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June 28, 2011

Planning Your Small Business Video

Most small business owners barely have time to manage their social media presence and conventional marketing. Suddenly, video seems to be taking over, and every business must have videos to share on their own website and

Making videos can sound expensive and daunting, but the process can be much easier – and cheaper than you think – if you assess the project properly.

1. First of all, does video make sense for your business?

You probably don’t need to make a video for your company unless you sell a product that’s complex or difficult to explain.

For example, if you sell socks, you really don’t need a video to explain what socks are, or demonstrate how they’re worn or explain why you’d want socks. Unless your socks are very upscale and you really feel the sheen of the yarn and beauty of the designs won’t show up well in still photos on your website, I wouldn’t likely recommend you bother with video.

Helpful Tip: Assess your current marketing efforts. If you have plenty of business coming in, and your site is working well for you, hold off on video until you’re ready to kick your marketing up a notch.”

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

*What information is difficult for your customers to get from your website and other marketing materials?
*What questions do they have when they call or email your company?
*What could move someone from not understanding your company or products to engaging your company in a deal, or buying your products?

If you feel there’s nothing that really can be explained better in video than in pictures and text, stop reading right now, and go focus your time on making your current marketing efforts more effective.

Okay, so you’ve read all this, and you still feel that video would help you explain your product, service or process to your potential customers. Here’s the process to follow.

2. Figure out where your video should go on your site, and what you want people to do once they’ve seen it.

Helpful Tip: Consult your web designer to make sure it’s possible to add video where you want it. Pull in your marketing advisors and whoever is going to edit your video now, before you start creating it. Make sure you’re on the right path.”

*Which pages on your site need a video to explain things better or get people more engaged?
*Do you want people to buy something once they’ve seen your video? Share it on their social networks? Sign up for your newsletter?

Great, now you know where the video will be placed, who it’s for, and what you want them to do once they’ve seen it. Now for the actual creation process.

3. Write out what you need your customers to take away from the video.

Helpful Tip: Written language is very different from verbal language. Read your script aloud — with someone else is best — and rewrite any parts that are too long or awkward to say.”

This can be forging a more personal connection to your business, understanding a process more clearly or actually buying your product. Translate that message into a few sentences.

This will be your voiceover.

4. Choose the visuals that will convey your message.

Maybe it’s just you sitting at your desk in the office, talking to the viewer as if they were sitting right in front of you. Maybe it’s taking apart a piece of equipment by hand, and pointing to the individual components. Maybe you’re going to demonstrate the many ways your product can be used.

Try to imagine the finished video, and match the visuals to the voiceover. This process is called “storyboarding” in professional video and filmmaking circles. Some of your visuals may communicate just fine without a verbal explanation. If they do, great – you don’t need to force it. Make sure the sequence of images will make sense when they’re presented to the viewer in real time.

5. Decide if music would add to your video.

Music can be nice, but don’t let it be so distracting that people will want to mute it. And please be respectful of copyrights. Using copyrighted music is a quick path to getting your video removed from a site like YouTube. There’s plenty of free stock music out there – check out sites like Rumblefish. You can even use the free tools at to create your own video soundtrack.

A full presentation means visuals, a voiceover and music. But you don’t have to do it all. Just do what makes the most sense for the placement on your site, for your audience and, most importantly, for the desired result – getting someone to learn more, share with friends or pull out their credit card. A demo of how to screw in a light bulb doesn’t really need music or voiceover, right? You could get away with a simple caption.

6. Who is actually going to shoot the video? What format? Do I need a studio?

The ideal person to shoot your video is someone who knows their way around a camera and editing software. It’s also important for that person to understand what resolution and size the video must be for your site and purpose.

Lots of people successfully create video just using a basic camera and a tripod, and experimenting with lighting. You may even be able to do a single, well-practiced take….and in that case, you don’t even need an editor.

If you do need an editor, expect to pay about $50 per hour for someone to pull it together for you. Be prepared – it can take a lot longer to edit a video than to shoot one. Your editor should be able to give you a digital copy of your video, exported to the proper resolution for your site or YouTube – wherever you plan to display it. You may be able to find someone good on Craigslist or or ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations.

You may need an experienced professional or video studio if you plan to do animated effects, or if you’re going to work with multiple actors, sets or locations. This will probably cost you a good couple thousand dollars or more.

7. Promote your video.

Video shot, edited and placed on your site! Now it’s time to share it in your newsletters and link to it from your company’s Facebook page, Twitter account and other social-networking presences. Ask your staff to blog about it and share it with their own social circles. Be sure you mention your video at in-person gatherings and use it during sales calls and presentations.

Helpful tip: Give your video a title that includes the important keywords that are relevant to its content. You do want it to show up in Web searches for those keywords…after all, you want lots of people to see it, and videos are an increasingly important part of search results.”

