Video advertising isn’t just for savvy startups anymore. Major brands are starting to take innovative approaches to the new video opportunities, setting an example for the mainstream business potential video has.
Dunkin’ Donuts, for instance, just launched a Vine billboard campaign during Monday Night Football season. Just five seconds in length, it was the first-ever TV ad comprised totally of Vine video.
But it doesn’t take major brand recognition or a billion-dollar advertising budget to make video work. Anyone with a little creativity can find a use for it. If you want your small business to jump into the video field, these four tips can help you get started:
1. Your best asset is in your pocket. Lou Bortone, a video marketing consultant who works with entrepreneurs, says his clients are typically shocked when he insists that video marketing doesn’t have to cost much—or even anything. “They ask what camera to use, and I tell them it's in their pocket—meaning their smartphones," Bortone says. "I use the iPhone and the iPad to shoot almost all my videos.”
2. Emphasize a compelling message. CNN, Ellen DeGeneres and plenty of other TV broadcasts use Skype to conduct interviews, Bortone says, “proving that it’s the message that matters, not the technology.” That means as long as you have a relevant, compelling message to share with your audience, the quality of the video is secondary. Keep it consistent with your brand image, though; otherwise your efforts won’t support your brand, and the video will fall flat.
3. Take advantage of low-cost tools for video marketing. There are plenty of low-cost applications and tools to make video marketing easier. Bortone suggests VideoScribe ($25/month) for sketch-style videos and PowToon.com (free) for pro-style animation. And while YouTube has a built-in editor you can take advantage of, there are third-party tools for that, too, such as Loopster.com (free) or WeVideo.com (free to start).
4. Tap into your customers for content. You don’t have to produce the videos that market your products or services to reap the benefits. Instead, let your customers do it for you, says Aaron Goldberg, director of marketing for Masa Israel Journey, a company that offers gap year, study abroad, post-college and volunteer experiences in Israel. "User-generated content feels more organic and genuine than content produced by organizations,” Goldberg explains. Many customers, affiliates and supporters will jump at the chance to play a part in their favorite organization’s marketing campaign. Offer a small incentive or run a contest, and your customers will literally do the work for you.
Going Viral With Video
The ultimate goal with video marketing is, of course, to go viral. The more recognition and views your videos get, the more you’ve offset any production costs—either through increased brand awareness or direct revenue from resulting leads.
How can you help the world pass your video along? “Viral videos make us laugh, warm our hearts or shock us. So make it entertainingly unique—the most watched videos appear to be situational, organic moments that feature kids, animals and accidents," advises David Burrows, vice president of marketing and PR for Cinsay. "This doesn't always play well into your business pitch, but the idea is to get creative. Watch videos that have skyrocketed to fame, and see what components could possibly relate to your business and products.”
You should also keep an eye on trends, suggests T. Michael W. Halcomb, founder of Conversational Koine Institute, which offers a variety of ways to learn Greek. What videos are going viral? Study them to find out why. If it’s relevant, create a response piece—often, your response video will go viral, too.
Miley Cyrus’s 2013 VMA performance went viral after she was widely criticized for using a provocative dance trend. Then talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel decided to capitalize on that attention, creating a fake video that mocked the trend. Kimmel's video earned millions of views in its own right, simply by tapping into the current trending keywords. It’s a strategy your business can easily replicate by following hot topics and making a relevant connection.
Although video marketing may be one of the most sought-after marketing strategies, that doesn’t mean it’s cost-prohibitive to small business. If you take advantage of low-cost tools, emphasize the message and use the resources at your disposal, even a million-view viral video could cost you nothing.
Angela Stringfellow is a freelance writer, social media strategist and complete content marketing junkie obsessed with all things Web, written word and marketing.
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