ABCs of Online Video: Building a Strategy

Page 2 of 3

      Bookmark and Share

BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Online Video as a Core Product

TrueFire, a music education software publisher, has used video to build stronger relationships with customers and to create a more impactful (and successful) product line. The company offers guitar instruction and online distance learning courses. TrueFire's network of educational resources includes more than 450 artists and educators who serve a customer base of 140,000 students across the globe. Lessons are offered on many music styles and for all levels of student ability.

Brad Wendkos, founder and CEO of TrueFire, considers video to be the main enabler of growth for the company, which started offering audio lessons on cassettes about 20 years ago. The company eventually transitioned to DVDs before TrueFire began streaming video lessons online. Wendkos says the company grew 78% last year, and it produces five times as much content.

"Almost exactly two years ago, everything changed. Today, you can still get these interactive video lessons on disc or you can stream them online. It's more on-demand now," says Wendkos. The company recently extended its online offerings with a platform called Guitar Sherpa, where instructors provide personalized one-on-one lessons and instruction to students anytime in what Wendkos calls "a shifted time environment." Wendkos says these are not live webinars; they enable teachers and students to communicate by "trading video, audio, [and] text messages on demand. It has exploded," he says. "It's been a real strategic shift in how video has impacted the educational space."

There are several ways in which TrueFire creates its video content. The company has studios in Nashville and Florida, where educators and artists film the content. But since it can be impractical to get the musical talent to the studios, some instructors use webcams to film themselves conducting a lesson.

Sending a Powerful Message with Video

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) uses video as another way to provide content about industry news and events to its members. "Our programming is centered around helping enhance our marketing efforts, but also to inform our membership and [provide] education and certification," explains Brian West, TIA's director of interactive media.

TIA has a video studio inside its Arlington, Va., headquarters with a full-time staff of four dedicated to the video department, according to West. He says that TIA does not position itself as the main source of information for its members. However, he notes that the association considers its value proposition the ability to add analysis and additional value to that information. "We may not be the first source of information, but you'll hear the most in-depth perspective from us," says West. "We provide a more focused story." TIA did that with text content, and now the company accomplishes that goal with the addition of video content.
Among the programming that TIA produces are episodic programs, as well as live webinars and other educational programs that explore the various facets of the association. West says TIA makes those episodes as long as they need to be. They could be 5-minute discussions or hour-long presentations. On average, the shows run for 20 to 40 minutes, West says. There is also a "news of the week" program. All programming-live and on-demand-is available on www.tia
now.org. Individuals have to register (for free) to view the videos.

West says TIA's studio has only been in existence since late 2010. From January to July 2011, the association produced more than 60 programs, not including more than 150 hours of footage from the TIA 2011: Inside the Network event in May. West adds that using the technology and tools available, such as those from Market7, enables a small staff to produce large quantities of programming "to help them be more productive," explains Kenvin. This can be especially helpful for people used to producing other forms of content.

TIA has quickly improved its video processes. Fortunately for the association, support for the video component didn't take that long. TIA's board members were supportive of a video strategy from the beginning, says West. "It's been very well received [by the members]. It wasn't an obvious demand. People don't [initially] realize they will find it as valuable as they do," adds West.

As long as content providers can show value through their video offerings, the volume of content delivered through this channel should only continue to increase. Videos have to provide that value-add, just as the text predecessors did (and do). "With video, you have to put yourself in the viewer's perspective," says Palmer. "It has to be able to show problems being solved."

Video can also be used as a tool to show how a content provider can solve problems for its stakeholders. Palmer says Reprints Desk also uses video as a marketing tool for itself and its customers. Wendkos says that TrueFire also uses video to promote the company. "We had relied on static web pages, but then thought, why don't we communicate our marketing with video?" says Wendkos. Site visitors can now see 60- to 90-second videos describing how TrueFire's programs work.

Page 2 of 3