It’s much easier than you think, and this step-by-step plan will get you started
Video marketing has been one of the most daunting (in my own head) challenges I’ve faced as a marketing professional. Some things come naturally to me. I love to write, I’m already a photographer and I enjoy public conversation. Marketing and communications were hobbies of mine that I transformed into a career. However, when it came to making videos, my mind flipped and I started to panic.
It’s not that creating a video takes more time than learning to speak clearly or taking a great photograph, but video is new, so it’s kind of scary. I’ve been able to shoot video on my cellphone for nearly 10 years, but I’d never “practiced” it. Lack of practice was the root of my hesitation. Many companies, especially small businesses, haven’t practiced either. Why? The answer: Video creation has the potential to be more difficult than taking a quick photo or simply calling a customer on the phone.
Gravitating toward video is a new experience for me. Although I enjoy learning new skills and stepping up to a challenge, video creation seemed like a much larger hurdle. I thought to myself, “I have to plan, direct, shoot, edit and publish something. … Where do I even begin?” The problem was that I imagined myself in the boots of James Cameron and my first video (of portable toilets) needed to be the next Avatar. Well, surprise: that didn’t happen. It turns out, the only reason producing video seemed like a huge task is because I had a false expectation of the outcome.
Don’t be scared like I was. Just make a few videos and see how it feels. At the end of the day, if you can solve a customer’s need, then you already have the content for your video. Now, just film that message and deliver it to the customer. Thank goodness for YouTube and Google: There’s no shortage of online help you can find when starting your video project. Maybe my tips can help you as well.
Let’s start with YouTube. One billion unique users are now visiting this website every month. Chances are you’ve wasted … I mean, spent a few hours of an afternoon surfing YouTube, watching video after video. However, YouTube is being used more and more for business. Many companies need their customers to see the process, not just the product.
In the sanitation industry, our processes are what matter most. Dozens of products are made from similar materials, with similar price points, with similar lead times and so on. For many suppliers, portable restroom operators, and end users, the personal relationships can mean more than the products themselves. Those relationships can be strengthened by seeing how the company “behaves.” What I mean to say is: If you could open the back door of a company you purchase from, walk through the warehouses, meet the people, and get an inside look at how that company operates, you’d be more inclined to continue your relationship with that company. That’s what video marketing can do for you. It will build trust while explaining your ability to solve the customer’s problem.
A recent survey in the State of Inbound report showed that nearly half of all marketers (48 percent) plan to add YouTube to their marketing strategy over the next 12 months. The reason for their planning is the amount of traffic YouTube receives. More 18- to 49-year-old adults watch YouTube than network TV or cable, and 59 percent of business decision-makers prefer to see a video than read text. You need to make a channel for your business.
Build a YouTube channel
Setting up a new channel on YouTube is as easy as setting up a Google account. Go to www.google.com, click “Sign in,” and you’ll be prompted to go through the rest of your new account setup. Once you have a Google account, you’ll need to visit www.youtube.com. In the upper right-hand corner, you should notice that you’re probably already logged in. If this is not true, click on the blue “Sign in” button in the upper right-hand corner, and enter your Google account username and password.
Once you’ve signed in, click on “My Channel” in the left-hand menu bar. There, you’ll have the option to create a channel right away. Don't click on “Create Channel.” Click on “Use a business or other name” below. After that, you’ll be guided through the process. In a few minutes, you’ll have a sparkling-new, business-centered YouTube video channel.
Still, you won’t have any video content to upload to your page. So now what?
One of my favorite apps for video making on the go is YouTube Capture. This app is available on your smartphone. You can shoot and edit videos straight from your phone — for free. This app even includes music and cool filters to really take the guesswork out of the process. When you get done filming and editing, you can upload straight to your new business channel from your phone. I use this app all of the time for short, simple videos.
Video on various social media
Your personal phone might be the best option for your business video program, at least when you’re just starting out. Shooting a simple video is as easy as pressing a button. That said, sometimes it’s really tedious to log into four (or more) social media apps and upload that video to each channel. That’s where www.hootsuite.com comes into play.
This app (or desktop website — I use both) is also easy to set up and use. You can schedule posts to all of your social media channels individually or en masse, view all of your social streams in a single dashboard, and get real-time feedback on how many people are viewing your content. Their Pro Plan costs $10 a month, but it’s well worth it. With Hootsuite, you can take the video you just shot and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other channels all at once.
Of course, if you don’t want to spend $10 a month, you can email yourself the video from your phone, log in to your computer and upload it at your leisure. Either way, these solutions are all based on the technology you have in your pocket every single day.
The expensive way
If you can spare the upfront costs, the best investment you can make for video marketing is to buy a nice camera. Again, this isn’t totally necessary to be successful while breaking into the video marketing game. Just know that a decent camera and editing software will go a long way, if you have the time and money to invest.
The biggest issue that small businesses face when making this kind of commitment is the time it takes to shoot and edit video footage. However expensive the equipment may be, it’s even more expensive to hire a production company. To put it in perspective: A novice producer might charge $25 per hour, while a seasoned producer might charge $250 per hour. A scriptwriter might charge $60 to $125 per hour. Editing costs $40 to $125 per hour. Professional actors charge $50 to $500 per hour, depending on experience. For an eight-hour day on the lowest end of the spectrum, you’ve already spent $1,800. … That’s the cost of a brand-new, video-capable camera.
Regardless of what you decide to do, the fact remains that video marketing is not a trend, it’s here to stay and it’s the way people are consuming media. You have to produce something. It doesn’t have to be a major motion picture, it doesn’t have to come from a professional video production staff, but it has to be done.
We’ve talked about why video marketing is important and we’ve talked about how to get started, but we haven’t mentioned what you need to film and share. You’ve been in the business a while and you know what your customers need, so this is the easy part.
- Center around the story, not the sale. Concentrate on the value you’re providing for your customers.
- Keep it as short as possible. Most viewers (just like on your website) leave after 10 seconds. Try sparking your audience’s curiosity by asking questions and using teasers to hook their attention right away. Your video should immediately convey its value and answer the question “Why should I watch it?”
- Lighten up. Think your business-to-business audience can’t handle humor? Wrong. People want to laugh and feel enlightened.
- Optimize for search. When it comes to video for search engine optimization, descriptions are everything. Why? Well, descriptions allow Google’s search spiders to make sense of your video and understand what the content entails.
- Educate your audience. One of the most powerful methods you can use for video marketing is to educate your audience. And the great thing is that education comes in many forms. For example, you can teach your customers how to use your product or service and provide useful tips on how to make the most of it — like restroom placement at an event or wedding, how nice your hand-wash sinks are, etc.
There’s a lot to consider, but that doesn’t mean it’s inherently difficult to pull off a successful video marketing campaign. Like any project, start small and don’t be afraid to mess up. Practice on your phone. Play with some free editing apps. Ask your employees what they think you should film. Use your office space as a focus group and get your peers to evaluate your first attempts at video. Your friends and employees will be more honest with you than you think.
Just get started. You’ll surprise yourself with how successful videos can be.
About the author: Joseph Hummel is the marketing manager for PolyPortables.