Think a pictures worth a thousand words? How about a video? According to research and advisory firm Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth a massive 1.8 million words, making it a unmissable marketing format for your business.
Facebook and Twitter certainly think so. Both are moving away from YouTube and are investing heavily in video within their own platforms, with Facebook enabling users to upload and share videos directly, featuring them prominently on homepages and setting them to play automatically, making them immediately eye-catching.
More importantly, data capturing means video ads can be directed at specific audiences – different ads for different Facebook walls – and information on who watched what can be recorded for future campaigns.
Short, sweet – and often
Regular content is important. Would you only post one blog a year? Or one social media update? Its great to have a professionally produced video but you may only have the budget to do that once a year. However, thanks to advances in technology and distribution platforms, there is real room for shorter,
more focused videos that you can share across the year. There are different ways you can tell you story, like interviewing clients and staff, covering an event, showing the viewer around your premises, demonstrating a new product or service, or just saying hello and introducing your team.
The cost of making video is often considered a barrier and, yes, professional production companies will cost money; even start-ups and students will cost you. So how about making your own?
There is a multitude of decent camera and recording equipment on the market well worth an investment – even a smart phone, if used effectively, can do the job. It can be daunting though, so here are some top tips on increasing the quality of your short marketing video, even on a budget.
Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve? Think about what your end goal is for the video – perhaps you want the viewer to contact you, attend an event, invest in your business or just know your name. Who is your audience, why should they be interested and where they will watch the video? This will determine your style and length of video.
It often helps to think of it in terms of problem and solution. Whats their problem and whats your solution? Dont even touch a camera until youve decided on your key messages and desired outcome.
Keep it simple
Its better to have several short, more focused videos than to try to pack too much content into one long one; very few viewers will continue watching past a minute or so, and many switch off after just a few seconds. When producing marketing films, businesses are often either over-ambitious from the start or more content creeps in during the project.
You may think you can edit it down later on, but your job will be much easier the more focused you are during filming. Plan your shoot, stick to your primary messages and be aware of time.
Whoever is in front of the camera, try not to script it. Trust yourself or your subject to know their stuff and to be able to get their point across in a natural way. Often bullet points are helpful to give clear structure to what youll say and if needed you can chunk it down into short sections to make it easier.
The audience will trust and engage with you more if you are a real, authentic person, rather than just the face of a corporation.
Make yourself heard
For businesses who go the DIY route to video marketing, there are a number of things they may fall down on. The number one problem is planning (or lack of it – see above). But once the camera starts rolling, sound can be an instant deal-breaker; if your audience cant hear your message the project will be immediately pointless.
Position the microphone as close as possible to the person speaking to improve sound quality, ideally with an external mic that plugs into the camera or a special microphone (such as Rode Smartlav+) that uses the headphone socket of a smart phone. If you dont have that kit, or your camera doesnt take an external microphone, get as physically close to the subject as you can and make sure youre in a quiet environment.
Make yourself seen
Lighting is another issue, but there are simple, effective ways to get it right. Keep in mind that cameras need two to three times as much light as our eyes so use natural light if possible, with the sun shining onto the subject and avoiding strong shadows, and add artificial light sources as well where necessary.
Get the composition right
Finally, composition is paramount. Some people seem to just be able to frame a shot nicely, but for those of us who cant, use the Golden Rule of Thirds (where the screen is decided into three, horizontally and then vertically). Many cameras can display this grid, which is helpful guide to framing your subject, for example for an off-camera interview.
Make a connection
Its great to be able to create regular content yourself, but for those really important videos it can be very effective to invest in a professional film company to do the job for you.
However, remember they will be responsible for presenting you to the world, so ensure you choose one that understands you and the values behind your company, as well as having first-rate technical and creative ability. Make a connection with someone who is on the same page and that feels right.
Video shows no slowing down as a marketing tool, so if you haven’t already, make sure you get started. Unlock its value and make your business stand out online.