Most small business owners barely have time to manage their social media presence and conventional marketing. Suddenly, video seems to be taking over, and every business must have videos to share on their own website and YouTube.com.
Making videos can sound expensive and daunting, but the process can be much easier - and cheaper than you think - if you assess the project properly.
1. First of all, does video make sense for your business?
- You probably don't need to make a video for your company unless you sell a product that's complex or difficult to explain.
- For example, if you sell socks, you really don't need a video to explain what socks are, or demonstrate how they're worn or explain why you'd want socks. Unless your socks are very upscale and you really feel the sheen of the yarn and beauty of the designs won't show up well in still photos on your website, I wouldn't likely recommend you bother with video.
- Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What information is difficult for your customers to get from your website and other marketing materials?
- What questions do they have when they call or email your company?
- What could move someone from not understanding your company or products to engaging your company in a deal, or buying your products?
- If you feel there's nothing that really can be explained better in video than in pictures and text, stop reading right now, and go focus your time on making your current marketing efforts more effective.
- Okay, so you've read all this, and you still feel that video would help you explain your product, service or process to your potential customers. Here's the process to follow.
2. Figure out where your video should go on your site, and what you want people to do once they've seen it.
- Which pages on your site need a video to explain things better or get people more engaged?
- Do you want people to buy something once they've seen your video? Share it on their social networks? Sign up for your newsletter?
- Great, now you know where the video will be placed, who it's for and what you want them to do once they've seen it. Now for the actual creation process.
3. Write out what you need your customers to take away from the video.
- This can be forging a more personal connection to your business, understanding a process more clearly or actually buying your product. Translate that message into a few sentences.
- This will be your voiceover.
4. Choose the visuals that will convey your message.
- Maybe it's just you sitting at your desk in the office, talking to the viewer as if they were sitting right in front of you. Maybe it's taking apart a piece of equipment by hand, and pointing to the individual components. Maybe you're going to demonstrate the many ways your product can be used.
- Try to imagine the finished video, and match the visuals to the voiceover. This process is called "storyboarding" in professional video and filmmaking circles. Some of your visuals may communicate just fine without a verbal explanation. If they do, great - you don't need to force it. Make sure the sequence of images will make sense when they're presented to the viewer in real time.
5. Decide if music would add to your video.
- Music can be nice, but don't let it be so distracting that people will want to mute it. And please be respectful of copyrights. Using copyrighted music is a quick path to getting your video removed from a site like YouTube. There's plenty of free stock music out there - check out sites like Rumblefish. You can even use the free tools at Aviary.com to create your own video soundtrack.
- A full presentation means visuals, a voiceover and music. But you don't have to do it all. Just do what makes the most sense for the placement on your site, for your audience and, most importantly, for the desired result - getting someone to learn more, share with friends or pull out their credit card. A demo of how to screw in a light bulb doesn't really need music or voiceover, right? You could get away with a simple caption.
6. Who is actually going to shoot the video? What format? Do I need a studio?
- The ideal person to shoot your video is someone who knows their way around a camera and editing software. It's also important for that person to understand what resolution and size the video must be for your site and purpose.
- Lots of people successfully create video just using a basic camera and a tripod, and experimenting with lighting. You may even be able to do a single, well-practiced take....and in that case, you don't even need an editor.
- If you do need an editor, expect to pay about $50 per hour for someone to pull it together for you. Be prepared - it can take a lot longer to edit a video than to shoot one. Your editor should be able to give you a digital copy of your video, exported to the proper resolution for your site or YouTube - wherever you plan to display it. You may be able to find someone good on Craigslist or Mandy.com or ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations.
- You may need an experienced professional or video studio if you plan to do animated effects, or if you're going to work with multiple actors, sets or locations. This will probably cost you a good couple thousand dollars or more. JLB Media is a good example of a company that can provide these services for you. Other companies, such as ADi can give you a good idea of what the animation process entails.
7. Promote your video.
- Video shot, edited and placed on your site! Now it's time to share it in your newsletters and link to it from your company's Facebook page, Twitter account and other social-networking presences. Ask your staff to blog about it and share it with their own social circles. Be sure you mention your video at in-person gatherings and use it during sales calls and presentations.
- Tracking is really important. You need to know how many times your video is viewed, and whether people are responding to it as you hoped or expected. Tracking will help you determine whether video makes sense for your business. Sites like YouTube offer you a fair amount of detail. You can use Google Analytics to track views of the video on your site, how people get to it, and what they do once they've seen it.
- Now you know a lot more about what it takes to create a marketing video. If it was all too much for you and your company to handle, consider calling in some help to assist you with creating the concept, production or marketing the video....or all three.