive in.
Our Marketing Conversation With Robert Gruler
Last month in our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” discussion group on Facebook, our members were having a conversation about the value of video marketing, when Robert Gruler of the R&R Law Group made a comment that really caught our attention.
After reading this, we knew we had to learn more about Robert’s marketing process, and find out how exactly his firm has managed to produce so many marketing videos each month. So we invited Robert to talk about his video success in our LTLM blog series, and luckily for us, he was happy to share his story.
In our below conversation with Robert, we discuss how video marketing has transformed his practice, some of the biggest video creation challenges he’s faced and how his firm has found the time to create so many videos.
Answering Legal: Your firm now creates 50-60 videos a month in-house. Can you tell us a little about how your firm got to this point?
Robert Gruler: Our video production efforts started very slowly. In 2015, I had an inkling that videos would be important but our firm was brand new and did not have the budget to hire outside help. Instead, we bought a cheap camera on Amazon and I tried to figure it out myself. My first video, posted in 2015, is terrible. My shirt is too big for my body, my lapel microphone has a wire hanging out, and I am standing in front of a wall that I painted grey.
I made two videos and put them on YouTube without much strategy or thought. In very little time, we already had people watching and calling our office. Soon thereafter we had clients who signed with our firm solely as a result of watching these videos.
I knew that I was onto something and kept trying to find my voice and my style. I bought more equipment, experimented with green screens and adding text that matched what I was saying and produced more and more videos.
I caught a lot of negative feedback from other attorneys who thought it was ridiculous and that it felt awkward. They told me my hands were distracting and my eyebrows were weird. But clients kept coming and they were all that mattered to me.
I started following other people who were making videos and other content marketers, and they said repeatedly to produce more content consistently.
In November 2018, three years after my first video went online, something clicked and I decided to release one video every week day, or about 20 videos per month. I had never produced this amount of content before.
The benefits were seen almost immediately. Phone calls increased, web form submissions increased, and clients hired, indicating they found us through our online videos.
I was doing all of the scripting, recording, editing, uploading and management myself. In July 2019, we hired Faith (as a legal assistant) to help me with all of the production. Once she learned how to do everything I was doing, we decided to triple our video production and now produce anywhere between 40-60 videos per month.
AL: How have your video marketing efforts helped transform your practice for the better?
Robert: Video production is a major part of our firm’s marketing and other operations. YouTube is one of our biggest referral sources, and we have received feedback that more than just potential clients are watching: judges, prosecutors, police officers, competing attorneys and politicians all watch our videos. Video has helped to grow our firm’s credibility and has fueled our growth.
We also use the videos as training materials. We have built an internal university for new team members, and when people have questions, they can go to our YouTube channel of 400+ videos and find their answer!
AL: What were some of the biggest challenges your firm faced when it first start creating videos in-house?
Robert: Being shy of the camera was my biggest hurdle. I was too focused on what other people would think about me and my videos. I was worried about sounding stupid, or saying the wrong thing, or interpreting the law incorrectly. I was afraid I would be the butt of the joke amongst other lawyers.
In reality, far less people cared about anything that I was doing than I feared. I did have several snarky and snide comments appear in different social media posts and the gossip made its way back to me. But this only served to fuel my desire to keep making an impact. I thought, hey, at least they are talking about me!
Now, many of the people who were talking poorly about my efforts have asked my advice and have since seen the benefits of our efforts.
AL: What’s your video creation process like? How many people are involved in the process?
I batch produce videos. I curate questions or topics from our staff and from other sources, answer the questions and ask Faith to prepare my whiteboards. I then record the videos, save the files, and she takes it from there. She edits, uploads, and promotes the content amongst the various channels.
Prior to having Faith join our team, I was wearing all the hats, but was only able to produce about 20 videos / month. She has helped us dramatically increase our output. I also want to note that she has no background in video production. She applied for a legal assistant position and followed the systems we put in place and is now a pro.
In total, there are two of us who produce all of our video content, podcast and workshop content.
AL: Are there any companies, tools, programs, or software your firm has been using to aid its video creation efforts?
Robert: We do everything in house. We use the Adobe suite, specifically Premiere Pro. Handbrake is a tool for converting videos from format to format, but in many applications you will not need to use it. Intros / Outros can be found on websites like Fiverr, and editable templates are available on envato.com.
