Using video to market your small business can give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck. In today’s fast-paced world video is popular for many reasons.
- Internet users want to process information fast.
- Video is easy to consume because it consists of a series of pictures and words.
- Video attracts our attention.
As we scroll through social media newsfeeds, there is a lot of noise vying for our attention. There’s so much content to choose from. How do we get our posts to stand out?
The answer is video.
Admit it, most of us prefer images over text. And, we prefer moving images over stationary images.
Not too long ago, the ability to harness the power of video was completely out of reach for the common business owner. You needed to have a team of professionals and a whole bunch of fancy equipment to produce a video. But today, that’s no longer true.
Just using simple tools, that you might already own, and some easy-to-use software, anyone can get start using video to promote your business.
After reading this blog post, you may have with enough video know-how to start your own Internet TV show.
Okay, maybe that’s too big of a promise.
But, by the end of this article you will have an overview of the basics needed to get started with marketing your small business with video.
So let’s dive in.
BASIC EQUIPMENT NEEDED
If you think you need to buy a fancy video camera, you’re dead wrong. You can easily make video using your smart phone and/or your computer.
The camera on your cell phone has incredibly high resolution. With just a cheap little tripod, to hold it steady, you can press the record button and make a video anywhere at any time. Easy Peasy.
Your cell phone has a built-in camera, which allows you to take and save videos directly to your phone. Your only limitation may be how much memory your phone has, so always make sure you check your available space before you begin to make your recordings.
It’s also a good idea to also put your phone on “do not disturb” mode. That way, you won’t get a phone call in the middle of filming. I always forget to do that!
Your computer can also serve as a video recording device. If you have a laptop computer, you have a built-in camera for making videos. If you have a desktop camera, you might need to purchase an external web cam. Today, web cams are relatively cheap and no special skills are needed to set them up.
If you need a web cam, I highly recommend the Logitech HD Pro Web Cam C920. It not only takes great video, but also has an excellent microphone. To set up the webcam, you simply clip it to the top of your computer monitor and plug the cord into your computer’s USB port. Easy Peasy.
One thing that is really important for making business videos, is that you need to have good audio. When you use the built-in microphone with your phone or computer, it can often produce poor quality sound. The audio can sound muffled, tinny, or just not loud enough. Which is why it pays to use an external microphone.
You do not have to spend a lot of money on a microphone. If you are using your cell phone, just using the in-line microphone that came with your phone’s earbuds is good enough. If you are using a computer, your cheapest option is to purchase a headphone/microphone headset. I recommend purchasing the kind that attaches to your computer via USB. It’s easy to connect. Just plug it in and you’re good to go.
You can pick up a relatively in-expensive USB microphone headset for around $25. Here’s a highly reviewed headset on Amazon that is compatible with computers, tablets, and smart phones. Easy Peasy.
If you don’t like wearing headphones and/or you have a bit more money in your budget, we recommend the stand-up USB microphones made by Blue. The Launch4Life team has personally used both the Blue Yeti and the Blue Snowball. They both work great.
And last, but not least, you might want to invest in a lapel microphone (that’s the kind you wear clipped to your shirt) that plugs into your phone or tablet (I haven’t seen one that attaches to your computer – but maybe they exist?).
When you’re shopping, you will want to make sure you choose a lapel microphone with a LONG cord, or has an extension. The microphone you choose is going to be dependent upon the device you use. As a word of caution, if you own an iPhone you will probably have to buy a “dongle” from Apple to allow you to plug the microphone into your phone’s lightning jack.
This can sometimes be the biggest rabbit hole you can fall down. While it’s important to have good lighting for your videos, it’s so easy to get carried away. Some folks go whole hog and purchase an expensive lighting kit that consists of many fancy-dancy high quality box lights and a green screen to use as a backdrop. That’s really not necessary for when you are just starting out.
In the beginning, it’s best to do simple things, like just taking your videos in a well-lit room. The more light you have the better. Or, you could do your filming outside and harness the natural light of a sunny day.
If you have a little bit of money here’s a great idea. Get a small ring light that clips onto your phone or computer. That’s all I have and I love it.
Or, you can get a bigger ring light that attaches to a tripod. One nice thing about using a ring light is that it provides soft lighting, which is very flattering to the complexion.
There are a ton of different ring lights to choose from. Here’s a recommendation for a small 8 inch ring light that is very reasonably priced. As a bonus, it even comes with a tripod.
