When a large brand like Pepsi or Old Spice decides to use video, there are a lot of factors they have to consider: What message is their video expressing? How will it affect their customers? When should they release it for maximum impact?
Small businesses have to contend with all those same issues, but with smaller staffs and less money. Despite the challenges, there is value in video for small businesses, even if you're a video greenhorn. We found four businesses that have had real world success thanks to video.
These are just some examples of what to do, and even what to avoid if you're looking to add video to your small business' promotional mix. What advice can you offer? Has video been a hit for you? Let us know about your successes or lessons in the comments below.
1. Pen Fishing Rods: Michael Di Pippo
Yup, you read that right, pen fishing rods. Odds are it's hard to wrap your head around the idea without the help of the video above. Michael Di Pippo is the inventor of the "world's smallest fishing rods and reels." About the size of a large pen, the rods telescope out to reveal a fully functional fishing rod of five feet, three inches. Based out of New York, the company has four full-time employees and distributors worldwide.
Di Pippo decided to use video, specifically YouTube, to give product demos and preview his product because there was a built-in market, it was free, and he was able to add tags like "Fishing," "Camping," and "Outdoors" to give his videos more reach. "If you can make a product look like it's fun, effective and great in a video, it would be enough to make other people want to join in and make videos with your product," Di Pippo said. "To date there are more than 100 videos on YouTube made by happy customers from all over the globe using my products."
Because of this exposure, Di Pippo said his company has experienced phenomenal growth. As a result, Di Pippo puts constant work into maintaining his company's video presence. He makes sure to respond to user comments, which turns into sales. "[Users] would ask specific questions about the products and as long as you were polite and answered them, the customers felt like you took the time to interact with and cater to them," Di Pippo said. "So they decided to reward your kindness and spend money with the company."
2. Her Campus: Windsor Hanger
Her Campus is an online magazine and college marketing firm aimed at providing news and resources to its predominantly college-aged female crowd. Founded at Harvard, it has grown to include 112 other college branches with their own reporters and editors. The site started to use video as a way of engaging its audience, and as an ace in the hole when dealing with marketers. Co-founder Windsor Hanger explained: "We ran a marketing program for New Balance, for example, in which we had college students vlog about their workouts. A lot of the videos took on a really interesting instructional slant -- the girls started teaching our readers the proper way to do crunches, for example." Being able to show that on video made them more enjoyable than reading dry, instructional text.
Hanger estimated that 5 to 10 percent of Her Campus's client deals now have some video component. Still, there are challenges to adding video -- it can be difficult to tell what videos will perform or go viral, and it's difficult to factor video content and tags into your site's SEO. "The more video you do, the better idea you'll have of what resonates with your readers and what doesn't," Hanger said. "Even if you can't predict which videos are going to go viral, videos add an extra element to your site that will make you more approachable to your customers/users/readers."
3. Valencia Property: Graham Hunt
When the real estate market took a hit, Graham Hunt shaved his business selling properties in Spain, down to a one-man show. Online tools, including video, have helped him stay on top of the market. Hunt initially made videos to show off houses to potential customers, but realized their broader use: "I soon realized that my clients, usually foreigners from Northern Europe and the States, don't just buy a house; they buy a lifestyle and a dream. So I started making videos about what it was like to live here."
Hunt made 100 small tip videos in the span of four days and began releasing them on video sites like YouTube and Tubemogul every day. The videos help to pre-sell both the home and Hunt himself as a local authority. "People come here after following the videos and are already pre-sold knowing that they can trust [me], because I have previously told them everything they need to watch out for and they already 'know' me."
As a result of his video, Hunt says his client visits increased by 225 percent and sales and rentals more than doubled. Hunt has also been approached by publications and media outlets for information on locales in Spain.
The main challenge for Hunt was finding the right tone for the videos. He needed to appear knowledgeable but not come off as a know-it-all. "The best bit of advice is really just to do it. I use a simple Kodak Zi* for the videos and have incorporated an external mic for the 100 videos," Hunt said. "Doing the recordings is easy. Editing is a bit more long winded."
4. Remontech: Cesar Abeid
Remontech provides remote monitoring for construction projects as a tool for project management. Essentially, they will set up cameras to enable you to see a construction project as it happens. A family business based out of St. Thomas, Ontario, Remontech has fewer than 10 full-time employees.
Video was a no-brainer for Remontech, whose product is itself video-based monitoring. The company features time-lapse videos on their homepage: Aside from showcasing their product, the videos are also an entertaining look at construction as it takes place. "We market to the well-established construction industry, where it is hard to introduce new technologies," said Remontech Project Manager Cesar Abeid. "As a result, we constantly need to educate potential clients on what it is that we provide and why it will enhance their construction management experience. Since our services are highly visual, we realized that it would be better to show our potential clients what we do, instead of simply talking about it."
As a result of the videos, Abeid says the company has landed sales, increased traffic to their site, and charted a significantly lower bounce rate. Abeid also mentioned the ability to add video tags to YouTube videos, enabling the company to reach a larger audience. As he summarized: "A picture is worth a 1,000 words. A video is worth 1,000 pictures."
Image credit: cliff1066™