If a picture paints a thousand words, then a video can expand that impact exponentially. Television advertisers have taken advantage of this for decades, but the cost of such ads prohibits their use by small businesses. Along comes online video, enabling every small business to broadcast its message to the entire world at minimal cost. If you’re not already taking advantage of it, it’s time to get onboard.
A professional video on your landing page is worth far more than it could ever cost to produce. The way people process information has changed to the point where visualization is everything. Many real estate sites offer virtual tours of properties for sale. Slide-shows of interiors are nice, but they can’t compete with a walk-through tour. Drones are being used to provide aerial views of properties, adding another dimension to the sales platform.
If you have the equipment to record your first video, give it a shot. While this will obviously save you money, you don’t want potential customers to see anything that looks cheap and reflects negatively on your business. No video is better than a poorly produced video. Show it to some friends and associates and ask for objective feedback. If it doesn’t pass their test, it’s time to call in the pros.
Before diving in, do some advance work to focus the purpose and content of the video.
In order to script the project, first nail down its primary purpose and target audience. Are you introducing viewers to your company? Are you informing them about your products? Are you explaining your services? Are you announcing a major milestone that you’ve accomplished? Are you telling a story to attract customers to your website?
You don’t want the video to be cluttered with too much information that will water down its impact. Be concise and conclusive, leaving a lasting imprint in the viewer’s mind that they’ve arrived at the right place. Their search is over for the product or service they’ve been looking for.
There are countless ways to present your message to your target audience. For your first video, engage the audience with a compelling story about your company. Keep it relatively short and to the point, and end it with a dramatic resolution or call for action. While you want to entertain the viewers, your primary mission is to give them a solid reason to visit and remain on your website. To avoid leaving them hanging, give them a reason and reward for watching the entire video. At the end, offer a discount or other enticement to make a purchase within a specified time frame.
In order to make your story effective, consider the intended audience and its previous knowledge of your company and products. While your first video is a summary introduction, subsequent videos should focus on specific messages. These could include details about existing products, new product launches, special pricing, or other announcements designed to further your marketing strategies. Briefly repeat your core message that you want your company to be known for and remembered.
A good soundtrack and special effects also stimulate the senses, exerting subconscious influence and attraction. They can also evoke an emotional response and create a comfortable atmosphere that will help keep the audience’s attention. Make sure all your content can be used legally and does not infringe on any copyrights.
One well-worn method for laying out your video is to produce a storyboard. It creates a timeline and sequence to the script, breaking down the key scenes into discrete thumbnails. You’re making a mini-movie, so the application of proven techniques like this will define the background setting, identify the key actors, and summarize the actions they’ll undertake. What used to be done by hand is now easily automated, allowing for simple edits and updates.
The key steps for developing the storyboard are:
- Construct an approximate timeline from beginning to end
- Identify the key scenes that will develop your plan or plot, and how they will be sequenced
- Establish the level of detail you want for each scene prior to shooting
- Write a brief description for each scene
- Select the medium you’ll use to display your storyboard template
- Develop rough sketches of each thumbnail and its contents (background, actors, props, shot angles, effects, etc.)
- Supplement the thumbnails with key information such as a description of the action and dialog
- Review and edit your work, keeping your eye on the “big picture” impact
- Make sure the overall story flows smoothly and advances your key objectives
The goal is to create lasting images that will remain in people’s minds far longer than words. The ideal is a universally recognized symbol that will instantly identify your company.
Compelling content has a way of spreading by sheer force of nature, but marketing videos rarely go viral. There’s no magic trick but there are things you can do to spread the word without breaking your budget. Start with the premise that there’s no substitute for superior content, and consider the following points:
- Make it short and sweet – Attention spans are short, so you’ve got to grab the viewer’s attention quickly. Be clear and to the point, and maintain enough momentum to hold them to the end. Anything more than a couple minutes is too long.
- Make it very appealing – You want people to like it, and that doesn’t stop with Facebook. An eye-catching video will draw attention and motivate people to spread the word and enjoyment to their friends.
- Make it easy to share – Encourage sharing at the end of the video, and insert conveniently placed social media links. Make sure it’s easy to find and embed onto other websites.
- Publicity feeds on itself – Use the power of your website and your contact list to get the ball rolling.
Video is an important tool that you must use to your maximum advantage. While it’s tempting to save money and make your own, a professionally-produced video will likely more than pay for itself in the long run. First impressions are critical and your brand and reputation are on the line. Before hiring an expert, take a look at several samples of their work.
Be creative and enjoy the result. Your audience will react and respond to it.