The real story on the effective use of web video (by those who’ve done it for almost 15 years)


I’ve been reading more and more lately from companies trying to sell you on the benefits of adding video to your website. Some of what I’ve read is great advice but much of it is simply a means to get friendly with your company checking account. It’s quite true that adding video to your website can be beneficial. When incorporated properly, online video can bring SEO benefits and can allow you to better connect with your website audience. As we all know, some messages are better-communicated using picture and sound than using text alone.

The first online video I produced (back in 1997) was for the bank and trust division of a regional financial firm who needed an effective yet inexpensive means to communicate to their nation-wide staff of sales professionals information about new SEC and banking regulations and the company’s new product offerings that addressed these regulations. The production was a simple studio shoot of the division president addressing the camera but was much more personable than an email or memo and allowed the viewers to see and interact with one of their company’s top executives in a manner most of them previously had never been able to. Seeing one of their company leaders enthusiastically discussing the new products and offering ideas on what type of clients the products might be suitable for brought the communication from what would normally have been a bunch of text on a page to a well-received message that more efficiently educated the sales staff and gave the company an advantage over competitors who would be printing and mailing out a bunch of brochures and white papers. The simple video presentation was so effective that it immediately became the norm for the company’s internal sales presentations and quickly expanded to all divisions of the company and eventually to client communications.

Whether you own a law firm, a manufacturing plant or a lawnmower repair shop, there’s definitely a place for video on your website. We all have customers that we need to speak to and video can be a powerful influencer. But making the decision to hire someone to produce a video for your company website shouldn’t be the end of the story. As with buying a car, a steak dinner or legal services, there’s an abundance of choices, prices and quality levels among video production companies. And don’t forget about experience and training. Who’s going to be able to provide you with a more effective web video production – someone who dabbles in video as a hobby or someone with an extensive background in producing video content for marketing, branding and advertising campaigns?

Producing a client testimonial web video

Sure, cost is always an issue. But I’d bet that most business owners would agree that spending $500 on a product that brings you no return of any kind is not as fiscally responsible as spending $2,000 on a product that positions you an a leader in your industry and prompts viewers to get in touch with you. Choosing a professional services provider on cost alone is almost never the best way to go. The other extreme is valid, too. There are plenty of companies out there who will gladly take your hard-earned money in exchange for a template-driven, cookie-cutter video that’s barely customized to you, your business or your needs. Finding the right balance of cost, quality, knowledge and experience is the key.

And keep this in mind – a poorly-conceived or badly-produced video may actually do more harm than good. Imagine coming across a website for what seems to be an interesting new household product then watching their promotional video that uses dim lighting, is poorly-edited, has continuity problems and is way too long. There’s a good chance that you’d be left with a negative impression of that product. No video at all may have been a better option for the product manufacturer!

To help our readers get started on embarking on an effective web video marketing plan, we present some of the most common uses of online video. What follows is certainly not an all-inclusive list of what types of video can be used on the web – the possibilities are almost endless – but a brief overview of some of what we’ve seen to be the most effective uses of video for the companies for which we’ve created content. It’s been our experience that every web video production should be a unique entity; what works for one company may not work for another.

Scene from an introductory web video

Introductory video. For companies with modest marketing budgets or who are just beginning to add multimedia to their website, an introductory video may be the best starting point. An introductory video typically provides a “first contact” between a business owner and his or her potential customers. It may consist of a welcome message, a special offer or an overview of the website. Its effectiveness comes from the simple fact that a website visitor can gain valuable insight into the individuals who own or operate a business by seeing them on camera. Their personality, appearance, level of professionalism and enthusiasm (or lack of)  are all on display. By providing a simple video introduction to your and your company, you immediately position yourself one step ahead of your competition because a potential client feels that they know who they’re dealing with.

Company overview video. For a step beyond the introductory video, many businesses choose to produce a company overview video. With this type of video, a viewer can gain more insight into the company officers or employees, the range of products and services the company offers and what makes the company unique. A company overview video can be a valuable tool in encouraging potential customers to pick up the phone or send an email message. This is especially important for businesses who offer common products and services. If a potential client is shopping for a roofing company, for example, and they come across a website that features a professionally-produced video about who owns the business, what kind of training and experience they require of their roofers and how they give back to their community, that potential client is certainly going to be more likely to want to be associated with that roofing company.

