Your guide to a successful online business!

In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about getting started with video marketing.

We’ll explain why video marketing is so important, how it can have a positive impact on your business and what you need to do to create your first marketing video.

It’s a big guide, so I recommend you bookmark it and refer back to it when needed.

Let’s get started.

Why is video marketing so important for business?

My favourite video marketing statistic plastered around the web is…

A video has the exact same value as 1.8 million words do. That is the equivalent of 3,600 web pages!
Forrester Research

What we can take from this is that video as a medium is a powerful way to communicate complex information in a small and stimulating package.

The evidence of users engaging with video as a format of communication is clear. Video popularity among users is going nowhere but up.

This sort of information is all well and good, but how can a small business act on it. Spending lots of money on a new and untested format might be a non-starter. But here are a few tips to getting started with minimal outlay pushing for maximum return.

Why should my small business use video marketing?

Ok, so we’ve looked at why video is an important marketing channel for business in general. But how does this apply to your specific needs?

Obviously, you’ll know the way your business works better than I do, but let’s go through a few examples which you should be able to apply to your own business.

In fact, let’s start with 123 Reg. As you’ll know, we sell domain names, website hosting, website building services and so on. In fact, everything you need to get a small business online.

Clearly, when online businesses who are our customers do well, we do well. It follows that if we can ensure more of our customers do well, then we’ll do better.

So how might we go about doing that? Well, this is one way – blog posts that educate existing and potential customers about how to better market their business.

And just recently, we’ve launched Online Business Training – a series of free courses that are also focused on educating people. Because the course content is delivered as on-demand lectures, video has a huge part to play.

online business training from 123 Reg

It should be clear that Online Business Training is targeted towards a very specific goal for 123 Reg (boosting customer awareness and retention) and that really, video was the only effective way to deliver the project.

Let’s consider a few more examples.

Imagine you’re selling a line of blenders. It’s a crowded market but you know your product has one huge advantage over its rivals – its extreme durability and ability to blend pretty much anything. Blendtec was faced with that problem and its answer was a series videos called “Will It Blend?”.

The videos are entertaining in themselves, but they’re also a great way to show off what is fundamentally a boring product.

The result? Millions of video views and a viral hit that has lasted more than a decade.

Of course, this is an extreme example but it clearly shows how video can be used to showcase a product’s strong points.

But what if your product is more complicated than a blender and people might need a helping hand getting started?

That was the problem facing Groove – a help desk software company. Clearly if people don’t understand how to use Groove’s products, they’re not going to stick around. That’s why the company created a series of videos showing people how to set things up and get started.

Not only does this help ensure customers can use the product, but it also helps take the strain off Groove’s own customer service team. If people can find a video that addresses the issue they’re facing, they’re much less likely to contact customer services for help, leaving the team free to deal with more complex queries.

So really, video has been used here to solve two issues – the first is ensuring customers are “onboarded” swiftly (meaning they know how to use the product, making them less likely to cancel) and ensuring that customer service waiting times are kept to a minimum, ensuring better service.

This kind of video is great if you find yourself dealing with the same kinds of customer queries again and again.

We could go through a load more examples, but you get the idea – work out what challenges are facing your business and then create a video (or videos) to solve the issue.

Planning your first video

Now we’ve dealt with some of the theory, let’s consider the practical side of making your first video. We’ll start with some tips on how to decide on the right kind of video and how to set goals, before looking at equipment, the planning stage and actually shooting your video.

Deciding what kind of video to create and setting goals

By now, hopefully, you should have a solid idea of what kind of video will be useful for your business. With your first video there are a few extra things to bear in mind, however.

The first is the kind of video you’ll be able to create. If you’re going to be using very basic equipment, you might struggle to capture quality sound, so don’t plan a video that will feature someone talking in a loud environment.

You also need to think about the audience you’re trying to reach and ensure that your video is tailored to viewers’ needs. If you’re targeting people who haven’t heard of your product before, don’t create a video that’s packed full of jargon or complex tips because it’s going to be a real turn off.

Once you’ve got a strong idea what form your video will take, you can start to think about setting goals for your video.

Broadly, the kind of goal you set will reflect what you want your video to achieve. So if you want a video that will expose your business to potential customers, you might want to set a goal of getting 1,000 views.

goal-863365_640

If you’re creating a customer service video to help tackle a regular query, your goal could be cutting the number of queries relating to that issue by 50%. Or you might set a target of reducing your response time to customer queries by 30 minutes.

