Video Is Important to Small Business Marketing!
When I owned a gift shop in our small tourist town, I learned a lot – making all of those “new business owner” mistakes. I’d like to take some of those mistakes back! We weren’t “Big Box” and most independent Mom and Pop shops don’t know how to market properly. Potential customers don’t know who, what or where we are. One of the most important things I learned, especially working in a multi-media industry, was that “video is important to small business marketing”.
Small business owners have a limited pocketbook for inventory. Add the overhead for advertising, promotion and marketing – it can break a small enterprise. We have one or two or maybe even a half dozen employees (most of them underpaid, or unpaid family). We are good community stewards and we have goals for our future, but to put all our ad budget into one ad campaign can be a lesson in futility or lost revenue because it just doesn’t work on a smaller scale.
So, that’s exactly why I learned how to effectively market using video (and audio), rather than expect the customers to come to me or to pay outrageous weekly and monthly print ad costs. Print is, for my business, completely ineffective and budget suicide.
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 — so people come back to us, keep them inquiring about what we have that they want, to keep them involved in our websites or stores, and to just stay on top of the game.
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 is video. Because now we can create it quickly, distribute it freely, edit it on our own time and 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 great tax deductions! 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 reasonable? Also, what tools, exactly, do we need to put all this together?
Determine Your Target Market and Where You’ll Post
At the time I first wrote this post, live video like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Instagram 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. GIFs were created by techies who “knew everything”.
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. Determine where your video will be the most effective, get your conversions and sales, draw 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 use the service in a good way. Otherwise, it has the potential for great misuse by the unscrupulous – which would not be a good!
Video Can Be More Cost Effective and Bring Greater ROI Than Other Media
What’s also important when putting video into play is consider when and how to create videos yourself or to demo your products and services. After that, determine where to post and embed in an assortment of viable locations.
Your laptop has a basic movie maker type program that you can use to create and edit. If not, consider an app, or one of the programs I will discuss below. Get a video editing program to learn and take your video up to the next level.
PC Mag and CNet each have handy guides to review different programs and many are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Some programs are much more extensive and likely to require special training. Do your own “due diligence” and comparison shop. Find a program or service to fit your needs and budget.
I have also included a link to WeVideo (see the subsection below), so do check that out. As a cloud-based editing solution, it is more cost-effective and easier to use than installing and maintaining software, such as Cyberlink Photo Director, which I currently use to produce my videos. You might also use Adobe SPARK to make simple, but effective 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 it may not be necessary. Once you are comfortable with the script, paste it into a teleprompter and have a go at it. A teleprompter, you say?
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. 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 spend a bit extra to get the upgrades but you may not find it necessary once you use these a few times. When you get the hang of using it, you become more natural.
Cameras and More
There are a variety of excellent digital video cameras or straight webcams you can invest in. 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 audio. Creating a video and then realizing afterward that you have a semi truck rumbling in the background is not pleasant
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.
Consider if you need tripods or mounts and where you may shoot. I do “on the street” reporting, “studio reporting” and in some heavier production efforts I use multiple cameras on occasion. I still use cellphones for ease, comfort and to get more honest responses. People are just not afraid of a cellphone – but if there is a microphone, they become quickly intimidated.
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 read some of the online reviews of your personal top 2 or 3 models. That way, you 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) garners 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.
Should I use a cellphone?
If you use a cellphone, 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 with them. This gives them greater acceptance and working reputation. Look for the highest megapixels (5 mpgs is better than 2, but 18 mpgs rocks!). You can also purchase add-on lens that will offer greater wide angle and telephoto options – many of them between 20-50 dollars.
Try New Cloud Services:
You can also check out some of the newest cloud based platforms. Cloud-based programs are fantastic because there are no downloads-you just click to access a dashboard to perform your needed functions.
Talk Fusion: An entire suite of marketing tools!
TalkFusion allows you to embed videos into email and newsletter templates. This means you don’t send 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 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 Skype, 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.
But isn’t that direct marketing?
TalkFusion has the option of being either a multi-level marketing program to build your own business or use it as a customer through an associate, making use of the multitude of templates in which to embed and send your videos out to the world (or to your potential customers).
Because it’s a direct marketing company, TalkFusion starts with a one time buy-in that increases depending upon the tier you want to start then has a monthly fee to maintain your services. Or, for those that prefer to use the “customer only” services without the ongoing “opportunity” pitches (as of 2016) you would contract with the associate and they produce the video then distribute it on any of the over 300 video source sites currently available. You may not get a lot of business from Indonesia, however, so have them cherry pick your distribution points.
A Note About RTC
The big deal about RTC (Real Time Communication) can’t be overestimated. How many times do you have a call that is staggered – where you start to talk when someone else does? Or they interrupt you, and then you interrupt them? So, to have a conversation in ‘real time”, where the lag is (almost) non-existent is a very big deal. Let’s hope tech continues to improve in this area!
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. Move up to 1080p and it will cost you $39.00 for the entire year, will get you 20 GB storage, but only 5 hours edit 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
WeVideo‘s first two levels allow you to publish to popular forums: Vimeo, WeVideo, YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive, DailyMotion. Their 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 includes Custom Branding, Call-To-Action, Redirect (Sales Funnel) Landing Page, Priority Processing and even Multi-User options.
To have a tool like WeVideo available, 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 edit processes (and the Ick Factor of annual software upgrades).
Finally, WeVideo offers one last service to be aware of: Enterprise. The Enterprise version offers Scalable Storage and Publish Time, Customization and Branding. It includes Onboarding and Account Management not available at the other levels. Integrations, High Availability and Premier Support are added (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 if you locate sponsors to help you with the overhead for an event or program like this, you will benefit financially as well. Check Wikipedia for a full list of community communication councils in your area with public access and training. Most are now integrated with YouTube to ease the burden and overhead of a large studio and broadcast expenses.
Stream Online – LIVE
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. Build up local sponsors who will pay you – and then you pay for an upgraded subscription. Other small businesses 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 and if it promotes local business or charitable events, you can build a nice following. That said, if you plan 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. Review usage and rights on the BMI, ASCAP and SESAC websites. A discussion about scripts 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. Just don’t jump on the first one. Review their portfolio and determine if they actually created it.
How long should my video be?
If it’s a GIF style, your message may only be seconds long – usually no more than 10-15 seconds, so you have to be very precise.
Depending on your message and location of your video, your video length will vary greatly! When creating a Facebook video, and it isn’t going Live, then keep it to about 1-2 minutes. Videos that are of something very specific, timely, noteworthy or just a lot of fun the 2 minute mark is gold.
If you are creating an entire program to air on public access, be sure to market it on all your social media pages. When you do a long program, plan it out. Advise your viewers that the video will be longer. Plant a few teasers in the social media market you are targeting and be sure to give a link back to the source page. Have them “Friend” or “Follow” your page so when it goes out, they will get the message first.
So, who says this is important for my business?
Interactive video is the wave. Check the statistics and you’ll see that you need to invest in video. Review the facts at MediaBistro. See what’s happening on many of the major social networks. As a small or micro-business owner, it won’t pay to ignore what’s right in front of you. And with so many low or no-cost options, why would you even want to? Just tell yourself “video IS important to small business marketing”!