If you are using a cell phone you are going to need a tripod to keep the camera steady. There are lots of choices out there. But again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Just a small desktop tripod is good enough to start with.
If worse comes to worse, you can always prop your phone up using a stack of books. The important thing is that holding the camera in your hand will make your video come out too shaky.
If you are using your laptop computer or computer with a web cam, you won’t even need a tripod. However, you will want to ensure that your computer’s built-in camera is at eye level. I have found that just setting my computer on a box of Kleenix, gives me the height I need. Just ensures that my head isn’t chopped off.
There are so many tripods available to choose from. Here is a bendable tripod that is compatible with lots of different devices (from smart phones to Go Pro cameras) and has the added benefit of being flexible (so it can attach to all sorts of things.)
Important: When you purchase a tripod, keep an eye out for whether you will also need to purchase some sort of adapter that allows you to connect your smart phone to the tripod. Some tripods you purchase automatically include this adapter, but many don’t. This is an item that is easily found on Amazon. You want to make sure that your adapter allows for both landscape and portrait mode filming.
When you are traveling, nothing beats a selfie stick for allowing you to take great videos. For just a few dollars, you have an easy method to take videos that get a whole group in the frame and/or you up against an awesome backdrop.
Selfie sticks are made to be portable, which makes them ideal for travel. Plus, many of them even have a built-in remote that allows you to set up your shot and then click a button to begin recording.
One word of caution, since a Selfie Stick is designed to take your video at a distance, it’s imperative that you use a microphone to capture your sound. So before you purchase a selfie stick, make sure the length of your microphone cord is compatible. It is precisely for this reason that many people choose to purchase an extender cable with their lapel mics.
It’s probably not in your budget to go out and purchase a professional teleprompter. However, you might be happy to know that there are several apps you can purchase to convert your smart phone or tablet into a teleprompter. This is a great way to stick to written script that you find difficult memorizing.
Most teleprompter apps are very easy to use. Simply paste in your text from a Word document and viola the words will be displayed across the screen. Most teleprompters allow you to customize the font size and color, plus control the speed at which the text scrolls.
The best app to purchase will be dependent on what device you plan to use it with. Therefore, we suggest you do a little homework first. Here’s an article that talks about various teleprompter apps available for iOS and Android.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
There are so many different types of videos that your can create. Which is why it is always good to start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your video?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is the call to action?
Once you have those three elements figured out, you can decide on the format of your video.
For instance, if the purpose of the video is for people to get to know a little about you, then you might want to create a very informal “talking head” video. Which would be a few minutes of you talking casually into the camera and sharing something personal about yourself. When you create a video like this, it’s best to jot down a few ideas of what you’d like to talk about. Creating a simple outline lets you stay on track.
If the purpose of your video is to create a how-to, you would want to spend a lot more time preparing. You would want to know in advance all the different steps needed to adequately teach someone whatever you want them to learn. For videos like this, you will definitely need an outline and possibly a full-blown script. You’d want to also be sure to practice the entire process in advance to ensure you don’t leave anything out.
Here are the some of the most common videos you might want to make to help market your business.
Provides a big picture view of your company’s mission, products, and/or services.
Illustrates how your products or services work.
Highlights an upcoming event to entice viewers to attend.
Candid interviews with key people in your company to help establish credibility and build trust with your target market.
Teaches the viewer to better understand a complex subject or how to do a specific task.
Helps your prospective customer understand how your product or services can help solve their problem.
Case study of a happy customer your company has already helped.
CREATING YOUR VIDEO
Talking Head Videos
These are the easiest and most common videos. You simply hit the record button on your cell phone, tablet, or computer and start chatting. Easy Peasy.
Unfortunately, this type of video can be very intimidating. Just looking into the camera and chatting away can be a challenge fro some people. If you don’t have a perfectly polished and memorized script, it’s so easy to go off on a tangent. Having a teleprompter app, can help keep you on track.
From the viewer’s perspective, talking head videos can sometimes come across as a little boring. So it’s best to make these videos short and sweet. We’re talking 2 minutes or less. Or, you can try jazzing them up with graphics, carefully placed text, or special effects during your video editing. Try to think of ways to help keep your viewers engaged.
NOTE: Vertical vs Horizontal Filming
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make is that when they do use their cell phone to make videos they do it in vertical mode. When you do this it creates a long skinny video. By making a conscious effort to simply turn your phone so that it’s in horizontal mode, you can create a landscape video that completely fills up the screen.
