5 Rules for Video Marketing

It’s not as complicated as it sounds and it has the power to engage new customers.

5 Rules for Video Marketing

“Watch this!” 

We’ve all done it and there’s no denying it: Watching a video can be an engaging and compelling experience. It’s why we love movies and TV shows. It’s why news teams offer live video coverage of events. It’s why shoppers look for video reviews of products and services they’re thinking of buying. It’s true for those you want to attract to your storefront (physical or virtual) as well. While your marketing materials can tell a story with copy and compel with static images and graphics, marketing via video may offer the best medium for informing and persuading your would-be customers to become first-time and then returning customers.  

Marketing with video may seem like a complex endeavor, possibly more trouble than it's worth. But with the very capable video cameras available to you today – including the terrific camera in your smartphone – following five simple rules can help you harness the power of marketing with video. 


Realize the power. 

Video’s power lies in the ability to provide what we all perceive as a more realistic and engaging message — the ability to see and hear it in a fully engaging communication. And while we all know it is “just a video” and there is only so much that can be communicated and even much that can be staged (even to the point of deception), it is close to creating an in-person experience for the one watching. 

Consider the prevalence of video in social media where virtually every social media platform allows for users to upload and display video. If YouTube was considered a search engine (and there’s plenty of debate about how to categorize it), it would rank second to Google, some say. Anecdotally, however, ask most people what can be found on YouTube and the answer is often, “just about everything.” Irrespective of YouTube and how it ranks for search, video as a marketing tool is indisputably something business owners should consider for their marketing mix. 

Despite the prevalence and power of video, it is remarkably simple to create and publish videos for the world to see. That’s both a strength and a weakness, of course. But the power of video marketing for a business owner is real and within reasonable reach. In fact, creating and publishing videos that expand your marketing reach is easy. The remaining four points provide some key tips for how to use it.

Get to the point. 

Too many videos start off as what appears to be a selfie taken in a vehicle, explaining for too long what the video is about, why it was made and on and on. How many times have you seen a video start like this: “Hey guys, welcome back to my channel. I’m [insert name] and today I’ll be showing you how to [insert point of video]. I thought it might be good to do a video on this because [whatever reasons] and I really hope you like what you see and find it helpful. As you know, I’ve been doing videos on [this topic] for a few weeks now and I’ve been watching the comments and just trying to put some helpful content out to you. So be sure to like and subscribe so you’ll know when to come back for more.” While the homegrown, personal feel has some advantages, it’s better, if you’re selling a product or service, to have the camera on the subject of the video and just get to the point. All that intro material which took up time at the beginning of the video can be captured in the video description for anyone who wants to read it. Respect your viewers’ time and get them the material they’ve come for. 

To further make the point, realize that some people fill their video with seemingly endless intro material or a lot of fluff because they are trying to hit a suggested video length in order to monetize their video efforts through advertising. So, if, during a video, a watcher clicks on an ad, the maker gets a payment for that. That’s all fine and good, except the kind of monetization you’re going to aim for is from customers clicking to buy your product or service, whether virtually or in a physical store. With that more ultimate purpose in mind, you don’t want a watcher to be distracted by an ad or to leave your video to click on an ad; you want them to stay focused on the message of your video. And if the message of your video only requires a minute and a half of actual viewing time, so be it. Cut out all the unnecessary stuff and get to the point.


Move judiciously. 

Video as a communications medium is naturally one of motion. Even if you’re recording a relatively “still” video of a person talking, there are still lips moving, facial expressions changing, verbal inflections providing nuance, and more. Other types of videos of course add more or fewer elements of motion. The key for your marketing videos is to use the right kind of motion — adding more where there’s not enough or allowing for time and focus where the context demands it. This may mean using a tripod or other stable platform for recording. Or, it may be fine if you hold the video camera (or smartphone) in your own hand. Zooming in and out may help tell the story. Or, you may find that panning side to side or top to bottom helps make the point. Perhaps circling your object will improve the communication. The point is to think of all the ways to move the point of view but to use only those points of view that will actually help the communication.


Follow a script. 

Few people have the ability to narrate, off the cuff, the spoken words of a marketing video. Invariably, without significant practice, the recording will include vocalized pauses (“uh”, “um”), run-on sentences, unintentional pauses, or just the occasional verbal mistakes we all make when we’re trying so hard not to. Most of these minor but distracting communication problems can be eliminated by reading from a manuscript and narrating over a video – in other words, not recording the visual of a person talking about a product or service but actually showing the product or service in action with the narration added. Producing and reading from a script will help focus the verbiage, eliminating unnecessary words, emphasizing what needs to be emphasized, and knowing when to be silent and let the actual visuals of the product or service just do the work. 

If you are a good off-the-cuff speaker, create a manuscript by speaking it into existence and then re-reading it, practicing, and having others read it and listen to you. You’ll find your off-the-cuff speaking skills enhanced by the thoughtful practice of putting your words into manuscript form.


Follow up. 

Most digital contexts that allow you to post a video also provide the ability for the watchers to comment. Here’s where you’ll be able to see and interact with potential customers about their experience with watching your product or service in action. Granted, some comments will be ill-informed or out of context. But many will be thoughtful questions about what was communicated in the video – or what wasn’t. Take time to read through them and respond to the ones that seem thoughtful or truly engaged. Even if the video raises more questions than answers for your product or service, your careful follow-up efforts may prove to be the customer experience that convinces the watcher to become a customer. 

Dismiss the unhelpful comments but take helpful feedback to heart and, if warranted, create a follow-up video to address open issues or further demonstrate a key feature of your product or service that was missing from the initial video. 

Finally, if you’re not sure where to begin, just begin. Record something. Put it out there and see what happens. Ask for feedback and help. It’s OK to learn as you go and improve over time. Start with these five rules and with experience you’ll soon discover your own rules for marketing with video.


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