Videos for SMBs: Don't Be Intimidated


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Article ImageCreating a business video has never been easier. Vine and Instagram let business owners become mini-James Camerons by shooting 6-second and 15-second videos with a smartphone. And longer form videos (30 seconds to 60 seconds) need not break the bank, as video creation services such as Animoto.com enable content creators to make unlimited videos for less than the price of an iPad mini, a small fraction of the $5,000 that a professionally produced video would cost. Yet challenges remain for small and medium business owners who want reasonably priced, quality video on their websites. Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are wary of video, afraid that it will cost too much and not turn out the way they expected it to.

There are many reasons that SMBs are feeling the call of online video. A primary one is that retailers are finding that it sells a lot more widgets. And even if a business doesn't sell its products online, videos can markedly improve the company's Google visibility.

According to research cited by Animoto, the following are true:

  • Potential customers who view a web video are 64% more likely to purchase than other visitors, according to comScore.
  • Zappos found that products with videos outsell products without video by more than 35%. Shoeline.com puts that figure at 45%.
  • The chances of getting a page one Google listing increases by 53 times with video because of the lack of competition, according to Forrester Research.
    • "It's really important to think like a story teller," Jefferson says. "You really don't want to have a collage of photos with no purpose and no narrative arc. It's good to have some text up front, the hook for why you should want to watch it in the first place. Then add some images or clips and then something punchy at the end and a call to action. Set the hook and try to drive the action. ... For a real estate agent, the hook is to call me. For a photographer, after a wedding they'll send the bride and groom a branded video and the couple will send it out to their guests. It's really an ad for the wedding photographers."
    • "I'd tell them that small budgets are no problem for online video," Dreier says. "They don't need to create a James Cameron film. All they need are some simple videos explaining what they do, demonstrating products or services and answering common questions. Shooting them on a smartphone and hosting them on YouTube is fine."
    • "Thirty to 60 seconds is what we find to be a good length for videos, especially the first one," Jefferson says. "Later you can do longer ones."
    • "Try to create one a week (stick to a regular posting schedule), keep them short and promote them on other social networks," Dreier says.
    • "The last thing is to keep it snappy; you want people to get to the end of the video," Jefferson advises.
  • Why is video becoming almost necessary for SMBs? Troy Dreier, senior associate editor at OnlineVideo.net and StreamingMedia.com, says video provides an essential quality other forms of marketing lack: It's sticky. "Video is a great tool because it stays online and discoverable by potential customers," he says. "While other advertising or marketing efforts will fade away after a campaign has run, video hosted online is always there to satisfy customers looking for information."

    Video is a savvy way for businesses to do content marketing, according to Brad Jefferson (CEO and co-founder of Animoto.com), because "people are attracted to hitting the play button," he says. "I think the personality of a company comes out a lot through that story telling process. Ultimately that helps the emotional side of a purchase. Can you trust this company? Do you really believe in this product?

    "Video can take you through this rollercoaster of emotions. Of all the art forms it does evoke more of the senses, auditory and also the visual. There's an emotive quality that I think people enjoy."

    Yet for all of video's advantages, many SMBs are skittish, if not outright intimidated, by the process of getting the little box with the Play button on their websites. "On the consumer side video is just becoming mainstream," says Jefferson. "With Vine and Instagram, anyone with an iPhone can create a six or 15 second clip. It's not intimidating anymore, yet it's still on the bleeding edge for business. Most businesses understand that video has benefits but it's still really daunting for them."

    Jefferson listed four main reasons that SMBs have not caught the video bug. "Perceived cost" is the main impediment, he says, noting that a professionally produced video can cost from $1,000 to $10,000, with about $5,000 being the average. Other prejudices against video include the time commitment of the business owner and the fear that even a professionally produced video "won't turn out the way you want it to," he says.

    Another fear is that the expensive, professionally produced video will be quickly outdated, but new tools and companies are making updating your video easier and more cost-effective than ever.

    Dreier and Jefferson offered these tips to SMBs that would like video on their sites:

    Dreier and Jefferson indicated that most visitors to websites don't expect HD quality mini-movies such as the Dollar Shave Club video that has almost 11 million YouTube views. But they do have some minimum expectations. "Poor audio will make people click away immediately," Dreier says. "Be sure that the sound is clear and loud enough. If not, shoot in a quieter area."

    Video is becoming mainstream with consumers; they're not intimidated by creating and sharing them. It seems as if business video is not far behind.

(Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.)