According to Marketing Sherpa, a third of all online activity is spent watching videos, YouTube is the number 2 search engine in the world, and video increases the understanding of a product or service by 74%. With stats like these, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are figuring out how to add video into their marketing mix.
But how, exactly, should small businesses be using video? After all, not everyone has a huge budget for video or the talent in-house to create them. How can a small business successfully weave videos into their marketing plans without going broke or insane?
We put a call out to small business owners to share their experiences using video. The response was incredible, and there were some consistent messages we heard repeatedly, including the following:
- When it comes to video marketing, follow Nike’s mantra, and just do it. Start small, but getting started is the key.
- Be mindful of lighting and sound, since those are the biggest factors that can affect how well a video comes out. (But that doesn’t mean you need to invest in expensive equipment.)
- Pay attention to ROI. Like any other marketing initiative, you want your videos to work for you, so you need to think about things like ROI and analytics.
- Promote your videos, especially through social media.
- Be human, be real. Videos connect us, one person to another.
- Have fun. This one is self-explanatory.
Below are some highlights from the people we heard from, including actual videos followed by advice from the business owners who created them.
Using Videos to Educate: Meet Michele G. Kunz, MSN, ANP, RN-BC
About: Michele Kunz is a nursing educator and AHA certified instructor. Her company (which she owns with her husband Joseph C. Kunz, Jr.) has been providing American Heart Association certification classes in the New York City region since 1984. She has a medical training website, a publishing website, and, of course, a YouTube Channel, which has over 4,600 subscribers. (Note: Joseph responded to our questions, so the answers below come directly from him.)
How the company uses video: “Most of our videos are actual training lessons in video form. These videos relate directly to our classroom material. We require all of our students to watch our videos before coming to class. In this way we can make sure that everyone in the class is familiar with the material that will be discussed in class. Our videos also help bring in new first-time students that were not familiar with our services before watching our videos.
“Some of our videos are created to promote our medical training study publications that we sell online, mostly through Amazon. Some of our videos cover topics that are not generally covered in our class, topics such as going on a job interview at a hospital, or about becoming an instructor, etc.”
How the videos are created: “We create all of our videos by ourselves. We use a Sony HD video camera with a shotgun microphone and a tripod. We have also recently purchased professional video lighting. Proper lighting and sound is always a challenge, but we get better at it with each video. We process the videos using Adobe PremierePro software. We then upload the videos to YouTube and to iTunes.”
Measuring ROI: “We measure ROI by (1) the number of views that our videos receive on YouTube; (2) the number of students that email us for the first time telling us that they saw our videos and now want to take a class with us; (3) the boost in our publication sales every time that we upload a new video.”
Video marketing tips and tricks: “The best advice I can give to a small business that is thinking about doing some video marketing, is that they should start as soon as possible. Stop dragging their feet because they are afraid that their video will not look super professional, or like a high-budget production. The most important reason for marketing for a small business is to make an emotional connection with your audience, your customers, and your prospects. The more you can make an emotional connection with your audience, the more they will buy your products and services. Video is by far the most powerful way to do this. For a small business to create a video that is too perfect, or too high budget could easily backfire with your customers—plus it could break the bank account. Concentrate on creating videos that show your passion for your products and services, and your desire to help your customers fix their problem or improve their lives. Do this, and your reputation, your credibility, your brand, and your sales will go up.”
Using Videos as a Portfolio Showcase…and More: Meet Kevin Caron
About: Kevin Caron is a sculptor whose work can be seen in public and private places coast to coast. He was named Sculptor of the Year by Art Trends Magazine in 2012 and 2013. You can check out his work on his website and YouTube channel, which boasts over 15,000 subscribers and five million views. Below is one of his most popular videos, which has over 820,000 views and 700 comments.
How he uses video: “I first began posting videos in March 2008. At first, I just talked about what was going on in the studio that week. No one cared. When I began doing videos about how I create my work—primarily process videos about welding, grinding, forming, etc.—things began to change. I also started posting regularly, instead of just putting up a video some time during the week. It took about a year for my channel to take off. What kept me going was that I was having fun creating the videos, and they gave me a good opportunity to practice my public speaking skills.”