Product & services video. Some companies prefer to use online video to showcase their products and services. If your product selection, manufacturing process, company facilities or range of services speaks for itself, then a product & services video may be the way to go. Think of it this way – if your business is based on what you sell and not who sells it, why not show the world just how great your product is? This is especially important if what you sell is so unique that text and pictures alone don’t adequately describe it. I once stumbled across a website that was selling a special plumbing tool that helped remove stuck shower valves (I was in the midst of a DIY home repair). I read the product descriptions and even studied the photos on the site. But it wasn’t until I came across a YouTube video showing the product in use that I fully understood how it worked! And by that time, it was too late; I had already purchased a competing, less effective product at my local Home Depot.

Scene from a client testimonial web video

Client testimonial video. Alternatively, many of you are in the people business. It’s your company management, your salespeople, your product specialists, your customer service representatives and your employees that set you apart from your competitors. Why not let your clients tell the world why they choose to do business with you? I recently completed a web video for a small but very successful life insurance provider. When I was initially contacted by the client, I immediately began trying to think of ways to create a compelling video about a group of life insurance salespeople. But shortly after I began speaking with the client in detail, I realized that this company was special. They were so specialized in what they did and managed their clients needs with such expertise that I concluded that there was virtually no one else like them. And in speaking with a few of their clients (who happened to be high-net-worth, notable individuals), it became apparent that no better script could be written than what was to be shared by these clients. Satisfied clients are always one of the best sales tools a company can have.

Educational video. A company might choose to produce some sort of educational video in order to present themselves as experts in a particular field. I have a legal firm client who specializes in defending victims of DUI car crashes. This law firm knows DUI law and related legal material so thoroughly and has such in-depth trial experience that they rarely lose a case. In fact, they’re considered such experts that they assist Florida judges in drafting interpretive briefings for DUI law cases. Part of their online marketing efforts include short videos designed to assist other DUI attorneys understand how to best prosecute drunk drivers. And you know what this does? It positions this client of mine as a statewide expert in DUI law and, in turn, helps create considerable business for their DUI Training Seminar classes. Pretty effective use of online video in my opinion.

Final screen from a traditional TV commercial

TV commercial. While creating a 30-second or 60-second TV commercial to post on your website may be one of the first ideas that comes to mind, it’s sometimes one of the ideas we recommend the least. The reasoning is simple – unless you’re willing to invest the time, effort and financial resources necessary to create a really strong spot, a TV commercial simply may not the best platform to present your message to an Internet audience. Why? Well, for several reasons. First, an internet audience is not the same as a television audience. Visitors to your website are likely actively seeking information; they’re not being forced to sit through your message while waiting for a different program to resume. Presenting your message in the traditional TV spot format might miss the mark in speaking to your audience. Secondly, your message is not being sandwiched between competing messages on either side. Therefore, there’s no need to be bound by creating a message in which the main goal is to be different than what was presented a few seconds earlier. Finally, why limit yourself to the format of a commercial? Being confined by a strict 30 second or 60 second time slot or spending time presenting phone numbers and other contact info with tag lines at the end serves no purpose. You’re better off creating a message directed specifically to those who have chosen to visit your site. All that being said, there’s nothing wrong with presenting a series of TV commercials on your site. I’d just recommend it be a supplement to your other messaging as opposed to your main online video efforts.

As previously mentioned, there are almost unlimited possibilities for making effective use of web video. I’ve worked on web videos for football stadiums, for retired maritime battle ships, for high-end home builders and for luxury cruise liners. The key is in creating something that visually communicates your message to your target audience in a manner that compels your viewers to want to learn more. Video can present your product, people or values in a manner no other medium can. Web video doesn’t have to cost a lot to be effective but has the potential to serve as the core component of an entire branding campaign.

Scene from a web video for Carnival Cruise Lines

In seeking out a production company to help you with your web video efforts, we suggest you find someone who first takes the time to understand your business and your goals for utilizing web video and who communicates with you in a clear, professional manner. If they can follow that up with evidence of their skill, experience and knowledge in producing quality, effective video communications, you may have a winner. Finally, if they can present you with a variety of customized products that satisfy your budgetary needs, they’re likely a good choice.

So, if you haven’t already done so, take the plunge and add some video to your website. Start small if you like and build from there. Or, if you’re ready to make a dramatic change in your marketing efforts, a powerful series of video messages may be the way to go. In either case, a well-designed web video campaign has almost no downside, unless your goal is status quo.

Contact Digital Media Services for more information on producing effective web video. We’d be glad to answer any questions you may have about incorporating web video as part of your marketing efforts.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: