December 22, 2014

Online Video and Small Business Go Hand in Hand

Small businesses are agile. They’re known for being innovative and creative. They’re able to test and try things far easier than a larger company. As a small business, you want to use this to your advantage. Yes, I know you’re swamped with limited resources, but so many of the great things you can do for your company don’t actually require that large an investment.  You just need the nerve and foresight to try them. Like starting down the road of using online video to connect with and engage customers and boost your search engine rankings.

But…we don’t have time for that!

Before you mentally list off all the reasons why online video won’t work for your small business, let me tell you why it will.

As a small business, you can use video to engage your customers and make more personal connections. While your competitors are trying to sell with text on their barely functional Web site, you establish yourself as a company who gets it. Using video allows you to speak directly to your customers, looking right at them and using your real voice to tell them why you’re the best at what you do and how you can help them. It’s the difference between picking a name out of a phone book or calling up a friend.

How do you use video for your company? Create informative How To content and video tutorials that you can market to help you get links and visibility. For example, if you run a local pool company, create videos explaining how to do all the in between maintenance that’s required before your next visit. Show them how to use that new vacuum, how to set up their filter, how to winterize or summarize their pool, how to chlorinate their pool, how to set up the perfect pool palace, etc. Take all the questions you get from customers every day and turn the answers into video content for your Web site. It’s a powerful differentiator that will set you apart and make you even more useful to your customers. But that’s not all it will do.

At yesterday’s Google Searchology event in Mountain View, Google’s VP of Search Products & User Experience Marissa Mayer informed everyone that Universal Search results are present in 1 out of 4 Google searches. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Universal Search was a change to Google’s algorithm that put media content like blogs, video, images, news, etc, right in with the regular Web search.

That statistic is important because it means if someone does a search for [how to winterize my pool], the video that you created and uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo may begin to rank very competitively, gaining your business a considerable amount of traffic and links that will help you rank in local search. And if the searcher lives in your area, then you can be pretty sure they’re going to contact you for services. Because now they know you. They know your name, they know what you look like, they’ve heard you explain to them in a friendly tone all the benefits of using your company. That’s how you differentiate your small business from all the other “me toos” out there.

Butwe don’t have the budget for that!

Yes, you do! This is the Web. You don’t need pockets of money to do impressive things. You don’t even need the best video equipment. Last week David Ingram posted a great guide to video search marketing for small businesses on Search Engine Land. In the piece, David specifically mentions how DIY yourself video is perfectly suited for small businesses because it’s just like you. It’s relatable, it’s friendly and it’s all about who you are. That’s what your customers are looking for.

If you’ve never consider using video to connect with customers and help your site rank in Google’s local search, I recommend you give the Search Engine Land guide a read. It may open your eyes to a whole new way to increase your search engine rankings, while also connecting with customers in an intimate way.

33 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

33 Reactions

  1. Great article Lisa. I totally agree with you, but I was hoping you could add one more thing to the article: What recording device (digital camera, Flip Mino) would you recommend to non-tech business owners on a budget?

    @robert_brady

  2. Videos are a trend nowadays, especially when starting out a business. Your article has opened new ventures in marketing our ads. We at http://redhotfranchises.com are using these strategy and it helps not only us but also our franchisors in promoting their products and services.

  3. I think video makes a lot of sense. In a time where the consumer is being pulled in so many directions, and attention spans are extremely short, video can be the answer to capturing them and getting your message across.

    Matt

  4. Video sounds expensive but is actually very inexpensive to create. You really don’t even need a video camera to do so.

    My digital camera can record short video clips up to around 4 minutes in length. I can then take those short clips and easily use Windows Movie Maker (which came installed on my computer) to edit the clip, add audio, add scene transitions, etc.

    It costs nothing but a little bit of your time to put out something professional looking and you can get really creative with the music, transitions, etc.

  5. Video is a good way to get you noticed above all others. You can do so many cool and unique things with the use of video. If I was selling products, I would give demonstrations of the product on video. Showing people what you have to offer and why your product is ideal would be a unique way to attract customers and connect with them.

  6. Lisa,
    I really like the no-excuses-here approach to your post. Hold our feet to the fire and make us take action on all these great suggestions.

    Travis’ post was quite helpful, too, and you may have already read it. He offered ways to use video platform without video, which is helpful for the procastinators among us… Some practical comments in there, too.

    http://smallbiztrends.com/2009/05/5-reasons-youtube-social-marketing-strategy.html

  7. We’ve been making videos when we can using a $500 HD camcorder and iMovie, which came free with my MacBook Pro. (And my time of course!)

    http://bakersdog.com/blog/category/videos/

  8. Great article! We get more and more requests at our web design firm for video integration all the time. Another big trend is Walk Outs – those videos of a person shot on green screen, and matted out to make them appear to walk out on to the web page. Thanks.

  9. Creating great video for your website is really not as expensive as you might think. You can spend almost no money and make something functional. Or you can spend a little bit and get something that really looks great!

    If you are interested in adding video to your website, let me know – I can put something together that will work for you.

    Nate Hanson
    Pilothouse Films
    http://www.pilothousefilms.com

  10. Video is a great way for a small business website to get noticed in all the internet clutter. Your tips are spot on, Lisa. Create videos that look natural and answer questions for the consumer.

    A cheap, easy way to do video is using a Flip camera. You can do some crude editing with online tools and easily transfer the video to your computer via the Flip’s built-in USB plug.

  11. Yes. Exactly. Esp. that YouTube is becoming really, really popular and sometimes used as SEs by users. Then we must grab that opportunity while it is hot.

  12. Having worked with a number of small business owners, I’ve become a big fan of online video. It is the one form of communication that most naturally mimics in person, educationally-oriented sales interactions.