AL: How does your firm come up with ideas for new videos? Is it challenging coming up with fresh ideas, when you make so many videos each month?
Robert: There is an endless supply of content questions an attorney can answer if you know where to look. I regularly ask our staff to curate questions and bring them to me at our weekly accountability meetings. If they have a question, I ask them to save it and bring it and answer it in video. If clients have questions, same process. I then turn those questions into videos.
I also went through our criminal statutes and turned most of the laws into questions. There are hundreds and hundreds of different video topics in our statutes and many that I have not even touched.
You can get ideas on questions that need answers from common legal directories, like AVVO or Justia.
There is a website called AnswerThePublic.com which will also generate questions that people are already asking based on Google auto-suggest.
There are always questions to be answered.
AL: What are some of the things that have helped make your firm’s YouTube channel so successful?
Robert: We have a lot of content! The production schedule is consistent and aggressive. People are always able to find something that is on point as it relates to their legal questions.
We also release content consistently. Consistency was a game changer for us, because setting a schedule held us accountable to making videos. The more content you have, the more materials your viewers have to watch.
AL: How did you go about building up an online audience for your videos?
Robert: I teach that there are three pillars of video content that are needed:
- Educational videos: this should be the main part of your video production. This answers a substantive legal question and is much more than the 90 second videos we see of a lawyer in front of a bookshelf talking about how much they care about you. You may not have a lot of views on these videos, but every person watching is HIGHLY engaged because you are directly answering their questions.
- Promotional content: this is material talking about how great your firm is – show case great outcomes, testimonials, online reviews, etc.
- Topical content: this is where you build a following – talk about news and current events related to your practice area. For example, we have a segment we call “Watching the Watchers” (www.watchingthewatchers.tv) where we keep tabs on police/prosecutorial/judicial misconduct. People subscribe for these videos.
AL: How has having original video content improved your firm’s website?
Robert: We have seen two main benefits. The first is that clients want to watch video, and when you answer their question on point, they develop an immediate affinity for you and your firm. Clients come to our office “pre-sold” and ready to hire. It elevates your firm above the vast majority of others.
The other major benefit is regarding SEO / Search Engine Optimization. The videos we make target keywords that relate to cases that we want. When you place those videos on your website, your bounce rate will drop as people stick on your webpage longer. This helps increase your organic visibility and decrease your cost-per-click if you are using the PPC model.
AL: A lot of lawyers would use a lack of time as a reason for not creating new videos. How has your firm found the time to create so many new videos each month?
Robert: By streamlining the production, building it into a system and getting good at operating the machine, what used to take me days now requires a fraction of the time. Instead of setting up, recording, editing, and uploading individually, we batch our production. I will sit down and record 8 to 10 videos back-to-back (with shirt changes in between videos) and then send those over to Faith for editing and uploading.
At most, I spend a couple of hours a week actually recording videos. Faith follows the system we built and takes it from there.
AL: I understand you’ve started a video marketing content creation community. Can you tell us a little about it?
Robert: Yes! I am very excited about helping other lawyers jump into video marketing. I would have gone all in on video much sooner had I known how to do it more effectively. Unfortunately, there was no community for lawyers when I started.
Many lawyers were asking me how we do what we do, and I always told them it was the Gruler Method!
In September 2019, I launched www.grulermethod.com which includes procedures and frameworks on everything that we do, including how we generate content questions, what equipment to use, how to edit the videos and how to upload them.
Every month we have a group Office Hours phone call to address technical issues members are having and a group Coaching Call to discuss new strategies as they relate to video marketing.
Everything is recorded and available in the online membership portal and of course there is a private Facebook group.
The Gruler Method is more than just video marketing. Last month our training was how to hire a non-attorney salesperson for your firm (we have three now) and next month we are covering Direct Mail.
There is a free on-demand webinar at www.grulermethod.com.
AL: What’s your top piece of video creation advice for an attorney just starting out in 2019?
Robert: Start immediately. We are all used to the phrase, “ready, aim, fire.” This says take your time, get ready, aim your sights and then start. In some situations this is great advice. When it comes to video production and video marketing this is out of order.
Instead, the correct approach is to “ready, fire, aim.” Start recording and get a final product completed. Then adjust your aim and fire again. Remember, done is better than perfect!