Since its creation in 2007, YouTube has skyrocketed in popularity, claiming the spot as the world’s second most popular website and boasting over one million unique visitors each month. Its audience is people in search of videos: informational, humorous, educational, how-to, newsworthy, musical, artsy – you name it, it’s out there. As a small business owner, you can’t afford not to be trying to catch the attention of this huge pool of visitors.
Every business can benefit by creating a video – whether you’re selling a service or a product, you have one employee or twenty, or you’ve had your shingle up for a year or a decade. It’s easy to release your videos on YouTube. You can also link to them on your website, or distribute them with a traditional DVD.
Here are 5 ideas for using video to promote your business.
1. Use Video To Introduce Yourself to your Customers
The “About me” page on your website is the standard place to introduce yourself to your customers and describe your background. Bringing that information to life with video will leave a profound impression on your viewers. And if your business is done primarily over the Internet, it can also help to bridge the cap between you and your customers.
EuroLuxAntiques.com, a store that sells hand-selected, high quality antique furniture from Continental Europe, does much of its business online.
“We don’t meet 95% of our customers face-to-face,” says Aimee Talbot, who owns EuroLuxAntiques with her husband Greg. Talbot created a series of videos as a way to reach out to these customers, particularly those who may be nervous about buying antique furniture, and being unable to touch their product before buying. In their introduction, they explain the background of the store, and share Amiee and Greg’s history.
“By giving folks a snapshot of who we are and what our business is about, we help potential customers feel more at ease, and more comfortable transacting business online,” she says. “Most of our sales happen after a customer has watched our video and then called in with further questions.”
A video “About me” page can be simple – you describe your background and services and share your passion. You could be sitting at a desk, or casually walking through your store or work area. Introduce your staff members as well, so your clients can get to know your dedicated, knowledgeable employees.
2. Use Video To Share Your Testimonials
Customer testimonials have always been a powerful sales tool. While the traditional method of including the text on your web site is still effective, making video of your satisfied customers serves a dual purpose: your viewers can hear from your satisfied customers, while getting a glimpse of your finished product or results of your services.
Some ways to showcase your testimonials:
- Pull together a few video clips of a finished project. (Plan ahead: shoot some ‘before’ shots of a project, and some shots mid-project.) Include the audio of a satisfied customer, and his/her impressions as things are evolving.
- Do a short interview with a content customer, describing the services you provided and the result.
- Create a montage of several satisfied customers. Alternate with visuals of the finished product.
Tip: If your client is camera shy, they don’t have to appear in the video. Secure their consent then have someone else read their testimonial, or include it as text.
3. Use Video To Give your Instructions More Attention
Whatever your business, you probably have information that needs to be communicated regularly: how to prepare for your initial meeting, how to care for a product, where to go for updates, or more. Putting this information in a video will not only save you from repeating yourself, it’ll increase the likelihood that your customers will listen.
Janet Olson, who customizes tee shirts and uniforms for local sports teams, wanted to reduce the amount of merchandise returned due to improper care after the sale.
"You can’t put many of these jerseys in the dryer, because the numbers and letters eventually peel from the heat," she says. "And other minor issues come up, like colors bleeding or fading."
Olsen had been placing printed laundry instructions inside the bag, but no one seemed to be reading them.
“It was costing me money, and frustration, and makes my product look bad,” she said.
After attending a small business seminar, Olson came home with a new idea: a video clip of product care. She plans to run it on a monitor at her storefront, where customers will watch it while she’s gathering their order.
“We used a bit of humor – my daughter’s softball team is going to model different uniform problems,” she says.
If you don’t have a storefront, you could link to the clip on your website, and instruct clients where to find it. If your instructions are lengthy, use a DVD and deliver it with your finished product.
4. Use Video To Bring Customers in for a Closer Look
Use of a video blog (vlog) is a fun way to give customers an inside look at your business, and to change the pace from your usual written blog. Even if you don’t keep a regular blog, you could release a video blog occasionally, whenever you have something you want to share with your viewers.
“We strive to film short 2 to 3 minute product videos about each piece of furniture, where I’m able to open the doors and the drawers to simulate an in-person experience for the potential customer,” says Talbot. “Nearly all of the pieces for which we’ve created videos have sold in the short run.”
“We also use videos for blog post topics, such as the best way to wax antique furniture or what happens on a buying trip in Europe.”
Use a vlog:
- To bring viewers an inside look at a job in progress.
- To share a daily recap of a conference or event that you’re attending.
- To show readers how your business runs, such as your purchasing process, dealings with suppliers, or shipping methods.
- To make viewers aware of a related effort you’re involved in, such as research or volunteer work.
A vlog is easy to create, check out this toolkit on video blogging to get started.
5. Use Video To Share your Knowledge
Brand building is an important marketing tool for any small business. Getting your name in circulation and being recognized as an expert in the field can be made easier by creating videos.
When freelance writer Yael Grauer began teaching an in-person workshop on public relation strategies for startups, she found that interested attendees unable to make the workshop were willing to purchase a video option.
“The workshop sold out and went incredibly well, which set the catalyst for the video course,” says Grauer.
“It's helped my brand, as people now realize they can ask me questions about PR, copywriting and content strategy instead of just about editorial writing,” says Grauer. “It's nice to have a stand-alone product I can send people to.”
A video course can bring the added benefit of another source of cash flow. Or, you can create brief, informational snippets that you post for free. While they won’t bring in immediate cash, this type of exposure indirectly brings a positive result to your business.
Some Video Do’s and Don’ts
With today’s technology, creating a video is an easy, do-it-yourself job. But don’t let the ease of creating a video fool you: it’s an important reflection on your business, so be sure to strive for a high-quality result. Watch out for common newcomer mistakes, and keep these tips in mind:
- Use high quality photographs. If you’re using an old photo intentionally, make it obvious that it’s supposed to look “old”, with a date caption, antique backdrop, or clever graphics.
- Write a script so you remain focused. Hire a writer to review and polish it, then read it out loud a few times to make sure it sounds natural.
- Use humor thoughtfully. You want your video to be light and easy to watch, but keep the purpose professional, not entertaining.
- Hire a speaker. If you aren’t comfortable talking on video, or you aren’t happy with your speaking voice, hire someone else to read your script.
- Edit and re-edit. Make sure your video is completely free of errors and glitches. If you clear your throat, trip over a word, or blink too often, cut the scene and redo it. Invest the initial time to create a product you’re proud of.
- Have a beta release. Don’t just shoot your video and post it for the world. At least for your initial attempts, release it for review to a small number of colleagues and trusted acquaintances. And keep a thick skin: if 8 out of your 12 reviewers aren’t impressed, head back to the drawing board.
Think you’d like to add promotional videos to your business? Take this Tuts+ Premium course on 'Pro Screencasting for the Rest of Us' with Jeffrey Way, Editor of Nettuts+. In it he'll walk you through how to create pro video screencasts without professional training.