Video For Your Business

Video has long been used by big companies to advertise their products or  services on TV. No wonder they have the budgets for it and you cannot escape it. Think that it is not successful? Look how many ads you have to sit through on a given TV show.

Even smaller companies are getting into TV advertising with simpler TV ads, meaning few to no special effects, one or two camera angles, nothing fancy in the background. But they do work and the companies get TV exposure to help build sales.

TV is not the only venue that is available although it is the most popular.  One of the most popular platforms around for hosting videos is YouTube. Unlike paid TV advertising it is free, but there are some drawbacks which I will address later. I am going to continually use the term “showcasing” and that I will go into why later on.

You may ask, how successful can YouTube be?

As an example, Gary Brolsma lip-synched to the song “Dragostea din te” while goofing around and while videotaping himself using a standard webcam. He then posted it on YouTube and in a matter of days it went viral and he was known as the Numa-Numa Kid. Here he became a superstar of sorts for free.

Another person posted videos of himself cursing and screaming about everything possible on YouTube and eventually a reality TV show picked him up.

YouTube is also filled with people showing off their pets, babies being cute, someone doing face plants and more. Then there are those who are using it showcasing their talents through instructional videos, product demonstrations, real estate sales and various other business aspects. Which is the focus of this discussion.

With some ingenuity and planning any business, and I do mean any, can take full advantage of showcasing on YouTube. As an example a marina can give a tour of their facilities, an accountant can talk about some changes in the tax laws, a volunteer rescue or ambulance company can demonstrate CPR or stocking the ambulance or crash box, a fishing tour guide can show customers having fun, a computer geek like myself can go into virus removal. The possibilities are limitless.

Now here is why I used the term “showcasing.” In the Terms Of Service (“TOS”) of YouTube you cannot post any advertisement. For that you need to contact them and pay a fee. These ads display before a posted video.

To get around this your video should showcase what you do or have to offer. As an example

Let’s say I own a marina called Barnacle Bill’s someplace in Maine and I post a video with a dialog something like this:

“At Barnacle Bill’s we have slips available for vessels up to 60 foot with 9 foot beams for only $150 a foot. Our factory trained technicians are available 7 days a week to handle all your mechanical needs so you can enjoy the water longer. and yada yada yada.” You get the idea. Sounds like a typical TV ad which is a no-no according to the TOS.

With a little cleaver re-wording and camera work, you can give a tour of the marina: “Let me show you around Barnacle Bill’s up here in Happy Port Maine, here we have ample dockage for boats up to 60 foot. This is our mechanic shop where we keep a staff on hand to keep our customers floating. A floating customer is a happy customer. Over by the fence we are putting in a snack shack to fend off the munchies. Hope you enjoyed my little tour of Barnacle Bill’s in Happy Port Maine”…(fade to a webpage address)

Simple showcasing. Maybe on the next video I would show a boat being hauled out of the water using the same format or maybe there is a ships store where someone can buy supplies. Get the idea?

Create a YouTube channel where you can have a collection of your videos so visitors can see them time and time again.

But you need to be very careful in how you do this so you do not violate the TOS.

Unlike TV advertisements you do not need high end video cameras or editing software, although it would not hurt. A decent video camera for around $100 and free editing software can get you going. Even a cell phone can be used to capture the video, but I do not recommend it for the resolution looks like a video from a cell phone. But it can be used if you want.

One of the best things about video cameras today is once you finish shooting, you can instantly see the clip and reshoot if needed. No rewinding of video tape like in years past. I did an instructional video and I must have botched the opening scene five times until I got it right. The instant viewing after shooting made doing the retakes a breeze and saved a lot of time.

Invest in a decent tripod
Invest in a decent tripod

One thing is a must, and that is a way to hold and steady the camera. No one can hold a camera still for long without introducing camera shake. So a tripod is a handy tool to have but make sure it is sturdy and avoid those $20 ones that fold into a small bag.

Or you can prop the camera on a table with books, pillows, rolled up towels or even a box of uncooked pasta. Of course that will all depend on where you are planning on shooting.

Speaking of which, Depending on where you are shooting your video, you can add extra lighting easy enough by moving a few lamps or buy one of those clip-on flood lamps from Home Depot or Lowes for around $20.

I would recommend looking up how to use lighting properly otherwise you could ruin a good shot and you could look like one of those police line-up photos.

The hardest part of doing the video so happens to be financially the cheapest and that is creating the script. Once you write it, you will find that you will need to re-write, edit, edit, and edit some more. Practice reading it out loud and maybe some more edits are in order. Practice reading it again a few more times to get the timing and pronunciation right. Take your time here for if you rush through it your video will show it.  Like I said this is the hardest part.

Be sure to tidy up first
Be sure to tidy up first

OK, you have the camera, tripod, flood light and script so you are ready right? Wrong. Set up your camera where you want in and look through the view finder. Even take a few test shots running about 5 or so seconds. Take a look at the shots see how the background is. If you are doing a video outside, spruce up the area behind you, if you are shooting inside make sure the area is clean. No one wants to see a cluttered desk or clothing scattered all over. Take a few minutes to make things presentable.

Be sure that you are dressed appropriately and professionally. A lawyer in a tee shirt does not cut it, nor would you expect a person in a tailored 3 piece suit giving a tour of a marina. In your test shots, include yourself as well and say a few lines to see how you look and sound.

Forget using gimmicks
Forget using gimmicks

Unless you are in the circus, leave the gimmicks packed away. We have all seen those cheap used car commercials on late night TV where a fast talking loud salesperson is showing off cars blasting airhorns or tossing signs saying they are slashing prices. That went out in the ‘50s but for some reason they are still being produced.

Like TV ads, keep your video short and sweet say no more than 60 seconds. Unless you are doing an instructional video, no one wants to sit through a ten minute “ad.”

Once you have completed your video, edited it and posted it now what? Don’t expect a lot of hits right off the bat unless your video is so outrageous like Gary’s. What you will need to do is market your video.

In order to do this is as easy as adding a link to your Facebook page (if you have one), make an announcement on Twitter, include a link or embed it on your webpage, include a link to your YouTube channel in your email signature, even send out an email blast to your customers.

YouTube is not the only place that can host your video but they are the most popular one. Vimeo and others can host your videos as well for a nominal fee. Just do a search for video hosting.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case a properly produced video is worth millions of words. Do it properly and video can drive sales your way.

Photos – YouTube, JVC, John Kimmins, B&H Photo, Nature Lover