The goals here are really closely linked to the purpose of the video. If you can’t think of a closely linked goal for your video idea, it’s likely that your plan is too general and you need to come up with another idea.

If you’re struggling to set goals for your videos, check out this guide. 

You may even find it useful to come up with a goal that’s related to a problem you’re facing and then use that goal to help decide what kind of video will work best for you.

Equipment

Before you can start planning your video in any detail you need to think about equipment, so you can understand how any limitations you might face will affect your plans.

Getting together the equipment you need to shoot a video may feel daunting, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before.

But really, there’s not that much you’ll need and the chances are you’ll already own the most crucial bits of kit.

To get your first video in the bag you’ll need: A camera to record on, something to keep the camera steady, some form of lighting, something to record sound, a computer for editing and some editing software.

If you’ve got a smartphone that can record HD video, then you’ve already got your camera. Your only quality concern is keeping your camera steady while you record. But even a cheap selfie-stick can do a decent job here. Or you can spend a little bit more money and buy a tripod if you want to.

But the sound probably isn’t going to be great, and audio quality is something that viewers pay a lot of attention to. In fact, a lot of people will tolerate poor visual quality, but not poor audio quality.

You have two options here. You can either record a separate voiceover on your computer after you’ve shot your video. If you take this path, you can either rely on your computer’s inbuilt microphone, or use a headset mic – the kind you’d use for Skype.

Alternatively, you can spend a bit of money and buy a microphone that you can use with your smartphone and record audio at the same time. There are loads to choose from, and compatibility will depend on the kind of phone you use, so just have a Google around and see what gets good reviews.

You can shoot quality video on an iPhone

You can shoot quality video on an iPhone

As for lighting. Well, you can go out and buy expensive studio lights, but really you don’t need to. Certainly not for your first video. In some cases you’ll find a room has enough light anyway. If it doesn’t, you can always shoot outside if that’s possible, or you can just find a normal lamp and use that to provide extra lighting. The colours might not be perfect, but that won’t really matter.

In terms of editing, the more powerful your computer is, the quicker you’re going to be able to get things done. If you’ve bought a new computer in the last couple of years, it should be able to do the job for you. But if you’re using a very old or very cheap device you may need to upgrade.

When it comes to editing software, you have plenty of options to choose from. But the general rule is, the more expensive a package is, the more features its likely to have. At the very top end there’s my personal favourite Adobe Creative.

Of course, if you’re just creating a basic first video, you probably won’t need advanced editing features. So for your first video, stick to the free editing package that comes with your computer. If you’re using a Mac, that’s iMovie. On a Windows PC it’s Windows Movie Maker.

Whatever software package you end up using, you’ll find there are load of tutorials out there to help you get to grips with things. Just pick your package and start learning.

What if I’ve got a budget to spend on equipment?

If you do have a bit of money to spare, and assuming you’ve already got the basic equipment to hand, you’re probably wondering how you should spend that extra cash.

Personally, I’d say focus on sound quality and lighting as they’re the two things that are going to make the biggest difference.

And certainly don’t feel like you should spend a huge amount of money upfront. Make a video. Work out what you need to improve, identify a piece of equipment that will do what you need, buy it, make another video and see what difference it makes.

You should also consider renting equipment if you aren’t sure how many videos you’ll be making in the future. It’s a good way to experiment without ending up with a load of equipment that you’ll only use once.

Really, the aim is to make sure you don’t waste cash on equipment that you don’t really need.

Planning your first video (preproduction)

Preproduction is where you should spend most of your time. It’s vital. And I’ve learned that through personal experience. The more decisions you make before you start filming, the less time the project will take and the better the quality of your final product.

You need to have a clear idea of what you want your video to achieve and how you want it to look before you start recording. Without a clear plan, you’re likely to end up filming and refilming as you try to work out what it is you want to do. You could even get to the stage where you have a complete video but suddenly realise it wasn’t what you wanted at all and have to start again.

Here are a few ways you can make sure you get preproduction right.

Planning makes perfect

Planning makes perfect

Have a clearly defined goal for your video

We’ve already looked at the kind of thing you can achieve using video and how to set a goal. But it really is vital to ensure each video you create has a clearly defined goal. Before you start shooting, you should know what you want your video to achieve, and how you’re going to achieve it.

