Video Essentials

How to Produce a Small-Business Video

Creating and promoting great-looking online video doesn’t have to be difficult. Technology columnist Jefferson Graham has just created Video Nation: A DIY guide to planning, shooting, and sharing great video from USA Today’s Talking Tech host. We’re pleased to present this excerpt.

So you’ve got a business and want to get in on the video action. You’re in good company. According to the market tracker Ad-ology Research, 45 percent of small businesses plan to get way more involved with online video in 2012 — and even more so in future years. And why not? A website really shines when it features a video greeting from the owner, testimonials from customers, demonstrations of what’s for sale, and the like. And beyond the website, your customers are hang­ing out at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where it’s as simple to post a video as it is to put up a photo.

In this section, we’ll look at the importance of taking your ideas directly to the web, either by yourself or with a helper. We’ll look at how viral ads work and how to shape your idea into a shoot.

Promoting Your Business

Let’s flip the interview around and look at producing a video aimed at promoting a small business, produced by the entrepreneur, and featuring the owner of the shop. Luckily, if you’re in that position, you already have help — your employees.

Let’s say you are Anthony Boswell, the garden expert, and you want to show­case your nursery with a video tour of sorts. It’s a much cheaper way to advertise —  after all, YouTube is free, while newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV ads cost in the thousands. All you need to start producing is video gear (or a student who has equipment and is willing to work cheap). I’d like to believe you’re willing to invest in some quality equipment (camera, lighting, and audio; see Chapter 3), because over the long run you’ll be creating so many pieces that it will be worth your while.

Taking Your Ideas Directly to the Web

You know who your audience is — your customers. And you want to reach them where they are. Your website is a great first place to start, and best of all, you can take the video you produce for your site, and place it easily on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as well. (Once you upload it to YouTube, the Google-owned video powerhouse directs you to easily “share” the video in other places, either via a link — which I find works best — or by just clicking the Share button and let­ting YouTube know where you want it to go.

Speaking to your customers

In these videos, you have the opportunity to talk directly to both your existing fan (customer) base, and thousands of potential would-be customers, with straight chatter. Without the filter of a TV station, newspaper, or magazine, you can tell them directly who you are, what you’re about, and why you do what you do.

You can talk about why you got in business and why you sell your particular product; show them your home office, factory, or storefront; introduce them to coworkers; and demonstrate the product. Once you get a rhythm going, you can start branching out into other areas, like reviews of products that relate to your industry, a great movie you just saw, or why you love living in your hometown.

The possibilities are endless.

Effective Approaches

What I would like to see as a viewer of a garden shop video is something that shows me why Boswell is the green thumb expert. The target audience is com­posed of people who are into gardening, so naturally they’d all like to learn some­thing from Boswell.

The videos should include content like this:

  • Background details. How did you get started and become passionate about gardening?
  • Think long-term. There should be at least 50 episodes devoted to differ­ent subjects such as varieties of plants and vegetables, when to plant and when not to, how to make sure they grow, and how to deal with obstacles such as hungry animals.
  • Show us around the shop. Have some fun, and make it entertaining. Bring us to places we may not notice when we come in.

Content to Avoid

Here’s what we shouldn’t see from you, Boswell, as a garden shop proprietor:

  • Sales. My email box fills up every morning with ads from Amazon (the worst offender), Barnes & Noble, My Publisher, Shutterfly, and many other e-tailers, with subject lines telling me of once-in-a-lifetime offers. I get so many, I won’t open any of them. Ever.
  • A traditional ad that says “We’re the best place in town, because we have a bigger/better/smarter [take your pick] selection.”

Sell Subtly

Even though I said not to make it an ad, you could do one in the following way: Do an episode in a particular section of the shop and tell us why you’re there. Maybe your best-sellers are vegetables, and you’re in the low-volume herbs sec­tion. Tell us that they don’t move like the other items, but that you’d like to turn that around. Explain why herbs are undersung and should be more visible.

Production-wise, I could see you standing at the nursery and talking to the camera, as long as you include plenty of B-roll to keep the focus on the real star (no offense) — the product.

Take it to the Next Level by Going on the Road

Who’s to say that you have to do all your video pieces at the nursery? Why not pro­duce some episodes in a favorite customer’s backyard?

Excerpted from Video Nation: A DIY guide to planning, shooting, and sharing great video from USA Today’s Talking Tech host by Jefferson Graham. Copyright (c) 2013. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and Peachpit Press.


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