Why it's important
It doesn't take much of an investigation to discover the treasure trove of opportunities for the use of web-based video. The truth is, there is potential at every contact point with both customers and prospects. Moving from a static site to one where video is a significant factor is like the move from radio to television. It really is a big deal.
A moving picture paints a million words and most of us are visually orientated, so it is a more natural medium and any charisma that you or your sales team have is much easier to get across. It's also easier to communicate complex details - and it's much more attractive to click on a video link than to read a mountain of text. We live in an age that asks for instant answers, delivered in a simple and enjoyable way: video is the technology that delivers. As a result, online video has the potential to make a difference to almost any business.
A key to winning prospects
There's the potential for new prospects to find you after they see your videos on YouTube or other specialist sites. For this reason it's important both to embed your URL in the video and also to make it easy for viewers to forward a link to friends or other interested parties..
Done right, a video can cause people who wouldn't have bought anyway to drop out earlier, avoiding wasted sales effort. Ensuring that people know what they are buying can reduce returns with an immediate positive impact on profit.
Supporting the sales process
It's great to introduce your company, untangle complex ideas, explain products and show them in-situ using video. And the whole process will be generally more enjoyable for your prospects. A product demonstration showing exactly how problems are solved will sell where other media will fail.
Education can still have a surprisingly positive impact on sales. Hesitation arises from uncertainty. A customer who has had this uncertainty removed by an educational video will be more confident and therefore more likely to make a decision. As the provider of the education you are likely to be trusted and to get the deal.
Video case studies of customers recommending you, generally produces a positive emotional response. A person explaining exactly how they were helped has more weight than any sales pitch.
Making it happen
So should your videos be professionally produced or home-grown? This will be impacted by your size and budget and it's true that generally you get what you pay for. However, YouTube has made amateur footage more acceptable so with care (and a steady hand) you can produce a low budget video which still has business legs.
Whichever approach that you take, deciding what you are trying to achieve is critical. Then you need to plan the content - the subject, critical messages and how you will present them. These must all support your objective. So the questions to ask are whether you want to simply enhance the image of the business, provide technical information, help close the sale, or educate your prospects while cutting the number of calls. You decide.
Once you know what you are trying to achieve, it's time to act. You should be ruthless in limiting the length of the video, probably three minutes maximum. You need to decide on the style - chatting, testimonial, demo etc. Make it interesting but relevant, e.g. someone who is highly photogenic may be a positive for some people, but a turn-off for others. You need to be consistent with your brand.
The equipment list obviously includes a video camera, maybe a Flip as it is cheap and the easiest to use. Also important are lights and a good microphone, both of which will have a major impact on quality.
Next, who to film. To keep costs down ask staff or friends to audition and use those who do the best. Obviously if you have the budget, professional actors are likely to produce a more polished result.
Then comes shooting, editing and the addition of a music track. Movie Maker, pre-installed with Windows, is probably good enough to make a low cost video. Be careful of copyright issues and remember that music can hinder as well as help. It may be worth spending the money on a professional voice-over. You're not necessarily making a work of art but it must be both visually and audibly clear.
Publishing the result
It's remarkably easy to get your videos out. There's choice between hosting them on your own site, or on another web site with YouTube the clear favourite. If you use YouTube, it's usually best to establish your own dedicated channel in the form www.youtube.com/user/YourChannel. It's also possible to embed YouTube videos so that they can be viewed on your site.
The good news about YouTube is that it provides the bandwidth for nothing and the speed is great, while solving the problem of which video format to use.
You can maximise traffic from YouTube itself by adding a title, keyword tags and descriptions to all of your videos. By mentioning and linking to your videos from blog posts you can also help the rankings. Essentially the same guidelines to optimisation applies to YouTube as to Google generally.
In some vertical markets there are also specialist sites showcasing videos relevant to your business, so it's well worth looking out for them too.
We know how TV usurped radio as the prime communication channel. Video is low cost, easy and potentially keeps you one step ahead of the competition, so why wait?
The article was written by Chris Barling, CEO of E-Commerce and EPOS systems supplier, Sellerdeck. Originally published on is4profit.