Don’t make this mistake. While your video might look good if you are watching it on your phone. It will look horrible when someone watches your video on a computer or television.
COOL VIDEO CREATION TOOLS
The Launch4Life team rarely makes talking head videos. Which is why I’d like to share some of my favorite cool tools for creating engaging videos.
One of the best video creation tools is a software application we use every day called Zoom. Zoom is videoconferencing program that allows you to meet with people online. You can have face-to-face video meetings with up to 100 people. In addition, you can share your computer screen, share your iPad or iPhone, and even collaborate on a virtual whiteboard.
One of the best things about using Zoom is that you have the ability to record your meetings. After the meeting is over, you can download a copy of the MP4 recording to your computer. You can either use the raw video as is, or you can import the file in any standard video editor.
The Launch4Life has used Zoom to hold online meetings, webinars, and even one-on-one trainings. We then repurpose the video recordings for our social media posts, YouTube videos, and even as content for online courses.
There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. On the free plan you have 1-on-1 meetings with no time limit, while group meetings (3 or more participants) have a 40 minute limit.
To learn more about Zoom, watch this video: https://youtu.be/VnyitUU4DUY
This is an excellent tool that allows you to record your screen, record your webcam, or record your screen and webcam together. This is one of the easiest tools to create how-to videos.
Loom works with both Mac and Windows. However, since it is a Chrome Extension, you need to be using the Chrome internet browser to use Loom.
There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. On the free plan you can create and store an unlimited number of videos. However, you can only access 25. Videos that are stored in Loom can be shared to Social Media channels or shared via a link in an email. You also have the option to download your Loom videos to your computer.
To learn more about Loom, watch this video: https://youtu.be/sxcwsoIqRr4
We just love this cool tool. Lumen5 allows you take your blog posts and create short video trailers.
This is one of the easiest tools I’ve ever seen. You simply paste in the URL of your blog post, and Lumen5 uses Artificial Intelligence to create a short video for you. What’s really awesome is that if you don’t like the video that’s automatically created, you can customize your video by swapping out any of the text or graphics.
You can make your video even fancier by adding in royalty free background music. There is a free forever plan, as well as a premium plan to access additional features. The free plan allows you to make 5 videos per month.
To learn more about Lumen5, watch this video: https://youtu.be/WddhmYftg2U
We searched high and low for a video tool that would allow us to create those cool Whiteboard Animation videos. After trying several different programs, VideoScribe was the best one we found. This is an awesome tool.
Whiteboard animation videos are extremely popular for making a wide range of marketing videos. There is something just so mesmerizing about watching illustrations drawn right before your very eyes.
VideoScribe is a premium program and has a bit of a steep learning curve. Therefore, this is definitely a 2nd day program to investigate for making your marketing videos. However, if you’d like a whiteboard animation video done for you, know that this a service Launch4Life provides to our clients.
If you’re interested in checking out VideoScribe, they do offer a 7 day free trial.
This is by far one of our favorite premium tools for creating animated videos. This program is excellent for making highly engaging videos that feature your company’s product or service.
What’s especially exciting about using Powtoons is you can import an existing PowerPoint presentation and convert it to a video. This is an excellent way to take content your company has already created and repurpose the material into content your clients will love.
If you’re interested in checking out Powtoons, know that they do offer a free plan. However, any videos you create cannot be used for commercial purposes. In addition, your videos will be branded with a watermark.
Just like VideoScribe, the premium plans offered are not cheap. However, if you’d like an animated explainer video done for you, know that Launch4Life has an agency license and can create one for you.
EDITING YOUR VIDEOS
As much as we all try to make our video recordings perfect, it’s almost impossible to not have something you want to edit out. Even if it’s just you turning on and off the camera. So, you are probably going to want to have a tool you can use to edit your videos.
When you first start out making videos all you probably need is a simple editing tool to lop off the beginning and ending of your videos.
YouTube Studio Editor
If you are looking for a real basic editor, you can always use the built-in video editor that’s available inside of YouTube Studio Beta. While this editor is nothing fancy, it does allow for simple trims, like if you want to trim off the beginning or ending of a video.
With a little bit of practice, you can even do some simple edits in the middle of your video. This is a great option for anyone on a budget, or who doesn’t want to be bothered with using any fancy software.
Here’s an article (and video) from YouTube on how to use their new editor.
iMovie and Windows Movie Maker
Other free options to consider are Apple’s iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker.
