May 16, 2016

9 Ways to Start Making Great Videos Now!

9 Ways to Start Making Great Videos

Video is a powerful tool for achieving your marketing goals. In the previous installment of this blog series, I covered why your organization should include video in your marketing plan. Here, I'll provide you with nine best practices I've learned for making great videos for marketing.

1. Talk about benefits, not features. 

Even if you sell machine parts for conveyor belts, you’re really selling profitability. Why should potential customers buy your part or service if it doesn’t in some way reduce their costs or increase their market share? It’s not just the service — it’s the results of the service. 

2. Don't just wing it.

What are the essentials you need to express? What can be expressed in a video that can’t be expressed on the page? Write a script, or at least outline what the video's subject will say.

3. Speak your audience's language.

You would likely market a funeral home much differently than a nightclub. Think about your audience and deliver a video that they’ll feel compelled to watch.

I’ve had many clients who assign their marketing person to work with me. I very often say, “Let’s talk to your sales staff.” The people who actually interact with the clients often have insights that aren’t found in sales data. They have a more visceral “feel” for who their market really is. If you can’t form a psychological picture of the market, give the sales guys a try.

Start Your Video With The Good Stuff

4. Start with the good stuff.

I’m not a believer that videos need to be extremely short, but I am a believer that your video has to be front-loaded. You need to get as much accomplished in the first 20-30 seconds as possible. 

5. Include a call-to-action (CTA).

Video should have a CTA when appropriate. Even if it’s “Go to this link to learn more!” or “Contact us to learn what we can do for you.”

6. Tell a story.

Since the days when humans sat around fires and shared tales, stories have had a huge effect on us. A corporate video doesn’t need to be a miniseries episode, but it helps if there is narrative linearity. What is the problem? How was it addressed? What was the result? People have a very hard time leaving a story before the ending. Find a way to introduce some sense of narrative to your video.

7. Don't skimp on production.

Don't Skimp on ProductionYes, you can shoot a great video with a modern smartphone. However, for a top-quality video, you'll need to do these things:

  • Place a (preferably hidden) microphone close to the subject.
  • Shoot in a quiet space.
  • Make sure your quality audio is in sync with your video.
  • Keep the lighting steady throughout.
  • Use a tripod or support for the camera.
  • Shoot your video horizontally (Have you ever seen a portrait-oriented movie in a theater?)
  • Edit your footage; add titles, remove "umms" and pauses from dialogue, and hide cuts with graphics or footage.

I can’t stress good audio enough. The film industry says that “audio is 90% of your video” — this may be an exaggeration, but not by much. The lack of clear, crisp audio is one of the dead giveaways of cheap video. It presents a huge psychological barrier to real viewer engagement.

8. Shoot some B-roll.

B-roll is extra footage that’s overlaid when people speak, to illustrate what they’re speaking about. Maybe it’s the product in production, a consumer using it, a meeting or a presentation.

Make sure to shoot this properly as well: Get a tripod! Notice how jerky video gets when it's shot with a hand-held camera or smartphone. The image skews and slants, like rubber. (This is a technical issue with some camera sensors. They can’t capture fast motion without some “jello.” And, yes, in the industry we call it “jello.") Nothing says “mom and pop” like jerky phone video.

9. Treat video like a Thanksgiving dinner.

Producing a quality video can be cheap or expensive. But regardless, think "Thanksgiving": You don’t spend hours on that turkey for one night — there’s also sandwiches and soup for days.

Think about ways to use your footage — maybe smaller bits for social media posts, DVDs or thumb drives for clients, on a TV in your lobby or projected at your trade show. Images in motion, even without audio, have a hypnotic power. Think of ways to leverage and maximize the time and money you’ve expended.

A Quick Case Study

Case Study: Videos for Private Yoga Instructor

I do some marketing work for a private yoga teacher (who happens to be my wife). If you do any sort of meaningful search for “Private yoga teacher” and add “Dallas” (her market), chances are you’ll find she is the #1 or #2 in the unpaid search rankings. And then there’s her Facebook page at #4 ... and her video at #5 (this varies from page to page and day to day).

In short, if you’re interested in a private yoga teacher and search in her market, you will get multiple impressions of her with one search, on one page. Your impression may or may not be “She must be really good.” But regardless, you will get an impression — several impressions.

Her business really improved when we added a video. Why? Here’s what I think:

Her business is very personal. She comes to your home, sits with you on a mat, and talks about your physical and emotional state. She isn’t the right fit for a 20-something that wants to get all lean and buff. Generally, her market is people 30 and up, those who have gotten too sedentary, have an injury or a chronic medical issue or feel they should be more flexible. Her clients are often looking for stress reduction and pain reduction. She deals, at times, with people suffering from trauma.

Her video has a couple of testimonials and her thoughts on why private yoga may be helpful for some people. She lists symptoms, but only for one sentence. But in a matter of seconds, you see that she’s soft spoken, highly intelligent (she’s got a PhD, after all) and has a very calming presence. Instantly, anyone looking for a butt-kicking, personal-trainer-style workout knows she’s not the right fit. And, instantly, her actual market knows that she is the right fit.

She gets 5-12 leads a month and stays very busy. And those leads are pretty well qualified — they see her video, visit her website and learn about her pricing and driving range. Many of her leads are ready to book an appointment; they’re sold when they fill out the form.

Example YouTube Video

The video certainly helped with SEO, as it’s one more link on the first page. But yes, it helps that she is not using highly competitive search terms (she’s not selling weight loss or financial services) and her competition is not well-versed in marketing. It’s also a “chicken and egg” situation for her competition — they could afford marketing help if they were getting the kind of leads my wife is, but they won’t get those leads without help (or learning to do it themselves).

For her, video has:

  • Increased her leads
  • Increased the percentage of good leads
  • Increased her bookings
  • Increased her number of returning or long-term customers 
  • Increased her SEO ranking
  • Increased the number of displayed pages on search returns
  • Made her site more engaging

And, icing on the cake: When she does Facebook promotions, she has replaced static ads with her video. The drop in cost-per-click when she switched to video was significant, as was the increase in overall clicks.

I suppose there must be some product or service where video isn’t an appropriate tool, but in my experience, video has provided significant results every time I’ve employed it. Computing power and the prevalence of professional features in many consumer cameras have turned what was once an expensive proposition into an affordable and high-value must-have. Don't miss out.

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Michael Carter

I provide video, audio, still photography, animation, and marketing services to madison/miles media. For over 30 years, I’ve worked in this industry as a designer and creative director, at advertising agencies and major consumer brands. I’m on a mission to make video more affordable for small business, and help businesses use video to maximize their marketing success.