Video is for national brands with budgets big enough to buy network television time. Right?
Well, sure, but it’s also for your local business. It’s affordable and a compelling way to introduce yourself and your business to customers online. Companies like Schmidt Heating and Cooling in Cincinnati smartly use video on its web site and in its Yellow Pages advertising as a virtual way to shake hands and say hello. Minuteman Press of Lebanon (Ohio) created a television commercial and also posted a version on Google Video to quickly demonstrate all of its services and equipment. The Cincinnati Museum Center announced winners of contest with video on its Facebook Fan Page. And Jeff Zaret, VP of sales at National Processing Solutions in Centerville, Ohio, shares tips not about his company’s credit card processing but instead about ways to improve your customer service. He posted a series of three videos on YouTube.
Each of these approaches is different but they have this in common — their image and sound quality is professional. These are good-looking videos that send a clear message about each of the businesses. So I asked a pro how businesses can get this quality and how they should consider using video to connect with customers. Here’s what Mike Cornett, owner of Visual Media Concepts in Dayton, had to say:
Why should businesses consider adding video to their web sites, blogs and social media?
Content, content, content! People want interactive content. A static web site with only text and pictures just doesn’t cut it anymore. That is if you’d like them not to return.
Video content is just one of the many popular choices to keep your potential clients coming back. However, video content that is regularly updated with new content and that educates or shares information is an almost fail-proof way to keep them coming back.
What can be shown with video? Factory and office tours? Company events? How a product works?
The sky is the limit … so it’s a real challenge. So much can be done with video. Factory tours and the like are a fine way to use video, but there is just so much more. I always get the feeling that my clients have great ideas, but stick to what they’ve seen or the “what’s expected approach”. I try to work the ideas out of a client. Once I have that, it’s a lot easier finding a solution.
An office tour may feel right, but a customer testimonial with an informative interview of the latest techniques may be a better route. Knowing and understanding your audience is a huge key to success. Tours and testimonials do not work with a younger audience.
How long should a video run?
There’s no “real” answer to this, however, there are some. Viewer expectations also play a part. If you produced a one-minute documentary, your audience will be disappointed.
Likewise, a commercial or entertainment video should not last for five hours. Each video should fit its own style. Content, story, creativity and subject matter can all trump these guidelines, but here are my rules of thumb for video lengths:
• Commercials — :15 to :30 seconds
• Podcasts — no longer than 2 minutes
• Special Events (ribbon cutting, grand opening, tours) — no longer than 3 minutes
• Informational — no longer than 4 minutes
• Seminars/Training — no longer than 30 minutes
Why hire a video professional vs. producing the video myself?
Experience, experience, experience. I know all the tricks of the trade☺. I have a built-in checklist that I follow that keeps me from making major mistakes. It’s just like any profession. Here’s what really separates a professional video producer vs. an amateur:
Proper camera framing.
Audio and lighting are the most important aspects to a great video. It’s really funny that audio is so important. In my experience, image quality isn’t as important as great and clear audio. An audience will forgive bad video, but will not tolerate poor audio.
So, if you’re out there shooting videos and are just using a built in camera mic, please call me so I can tell you how to fix this.
What’s a better approach — hire actors to appear in the video or as the business owner or leader appear myself?
There’s no really proven answer for this question. It comes down to what your audience is expecting. Transparency is the issue. How would the audience feel watching an actor vs. the real person? 9 times out of 1, real is better than actor. Audiences have become extremely sophisticated and can quickly size up and see through content.
I’m not comfortable appearing on camera? What should I do to prepare for this?
Practice. It’s like public speaking. Practice is the only magic bullet. There are some techniques that can help, but practicing and being relaxed are the biggest keys to success.
How do I decide what to say and show on the video?
I like to meet with my clients to make all those determinations. Each video is unique.
Here are general guidelines:
1. Write out at least an outline of what you’ll discuss. Even better, write or hire someone to write a script or presentation.
2. Decide on locations and images that our important.
3. Gain an understanding of what your audience want, not what you want. You may have the coolest building in the world, but your audience will not care if you work out of a tent in Alaska. It’s not about you, it’s about them and what benefits they gain.
4. Read number 3 again!
What does video production cost?
This question is the most frequently asked. The more complex the video, the more expensive it will be. Here’s what to expect:
• Very simple — $500 to $1,000
• Basic to moderate — $1,000 to $5,000
• All the bells and whistles — $5,000 to $15,000 or more
There is wiggle room in the prices, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s also important to understand your budget before beginning.
How can I maximize my investment in video? What other ways can it be used in addition to our company web site?
In addition to putting video on your web site, consider distributing it in DVD handouts, PowerPoint presentations, office TV displays and at trade shows.
It’s best to know up front if the video will be used for multiple purposes. Also, it’s not the best way to approach producing a video in the long run. Each format has its own pros and cons. So when you combine multiple uses, it will be weak in some aspect. This may prove to not be worth the costs savings.
Something else to consider is planning for changing the video. You may know that you’ll be moving to another location or a staff person will be changing, maybe the company name will be different or there will be new leadership. This way we can plan to make changes and save you a lot in production costs.
How is the effectiveness of video measured? How will I know that it’s working?
The neat thing about web video — you can track it. Whether it’s on YouTube or your web site, video is much more measurable than the same video shown on a broadcast TV station.
One obvious way to measure effectiveness is if you’re lucky enough to go viral. The trick is you can’t predict it. Going viral is primary based on creativity. Going viral should be a bonus for your creative thinking and strong team of professionals.