Video is one of the most effective ways to market your small business or nonprofit. Whether you’re trying to explain what you do, change how people see your issue, services or brand, or clinch the sale, there’s no better way to convey your message.
Are you intrigued by using video but daunted by the prospect? Here are some ideas for creating promotional videos.
Images and symbols have tremendous power to communicate. Simply put, video gets results. Here’s how a few Good Egg Marketing clients are successfully using video to promote their organizations.
CERO (Cooperative Energy, Recycling, and Organics) is a commercial composting company based in Dorchester, Mass. that uses an animated video to explain what they do. “We needed to tell a quick, clean, and engaging story,” says CERO Food Waste Liberator, Jon Butler, who created the video. “At the time we made the video, our service was new and unfamiliar to most business owners. If we didn’t draw their attention in quickly, they’d lose interest before they could see the value in our service.”
Author, entrepreneur, and food business consultant Julia Shanks recently launched The Farmers Office Online, an online course with tools, tips, and templates to successfully manage a growing farm business. The Farmers Office website features an engaging video full of gorgeous farm scenery. Shanks introduces herself, provides an overview of the course, and includes customer testimonials.
“I’m selling my teaching style and myself. People are drawn to my workshops and classes because I make accounting and bookkeeping accessible and fun. A video is the best way for people to ‘sample’ my product,” Shanks says.
Shanks believes that video is equally important for the farms and food businesses she works with. “When you’re in local food, you’re selling a story, not just a product. Videos are a great way to connect with your customer base.”
The Belmont Public Library is an innovative library in a traditional-looking building in Belmont, Mass. Library Director Peter Struzziero saw a video for the Calgary Public Library years ago that he says was “the best marketing for a library that I’d ever seen” and knew the style was something that could work for them. The resulting 1.47-minute animated video they commissioned uses delightful drawings and the library’s stunning new logo to tell locals about the amazing range of services it offers.
“All the feedback we’ve gotten has been positive,” Struzzierio says. “People love it! They think it’s creative. It’s not something they were expecting, so they’ve been surprised by it.”
Common Types of Promotional Videos
- Company story. A company video is a chance for you to share how you got started, why you do what you do, and what’s special about you, your products, or the people you serve.
- Explainers. An “explainer” helps viewers learn a new skill or solve a problem, from how to plan a wedding to how your services work. Explainer videos often use alternatives to live action, such as screencasts or animation, to convey new or complicated concepts.
- Testimonials. Seeing a satisfied customer talk about your business on camera is even more persuasive than reading a review or seeing their photo and a quote. It’s the ultimate in “social proof.”
- Event promotions. A short video is a great way to drive registration for your webinar, workshop, or live event. Viewers can see you or other presenters or attendees talk about what they can learn or expect. You can also do a voiceover as photos or screenshots play in slideshow format. These videos are easy to share on social media, emails, and your website.
- Social media videos. People who see your live or recorded video on a social media channel like Facebook or Instagram are used to seeing amateur videos, so social media videos are a great way to get started. Good choices include Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, a 360-degree product view, or an inspirational video combining a quote, a few still shots, and background music. Self-explanatory videos with captions as they autoplay without sound are a plus.
Figuring Out What You Want to Say
Before you start scripting, think about the purpose of your video, the audience, and how they’re likely to see your video.
For example, if you’re trying to persuade website visitors to buy your product or complete a contact form, your video should demonstrate how you can help them solve a problem, interest, or need.
Company stories, explainers, and/or testimonials can all be effective ways to make your case. To get ideas for what you can do, take a look at videos from comparable businesses.
- Which of the sample videos you watched seemed the most persuasive? Why?
- Is there anything new, different, or complicated that you want customers to know? If so, what’s the simplest, most compelling way you can convey the concept? A person talking directly to the camera? Live action shots? A 360-degree view? A series of still photos? Scenes of the product in action? Animation?
- If you’re in an established category, what factors are most important to your target customers when they’re deciding which product or company to use? For example, is it cost, quality, ease of use, or recommendations from others? Is it your fun or friendly style? Your social values? (If you don’t know, interview or survey your customers to find out.)
- What are the top 3 points that you want to get across to prospective customers?
- What’s your “Call to Action?” What do you want viewers to do after they watch the video?
If you’re using the video to build awareness of your brand, make a list of the places where you’re most likely to come into contact with target customers before you decide where to post it.
- Social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are obvious choices, but not everyone uses them, especially at work. Which platforms are your prospective customers using?
- Are there any online listservs, directories, or websites that prospective customers are likely to use? Even if you can’t advertise or post your video on these directly, see if you can post a thumbnail image of your video with some teaser text?
- Do you have any colleagues or peers serving the same target audience who might share or air your video? Have you researched potential influencers, bloggers, and opinion leaders who might promote your video (with or without a fee)?
