Posts Tagged ‘web video’

The use of web video in an overall marketing plan – a real-world case study

July 20, 2011

Kelly Roell is the co-owner of Nautical Landings, a waterfront vacation condominium destination on the Gulf of Mexico in Dunedin, Florida. Already doing well with promoting her business, Kelly and her partners wanted to find ways to increase the total number of vacation rental bookings year-round. Kelly hired Digital Media Services to produce a promotional video to be used on the Nautical Landings website.

Following is a series of questions I asked Kelly about her various marketing efforts and her decision to add a video to her website. Through her answers, Kelly provides valuable insight about how to approach the idea of web video and how to integrate it into an overall marketing plan. Small business owners and those looking for new marketing avenues will find her responses honest, candid and quite sensible.

Slating the first shot of the day

What type of marketing efforts were you using prior to hiring Digital Media Services to produce a web video?

I advertised Nautical Landings through a variety of outlets including several different vacation rental websites, our own web page, Twitter and Facebook.

Why did you feel that adding web video would help your overall marketing plan?

I couldn’t create the feel of being at Nautical Landings nor capture the beauty of the place with just my still camera. I knew how effective videos were in hotel marketing and how effective commercials and movie trailers were in capturing the essence of the product they were selling. I wanted a video to capture what it felt like to vacation at Nautical Landings in order to set us apart from our competition.

What were you looking for in a video production company?

I needed someone willing to work with the vision I had in mind. I already knew what I wanted to do with the video because I’d scoured between 75 and 100 videos on every subject – from weddings, movie trailers and commercials to vacation real estate – to get a feel for how it could be done.

Shooting the introduction to the video

Why did you select Digital Media Services to produce your video?

I looked at Digital Media Services’ body of work and compared it to others. I had upwards of 30 videographers I was selecting from. I chose Digital Media Services because of their previous work, their professionalism, their willingness to work with my vision and their proposed cost. It couldn’t be beat.

What was the process like for having a production company shoot and edit your video?

Simple and painless! The Digital Media Services crew was courteous and willing to shoot and re-shoot for the perfect shot. They were flexible, making changes on the fly, and had an ease about them that made us all comfortable. They helped us get the best possible shots in the time allotted and worked the entire day to get our video right.

Shooting on the dock, being careful not to step back!

What involvement did you have in the production and post-production processes?

Digital Media Services said that they’d put something together for me with the music I’d selected based on the vision that I had. They nailed it! We literally only changed one or two things after they’d spliced the video together because they had listened attentively to what I wanted. 

What was the strategy behind launching your new web video?

I Tweeted about the new video to come for about three weeks prior to the launch. I posted updates on Facebook indicating the video was coming and I sent an email to all of our past guests informing them to be on the lookout for the video. When Digital Media Services posted the video on our YouTube channel, I Tweeted it, posted it on Facebook, updated all of our vacation websites with it and sent out emails.

What expectations did you have in adding video to your website?

I expected more traffic, for sure, and I got it. Not only did I get more traffic, I closed sales more often than I used to. As soon as I showed people the video, it sold them on our property because they could then visualize themselves staying at our place. The business was doing well already but we had a large percentage of traffic that wasn’t turning into rentals. Once people rented with us, they ALWAYS were happy and many came back, but I wanted to shrink the number of guests who were choosing other vacation destinations besides ours.

What specific results were obtained by adding video to your website?

I haven’t done a detailed analysis of the data but I DO know that 9 times out of 10 if someone is on the fence about renting and they see the video, it makes their decision for them – they stay with us. Our rentals were up by 40% compared to the previous year. This year, even with the addition of another condo into Nautical Landings, we have been booked 100% since December 19, 2010.

Sometimes you have to get on the ground to get the best shot...

Are you happy with your decision to add web video to your marketing efforts?

Extremely. It was a smart move on our part!

How does using web video compare with your other marketing efforts?

I feel that video is always more effective than words, even with the best writers on the team, especially when you’re trying to convey a feeling. Our video showed our guests what our pictures couldn’t – the wind blowing the palm leaves in the breeze and friends gathered, chatting during a sunset. You can describe those things and take pictures of those things but a video (done properly!) can create a feeling than other media cannot.

To what type of businesses would you recommend adding web video to their marketing efforts?

What type of business wouldn’t benefit from a video? Any business selling a product or service whether it’s food, massages, bicycles or vacation condos would benefit from a web video.

Why is it important to hire the right production company to produce your web video?

You need a team that is timely, professional and, more than anything, understands your vision. No one understands your product like you do and a production company can help you showcase it, but they have to be willing to listen to your needs.

Using the old technology (printed shot list) as well as the new (iPhone & Kodak Zi8)

What are you final thoughts on your decision to add web video to your marketing?

It’s the best marketing decision we’ve made thus far.

What are your final thoughts on choosing Digital Media Services to produce your web video?

We obviously were thrilled with Digital Media Services – we chose them to do another video for us again when we purchased an additional condo. We’d hire them again in an instant.

