If you’re a small business owner, being camera shy is more than just a personal insecurity – it’s a trait that can threaten your livelihood. Study after study has shown that using videos is now more important than ever to promote your business. Consider that online shoppers, on average, consume up to 16 hours of videos per week, according to a study on video marketing statistics by Wyzowl.
Videos provide what text can’t, which is both audio and visual stimulation. A little more than 87% of consumers surveyed said they’d rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Additionally, over half of consumers say that they watch video product reviews before making a purchase, and most said that they believe videos explain products better than text.
How Can Videos Benefit Your Business?
Many small business owners, however, are still reluctant to make videos to benefit their enterprises, either because they believe video production will cost too much, or they simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of putting themselves in front of a camera. Including videos on your website or for social media, however, can benefit your business in a myriad of ways and may not cost as much as you think. Videos can:
- Gain a following on social media. A strong social media strategy for your business can invite thousands of followers and produce a huge return on investment. In 2021, the video-based social media platform TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular domain in the world, showing that browsers prefer watching videos on their social media platforms than all other types of posts. Since then, Instagram and Facebook created algorithms prioritizing videos over photo-based posts.
- Tell your story. A short video introducing your story and how you became a small business owner can form an emotional connection with your customers and thus increase your sales. Whether it’s on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, or your own website, a clever video about you and your brand – rather than a block of text that drones on – can bring followers and increase business.
- Win grants and other contests. Winning free money is always good for business. Grant opportunities for small businesses have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Many grant contests, including Kapitus’ $250,000 Building Resilient Businesses contest and the FedEx Small Business Grant contests accept video submissions for prizes.
- Provide customer testimonials/product demos. Consumer researchers have shown that a large majority of buyers watch product reviews before making purchases, so it’s no surprise that one of the most effective marketing tools are videos showing customers raving about your product and demonstrating how your product is meeting their needs.
- Improve your internet search rankings. Much like you do with your website and blog articles, you can add meta data and descriptions for your videos, thus increasing your chances of popping up in search results on Google and other search engines.
Should you Hire a Video Production Company?
There are hundreds of companies out there that can provide you with the necessary equipment and expertise on how to create effective videos for both your website and social media and give you a much better chance of getting an ROI on your videos than if you made them yourself. While a good video production company can help you tremendously, their services will probably set you back thousands of dollars, depending on the video you’re making and how long you plan to be shooting.
If you believe that investing in a video production company will help you, you need to do your research as you would before purchasing any other product or service. Search for reviews and testimonials about the company before you hire them, and have the company give you examples of past videos they’ve made for other clients to get a sense of their style.
How can I Create a Video?
If you decide to go it alone, there are several cost-effective ways to make your own promotional videos. Whether you’re creating a video to promote your products, telling the story of your business or submitting a video as part of a grant contest, you’re most likely going to need to invest in some equipment and editing software, take time to learn how to make an effective video, as well as get your creative juices flowing on how you will connect with your audience.
That said, to make a video that will grab the attention of your viewers, there are several steps and suggestions you’re going to need to follow:
#1 Invest in Video Editing Software
You want your video to be sharp, visually appealing, have the right background and be well-edited. Including minor special effects and a custom background will also help make your video more attractive, and this is where video editing software will come in handy. Popular software editing video packages such as InVideo, Adobe Premiere Pro and Cyberlink’s PowerDirector 365 can easily walk you through the process of making a great video and add the effects you’re looking for, such as customized backgrounds, audio effects, streaming images and lighting options.
These packages can typically cost several hundred dollars but are significantly cheaper than hiring a video production company.
For example, check out this storytelling video from a small business, which used video editing software to compile and smoothly streamline images and audio to tell the story of Sipping Streams Tea Company.