Tracking is really important. You need to know how many times your video is viewed, and whether people are responding to it as you hoped or expected. Tracking will help you determine whether video makes sense for your business. Sites like YouTube offer you a fair amount of detail. You can use Google Analytics to track views of the video on your site, how people get to it, and what they do once they’ve seen it.

Now you know a lot more about what it takes to create a marketing video. If it was all too much for you and your company to handle, consider calling in some help to assist you with creating the concept, production or marketing the video….or all three.

Good luck!

Want to learn more about video marketing? Read Video Marketing 101 and How To Add Your Logo to Your Video.

Can search engines see your home page? Check it out with the free Home Page Analysis. For a deeper analysis of your entire site, try an AboutUs Site Report.

This article, originally published on, was contributed by Amy Dubin of Amy is the owner of Ringleader Communications, a firm that provides creative consulting services and technical solutions for tech companies and other small businesses in Portland, Oregon.

6 Responses to “Planning Your Small Business Video

    It really is too bad that people are jumping on things just to do something. How I handle a video project is to meet with the client, determine what their features advantages and benefits are, and tell their story in an engaging way to create interest, understanding, and hopefully answer “What does this mean to me?” Respectfully (to the author) I assure you I could tell a story about one’s sock business that could not be conveyed with stills. If a picture tells 1000 words, how does 29.97/second sound?
    I believe that if you budget a bit of money into this, and hire a professional with sales & marketing saavy, you can reap the benefits. If you are going to shoot it using a tripod, and someone experimenting with lighting, don’t bother.
    Remember if you use YouTube, they offer imbedded players that don’t take up your band width.
    Here is a sample that was done for a Tourism cooperative in Simcoe County Ontario Canada to show some winter activities.

    avatar Wayne Clark says:

    Video is one of the best tools to use for getting your message out and creating back links to your website. Every business should be using video, regardless of their products or service. There are a lot of compelling ways to tell these stories. One of the most popular for many of my clients is creating scenes where their employees are involved. This creates a market for sharing the videos on mobile devices and Facebook pages. Many companies can find their videos go viral by just doing this. One construction company we created a “Tarzan” yelling contest between divisions, which turned out not only funny but brought a very human touch to a big corporation. Over 50 employees participated in this, and was shared by all on their networking sites and mobile devices. Its still going around now after 6 months. Every company needs to do video!

    avatar Beamer says:

    Not a big fan of video. Just about every ad I get in my email box says “watch this video”. I would rather read the information. Some video formats crash my pc even with high speed cable internet access.

    Tried to watch one yesterday about a product I was very interested in purchasing. It crashed my pc twice, which ended up in huge frustration for me.

    I contacted the company to see if they had other material I could read online. They didn’t. I have cable internet and updated flashplayer, so, that wasn’t the problem. They suggested clearing cookies and all that garbage.

    Not going to jump through hoops just to watch a video. In the end they lost a sale and my money stayed in my pocket.

    When using video, it would be great to give potential clients the option of reading the material instead of having to sit through a video.

    Videos make me sleepy because I find them boring. I can read it faster than having to listen to somebody talk in my ear hole from my pc. It’s like sitting in a classroom listening to the teacher drone on and on and on and on about drivel.

    Give me something I can read for myself.

    avatar Amy Dubin says:

    I agree with Steve at the top, to an extent, in that one can be extremely creative and don’t have to take the ‘talking head’ approach, but every business is different and operates at various economic levels and so the advice is practical for all. I would love for people to be creative with it, be good storytellers and have fun, and no-I don’t think you need to have a huge budget to accomplish that, but that it does require some investment. Which is why companies that can’t really afford to do it in a beneficial way, or in the way they like might choose to pass on doing it altogether. I don’t agree that ‘every company needs to do video’!

    avatar Web Copywriter says:

    I think video can be a highly effective marketing tool when used in the right context but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for great written web content. Most users want information at a glance. So they may be put off if they have to play back through a video to find details they want to return to after an initial look-through. So much easier just to glance back over a well laid out, succinctly written web page. When watching a video, people must necessarily watch the whole thing to get correct information flow. A written web page by comparison allows viewers to pick out key points or information ‘nuggets’ they are particularly interested in. A video script must work extra hard to convey all the information viewers need and deliver a hard-hitting call to action. Having said all this though, I’ve seen video work in brilliant tandem with good web copy. Viewers get a whole experience as well as hard and fast information they can look back over, print and access easily without any technical ‘glitches’.

    avatar Web Copywriter says:

    I believe video can work in brilliant tandem with good web copy but should never be used as a substitute. A great web copywriter can achieve experiential appeal through written content without the need for video. Web copy offers a quick, permanent reference point for viewers too. So no need to playback, forward through or re-watch a video to get the nugget of information you want. Having said that, a relevant video with a strong script and creative direction teamed with effective web copy can pack a powerful marketing punch.

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