by Lisa Kirschner
Are you a small business owner or web manager? If so, how is your business doing?
Many companies spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars on advertising without seeing a good return on their investment. Be careful before you dish out thousands of dollars to promote your business, and keep in mind that there are numerous free or low-cost ways to get the word out (although it should be noted that you need to account for hidden costs such as your time).
One of the best–and least expensive ways–to promote your business online is through the use of videos. Now, you may be saying that you don’t know anything about video, that you don’t know how to use a camera or webcam or that you don’t have time to learn. But look at it this way…wouldn’t you rather invest 10-15 hours and a couple hundred bucks upfront for an extemely high ROI, rather than continuing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per month for NO return? Besides, once you get over the initial fear factor, learning and shooting video can actually be really fun.
There’s a good chance that you’re already fully aware of online video web sites–such as YouTube and Vimeo–and what they do. If not, you’ll want to learn. The best way to do that is to just visit them and type in topics in which you’re interested, such as online marketing, cooking, writing or virtually any other topic.
Free online video web sites are sites that allow internet users to watch videos that are hosted on their web site for free. Most will also allow users like you to make, upload and share their own videos. Regardless of what type of business you own or manage, you can use videos–and these web sites–to your advantage. (And, no…don’t say that your users aren’t interested in videos…almost all users prefer to learn in an interactive format such as video instead of reading pages and pages of text. This applies to you, too, B2B businesses!)
We’ve outlined a few steps below so you can get started on creating business videos in no time:
Step One: Understand the Tools
First, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the video web sites that are currently available. You can easily do this by performing a standard internet search for “video web sites.” Your search should produce a fairly large number of results. Before making your video for a particular service, you’ll want to examine its rules and restrictions to ensure that you’re adhering to any policies. Also, spend some time browsing that particular service–particularly videos that are similar to your own–to become familiar with its content and audience.
Step Two: Pick a Topic or Niche
If you sell products, you should make videos showcasing each product and any applicable accessories or parts. For instance, you may want to show how to use your products or how they are made. Be sure to focus on the issues that your product will solve for your customers–make it about helping them as opposed to why your product is the greatest widget ever made. If your product would make a great gift, mention that. Videos are also a great way to showcase any seasonal specials or promotions.
You’ll want to refrain from making your video seem like spam or too “sales-ey.” Although you may want to mention the price, remember that it shouldn’t come across as an infomercial. Provide tons of value–in the form of knowledge, tips, advice or “how-to” info–and your video will be shared (which is one of the main purposes of making videos available online). At the end of your video, you should offer instructions about how to make a purchase or learn more information, but only AFTER you’ve given the user some form of info or knowledge for free.
Although products are the easiest to showcase in an online video, you can also use your video to help promote a particular service that you sell. For instance, if you offer assistance to people or businesses that are in debt, you’ll want to provide an overview of what debt is, who it hurts and how help can be obtained. Providing general information on debt is a great way to keep your video from appearing too pushy. As mentioned above, you should include information about your business at the end of your video. This may help to increase the number of clients you receive, especially if you provide a service that is used and needed by many.
Step Three: Video Production
You’ll need a few pieces of equipment to make your video, including a recording device or method. If you’re shooting products or something offline, you’ll need to use a camcorder, phone or webcam. Online recordings can easily be made with a webcam or with one of the many screen recording services available, such as GoToMeeting or Webex. These services are great if you’re going to be recording webinars or Powerpoint presentations that describe a service or if you need to showcase a software or digital product.
Video editing software is important, as well. Most computers already come equipped with movie making or video editing software, so check out what’s available on your system already. More frequent video producers will want to look into more robust video editing tools, such as Camtasia Studio (my personal favorite for the PC platform).
Step Four: Uploading Your Video
After you’ve made, edited and saved your video, follow the instructions for the online video web site where you wish to publish that video.
If you’re using a phone or webcam, you’ll most likely see a prominent link to share your video to popular platforms such as YouTube, Facebook or other social networking tools. Camtasia users should use the “Share to YouTube” link that’s built into the software.
Regardless of where you publish it, be sure that your video is tagged appropriately for search engines, so users who are looking for that topic can find it. Again, check out the instructions on the video web site to learn how to tag your videos.
Step Five: Publishing it to Your Web Site
Once your video is online, you can very easily embed it into almost any web page using the “embed” code that is provided by the video service. In YouTube, click on the “Share” link and then cut and paste the “Embed” code into your web page’s HTML. If you don’t have HTML experience, ask your webmaster or web manager to do this for you.
Follow the steps above, and you could have your first video online in less than an hour. I suggest that you take it slow and produce one or two videos using the most convenient method available before you commit to doing a large number of videos. It’s best to start out slow and do one or two right, instead of trying to do 25 and not getting anything done.
Let us know if you need Flair’s help with setting up a YouTube channel for your business, creating or editing videos, or creating a realistic video or online marketing campaign. We’d love to help!
Manging Editor, Content 911
Managing Director, Flair Interactive Services Inc.