Categories
Video Marketing

Mini videos are right on target

Debbie Bateman

When adding video to their website, many small businesses create a single video that provides general information about what their company offers. They combine site tours, testimonials and the other elements that suit their business into a single video. But this type of video may not be the best way of drawing in new customers.

It’s true. Some topics demand more length. For example, if you want to use a video to teach a technical skill or demonstrate a complex process, it will probably have to be longer. That’s okay because the people watching the video are willing to put time into learning the skill or understanding the process.

But if your purpose is to market your business to new customers, you may achieve better results with a series of mini videos that are each less than a minute long. An effective mini video might even be as short as ten seconds. Let’s face it. Nowadays people are inundated with information, and they favor sources that are quick and snappy.

The main advantage of a mini video is that it can be targeted at the specific needs of your customers. A mini video can answer a question, solve a problem, or broadcast testimonials from satisfied customers. It’s all about choosing a subject your customers care about. Do that well and they will not only watch your video, they will share it with their friends. Now that’s effective marketing!

These are a few ways you can use mini videos to engage your customers:

  • A frequently asked question video gives customers the answer to something they really want to know. For example, a lawn care company might post a video on how to remove moss. They’d be a hero to countless gardeners on Vancouver Island and their mini video would spread at breakneck speed. (Kind of like moss in a rainforest.)
  • A quick tips video gives customers expert advice on matters they care about. Realtors could give homeowners tips for selling their property. Furniture makers could explain how to maintain a fine piece of furniture.
  • A video tour highlights your products and services. It’s like a visit without the cost of gas. A high-end shoe store could attract out-of-town visitors with a video tour. A marina could showcase the range of services it provides.
  • A video profile of a key staff member gives new customers a personal connection. Show potential customers your face and they will feel like they have met you. This is particularly important for businesses that offer personal or professional services, such as dentists, hair stylists, realtors and more.
  • A special service video lets you stand out from your competition. If you offer something other businesses don’t, show it off. An exclusive resort that offers gourmet picnics and one-of-a-kind wedding facilities can showcase these services to the world.
  • A community event video spreads goodwill. Make people feel good and they’ll feel good about your business. If you sponsor an event that benefits the community, let your customers know. We only have to think of WestJet to know how effective this can be.
  • A testimonials video gives voice to your satisfied customers. It’s as good as a word-of-mouth referral and it spreads much faster. Testimonials bring in new business. In today’s tech savvy world, consumers check customer reviews before they buy. So make sure you give that to them.

When it comes to mini videos, there are many possibilities. Remember, the key is to think like your customers. Once you’ve figured out what they need, give it to them as a mini video. You’ll win their trust and their business.

Mini videos hold your customers’ attention and are more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, if you post five or six mini videos separately, you’ll move up on the search results. As you know, strong marketing is all about repeat visits.

So next time you’re ready to up your marketing with video, don’t assume that a single video provides all the answers. You might achieve more with a series of mini videos.

Categories
Visual Storytelling

What is a story and how do I know when I have a good one?

StoryGreg Nuspel

Our lives are awash in stories. You can’t have a decent conversation without coming across at least one. Spiritual practices are shared through stories and so are current events. We love stories in movies and books. We learn to read sitting on our parents’ laps listening to stories.

Anyone would think with all these stories it’d be easy to create a good one. Christopher Booker has an excellent book called “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories”. Ronald Tobias seems to disagree; his book is called “Twenty Master Plots and How to Build Them”.

We could spend a lot of time arguing about how many plots there are and never begin to learn how to create a single one. My screenwriter, Debbie, loves these books. She can’t get enough of them. Any time we watch a movie or read a book, she tries to pigeon hole the plot structure. Okay, I admit it, I’ve been known to enjoy those conversations too.

But the other day I asked her to make my life easier and give it to me in simple terms. What is a story? How do I know when I have a good one?

I’m pretty sure she got it from someone else because that’s what writers do. She said, “story is character change through conflict.” It doesn’t have to be head-to-head combat. The conflict can be as simple as a problem. The important part is that the character must change. We all hope for that, the possibility of positive change and we love watching it happen.