Keeping the lens clean

Kelly’s small business doesn’t have an unlimited marketing budget. In fact, they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to afford a high-quality video production. But by listening to what Kelly wanted and what she felt would help her sell her property better, we were able to come up with a proposal that showcased the enjoyment Nautical Landings offered without breaking the bank.

Web video doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective – it just has to be done right. It’s all about presenting a visual message that communicates to the viewer at a level proportionate to the value of the product or service you’re selling. However, it’s vitally important to make a distinction between home movies, amateur video and professional production. Home videos and even low-budget or do-it-yourself videos are fine for communicating with family and friends or even presenting short, casual information about your business.

But when it comes to producing a video that will serve as a primary focus in presenting your company to your clients and potential clients, you’re likely to do more harm than good by not working with a professional.

Of course, if you’ve set aside a considerate amount of marketing dollars to focus on video, the possibilities are almost limitless! We’ve produced video content for some of the biggest names in their respective industries with incredible results. Adding production value in terms of camera movement, cinematic lighting, unique locations, talent, makeup, wardrobe, etc. can really produce some fantastic results.

Feel free to contact Digital Media Services or post comments here about your experiences with web video or if you have questions regarding how video might help you grow your business or communicate your message. Wether you’re announcing a new product, introducing your staff, providing education information, delivering commentary or simply looking for new ways to grow your business, web video can often be the best method to accomplish your goals. And we’ve not even touched on the increased traffic generation, better web search response and other SEO benefits web video can bring!

The finished Nautical Landings promo video…

Top 5 Tips For Producing Your First Web Video

April 20, 2011

I started producing web videos back in the early days of streaming media before we had YouTube, Vimeo or Hulu and when a 300 kbps video stream was considered high bandwidth. Today, streaming video services are accountable for almost 40% of all Internet traffic and broadband connectivity has allowed video producers to offer high definition, cinematic-quality productions.

Video is everywhere. It can be a valuable tool for communicating or entertaining and is continually becoming easier to produce and access. If you work in a marketing-related job, are a small business owner or otherwise have a need to communicate to an online audience, you may be considering increasing your online video offerings or perhaps testing out video for the first time.

With so much online video available today, how do you create something that will stand out or at least be effective in sharing your message to your targeted client group? Well, gone are the days when simply having video on your website was unique. You need to be a little more savvy than that.

In our nearly 15 years of traveling the world producing video for online viewing, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and have learned valuable lessons and gained specific insight into how to produce the most effective style of video for a given industry or audience. To that end, we present our Top 5 Tips for Producing Your First Online Marketing Video:

1. No one cares about what you think…they want to know that you care about what they think. Yes, I know that’s a bit harsh and was admittedly partially written to serve as an attention grabber. But the point is this: you need to present your message with your audience in mind, not your own corporate fiscal objectives. Time is valuable to most people. They don’t have even a few minutes to waste watching a hard sales pitch, a series of commercials or something that’s not what it was advertised to be. Unless you offer something so unique that it sells itself, you need to present something of value to your audience in your online videos. This doesn’t mean you can’t use video as a sales tool. It is, in fact, a great sales tool. It works like this…if you consistently present something of value as it relates to your business, organization or area of expertise, you can begin to become a trusted resource for a particular topic. If you own a shoe repair business, for instance, consider creating a video about what types of shoe polishes you’ve found will help shoes last longer. Are you a financial planner? Perhaps a video that introduces the basics of various types of investment products would be useful to potential clients just getting started in investing. An experienced video production company can help you develop an effective script or outline. Over time, you become the person that comes to mind when a conversation about shoe repair or investing arises.

Way back in late 2000 we were asked to produce a promotional film about the brand new Raymond James Stadium. The film was to be distributed to 65,000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans as a give-away to those attending an NFL game at the new stadium. Obviously we knew we had a target audience of Bucs fans, football fans and Tampa Bay-area residents. Working directly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marketing staff, we made sure to include script and visual elements that would be of specific interest to our audience…

2. Be short and to the point. We’ve already mentioned that people value their time. This is especially true of web surfers. The internet is a source for quick answers, instant gratification and almost unlimited options for finding what you need. Your videos should follow suit. Remember, your information is probably not 100% unique. You’re likely not the first and you probably won’t be the last to present video about your topic. So, make sure that your video is the most effective one by providing information quickly in an easy-to-follow manner. Your video – especially if it’s your first video – should provide the intended information within the first 30 seconds or so. Supportive or explanatory information can follow. Most video viewers have an attention span for a maximum of 2-3 minutes. If your video is boring or doesn’t quickly provide the information the user is expecting, you’ll be lucky if someone watches longer than 15-20 seconds. One of the first tasks we often tackle when producing a video for a client is to edit their script. An outside point of view by someone who’s created lots of online videos can often be the tweak you need to help your video go from good to great. So don’t be afraid to let your script be massaged a little. You can always direct viewers to more in-depth videos, brochures, web pages, etc. if you feel you have more information to share.

