Video Is Important to Small Business Marketing! When I owned a gift shop in our small tourist town, I learned a lot by making all of those “new business owner” mistakes. I’d like to take some of those back! We weren’t “Big Box” and most independent Mom and Pop shops like us just don’t know how to market properly, so potential customers don’t know who or where we are.
As business owners, we have a limited pocketbook for our inventory, let alone for advertising, promotion and marketing. We have one or two or maybe even a half dozen employees (most of them underpaid, or unpaid family). We want to be good community stewards and we have goals for our future but putting all our ad budget into one ad campaign is all too often a lesson in futility and lost revenue because it just doesn’t work for us.
So, that’s exactly why I had to learn how to effectively market and build using video (and audio), rather than expecting the customers to come to me or by paying outrageous weekly and monthly print ad costs which, for my business, was completely ineffective.
Make An Impression Fast And Make One To Last
Let’s face it, micro-businesses are small. Micro, even. We can support ourselves (sometimes), but occasionally it gets snug in the ol’ wallet, right? So, we have to make impressions. Lots of them — to keep people coming to us, to keep them inquiring about what we have that they want, to keep them coming back to our websites or stores, and to just stay on top of the game.
We must make strong impressions fast. A business card is not enough any more. Local networking is great but it is time consuming and still impacts our wallets. Most micros don’t have the budget for television and even radio can be cost prohibitive, especially if you aren’t familiar with advertising, marketing or negotiating with agents in these fields.
The answer, really, is video and audio (but I’ll talk about audio marketing in another article). The reason is because now we can create it quickly, distribute it freely, edit it on our own time, then post it in a variety of online locations. It costs zero – at least, it does after we have our equipment, website and software expenses covered. (By the way, don’t forget that when you do use this, you have a great tax deduction! Be sure to check with your accountant for the details).
So, how do we use video and audio to promote and market our businesses and still keep it within reason… and what tools, exactly, do we need to put all this together? Let’s talk about it.
Determine Your Target Market and Where You’re Going To Post
At the time I first wrote this post, live video, such as Periscope, Meerkat and Facebook LIVE wasn’t available. You could live-stream, but it was more than a bit cumbersome for those who didn’t have a proper vehicle to work with.
Short of having a separate broadcasting unit attached to our cameras and integrated with our laptop, we didn’t have the option to go live from a cellphone, so in just 18 months, the playing field has dramatically changed. Determining where your video is going to be the most effective, getting your conversions and sales, drawing hits/traffic and views and that ROI is important.
If you already use Facebook and have a large following there, it makes sense to stick with it. Be prepared to do some follow up with Facebook. Even though it is now open to pretty much everyone, you may still be required to verify your account, as you will on Twitter and others so they can determine that you will be making use of the service in a good way. Otherwise, it has the potential for great misuse by the unscrupulous – which would not be a good thing!
Video Can Be More Cost Effective and Bring Greater ROI Than Other Media
What’s also important when putting video into play is considering when and how (and in what programs) to invest to create videos yourself to post and embed in an assortment of viable locations.
Your laptop most likely has a basic moviemaker program that you can use to create and edit, although I recommend purchasing a program to learn and take your video up to the next level. PC Mag and CNet each have handy guides for checking out different programs and many are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Other editing programs are much more extensive and likely to require separate instruction. Do your own due diligence and comparison shop and find a program or service to fit your needs and budget.
I have also included a link to WeVideo in a segment below, so do check that out. As a cloud-based editing solution, it may be more cost-effective and potentially easier to use than installing and maintaining software, such as Cyberlink Photo Director, which I currently use to produce my videos.
What Will You Need?
Start with the message you want to convey. What is it? What is your story? When you write your script, do it free-flow so you can just pop ideas in. You can whittle it down to an acceptable 45 seconds to 2 minutes afterward. (Yes, you really can!)
I suggest you create your script as a word document first and practice it several times. Memorization is good, but depending on what you’re looking for, it may not be necessary. Once you are comfortable with the script, paste it into a teleprompter and have a go at creating your video.