Since every digital device I own is made by Apple, so I can no longer attest to any Windows applications. However, I must admit that I don’t like using iMovie. For the most part, I found the program awkward to use, but it also made my final video files way too big.
Premium Editing Tools
If you want something a little more fancy, you might want to invest in professional editing software. I like to use Camtasia, which allows me to do simple and complex edits. However, I admit it can be a little too expensive for beginners.
For newbies, I often recommend Filmora 9 by Wondershare. This is a simple tool that allows you to do quite a lot of fancy stuff for a relatively cheap price. Filmora 9 works on both PC and Mac. You can download a free trial for Camtasia and Filmora 9, to check out which program works best for you.
WHERE WILL YOUR VIDEOS LIVE
Once you have created a video, you have to choose where that video will live. On your website? In YouTube? On social media? Or maybe even inside an email newsletter?
Posting videos on your own website is the best place to start. Website visitors love videos and would rather watch a quick introduction or explainer video, than read through a ton of text.
SEO experts agree that having a video on your website helps increase dwell time. This gives you an SEO boost, because the Google Search engine bots, become more aware of your website when website visitors stick around for a bit.
One mistake that people often make is to upload videos directly to their website. This is not good for several reasons. First of all, many website programs are not set up to host videos. And, even if they can host and play your videos, since videos are often such big files, they can have a detrimental effect on website performance because of the time they can take to load.
Therefore, the best option is to host your videos somewhere else and then embed the videos on your website. Before you panic, keep in mind that no coding skills are needed to embed a video on your website. You simply need to copy/paste in the video’s URL or a few lines of embed code.
The most popular place to host your videos is with YouTube. It’s the king of video. YoYouTube is probably the most common choice because there is no limit on the number of videos you can upload. Embedded YouTube videos don’t effect your website’s page speed. It costs nothing to set up and run a YouTube channel.
Best of all, YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine in the world (only second to Google), so when people find your videos on YouTube, this is a great way to drive traffic back to your website.
The biggest con of hosting embedded YouTube videos on your website is that at the end of the video, other videos will be suggested for the viewer to watch next. The suggested videos will not necessarily be your videos, which could distract your viewers.
Because of these negatives, many website owners like to use a premium web video hosting program.
One important note about using YouTube to host your videos. Before you upload your videos to YouTube, you will need to set up a YouTube Channel. While this is not difficult, there are quite a number of steps involved. So be sure to set aside some time to take care of that first.
To set up a YouTube channel, you will need to have Google account. You can choose a unique name for your YouTube channel. If possible, try to choose the same name you use for your business. When setting up your channel, you will be able to totally customize your channel by adding graphics, detailed description, links to your website, and even a custom watermark (to help protect your videos from pirates).
Every business should take advantage of using YouTube to market their business. It’s an excellent way to capture the attention of strangers.
One final note, is that YouTube allows you to customize the privacy settings for your videos. You can set videos to be private, unlisted, and public.
- Public videos are searchable and accessible by anyone.
- Unlisted videos are not searchable, which means that only the people that have the link can access the videos.
- Private videos allow you to restrict viewing rights to only select Google users.
Note, if you share a private video with someone who does not have a Google account, they will not be able to access the video.
Finally, because YouTube allows you to store an unlimited number of videos on your channel, it’s a great resource for storing all of your videos. Since videos are such large files, they can take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. The Launch4Life team likes to store our Zoom recording in YouTube.
Premium Hosting Options
Wistia and Vimeo are both great choices for premium hosting. Both programs offer a limited forever free program. If your video needs are somewhat simple, you may be able to stay on their free program forever. I highly recommend both services and find that they really give your website a professional look and feel.
In direct contrast to YouTube, premium video hosting programs don’t really supply you with new traffic.
Wistia’s free plan allows you to upload up to 3 videos total. They also have a monthly bandwidth limit of 15GBs (which is about 2,300 views of a 1 minute video). Wistia is a great service if you only need to embed a few videos on your website.
Vimeo’s free plan allows you to upload up to 500 MB of video content per week, with a total limit of 5 GB. This is my favorite video hosting platform. It is easy to use for embedding videos on websites AND it is the only video hosting that allows you host a video inside a MailChimp landing pages.
We just recently started using a new program called VidYard. They too have a free forever plan. What’s nice about this program is that they allow you to upload an unlimited number of videos and embed up to 5 videos on your website. That’s pretty generous. They also you to create video playlists and share your videos in emails and on social media. Moving forward, I will continue to test using this video hosting program some more, as it looks quite promising.