So what does that mean in terms of business videos? Start with a character people can relate to and give that character a problem. Let the character struggle a little before finding the solution because that’s the emotional hook. Then show the character overcoming the problem. This is the change: from frustrated to triumphant. Who doesn’t want to experience that?

I like using a truck commercial as an example. The truck is shiny and red. You had a toy just like it as a kid, so you instantly like it. The truck faces an incredibly rugged road on a precariously steep slope. We see its wheels spin and the mud flying. We hear the growl of its engine. The truck makes a hairpin turn, zips down the steep slope, and arrives at the destination with its windshields gleaming.

Stories about a character overcoming a challenge stick inside our heads. The reason is simple: they evoke an emotional response. So to answer the second question, you’ll know you have a good story if it makes your audience care.

Categories
Visual Storytelling

The Talking Heads were an awesome rock group

Debbie Bateman 

I enjoyed “Burning Down the House” as much as anyone. It’s a great song and the Talking Heads were awesome as a rock group. But if that’s all you have in your video, you’re missing out on the key advantage of visual storytelling.

Videos are stories told through moving pictures. With the best ones, you can turn off the sound and still follow the gist. Exciting things happen and they take up most of the screen.

When all a video has is headshots of people talking, the only thing in motion is their lips. Once you know someone is talking, seeing their lips move is not very interesting. It might as well be radio. Plus, the rest of the screen is wasted. All that wonderful potential is lost.

Yes, it’s often a good idea to include headshots in your video. Good videos often focus briefly on people, especially the first time they speak. We all trust information more when we know who is giving it. But 5 seconds or less will do it.

Once we know who’s talking, the visuals can switch to whatever illustrates the subject under discussion. For example, we recently did a branding video for Gelinas Carr Furniture. We started the video with headshots of Sandra and Joe, the furniture makers. But once they’d been introduced, we quickly switched to the real star of the piece, which is the high quality furniture they make. As you hear them describe their process, you get to watch their work coming to life.

If you take a moment and watch the video, you’ll see that the shots involve movement and not just the movement of the machines they use to make furniture. We’ve included camera moves that mimic the experience of discovering objects with your eyes.

Because that’s the beauty and the power of strong video. It lets you see the world through fresh eyes.

Categories
Video Marketing

Making working for free valuable

Working for freeIn this industry, people are often working for free. As a filmmaker there are times this is acceptable, such as if the work is for a charity or nonprofit organization that has no budget. However, if the nonprofit organization is run by high-paid executives, they should be able to pay for their video.

It can also be acceptable to work for free for indie productions with low to no budget. After all, this is often how people gain valuable experience. But are there other valuable ways to compensate volunteers besides money?

You bet there are. As the filmmaker, you can make the project a strong learning experience for volunteers. Sure this will slow down your production a little, but often all it takes to improve the learning experience is more thinking out loud. Talk about why you’re setting up the lights in the way you are. What motivates the choices of camera angles? If you explore all of this, you will provide value to your volunteers and it may just make you a better filmmaker. If you’re asking yourself why throughout the shoot, your project can only improve. One of the best ways to learn is to teach.

Set aside some question and answer time. You’re busy and have a lot on your mind, but you’ve just asked a group of people to give up their time. So, give up a little of yours. If you can, set up mentorship teams. For example, team a new grip with an experienced grip.

Make sure you have a good photographer on the set. Photograph everyone who volunteered and offer them images. There are lots of photographers that love to work on sets because they need portfolio work.

Feed your crew! This is one thing you must include in your budget: water for all and something to eat. People have already spent money to support your shoot by showing up. Don’t expect them to go hungry.

Put everyone’s name in the credits; that’s a no brainer. Let your people say, Look grandma there’s my name at the end of the slasher zombie movie. We all want our ego stroked to some degree and this form of recognition costs you almost nothing. You might also think about sending a personalized email to each volunteer. Make it something they can use as a reference.

So think about the people that are giving you their time. Make it a rewarding experience for them. Give up some of your time to make sure they feel valued.

Oh and if you are producing a commercial shoot and you think you can ask for volunteers, think again. The client should be billed for the work done by everyone on the set. Your client is in business to make money and you are too.

Categories
Announcements Video Marketing Video Production Visual Storytelling

Gelinas Carr Furniture involved in unique project  

Gelinas Carr Furniture is involved in a very special project. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.