For example, the Belmont Public Library didn’t just post their video on their YouTube channel; they got the local cable station to air it during programs. They’ve also gotten it shown as a lead-in at public meetings. And they hope to get their local theater to air it, too.
How to Make a Promotional Video
Promotional videos are one of the most effective ways you can share your story. While many of Good Egg’s clients post an occasional video on Facebook or Instagram, only a handful are using promotional videos to market their businesses. They feel daunted by the time, cost, or expertise it requires.
Before you say to yourself, “Self: This is too much. I can’t do it,” please take a look at your options.
- Do It Yourself
- Enlist someone with some skills
- Hire a professional.
While I’d always advise you to hire a professional if you possibly can, options 1 and 2 are definitely workable.
1. Do It Yourself
If you have a little time, a little talent, and realistic expectations, you can create an effective video on your own. While it won’t look or sound like something out of Hollywood, if it fits with your brand, it can look quite professional.
If you’re just getting started, there are plenty of relatively easy, free software programs you can use for your first productions. For example, Google Photos will let you create short movies and animations, complete with music and titles. Adobe Spark is a free online videomaking program that lets you create videos using your own photos, videos, and music.
Free or low-cost programs like Raw Shorts, Render Forest, Rocketium, and Animoto enable you to create simple videos using a combination of their templates, stock photos, icons, and music and your own photos and video content.
If you create your own video, make sure that you purchased the rights or have permission to use any images or music in your video. There are a number of websites where you can find free or low-cost stock music, such as audiojungle.net, premiumbeat.com, and envato.com.
If you want to include your own video, you can shoot decent-quality video using most late-model smartphones and DSLR cameras. Smartphones include some editing features or you can find free or inexpensive editing software, such as Apple’s iMovie or Adobe’s Spark, and other options.
The biggest challenge for DIYers is to get the lighting and sound right. If you possibly can, shoot outdoors in natural light. This Wistia article on Lighting on the Fly offers some good tips. Wista also has suggestions for setting up good audio, but it does involve buying or borrowing some equipment. If this is too much, you can use a smart phone (as close as possible to the person speaking) to record sound and a DSLR or another smart phone to record the video.
2. Get Some Help
Jon Butler taught himself Adobe Illustrator and After Effects (a fairly sophisticated video editing program), so that he could create CERO’s animated video, with assistance from Elliot Higger of Sunny Mind Productions. Higger advised him on the story arc, feel, and pacing of the video and helped him produce the voiceover.
Creating video is such a popular hobby that you may have staff, colleagues, or relatives with professional equipment and time to contribute to helping you with your video. In addition, many still photographers, graphic designers, and web developers have the necessary video and technical skills. For example, when Good Egg Marketing was redoing our website, we hired our web developer, Lucas Mulder, who has a second life as a videographer, to shoot the video for the site. Since he was already working with us, Lucas folded the cost of the video work into the website project.
3. Hire a Professional
Julia Shanks tried some DIY options, including creating her own video and sending it to a professional editor, but discovered that it’s challenging to get high-quality lighting and sound quality without professional equipment and expertise. She ended up hiring a videographer to shoot and edit the final production; he also helped her write the script. “The videos are very professional and show that I take my work seriously,” Shanks says.
Professional video firms typically start at $10,000 and up for video projects. “If you get quoted a range, like say, it will cost between $5.00 and $15.00, assume it’s going to cost $15.00,” says the Belmont Library’s Peter Struzziero. “Get a locked-in price if you can,” he recommends.
Planning Your Video
Spend some time writing down and visualizing what you want to say. Even if you’re planning to hire a video company to write your script, you’ll be more likely to get the video you want if you can share your vision with them. Try one or more of these approaches to spur your imagination.
- Brainstorm. Write down everything that you want people to think, feel, or know about your company, product or service.
- Paper: Write each idea on a large Post-it so you can figure out the best sequence as you go along.
- Digital: Use mind mapping software.
- Create a one-page summary: Purpose, Audience, Key points, and Call to Action.
- Create a mood board with images that express the look and feel that you want to convey in your video. You can cut out images from magazines or print out images and single frames from the videos you like and post them on a physical bulletin board. Or use Pinterest or a free online app like Canva to create a digital mood board.
- Create a Storyboard. A storyboard is a series of drawings that map out every shot in your video. Here are some tips.
- Play. If you’re a “I’ll know what I want when I see it,” kind of person, try using a free animator software program like Raw Stock that lets you create a video in minutes using their template, stock photos, and icons.
- Get Feedback. Once you’ve got something on paper that others can visualize, get some feedback. CERO’s Jon Butler advises: “Hold an informal focus group with actual people from your target demographic. See if the look and feel of your video resonates with them before putting in time and money to move full steam forward.”