To Prompt Or Not To Prompt?
There are free teleprompters online you can use to insert your scripts into; my personal favorite is CuePrompter; another is EasyPrompter but there are others. The prompters are great to work with, and you can adjust the speed to match your natural speech pattern. Be sure to save the document along with your speed settings so you retain a record of your recording. You can change and update your script periodically. Of course, you can always spend a bit extra to get the upgrades but you may not find it necessary once you use these a few times. Once you get the hang of using it, you’ll get more and more natural.
Cameras and More
There are a variety of excellent digital video cameras or straight webcams you can invest in to get excellent recording and playback. If you plan to do most of your recording in a home or office environment be aware that you need a relatively soundproof area for the audio. Prices for quality HD webcams run from the lower twenties on up to a couple of hundred (as of 2016). Or you can go top-drawer and purchase a quality HD digital video camera. Be aware that most webcams don’t have great audio, so you may need to also invest in a good microphone and then sync the audio after the fact.
As of this year, Logitech seems to have the best overall webcam in its’ HD Pro C920 model, with some of the highest ratings available. Be sure to Google “webcams, by year#” when you’re ready since tech goes obsolete quickly. Don’t check just one site though; check several, and be sure to read some of the online reviews of your personal top 2 or 3 models so you can see the good, bad and ugly for all of them and choose the one that most closely meets your needs.
For Facebook streaming, the brand new Mevo (use with iPhone) seems to be garnering a lot of attention. It has some edit on the fly options that might be useful for a quick on-site production and is winning awards for its’ usage and consumer interest.
If you’re using a cell-phone, don’t despair! Cell phone videos are among the fastest growing video products out there, and there are producers in Hollywood and around the world doing amazing productions using them, which, in turn gives them greater acceptance and working reputation.
Try New Cloud Services:
You can also check out some of the newest cloud based platforms. Cloud-based programs are beautiful because there are no downloads-you just click to access a dashboard or to perform your needed functions.
Talk Fusion: An entire suite of marketing tools!
TalkFusion allows you to embed videos into email and newsletter templates without sending your potential customers to outside websites (sites that enable your customer to see your competition right next to you – who wants a potential client to check out the competition?). There are no true video editing features-you are creating on the fly or uploading a precreated or edited video to your personal cloud-based library.
Once uploaded to your library, you have options to then upload your video to more than 300 sites world-wide with the push of a button, though you will likely prefer to pick and choose the sites you upload to; doing so will most certainly build your traffic and website SEO to a much greater degree.
TalkFusion has the option of being either a multi-level marketing program to build your own business or you can make use of it as a customer-only, making use of the multitude of templates in which to embed and send your videos out to the world (or to your potential customers).
TalkFusion also boasts the building of a brand new RTC (Real Time Communication) client in it’s “Connect” program-a technology that they believe will eventually disrupt or force the Skypes, Google HangOuts and others either out of the arena or find their way to the TF level of service. In 2016, their Video Chat service was voted 2016 WebRTC Product of the Year Award from Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), an online marketing leader with a 20-year legacy of honoring technology companies across the globe.
Because it’s a direct marketing company, TalkFusion starts with a one time buy-in that can be increased depending upon the tier you want to start, and then has a monthly fee to maintain your services. Or, for those that prefer to, you have the option to sign up as a customer only and use the services without the ongoing “opportunity” pitches.
WeVideo: Editing Software For Everyone
Another interesting cloud-based video program which works hand-in-hand with video creation is WeVideo. WeVideo touts itself as a powerful and easy-to-use cloud-based collaborative video editor. With a Free-To-Try option, it starts at that level with a 5 minutes per month, with 1 GB of storage, publishes only in 720p, and basic features along with the WeVideo watermark embedded. The next level is 30 minutes anytime, 2 GB storage, 720p publishing, some premium features and eliminates the watermark for $20.00. Moving up to 1080p will cost you $39.00 for the entire year, will get you 20 GB storage, but only 5 hours editing time (for the entire year) along with some (not all) of the premium features. The final level at $69.00 per year will allow 1080p, unlimited storage and unlimited time. (You might even get a better deal during holidays, so pay attention to specials from this company!)