Posting video to any of the social media platforms is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Social Media users love video and prefer to engage with videos more than standard posts that consist of text and graphics.
Whether you decide to post a video to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it’s important to only post native video. What that means is that you actually want to upload your video directly to that specific social media platform.
The goal of all social media platforms is to keep their users on their particular platform. Which is why, if you upload video directly to that platform, instead of just including a link to a video on your website or YouTube, you will be rewarded with more organic reach.
This simply means that the social media platform pushes out natively uploaded videos to a greater number of people. For instance, with LinkedIn, native videos are not only shown to your 1st level connections, but also to 2nd and 3rd level connections. Wow, that’s a whole bunch of people.
First of all, please know that it is never wise to try and email anyone a video as an attachment. Videos files are naturally very big files (even short ones) and therefore your email provider will either prevent you from sending it, or prevent the recipient from receiving it.
So if you want to send someone a video to watch, you want to send them the link to wherever you have hosted the video online. Every video hosting program will provide you with a shareable link that you can copy/paste into any email message you send out.
If you’d like to share a video in your email newsletter, storing your video in YouTube is the best option. Email programs like MailChimp (our favorite) integrate so easily with YouTube that when you copy in the link, the thumbnail image of the video is automatically displayed in your email message.
IMPORTANCE OF CLOSED CAPTIONS
It is very important to add closed captions to your videos, especially if you post your videos on Social Media.
First, it’s just the right thing to do. Adding closed captions is inclusive and makes your videos accessible to everyone. People who have hearing disabilities, or are visually challenged (and use a screen reader), require videos having closed captions.
Further, as a result of recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) court cases, accessibility laws also apply to the internet. This means that businesses with web content that aren’t accessible to the disabled can and are being sued. So now more than ever, it is imperative for all of us to understand what is needed to make our videos ADA compliant.
For a deeper dive into the legalities and best practices of closed captioning, check out this article: https://www.section508.gov/create/video-social
Okay, so now that we know closed captions are important, what exactly are they?
Closed captions (sometimes referred to as subtitles) are the text displayed at the bottom of the screen on a video. They are a word-for-word accounting of everything that is being said in a video. Bonus points, for whenever the text also describes additional sounds, such as a doorbell ringing, dog barking, or jazzy music playing.
Closed captioning is also a must for all viewers on social media videos. By default, most social media platforms display videos with the sound turned off. So, if you want anyone to stop scrolling through the newsfeed and watch your video, they need to know what’s going on in a video. Closed captioning can be the secret sauce to make your videos stand out from the crowd.
Finally, closed captions can also give your videos an SEO boost. When you add closed captions, the Google Search engine bots “read” the closed captions and can better serve up your website as the best search result.
So now that we know closed captions are important, how to we go about creating them? There are several options available, that range from free to fairly in-expensive.
The most popular method by far is to use YouTube’s free and automatic subtitle tools. Simply upload your video to YouTube and a word-for-word accounting of everything said in your video. Surprisingly, YouTube does a pretty good job of matching speech to text. For any words it didn’t get right, you are free to go in and make any necessary edits.
Once you are done, you can download the SRT file and upload it to wherever you plan to post your video.
To learn more about subtitles, watch this video: https://youtu.be/ulUpAw46H0c
Here are two additional resources to create closed caption files for your videos.
A cool tool I’ve just recently started looking at is Veed.io. They have a nifty online tool for easily creating subtitles. If you want to create subtitles for your videos, there is no charge and you don’t even need to set up an account. This is a great way to create subtitles in just a matter of seconds.
Finally, if you are looking for a done-for-you closed captioning service, I highly recommend Rev.com. At a price of $1 per minute, it’s a great option.
SUMMING IT ALL UP
If you’ve made it down to the bottom of this blog post, you will realize there is a LOT to do to get started with using video to market your business with video. However, as you can see it’s really just a series of baby steps. None of this is brain surgery and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get started.
My biggest suggestion is to start right where you are and just do one simple video. If I had to recommend the EASIEST tool to use, it would be Loom. You can very easily create simple videos, using your webcam and computer screen.
Remember, I created a YouTube video to walk your through how to use Loom. So you’ve got no excuse for not being able to use it.
If you sign up for a free Loom account, share your first video with me by sending me an email with the link. I’d be happy to give you some feedback.