Tips on Producing and Posting Your Videos
Keep it (relatively) short. Videos up to 2 minutes long get the most engagement on social media, with a significant drop off between 2 and 3 minutes. If you’re planning to post your video on social media, keep it under 2 minutes, or else create a short, teaser version of your video.
Use titles or captions. Approximately 85% of Facebook video content is watched without sound. Having titles or captions lets people know what your video is about and increases the likelihood that they’ll keep watching.
Include a transcript. Google and other search engines can’t watch video, but if you include a transcript for your video, search engines can crawl the text. Search engines will also index professional closed captions.
Get your video found online
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a mix of tactics that can help your video show up in YouTube, Google and other search engines.
- Create a video based on a single keyword phrase you want to target. Use that keyword phrase and related terms in your video. (Make it sound natural.) YouTube search bots are automatically converting your audio into text and indexing it to find relevant keywords.
- Optimize your video title and description. Use catchy titles and descriptions that contain your keyword in a natural way.
- Use Google My Business Videos to create engaging listings.
- If your goal is to get people to watch your video and increase awareness of your brand, posting on YouTube might be the way to go. With 1,300,000,000+ Global viewers, YouTube can reach a lot of people. But 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, so you have plenty of competition. About half of the videos posted on YouTube get less than 500 views—ever.
- Even if you include a Call to Action, however, YouTube is typically not that effective at driving traffic to your website. If website traffic is your goal, you could consider posting your videos on your website as well as on YouTube, but give the video a different title on each channel.
- You need to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to help your video get found. This video has great tips for getting found on YouTube.
- Facebook posts with videos are more likely to show up in your fans’ Facebook feed than still images, links, or any type of other content. But if you want to increase your Facebook reach, upload your video directly to Facebook, because Facebook favors videos posted directly on its site than videos posted on YouTube, Vimeo, or other sites.
- According to a Quintly study, videos directly posted on Facebook get 304% more reactions, comments and shares than videos linked from YouTube or other hosting sites.
- If you want to promote your video content, pin your posts so they’re always at the top of your feed.
- BuzzSumo found that hacks, tips, how-to, inspirational, and humorous videos performed the best on Facebook, with food videos getting the most engagement of any topic. In addition, they found 60-90 second recorded videos got the most interactions.
- Facebook favors Facebook Live even more than recorded video. Try to get as big an audience as you can by letting your fans and followers know in advance that you’ll be streaming live on Facebook. If you can, broadcast for at least 15 minutes, as interactions will continue to increase for that first quarter-hour, when they start leveling off.
Posting directly on your website
- If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, your best bet is to post your promotional video directly on your site and use search engine optimization to help people find your content. Posting a video directly on your website is the best way to drive traffic to your website.
- There are many options for posting videos on your site. When you’re choosing one, consider a program like Wistia, which is designed to support marketing videos posted directly on your website. Wistia automatically sets up coding for the web pages that embed your videos to ensure that Google can read and index the video, helping to improve your search rankings for your video.
- When you post videos on your website, you should try to post them above the fold for maximum visibility.
- You can still use social media to drive traffic to your video. For example, you can post a thumbnail image with some teaser text on Facebook. Or create a short version to show on Facebook, with a link back to the full video on your site.
- Instagram offers more limited opportunities for promotional videos than some other social media channels, but it’s still a great way to engage current and potential customers.
- Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so it offers less functionality on the desktop. You can’t take or upload videos to Instagram from a desktop computer.
- You can either record a new video or upload an existing video directly from your smartphone. You can add a filter, a caption or your location before you share the video. The maximum video length is 60 seconds.
- If you’ve linked your Facebook or Twitter accounts to Instagram, you can share your videos to them. You can also embed your Instagram videos on your website.
- Instagram Stories enables you to post a video (or photo) for 24 hours. This feature is incredibly popular; more than 250 million people use Instagram Stories every day.
- Instagram stories are a great way to post video content that’s more spontaneous and perhaps less thought-out than the content that will be a permanent part of your feed.
- When you post an Instagram Story, your profile photo will show up at the top of the feed of everyone who follows you, highlighted with a ring around it. Your Story won’t show up among your regular Instagram posts or in the main Instagram feed. After 24 hours, the Story disappears, unless you choose to highlight it. If you want to keep your Story, you can save it or share it as a regular Post.
- To create an Instagram Story, tap the little Camera icon in the top left of your screen or swipe right. You can record a video to post later or broadcast live. You can create a Story using existing images from your Camera roll, too.
- There are also special effects options, such as adding texts or stickers. You can use the Hashtag sticker to add your own hashtag.
- Here are some tips for how to use Instagram Stories for your business.