Few trends have been as transformative over the past few years as the rise of online marketing videos. And yet, a lot of small and medium-sized businesses are missing out either because they don’t understand why video is so important or mistakenly think it costs a lot to produce a high-quality clip.

We can easily disprove both of those notions simply by looking at the thousands and thousands of different viral clips to be found on YouTube – not to mention spreading through Facebook, Twitter, and social channels. In many cases, the videos in question were shot on a phone or tablet, and have generated tens of millions of views.

Some of them have little or no marketing value, of course, but that misses the bigger point.  For every viral video of a cat or joke that gets shared from one viewer to another, thousands of other clips explain products, give industry insight, or offer detailed reviews.  These videos have a lot less competition and generate sales and inquiries for their creators month after month.

To ignore online video is to cut off a huge, cost-effective marketing channel. In this chapter, I want to explore why that is and how any small business can take advantage.

The Power of Video

Some business owners I meet with have trouble understanding why they should bother with video at all. Text can be used for search engine optimization, and images dominate social media. Both are faster and cheaper to produce, so why worry about shooting video clips in the first place?

There are a couple of important answers to this question. The first is that video engages the human mind in a different way than text or even images do. The video is easier to understand, more memorable, and can convey subtleties of emotion. As any veteran marketer knows, people don’t buy based on facts, but rather because they are emotionally driven to do so. It only makes sense to use the medium that can combine tone of voice, facial expressions, music, still images, and other marketing ingredients all at once.

The second point is that there are some things you can do on video that you can’t mimic in other formats. For instance, a product demonstration that shows a key feature, or compares two items side by side, is going to work a lot better in a video than it is a series of pictures.  A customer testimonial has more power as a first-person account than it would as a written statement. A thank-you message to customers posted to social media is more impactful than a written note could ever be.

Finally, we’ve reached a point where video production has become timely. Not only are the costs associated with producing video clips coming way down, but better compression, HTML 5, and continuous broadband-speed connections make it easier than ever to view clips on mobile devices. Whereas your customers used to have to wait for a video to queue up, now they can watch what you post online almost instantaneously.

The bottom line here is that video has power, as it always did. What has changed is that technology is making it possible for small-business owners to create their clips, market them to very specific audiences, and generate feedback or conversions. All that’s required is a plan and the right video clips to attract attention.

What Makes or Breaks Your Video Marketing Clips

Marketers tend to think video production is complicated, and it certainly can be at the highest levels. In general, though, there are going to be three things that will make or break any video clip that’s produced by a small business.

The first is a sense of preparation. While some marketers like to “shoot from the hip” and record clips spontaneously, this isn’t always the best strategy. For one thing, you should have at least a loose idea of the script or outline you’d like to follow. That will help you to stay on message and reduce verbal pausing (which can be distracting to viewers if you start and stop too often). Additionally, you may want to prepare your environment, clearing distractions from the background of your shot and minimizing any ambient noise.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours or days planning your videos in a painstaking process, although some marketers do. Instead, it just means you should think about the outcome you’re looking for and then work to create a situation where achieving it is possible.

The second big determinant of success has to do with production value. A lot of business owners will hear this and think “expensive equipment,” but that’s not what I’m implying at all.  In fact, some of the best small-business marketing videos are shot with phones and tablets. They look professionally produced with high-end equipment because of the attention to detail.

Two of the details that matter most concern light and sound. There are lots of guides to video lighting on YouTube, but they all essentially come down to having multiple light sources, shooting at the right times of the day, paying attention to color temperature, and avoiding unnecessary shadows. With a little trial and error, you can easily figure out what makes you (or your products or team members) look good on camera. The sound is a fairly simple matter, too. Using a USB or wireless lapel microphone, you can get studio quality for less than $100. Even more importantly, you can do away with the kinds of hissing and scratching noises that make so many videos seem amateurish.

The third hallmark of a great video clip is quality editing. This is something where you will have to spend a little bit of time or money, but know that modern editing software makes it pretty simple. You don’t have to use the same kinds of creative suites that the major studios do to get professional-grade results. All it takes is a little bit of practice and a willingness to learn about things like cuts, angles, and transitions. Learn to integrate a little bit of music and a few on-screen graphics, and you’ll be ready to finish your clips in style.

What I want to impress upon you here is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get great marketing videos for your small business. Instead, you have to pay attention to preparation, production, and post-shoot editing. Master these three things, and your clips will be able to stand up next to anything the professionals create.