How the videos are created: “We do everything in house. My business manager, who pretty much does everything I don’t, is videographer and editor. She also posts and promotes the videos. She uses a Sony Handycam with a tripod and edits using Sony Movie Studio. We do not storyboard or write scripts. We keep a list of video subjects to cover—many of which are viewer requests—and, based on the subject, just film. Most videos are from 4 – 8 minutes long.”
Measuring ROI: “This is a tough question. We certainly address any revenue that comes in directly from YouTube, but we also know that being on YouTube helps keep us up higher on Google… The direct monetary response has been modest, but being high on Google has been invaluable. We have sold more than $80,000 worth of work online, and our visibility in Google certainly has contributed to that.”
Video marketing tips and tricks: “Being responsive to viewers is an important part of building a channel. I am online daily, responding to questions and comments. One of the best things I’ve done with the videos is include a call to action at the end, such as ‘Visit www.kevincaron.com to see and hear my work.’ Calls to action work! I vary them, sometimes sending people to Facebook or to a specific work of art. I also am careful with my descriptions, using lots of keywords and always beginning and ending the video with my URL.”
Using Video to Extend Your Reach: Meet The Chopping Block
About: The Chopping Block is Chicago’s largest recreational cooking school and gourmet retail store. It offers demonstration and hands-on cooking classes, as well as wine classes, private cooking parties, and corporate team building events. Its YouTube channel has over 2,200 subscribers. Andrea Miller handles PR for the company, and she responded to our questions.
How The Chopping Block uses video: “As a recreational cooking school with two locations in Chicago, using video on our website, email newsletters, and social media channels allows us to extend our reach beyond the Windy City. We’ve been in business for 17 years and have been using video as a marketing tool since 2009. We produce one ‘How to Cook’ video a month.”
How the videos are created: “We don’t have a budget for large-scale video production. Instead, we purchased a camcorder and wireless microphone (Sony UWP-V1) and produce them ourselves! The quality of our videos has definitely gotten better over the years, but the premise of our videos remains the same: to help us achieve our mission of getting the country to cook.”
Measuring ROI: “Customers really like our videos, and we see that based on the numbers of views they get on YouTube. Our most popular video How to Make White Sauce (embedded above) has received over 165,000 views. Videos are just one tool we use in our content marketing strategy to provide free, valuable, relevant content to our customers.”
Video marketing tips and tricks: “As far as advice, I’d say just get out there and try video. Start by answering questions your customers have about your product and services. Use video to tell a story. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money to produce a decent video. In today’s world of smartphone video, customers don’t expect videos to be commercial quality in order to gain something from them. We’ve greatly improved since we first started shooting on a Flipcam and we continue to be better with each shoot. Definitely get a tripod.”
Using Videos to “Seal the Deal”: Harvard Business Services
About: Harvard Business Services is a small company located in Delaware that offers incorporation services (i.e. helping other companies form Delaware LLCs or corporations). The company has been in business for 33 years and has helped form more than 110,000 companies. It’s been using videos in its marketing since 2010. While its YouTube channel has only 130+ subscribers, the company enjoys high view counts on many of its videos. Michael Bell, the director of marketing, responded to our questions. He oversees the videos for the company, which is his family’s business.
How Harvard Business Services uses video: “Many people generally do research before incorporating, and many want a quick and easy way to get information about the process. Our main priority with our video marketing efforts was to give potential and existing clients better insight into incorporating their business.”
How the videos are created: “The videos Harvard Business Services creates are informational videos, and we create new videos every year. We produce and direct the videos ourselves, and have an outside production company assist with the actual filming and editing. Once they’re ready, we promote our videos through our blog, Google, Google+, and YouTube.”
Measuring ROI: “We measure our ROI by the number of views received and direct conversions. Our results have been outstanding! We have had more than 150,000 views for all our videos, and our customers have said that once they watched our videos, they immediately decided to work with us. Our clients have indicated that they like to associate a face or faces with the brand.”
Video marketing tips and tricks: “If I had to give 2-3 bits of advice, I would say: Use the resources already available to you. Show people who you really are and make the video real. Don’t make your videos longer than 3 minutes.”
Bonus: Amsterdam Printing Loves Videos, Too!
We’d be remiss if we didn’t share one of our fun videos, right? Here you go!
Do you use videos in your marketing mix? Share some links in the comments along with your insights and tips for fellow small business owners.