Apr 20, 2011

A Picture Sells a Thousand [insert your product or service here]

social media press release

A video produced for the Mariani Packing Company. Click on the image to see the full multimedia press release.

The do’s (and don’ts) of DIY promotional videos

Operating a small business is fraught with challenges.  Just ask anyone running one. Even if you have the perfect product or service, getting customers to part with their hard-earned cash is never easy.  And if your company is brand new, it’s even more difficult.  Having a marketing plan is extremely important.  You need a vehicle that shows your customers what your product or service is all about or what problem it solves; and while you can write about it until you’re blue in the face, showing is usually much more effective.  That’s why video should be a part of every business marketing mix.  The good news is you have options! The bad news?  You have options.

Sure, you can do it yourself.   You can shoot some simple video and edit the piece at home using Picasa’s movie editor software.  You can ask your son to ask his friend’s cousin (the one in film school) to help.  It’ll all work — especially if you keep things simple.    We do recommend buying or renting a high-quality video camera, however, if you decide to do anything beyond a casual, off-the-cuff video.   Flip cams are fine for more casual videos, especially for uploading to your company’s Facebook wall and other informal channels.  Ideas for casual videos include:

  • Quick and simple product demos – nothing too complex requiring zooming in and out or different camera angles.
  • Short interviews at events, or on-the-spot customer testimonials
  • Offering a timely “sneak peek” at a daily special or a behind the scenes view

Casual videos can be charming and fun.  But for a video that you plan on using extensively to represent and promote your brand, doing it yourself  with a flip cam just isn’t going to cut it in terms of quality, and it’ll end up making you look unprofessional.    And let’s be honest.  How many folks have the time or resources to really pull it off?  And you have to pull it off well.  Anything less falls into the ‘waste of your time’ bucket, and we don’t know any business owners who have a moment to waste.

Video is one of the most flexible of media, and is worth the investment.  In addition to adding a “sticky” element to your own web site that attracts – and engages – visitors, you can also re-purpose videos in a variety of ways:

  • If you have a physical location, show the video on a loop for customers to see
  • Incorporate the video into business pitches
  • Embed videos in e-mail communications
  • Post the video to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and any other social media presences you’ve established.  If your friends, fans and followers like it, they’ll share it with their friends, fans and followers, multiplying your audience exponentially.
  • Show it to your mom.  She’ll love it!

Our advice on getting started?  Call a video production house. They’re not all prohibitively expensive and the level of service you get — not to mention the headaches you won’t get — is well worth the cost.  So let’s say you want to make a nice, neat, little video or series of videos about your product or service and post it on your website, YouTube, and a few other sites, but you have no time and no idea how to go about it.  Contact a full service video production house with a media relations team on staff and lay it all out:

I know I need video to support my business, I want to post it on-line for my customers to find and I don’t want to spend a fortune doing it.  I need guidance—a lot of guidance!  Who will write the script taking into account what my business is all about—what we believe in—who we are?  How do we position the video to reach my customers, wherever in the world they are?  I don’t want someone to walk into my business, turn the place upside down and a week later hand me my video and say b-bye.  And I don’t want lawyers coming after me for copyright infringement because I said or showed something that I wasn’t’ supposed to.

Phew!  That wasn’t easy to get out.  But there it is in a beautiful prolate spheroid… err…nutshell.

A decent production outfit will take care of everything: scripting, conducting interviews, securing location or a studio if necessary, props if needed, securing permits if necessary, ordering transcript, editing and posting — all of which can be done in as little as 48 hours depending on what’s involved.  Plus, they’ll help you decide on things like shooting in HD or SD, format delivery, and the all important marketing direction to take—which will determine the angle of the script.

So you have a great, professionally-produced video that tells the story you want to tell, and showcases your products and services.  Now what?  Now you will need to speak to media relations professionals who can best advise you on when and where to distribute your video.  Whether you want to post your video on your company website, see it featured on social networking and video sharing websites, or plastered on some of the most highly-trafficked video billboards in the United States, a media relations team can recommend a distribution plan that will deliver your message to the audience you need to reach: potential customers.

For your next product launch or marketing campaign, remember these key points:

  • When possible, don’t limit yourself to text – a picture (more importantly a video) is worth 1,000 words. In an increasingly visual marketplace, don’t fall behind the curve by relying on old marketing methods.
  • Distribution is key – what use is a great video if no one sees it? Put the video on your web site, embed it in your newsletter, and post it to YouTube. Tweet it, put it on your Facebook Page, and add it to your blog.
  • And don’t forget the professional media. Your production house’s media relations team can target industry- or geographically specific media outlets and web sites, and may be able to gain exposure for your video on those channels.

Every day, small business owners are taking the plunge into the multimedia space, and there’s never been a better time to explore a new way to market yourself to your customers. So go ahead and try video for your next campaign or promotion – the world will be watching.

Authors Larry Cardarelli and Jackie Dowling are both members of MultiVu, PR Newswire’s multimedia production and distribution company.  Larry is a senior producer, and Jackie is Multivu’s media strategist, focusing on both traditional and social media.

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