Jan 8, 2018

Lights, camera, action! How video is a must when you are marketing your business

Paul Clapham explains how video is a must when marketing your business

The most effective online marketing demands moving pictures, i.e. video. If your site doesn’t feature it and your competitors’ do, click, you’re toast.

That’s entirely unfair, of course, because it means the customer is making an ill-informed judgement, tough. Customers do that all the time. They make decisions based on the wow factor. That is not unreasonable – they want a supplier who is as modern as tomorrow, clever and funky like them, so the quality of a marketing message’s delivery is very important.

At this point you might well be thinking ‘no way can I afford video’. First of all you are probably wrong – the cost of video is falling all the time. Secondly, if your website(s) and email are key new business generators, can you afford not to invest in video? The simple truth is that people who look for suppliers online don’t just like to see video footage, increasingly they expect it.

YouTube in particular (but not exclusively) is about video communication: this is what I’m doing today and tomorrow as well as what I did yesterday. Please note that YouTube gets one billion unique viewers each month (just behind Facebook). That’s the number with nine zeros in it.

We see the world in 3D, full colour and with motion. Marketing messages which lack any of those are weaker than those that include all three. That is especially true where competitors have all three.

An important strength of video is that it can be made very personal. As well as selling your business’s strengths you can sell your own. It’s an aged cliché that people buy from people, but it is also as true as it ever was. So feature yourself and staff in video footage.

In Britain this tends to be looked at rather askance – it’s that showing off, look at me, me, me thing which many of us despise (which doesn’t stop karaoke nights and selfies being hugely popular). But when you’re making a video to promote your business it’s no time to come over all shy.

You can of course use that personal factor here: say that you don’t like showing off but you can’t produce effective video footage without blowing your own trumpet a bit, sorry about that.

The effect of that is that people feel that they know you – personally! They know what you look like, how your voice sounds, some of your likes and dislikes. People feel that they get to know you before they have ever met you.

Online video is available for customers to watch 24/7 and everywhere. A lot of those people who nearly knock you over as they walk down the street are engrossed by watching someone’s video on their smartphone. Any marketing technique that encourages people to put their personal safety at risk has serious power.

Despite this power, there are a number of entirely valid reasons why small businesses hold back from embracing video. First they have no idea where to start. Second they don’t know what sort of video they should be aiming to create. A majority have little or no idea of how to write a script. (I can promise from personal experience that it’s a far bigger ask than writing a set of web pages or a brochure).

They don’t have the necessary equipment ( posting a shaky poorly lit iphone video is a bad move: it looks so unprofessional.) Finally people don’t know where they should be placing the footage to achieve the right audience.

So who’s going to do the work and what will it cost? My immediate reaction is to get an expert on the case but it goes without saying that that is the expensive option.

Perhaps more important, if you’re serious about video and it proves effective for you, then you are going to want to repeat the process.

The better option could be to develop skills in-house and buy any necessary kit so you can update your video activity as often as you like. If you’re really lucky you may already have the necessary skills inhouse. I have said before here ‘take advantage of the skills young staff already have’. Those with a media studies qualification have probably created some video footage and may be really good at it. (Equally he or she may have an inflated idea of their skills. Being mustard keen isn’t enough – they have to be good.)

The best advice I’ve had is ‘use what’s already available on your computer’. This has the obvious advantage that it is free. It also has the obvious disadvantage that you could spend an ocean of time learning how to use it to best effect.

Windows Movie Maker and Google Web Designer are no question the big beasts in the jungle. Get trained at a local college.

If you’re ready to pay, the two platforms that were recommended to me were Powtoon and Animaker. Neither are expensive (but nor are they free). Short-term trial looks an obvious idea, as does finding someone who has used any of the above and can help you avoid any pitfalls.

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