Levels 1 and 2
The first two levels allow you to publish to popular forums: Vimeo, WeVideo, YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive, DailyMotion; whereas the upper levels will allow you to publish to WeVideo, Vimeo, Google Drive, FTP, DailyMotion, YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, Box, Wistia, and Vidcaster for a few additional options.
Music Library and other Goodies
The online music library available is 22 songs for the free version, and paid versions have a 100 song library to choose from. Finally, the 3 lesser versions of WeVideo don’t allow for some of the best functionality in the $69.00 per year version, which includes Custom Branding, Call-To-Action, Redirect (Sales Funnel) Landing Page, Priority Processing and even Multi-User options.
For a small business, having a tool like WeVideo, rather than constantly upgrading complex video editing software every year might be what you and your business need. And with a tag-line like “Full creative control-no experience required”, WeVideo has an immediate “like” factor for those who might be intimidated with actual editing processes and the “Ick Factor” of dealing with software upgrades.
Originally, it was touted as a Flash-based program, but with the end of Flash, it has obviously been upgraded to reflect the newest and best in video service.
Finally, WeVideo offers one last service to be aware of: Enterprise. The Enterprise version offers Scalable Storage and Publish Time, Customization and BrandingOnboarding and Account Management not available at the other levels, Integrations, High Availability and Premier Support (and who doesn’t like being treated like they’re better than everyone else! This level requires a little extra effort on their part, so call for a quote.
Contracts or No?
There are no contracts, so you can cancel without notice. Be aware though, that at the lower levels, you can create and publish, but if you go over publishing time limits, you will need to pay to upgrade. Also, even though additional users are supported, they do need to get their own “license”. Check all the fine print, talk to their customer support for more details.
Who Else Might Help You With Video?
If you don’t want to go through the process of learning the software or purchasing the hardware (or using your cellphone battery up constantly), consider going to your local college and discussing with the instructors of graphic and digital design or other video classes to see if they can help you create what you need: perhaps as a class or group project. Just keep in mind that it will be more of a one-time thing and may not meet your future needs and not all college classes may allow it.
Local Community Cable Options
Community video services may be available in your area and allow you to produce and self-promote your own local “cable” show. Equipment stays in house, and volunteers man the hardware. It may not all be free the way it used to be, but you might be able to find sponsors to help you with the overhead for an event or program like this.
You can also consider live streaming online – we enjoy using Livestream or Ustream for our broadcasts, but like many folks, have gone over more toward Facebook LIVE due to its’ simplicity and built-in following. Be sure to learn how to record and access the shows after you cast so you can repurpose them on your website or in emails. You might even have your sponsors pay for an upgraded subscription. Many of them will work with you when you provide more online and on-air shout outs about their businesses, or include them as guests from time to time — or if you, as the local celebrity do voice-over ads for them.
So then what do I talk about or do?
When you’re the local expert, you can talk about pretty much anything you want to and if it promotes local business or charitable events, you can build a nice following. That said, if you’re going to include music, be VERY careful. You MUST obtain the appropriate rights to use, or you can be held liable. Fines for copyright infringement are not likely to be easy on the wallet, especially if it winds up in court. A discussion about scripting and “what to talk about” on your program will be discussed in another article.
But I don’t think I can do all that!
If all else fails and you just don’t see how you can do it all, get out your wallet. There are plenty of companies out there who can provide you a valuable service, get you the return on your investment and get you started on the video marketing road to success, many at very reasonable prices.
So, who says this is important for my business?
Interactive video is the wave, and if you check the statistics, I’m pretty sure that you’ll see that you need to invest in video. Check out some of the facts at MediaBistro, in fact, and see what’s happening on many of the major social networks. It won’t pay you, as a small or micro-business owner to ignore what’s right in front of you.