By Lori Wishard
Engage. Entertain. Educate. Online videos convey meaningful messages in a memorable manner.
Because the Web offers so much, it takes Internet users on average less than six seconds to decide to stay on a site orcontinue searching. Six seconds isn’t much time, so companies that want to capture an audience have to give visitors a reason to stay. Well produced videos give them that reason.
ComScore Inc., a market-research company, reported that in April 2009, U.S. Internet users looked at 16.8 billion online videos, with YouTube.com accounting for almost all of the 6.8 billion views at Google Sites, the country’s most popular online video property.
The growing popularity of Web video is a strong argument for using it to your benefit, since you can improve your company’s exposure and increase sales when you create emotional connections with customers through online videos. But video’s popularity is also reason to “do it right” and make sure you have the best quality possible. As the number of viewing choices increases, Web surfers become more discerning.
Videos that have a defined purpose and strong campaign and are short, informative, and entertaining work best. Viewers won’t finish watching a video that doesn’t meet these criteria.
Here is how you can go about creating an effective Web video:
• Have a defined purpose. Is the video meant to be promotional, to sell, or to train?
Promotional videos are the fastest growing marketing tool. Their use is increasing at double-digit rates while use of traditional media declines. Promotional videos help brand your company or product.
Informational videos demonstrate your products and processes in detail or they tell viewers about fundraisers, events, or your organization. They capture sights, sounds, and emotions. One form of informational video is the training video. It shows customers how to use your products or services to get optimal value from them. Often companies use this type of video when they introduce a new type of product or service that is “foreign” to customers. Before customers buy, they have to be educated.
Videos that are made for the purpose of selling make an offer to viewers—often with a sense of urgency.
• Determine your budget. The amount of your budget will determine if you can produce the video in house or outsource it to professionals. Include in the budget not only film production costs but also cost of writing a script or customizing a syndicated script to your purposes.
• Consider your options. In-house or outsourced? If you have the talent in house to write and produce a video—go for it. But if you don’t, consider the benefits of a professionally produced video. The cost is often less than buying airtime or advertising space in other media or doing a direct-mail campaign. And once the video is produced, you can post it not only onto your own Web site but also to YouTube and other sites to drive traffic back to your Web site at no additional cost. In other words, you can get great mileage from your investment.
• Decide on the cast. Will you be the spokesperson? Or will you use a professional actor? Each has its benefits. Starring in the video yourself may lend credibility, but using a professional who is at ease with the camera can cause visitors to stop, look, and listen to what you are offering. If you decide to go “professional,” you can tap into the resources of a syndicate, which uses many different spokespeople and scripts that can be adapted to your purpose.
• Execute a quality project. Don’t underestimate the value of quality: The quality of the video reflects the quality of your business. Make sure images, which should be shot in high definition, are sharp. The sound should be crisp, clear, and easy to hear. Even the best-written messages get lost when garbled.
Good editing can take care of minor problems. Flubs, glares, and other miscues, no matter how trivial, can detract from the final product. Clean it up, before putting it up. And remember: Every minute of produced video takes an hour to edit.
• Promote. Once the video is edited, you can begin using it to promote your business. Post it to your Web site, and take advantage of Web 2.0 interactivity with your customers. [Editor’s note: For information on Web 2.0, go to “Web 2.0 and you,” http://advantagebizmag.com/archives/1024.]
By using social networking, you can quickly build trust and relationships with customers. Posting links to videos in LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and other popular social media sites will bring users of those services to your company’s Web site. Then you can convert them to customers.
Remember, too, that video—good video— is viral. Viewers who like a video will share it with others. Singer Susan Boyle became an overnight success thanks to a Web video. When Carl’s Jr.’s posted a video advertising its mushroom burger, viewers responded with spoofs and their own versions of the burger and presumably an increase in demand for the burger. Nike felt the positive effects of the video showing basketball star Kobe Bryant jumping over a speeding car wearing its shoes. And Levi Strauss & Co. changed its plans for a back-to-school advertising blitz because of the success of its online video teaser.
In all of these cases, videos reached millions of people worldwide, promoting the products for pennies compared to traditional television advertising.
Affordable, engaging, and effective online video is well suited for small businesses. It drives up sales and makes employees more productive. Remember, though, that bad videos are just as memorable as good ones—only they could have the reverse effect on your business. If you do video, make sure you do it right.
Lori Wishard is president of Media Rapids Inc., a multi-media marketing firm in Ponte Vedra Beach. She can be reached at 904-249-0001 or Lori@mediarapids.com. You can get more information on online video at www.MediaRapids.com.
The latest revolution in the Internet evolution
• Visual ads or messages attract more interest than static text and images.
• Internet users would rather watch a five-minute video to learn about a product or service than to read three or four Web pages.
• Typically less than a single direct-mail campaign, the cost of an online video is affordable, even for a small business.
• Results are trackable and measurable.