Here’s 12 tips for 2012, and they begin and end with video for your business:
1. To connect with more customers, think video. Show them what you do. Show them how you do it. Show them work you’ve completed. Show them — and let them hear from — your customers who are thrilled with your products and services.
2. Introduce yourself, and your employees. There’s no substitute for meeting in person, shaking hands and talking to get to know the person you’re considering doing business with but remember that customers want to check you out online before they decide to talk directly with you. Increase your opportunities to be found online and get that in-person meeting by using video online so that customers can see and hear you.
3. Tell real stories. Avoid standing in front of a camera and reading from a script. Be yourself. Talk just like you do when you say hello and meet a customer for the first time. Relax and talk about what you know and do. You’re not an actor and customers don’t expect an Oscar-worthy performance. They want to learn about you, and how you can help them today. Show and tell.
4. You’re the expert, so share what you know. If you’re in the flooring business, show how to measure and estimate how much carpet or tile is needed. Show how to install the wood flooring you sell. Teach how to clean and maintain various floors. Explain the differences in and difference uses for wood flooring options.
5. Think search results. Make your business easy to find online by actively updating your website, blog and social media profiles. Video has a key role to play. Publish your business videos on a YouTube channel that’s branded with your business name and logo. Link to your videos on your business website, blog and social media profiles. Then, share updates, especially on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, and invite your business contacts to see your videos.
6. Think mobile. The majority of cell phone users now own smartphones. They carry powerful computers around that enable them to search for and find your business online. That means they can — and do — look for information at any time of the day. You want them to find you when they need to and are open to what you have to say. Smartphones display video very well. So do tablets, and the use of both types of mobile devices will do nothing but grow in 2012. Think of the opportunities this creates for you to show and tell.
7. Watch, and learn. What’s the best way to figure out how to use video for your business? Check out what other businesses are doing today. Know what your partners and vendors do. Know what your competitors do. Review what similar businesses in other cities and markets do. Find best practices from your state and national business associations.
8. Hire a pro. You’ll get top-quality video and audio, and professional story telling when you hire a video production company. Listen to their approaches. Pick the one that fits into your budget. Follow their advice to create videos that show off your business and your customers. The expense will be worth it.
9. Do it yourself. Yes, you can. Maybe you and your budget are not ready to hire the professional videographer. But, if you can clear identify what you want to say, and can explain your products or services, give DIY a try. We all have great business stories to tell. Share your success stories. Learn how to record clean, crisp audio. There’s lots of how-to instructions available online. Learn how to shoot and edit. You can learn to do this at an acceptable level. Your content is the most important thing. Then good audio. And then a good picture. Before investing in a new camera, microphone, lighting and editing software, use what you already own. Even the camera on your smart phone can help you create shot, good-quality video on a work site or with a customer.
10. Start out short. Don’t try making a documentary or feature movie. Shoot for 30 seconds, 45 seconds or 60 seconds initially. You need killer information or a truly compelling story to go longer. So start short and quick, until you get the hang of organizing your message. (Exception: if you hire a pro, they will have the production skills and equipment to create longer videos.)
11. Train your customers. Train your employees. How-to videos can introduce your customers to how they can use products they just purchased from you. Videos can teach new employees how to use and install the products you sell. Build an online library to reduce the time you spend training and create a powerful way to convey this message: You’re an expert and you help others by sharing what you know with them.
12. Generate leads on your Facebook page. You’ve got a business page on Facebook, right? No? 3 of every 4 minutes spent by social media users is spent on Facebook. Most businesses can benefit by using Facebook to connect with customers, and I strongly recommend that you create a custom landing page for your Facebook business page. Include two features. First, use Facebook and a custom landing page as a way to capture a visitor’s name and email address and maybe the person’s phone number. There are free and paid tools available to help you set up a landing page yourself, and to create a contact form so that visitors give your their contact info before the see the rest of your business page. What’s the second recommendation? See No. 13.
13. New Year’s Bonus: Add video to your Facebook page. First, create a short video to introduce yourself and your business. Locate it on the custom landing page you created for your Facebook business page. This will be the very first thing potential customers see and hear about you on Facebook. It creates the opportunity for you to say hello, and quickly explain what you do and how you will help the people who are interested enough to check you out on Facebook. Then, as you add other videos to your new business channel on YouTube, also share them on your Facebook business page, buy dropping the YouTube link into an update on Facebook. The video will open and play on Facebook, and your fans can share it with their Facebook friends. This is a terrific lead-generation tool, and your fans will help spread the word about your business on Facebook.