How to Make Video a Marketing Tool

The process for using online video clips – or any piece of content – as a way to help your business mirrors the sales funnel itself.  First, you need to interest someone in your video. Then, you have to have them watch it and come away feeling like you have credible answers to the challenges they are facing. And finally, you need them to take some action that results in a conversion.

Looking at things from that perspective, you can see why your videos have to be set up in a way that makes them easy to find and view. That begins by using engaging titles, tags, and keywords.

Within YouTube and Google’s video search results, titles carry a huge amount of weight. When they match up to the search phrases your customers enter, they can be displayed as potential results. In that way, there is an art and science to video SEO. Not only do you want to make sure certain keywords are included, but using natural language strings (like “how to…”) can help your videos attract more views.

Additionally, keywords can help categorize your videos and relate them to other clips. This is especially important if your videos are being produced in a series, if you develop a strong following, or if you’re trying to take advantage of the popularity of a different video clip that relates to a similar topic. By using the right tags, you can draw in viewers who might have missed out on your content otherwise.

In my experience, a lot of marketers don’t understand that Google can crawl the content of video clips themselves. Using software that essentially transcribes spoken word audio and looks through on-screen text, search spiders dig through these transcriptions for keywords and contextual clues that relate to topics and themes just as they would on a written webpage. So, while you certainly don’t want to over-optimize your video or be repetitive, it pays to use the right title and some relevant search terms.

We’ve already covered some of the ways you can make your content stand out. Remember, though, that no one is going to take action on your videos unless you seem competent, focused, and professional. That’s important with any content, but especially when it’s a video clip where you will be seen and heard on-screen.

Don’t forget that the format of your videos is important. More people are more apt to check out a short clip than they are a long one.  Remember that and edit your videos carefully so you can express your ideas as crisply as possible.  Also, know that more than half of your viewers are probably going to be using mobile devices.  Use your editing software presets to optimize your video for smaller screens and different dimensions, ensuring that people, labels, etc., won’t be cut off.

Finally, for your video clips to have marketing power, you need to have a clear call to action at the end. At a minimum, you’ll want to direct viewers to your website, as well as your social profiles and other clips you might have online.  Depending on the content of the video, you may also want to extend a clear invitation to download a report, register for a free trial, etc.

As with everything else in your sales funnel, this transition should happen naturally. You aren’t trying to force viewers to do something they don’t want to.  Instead, you are building video clips for a specific audience and then giving them a resource that allows them to take the next step. That makes your videos more useful to everyone and gives your content a powerful marketing and conversion edge.

Squeeze the Most From Every Clip

Although producing online video clips is a lot easier and less expensive than it used to be, that doesn’t mean effort and expense aren’t involved.  Even if you only invest in a decent microphone and a piece of simple editing software, you’re still going to have to prepare a script or outline, set up your recording space, and spend a bit of time cutting your video clip down to a usable size.

What I’m trying to say is that you’re going to end up devoting some effort to this process. Knowing that it only makes sense to try to squeeze as much value from every clip as you possibly can.

The first step to that is doing things right, producing a great video, and introducing a strong call to action at the end. That’s going to enhance your image and generate conversions.

Another way to help yourself is by ensuring that your first marketing video isn’t a one-hit wonder. Like anything related to internet marketing, you’re going to get better with practice. And, it’s easier to produce videos in batches than it is to generate them one at a time. So plan on doing several videos, or series, and consider shooting them all when you have spare time (like on a Saturday morning).

When you have a library of videos, and not just one, you have multiple clips that may be found on search engines, social sites, and YouTube. A person who clicks on one of your videos is likely to check out others, increasing the odds that they’ll find their way into your sales funnel.  Over time, you might even build up enough to an audience that your videos can attract sales or leads directly.

It’s hard to get ahead without using some video marketing.  Shooting a few clips isn’t going to get the job done, though – efficiency is the name of the game on camera just as it is in social media, pay-per-click advertising, and search engine optimization.

The costs associated with producing quality video have gone way down. So, if you’re willing to invest a little bit of time and energy into learning how to produce and create effective videos, you could discover you have creative instincts that give you a whole new channel for reaching buyers.

10-Point Strategy Guide to Small Business Website Design and Internet Marketing is a ten part Blog series by Founder and Owner of WebWize, Inc., Glenn Brooks.

Glenn has been part of the website design and development industry since 1994, over two decades.  Before WebWize he spent more than 15 years in the Advertising, Marketing, and Print Industries.  Don't miss this opportunity!

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About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has been providing web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing and printing industries before starting WebWize.

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