    Every successful business owner can explain what they do and answer FAQ’s to a prospective client. Not every business owner can write good website copy or write a good email newsletter.

    For some reason I can’t explain, a lot of business owners that are good in-person, verbal communicators have a surprisingly amount of difficulty getting the same point across in writing.

    Either they don’t do a good job, or they find the writing process so painful they never do it consistently.

    In addition, I’ve found that in in-person selling, 70% of the communication and persuasiveness of the conversation is from non-verbal body language.

    1) Is the business owner really passionate? (Or do her words say buy this product, but her posture says don’t buy this thing?)

    2) Do they come across as sincere and trustworthy? (Or does your gut say they’re shady)

    3) Do you get good vibes from them? (or do you get the, “he just wants my wallet” feel from him)

    All of these points are very difficult to communicate effectively in writing. In fact, it takes a master writer to make this happen in text.

    But virtually all successful business owners cover the points above in every day interactions with prospective clients.

    Just get half that conversation into video and you’re done.

    In terms of equipment, I use both the Flip Mino HD (love it!) and have a Canon HV30. The usability of the Mino is awesome… I take it everywhere I go.

    The quality of the HV30 especially when well lit is amazing. (I never knew my pores were so bad!) Yes, it’s really that clear (but perhaps that’s a bad thing).

    I’ve gravitated to using the Flip mostly because it’s easy. I’ve stopped doing any editing. Don’t do any re-encoding.

    I just hit record, say what I’m going to say, hit stop, and hit upload to internet — boom I’m done.

    I used to do lots of editing to make the whole video look very professional. (An example of a HV30 video with studio lighting and some editing http://www.askvictor.com )

    I still do that for a few key videos, but for content “how to” type videos, I found it took so much time that I was better off doing 10 simple Flip videos than 1 high production value video (that involves 60 minutes of studio lighting setup and tear down, reserving studio space and time, real time importing of video into my PC, editing, and then rendering).

    So these days most of my videos are with my Flip Mino HD. Here’s an example of one if you’re curious:
    http://www.victorcheng.com/hosting-weddings

    You’ll notice these videos have a really authentic “man on the street” kind of quality to it. And in my business, being approachable is just as important as being credible. So I’ve found the flip videos great for showing people you’re just a regular person just like them.

  13. Oh My! Victor, you could already have published one separate post for your comment. Anyway, it was interesting to know that non-body language communication is more effective. Btw, how did you get that conclusion? Did you conduct a survey or something? It’s interesting.

  14. Lisa,
    As both you and David Ingram noted, DIY ads are a great way to go for small and medium-sized businesses that want become online advertisers.

    Our service, SpotMixer (www.spotmixer.com), allows our SMB customers to break down the barriers to video advertising by repurposing assets from creative they already own (such as audio from a radio ad) to make and use their ads.

    Once a business has created an online video ad, it can test it inexpensively on cable TV via services like Google TV Ads, with which SpotMixer has a partnership. Check out http://www.spotmixer.com for details.

  15. Video is an opportunity for small businesses and enhances opportunities to tell stories about ourselves and businesses. There isn’t a client that we don’t tell to go out and buy a Flip Video and add relevant video to their online presence. One resource that is particularly interesting for small business is HelpersMarket (client) where video can be added to online business listing. They are seeing some really good additions and uses of video.

  16. How many of you guys have got a Flip video camera? I am thinking of getting on sometime in the foreseeable future.

  17. @Martin I have a Flip and it is a good tool quickly shoot and load video on to the internet. The one weakness of the Flip for internet video is sound. It has a built-in, external mic that that is not directional. So it picks up everything. If you are in a big room or a noisy environment, you will not get good sound results with the Flip.

  18. Everything has its own advantage and disadvantages, Jay. I think I could still bear with Flip cameras considering how affordable and handy they are.

  19. Great article, Lisa! Many small business owners and marketers don’t grasp the potential of online video and how easy it is to achieve good results with a $200 hand-held camera and a little effort. Video gets a message across in a much more personal manner. It is great for demonstrating products/services, introducing the company and people who work there and building relationships with potential and existing clients that extend far beyond a brand, product or service. We have an article on a similar topic on our blog: http://endavomediablog.typepad.com/endavo_media_blog/2009/02/businesses-missing-opportunties-to-tell-their-story.html

  20. MyClipAd, http://www.myclipad.com, is a place where you can get the advertising video clips you take to the world and your local community, so people will know the services and products you provide. It is a very easy and effective way to broadcast your own video advertisements/commercials on the Internet, and it is free.

  21. It’s great to see so many people excited about online video marketing — it’s even better if you make a video that gets your business high organic link exposure on Google. Video search engine optimization gets great results and Google wants to see your videos. If you are into website SEO to get links on Google to your website, then you absolutely should add to your link generation potential by doing video SEO!

  22. I agree with almost everything the writer has said except the DIY video part. We have all seen home movies where the lighting isn’t right and the audio is terrible. You can do your damage to your business image if you get this wrong.

    But don’t despair, Producing a professional piece to camera is quick to do and not expensive, thanks to the technology we have today. We at Video Innovations have produced short promo’s for as little as $600. When the audio is crisp and clear, the lighting just right, your message will hit its mark.

  23. We produce online videos for small businesses for exactly these reasons. We provide a cost effective solution for professional video, we’ve made sure that all business can afford one! Watch some videos online and see what you think: vizable.com

    We’d love to hear your comments!

  24. I’m in PR. I strongly recommend to my clients that they do a video. It makes marketing so much more personable. With a Flip, anyone can make a video, however, the script is just as important. Editing can be time consuming. For a finished professional look, leave the editing to the pros.

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