By Tracy Vides

Video is the most effective form of content marketing. Both B2B and B2C marketers swear by it.

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Despite this, not many small business owners are demonstrating readiness to include videos into their marketing mix. Understandably, most of them are holding back because of perceived budget issues. However, it is a misconception that video production requires mammoth budgets with a crew of video producers, sound engineers, animators, and so on.

More and more businesses today are showing us that all you need to create good videos is a good concept and a good quality cam or a smartphone. Once equipped with this paraphernalia and basic knowledge of video editing tools, every business out there is ready to create interesting video content.

In this article, I am going to share some simple but clever ways small businesses can create and promote videos that appeal to their audience. I hope that after reading this, business owners will be more confident and better prepared to create videos like the pros.

Capitalize on Users’ Needs

The first idea every small business owner thinks of is to create a video with their product in action. But these intro videos are dreadfully dull with a “tutorial-like” feel to them.

No matter how great your product is or how outstanding its features are, if it is not fulfilling anyone’s needs, it is not going to get you anywhere. So the focal point of your videos should be users’ needs and not your features. Instead, try and think of all the benefits your product can possible bring to your users and all the ways what ways they could possibly use them in.

For instance, in their four-part series Facebook connected real life scenarios with their product features.


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Now compare this Facebook video with this tutorial video or this one from Raleigh Hotel. It is evident how small business owners focus too much on their product, almost to the point of obsession.

Every feature of your product fulfills a need, so instead of dragging on about the usability of your features, create videos that highlight the scenarios which create a need for your product or feature. Try and understand how your product’s feature is fulfilling someone’s need.

If you want to be a successful video marketer don’t show “what your product can do” – instead, focus on “how your product can help.”

Sharpen Your Scissors

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words, found Dr. James McQuivey (Forrester Research).

Armed with this interesting knowledge, don’t you think 1.8 million words should be enough to tell your story? No? How about 3.6 million words?

The fact is one or two minute videos do much better than their longer counterparts. Jeremy Vest, CEO of Vidpow, stresses that “video is not a medium for long-winded,” so get straight to the point.

True we have seen a fair share of tear-jerking long videos from Google, Budweiser, Dove, Expedia, etc. but we have also seen good short videos that have amassed the same amount of praises and views.

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Remove the frills and thrills from your video and make it as crisp and bite-sized as possible. This way, you’ll not only generate more views but will also have budget to create even more interesting videos.

Think Series Vs Standalone

Instead of lumping together all your features in one massive video, create a series of short videos that are linked to each other. Or, you can follow up your primary “hit-single” video with shorter, related videos.

Standalone videos might help you solve the purpose or even go viral and hit great numbers, but a series will help you to build a steady flow of fans and subscribers. People love video series for the suspense they build up. Besides, there’s more room for creativity.

Consider the example of Vanity Fair. For their 100th anniversary, they invited filmmakers with diverse abilities and backgrounds to create “The Decades Series” – videos that take you down the memory lane of their century-old history (if you are that old, of course).


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Also check out this video series by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a California nonprofit corporation. Their 6-minutes videos are a bit long-winded; nevertheless, they shed light on privacy rights and security issues in a very interesting and empathetic way.

Show, Don’t Tell

With Facebook’s auto-mute feature on by default, you need to get into the habit of producing videos that show rather than tell.

One way to get around this handicap is to use subtitles or strategically overlay funny or animated text over your video.

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Often, people watch videos while they have no way to listen; animated text or subtitles make it possible for them to get the gist of your video and make sure you don’t lose out on any opportunity to keep your viewers interested.

Don’t Fret Over Perfection

Some of the most viral videos ever were made by amateurs using their smartphones or camcorders. This goes to show that you don’t need perfect videos, professional video-makers, animators, or a $50000 budget to create videos.

Paul Chaney over at Practical Ecommerce tells the story of how online marketing company Bizzuka once made the mistake of creating a $20,000 video with the help of professional videographer. The result was satisfactory, but nothing to write home about. However, when the 2008 recession hit them, they found a way to create videos that didn’t burn a hole in their pockets like the earlier episode. With a total investment of $750, they created a series of short videos, edited them using iMovie software on their CEO’s MacBook, and spent a further $200 on promoting them. The result was – more traffic on their website in two weeks than they usually got in two months.

I am not saying professional videos are a bad idea; all I am saying is that as a small business owner, it is increasingly difficult to stay within your budgets when you have a hundred options for marketing. So, amateur videos could be a great way for you to strike a balance.

If you’ve already built up a good collection of images, slide decks, or other visual content, a nifty and simple iPhone app you can use to turn them into videos is Animoto. This app allows you to import photos from your camera, string them together and create a video with a few edits. You can even add your own music or narration.

Another great idea is to do webinars and conferences using a tool like ClickMeeting, edit them and convert them into short videos that you can put up on your blog or social pages. Other than your internal presentations, you can use ClickMeeting to record:

  • Interviews of influencers and experts in your industry
  • Testimonials from your customers
  • Screen grabs of your customer support team troubleshooting and solving a problem to turn into how-tos
  • One-on-one or moderated private chats a la Google Hangout
  • Videoconferences and discussions with focus groups and brand advocates

Do these and you’re on a roll!

Parting Thoughts

Video marketing isn’t the mammoth monster it is made out to be. Creating videos that tell your story well, if not easy, is certainly not an unsurmountable task. According to Mark Zamora, CCO of Manchu Media, you should go ahead and “just do it, even if you’re not getting results right away.”
Oh and one more thing: video gets 1200% more shares than text and links combined, so if you aren’t surfing the video marketing wave yet, hit the beach right away!

Tracy Vides is a content strategist and researcher who gives small business and entrepreneurs marketing and social media advice. Tracy is also a prolific blogger – her posts are featured on Tech Cocktail, She Owns It and Business 2 Community. Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat anytime!