Tony Michaelides is a record-promoter-turned-publicity-coach who was in need of a short video to help launch his new business venture, an organization that assists rock bands, artists and corporate executives in building their brand. Being a former band publicist, Tony loves to talk. Getting Tony to think in 1-minute sound bytes was quite a challenge but necessary if we were to create an effective introduction to his services. We wrote, produced and edited the following video for Tony’s EPK website..

3. Remember to accurately represent your brand. Your online video is just a single component of your overall brand; it should work in coordination with the rest of your brand elements to put forth what you hope positively and accurately represents what your company, group or idea is all about. There are some facets of your brand identity that are simply out of your control. You don’t have much of a say over what a journalist writes about you, what someone in the grocery store line overhears about you or what feedback someone writes about you on a website. This makes it all the more important to use the elements of your brand within your control to present a clear, strong message. If your company brochure, yellow pages ad and website all talk about how your company stays on top of the latest trends and utilizes the latest technology in your product and service offerings, you certainly don’t want your online videos to look like they were produced with equipment found at a garage sale. I’m not saying that an effective web video has to be expensive; I’m just saying that your videos are a visual representation of your brand – make sure what viewers see is in alliance with what you say your brand is. If you want your brand to be fun, exciting and energetic, then guess what – a bland, boring video doesn’t support your stated brand. Likewise, if you want to promote a brand that can be described as serious and strictly professional, then create a video that showcases those ideals. A simple but effective exercise we often ask our clients to complete is to write down the 4 or 5 core elements of their brand and then compare that list with their video script or outline. Does one support the other? If not, some reworking may need to be done. Seeing visual evidence in the form of an online video that you are who you say you are can go a long way to developing a strong brand identity and can build trust between you and your audience.

The S.S. American Victory is a World War II-era merchant marine ship that is now serving as an historical tourist attraction, educational facility and event location. The non-profit organization asked us to produce a promotional film that would give website visitors a taste of what they would discover upon a visit to the ship, which is docked in the Port of Tampa. Our goal was not to provide a complete overview of the ship but to entice viewers of the video to want to come see the ship in person. According to the organization’s staff, board members and retired military volunteers, we hit the brand essence nail right on the head…

4. Be visually, topically or personally interesting. You’re not going to develop a reputation as a master of online video by creating mundane talking head videos about topics few care to hear about. You need to be able to capture a viewer’s interest. If you have an outgoing, likable personality and enjoy speaking in front of an audience, use that charisma to its full potential. Be known as the geeky guy, the crazy girl, the wordsmith, the funny man or the southern belle. Having a “hook” will get people to watch; providing them valuable content will get them to watch again. If strong presentation skills aren’t what make you who you are, then be interesting by using your writing skills, your superior subject knowledge, your vast experience or your ability to provide statistics. Find a way to stand out using your strengths. Everybody’s good at something; find a way to incorporate what you’re good at into your videos. And if you’re afraid your weaknesses will be difficult to disguise on camera, then work on becoming better at what’s holding you back. We provide many of our clients with presentation skills training which help them become better video makers. The goal is not necessarily to become a master orator but to simply to become more comfortable presenting. Watching yourself on camera and getting constructive feedback will go a long way to becoming a better video maker.

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday is an annual free jazz concert weekend held every October at Coachman Park in Clearwater, Florida. The event has been going on for over 30 years and we were asked to create a promotional piece for the 2010 event. Not being able to use actual recordings of the performances, we had to come up with an interesting way to present the essence of the event using picture and sound. We decided that a tilt-shift time-lapse technique would provide interesting visuals while showing viewers what the concert was all about…

5. Create opportunity for follow up. Advertising professionals always encourage their clients to include a call to action in traditional advertisements like television commercials and billboards. Ads can tell viewers to stop by a store, call a phone number or visit a website. With online video, we have so many more options for follow up. We can tell viewers to subscribe to a newsletter, to become a Fan on Facebook, to follow us on Twitter, to read our blog, to send us an email, to tune in to more videos…the list goes on and on. Always encourage your viewers to follow up with you in some way. And make it easy for them to do so. Make sure links to your contact information and all of your social media sites are on the same page as your video. Have a way for viewers to sign up for an email newsletter. At a minimum, take a moment in your video to tell the viewer to check back next month for a new video or a follow-up news article.

I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by online video pitches over the past several months. Well, it’s for good reason. Video can be a powerful tool in communicating to your online audience. Just this week I received a call from a client for whom we produced a promotional video showcasing her vacation rental condominiums. She’s had such an increase in business – in no small part because of the video – that she’s now able to purchase an additional property! She’s asked us to now go back and update the video to include the new location. Online video works!

But just having any old video on your site likely won’t bring you riches. It needs to be an effective video. Consider these 5 tips and partner with a video production company that has the experience, skill and knowledge to produce something that will bring results.

Thanks for reading. We welcome all comments and questions. And good luck with you online video efforts!

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

March 29, 2011

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.