For example, if you want to showcase how effective your product is, you’ll need to decide how best to do that. You might want to interview a happy customer, or you might want to show your product and its features in action.

If you don’t know what you want your video to achieve and how you plan to achieve it, you’ll find it’s almost impossible to create a video that works. And you’ll only discover this after you’ve spent time, effort and possibly money on a shoot.

If you start filming without setting a goal for your video, then the chances are you’re not going to end up with a video that’s not going to have a positive impact on your business. Spend time thinking about your goals now. That way you won’t waste time making a video that doesn’t work before heading back to the drawing board to work out what went wrong.

Make a storyboard

Once you’ve got a broad understanding of what you want your video to achieve, and the form it will take, it’s time to start planning in more detail. That’s where storyboarding comes in.
In its most basic form, a storyboard is a series of drawings with accompanying text that lays out what will happen in your video.

The idea is that by creating a visualisation, you’ll be able to see what works and if there might be any problems with what you’re planning to do.

Then, once it’s time to shoot, you can use the storyboard to make sure you stay on track.

Even a very basic storyboard – that is just a few squares with stickmen in them – can save you time in the long run. Think about what you’ll need to shoot, what those shots will look like, who or what will need to be in the frame and what audio will be required. You may also want to take some photos of the filming locations you’re planning to use.

If you’re looking for an in-depth tutorial on how to get the most out of storyboarding, then check out this guide.

Write a script

A script is another great way for you to understand what will happen in your video before you start shooting it. Not all video types are suited to scripts, interviews for example, but if you can write a script it’s likely to be helpful.

Having a script will help ensure your video stays on topic and covers all your keys points. It will also help you visualise your final video.

And don’t think just because you have a script you can do without a storyboard, or that because you have a storyboard you don’t need a script. Whenever possible, use both. That way you’ll have as clear a visualisation as possible before you begin your shoot.

The aim of preproduction is to make sure you’ve made all the big decisions you need to make before you begin filming. You may still end up making minor creative changes, but you won’t have to entirely rethink the direction of your video and then start again from scratch.

Check everything

By this stage you’re about ready to shoot. But there’s a possibility that while you were working on preproduction, you may have shifted slightly from your original aims and goals. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that you have to go back and make sure that you still have a goal that’s suitable for the video you’re now planning.

If not, don’t worry. You can simply tweak your goal to suit your new plan and go from there. Remember, this is a learning process and you’ll find the whole process gets easier the more videos you create.

Shooting

Hopefully you shouldn’t have any big decisions to make on the day of your shoot, but there are still some things you need to look out for.

Do a short trial run

You don’t want to get all the way through shooting your video only to discover that something’s gone wrong and you need to do the whole thing over again. Check everything is recording properly before you go for your first take.

Get the lighting right

That means no shadows on faces if you’re doing an interview-type video, and no shadows on your product if you’re doing a product video. Make sure viewers will be able to easily see what’s going on.

Make sure you won’t be disturbed

Ideally, you should have already identified a nice quiet location to film in – especially if you’re planning to record audio at the same time as your visual footage. But make sure people around you know what you’re doing so they don’t accidentally spoil a good take by creating a loud noise.

Back up straight away

Shooting a video and then losing your footage is a nightmare. So as soon as you’ve finished, make sure you get those files backed up as soon as you can. Then, if anything does go wrong, you won’t have lost everything.

Putting it into practice

Ok, so that’s the theory over and done with. So what about actually making a video? Well, to help you get a better idea of the process, we’ve created a video! Two, actually.

The first one is the final product. The (hypothetical) goal behind the video was to show how good a place to work 123 Reg is and hence attract more job applications in the future.

Take a look.

And the second video is a behind the scenes look at how the video was made. Hopefully, it should give you all the pointers you need to create your first video.

Summing up

There’s a lot to get your head around here, but really there are three main takeaways. Firstly, you almost certainly have the equipment you need to shoot a good-quality video for your business today.

Secondly, planning is key. The more time you spend planning your videos, the more likely you are to end up with a final result that does what you need it to.

Finally, the more videos you create the better you’ll get at it. Don’t expect to produce a masterpiece with your first go. Just make sure you’re refining the process as you go along.

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