This year millions more people will watch videos online than ever before, and the rapid, world-wide trend doesn't look like it's stopping any time soon. Many online businesses harness the visual impact of video to help them find new customers, to sell more products to existing customers, and to provide after-sales support. If you want to grow your business, video is an effective tool that you can add to your small business marketing arsenal.
While making the move to video isn't a trivial decision, it's not rocket science either. In fact, you probably own most of the tools you need to get started. In this column, I'll explain what type of videos you might consider using on your site and what to consider when developing a plan for incorporating video into your business marketing and customer service.
Video as a Marketing Tool
The number of people watching videos online grows each year due, in large part to the proliferation of Web-enabled phones and tablets. Video is a great medium for getting product and service information to a customer; what might take hundreds of words to explain is easily conveyed in a few frames of video. Today, almost anyone with a few hours to spare and a bit of technical expertise can make a reasonable quality video. And there are plenty of places to host the video online that make it easy to find and view.
How Can Your Small Business Use Video?
Small businesses can harness video in a number of ways. It's a very visual way to show your products in use or how you perform a service. For example, a plumber could make a short video showing how he or she performs a common plumbing service. It provides the opportunity to display professionalism and expertise and answer questions customers may have about the process or how long the repair will take.
The Anuschka Handbags product video on YouTube showcases hand-painted handbags showing details of clasps and internal design, as well as the bag in use.
A business can use a video to showcase individual products. For example, a product video for a woman's handbag might show details of it being opened, its features and compartments, the clasp mechanism and what it looks like being carried. Informative videos can drive sales by showing customers what to do with products -- such as yarn, fabric or craft items -- whose use might not be obvious at first glance.
Videos can also answer frequently asked questions from your customers. Instead of calling or emailing customer support for assistance, your customers can watch a video that answers their question just as effectively. Plus, the video's available 24/7 so the customer can access it any time. These types of videos reinforce your business' commitment to providing quality customer support.
Customer testimonials in a video format allow potential customers to see and hear from other people who bought the product and liked it. You can design customer testimonials to address issues that a prospective customer may have, such as shipping speed and product quality. The video serves two purposes: it delivers the message that your business is reliable and bona fide, and it also answers questions potential customers may have.
How to Make a Video
If you've decided that videos are a great fit for your business, the next question is how do you get those videos? The good news is that you can create videos in-house, and it's relatively inexpensive. Most newer DSLR cameras and good quality point-and-shoot cameras capture high-definition video, and the software for editing it is relatively inexpensive.
If you prefer a hands-off solution and a more professional video, then most cities have one or more businesses whose services include creating professional quality videos.
Keurig's website includes video guides for cleaning the coffee maker and for brewing tea and coffee.
In either case, you'll need to start out with a goal for using videos in your business and a plan for assessing the success of your project. You might start out with a handful of videos and see how they perform before undertaking a larger project.
You'll need a budget for the time and cost involved in making the video. This should include the time it takes to:
- Write the video script
- Rehearse and record it
- Edit the video
- Encode the file and share it
While all this requires a measure of skill, it's not the beyond the average business person to create a reasonable quality video in-house.
When planning your video campaign, determine where you'll get the biggest impact. For example, if you're making customer service videos, you might start with your top five most-asked questions. If you're making product videos, make them for the products with the highest profit margin or those for which you want to increase sales.
Video Distribution: Public vs. Private
When it comes to distributing your video, you have options. These vary from making a video accessible to anyone, hosting it on your website, or emailing video to individual recipients..
Sites like YouTube let you share videos with everyone, so tips and tricks for using a product that may appeal to a wide audience will work well there. You can add videos to your business website where they will be visible to any one visiting your site.
In some circumstances you might distribute the videos privately via email. For example, a realtor who makes a video to display a high-end property to share only with interested buyers rather than the general public.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com
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