#2 Purchase Video Equipment
Obviously, you want your viewers to be able to clearly see and hear you in your video, so it’s worth making an investment in some basic video equipment. Video equipment doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. While a $2,000, high quality hand-held video recorder would certainly be useful, you don’t have to spend that much. A basic tripod, an updated smartphone with high quality camera/video recorder, a small microphone and the right lighting can do the trick. These are low-cost items that can turn you into a video wizard overnight.
(Pro Tip: Make sure you don’t have bright lights behind you when you’re speaking into the camera, so you don’t end up looking like a shadow. Also, use a good microphone so that your audience can clearly hear you.)
#3 Have a Script Ready
Before you make a video, carefully consider who your audience is and spend time crafting your message to say exactly what it is that you are seeking to convey.
Remember, when you make a video, this is your chance to speak directly to your audience. You may want to make flash cards highlighting the most important points you wish to make, as well as informing your viewers of the value you bring to them.
For example, this educational video from River Pools is a great example of a small business owner succinctly articulating the informative points he wants to make in a visually friendly way.
#3 ‘Same as it Ever was, Same as it Ever was’
That’s what viewers will be saying if your entire business video is simply someone’s face blandly speaking in front of a plain white wall. So, unless you’re a member of the popular 80s band Talking Heads, you generally want to avoid being a talking head in your video. You can do this by featuring varied and colorful backgrounds to keep the viewer engaged.
This video from the 2022 winner of the FedEx Small Business Grant competition, the SuitShop, for example, does an excellent job of smoothly transitioning between visually appealing images and clearly articulating its message, which set it apart from other contestants.
#4 Plan and Coordinate for Product Demos/Customer Testimonials
One of the most effective videos for your business is a video of real customers demonstrating and raving about your product. These videos, however, will take more time and effort to produce than others. While advice about lighting, sound and colorful backgrounds still apply, you’re probably going to have to get real life customers to agree to be in your video and create scripts for each of them. Second, you may have to shoot in multiple locations, and third, you must make sure your product can be easily demonstrated.
This is where you may want to hire a video production company to ensure you get the highest possible ROI on your video. A great example of a high-quality customer testimonial video is this one from Magic Flask, which showcases customers using the product.
#5 Social Media is a Different Animal
Social media video posts, especially for the world’s most popular video platform, TikTok, require different types of videos than ones you would create for your website or YouTube. These videos shouldn’t be professionally made, rather, viewers should be able to relate to them on a personal level.
When making a short video for TikTok or Instagram, you should first ask the question, “What aspect of a person’s life should I be showcasing, and how can I showcase that in an amusing and entertaining way?”
Here are some examples of successful small business videos on TikTok that are both affable and entertaining.
#6 SEO Your Videos
Now that you’ve made a video for your business, you want people to be able to find it. Google, however, loves content that has a mix of text, videos and images, so when you go to embed your video on your website, it’s important that you optimize it with keywords in the description, as well as meta tags and descriptions so your video appears in the results of searches on multiple search engines.
#7 Don’t get into Legal Trouble
We live in the most litigious environment at any point in our history, so when you make a video for your business, you want to make sure you avoid legal trouble. This means (among other things):
- Getting permission to use music. Musicians are especially touchy these days, so you want to obtain the proper permission to play a song by a popular artist in the background of your video.
- Avoiding the sight of company logos (aside from your own) in your video. This can even include a Starbucks coffee mug or any other item with another company logo on it, as that has the potential for a copyright infringement lawsuit against you.
- Not having children under the age of 13 in your videos – even though you have the best of intentions, this is something you want to avoid, as the Federal Trade Commission has strict laws against advertising to children, especially if your product involves alcohol.
You may want to run your video by your small business’ attorney before you publish it to make sure everything is hunky dory.
Videos are Essential
Making videos for your business will take time, effort, and some money – depending on the equipment you purchase and whether you hire a production company – but videos now should be an essential part of your marketing strategy no matter what type of small business you own. A well-made video clearly appeals to consumers more than texts and can increase brand awareness, consumer engagement and even revenue for your business.