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How-To Get Clients To Do Testimonials

Want to set yourself apart from your competitors? Produce high-quality video testimonials. They’re effective and not many businesses create them.

Why not? What clients tell me is it’s awkward asking people to brag about them. Well, I think I can help make that conversation a little easier.

Ask the right people

It starts with who you ask. It should go without saying, but the only people you want to ask are people you have a great relationship with. The clients who love you and what you do.

It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a one-time client or someone you do ongoing business with. Every client is valued, but we all know who our special clients are.

The person you email or call about doing a video testimonial should be someone… well… someone who won’t hesitate at all to do it.

The reason you’re asking this specific person is because of the comfort level you share with them. They’ll be happy to do it because they like you.

That said, keep the relationship comfortable and respectful by offering them an out. Ask if they’d like to participate, but also let them know you’ll understand… and it won’t damage the relationship… if they can’t.

Chances are they’ll be flattered you trust them enough to include them in your marketing effort.

Why give them an out? There’s always a possibility they won’t do it because it’s their company’s policy not to endorse another business. If that’s the case, oh well. There’s nothing either of you can do about that.

There could be other reasons they don’t want to do it, but you might be able to head them off at the pass by minimizing their concerns during the initial ask.

Selling testimonials to the client

Make it clear their business will benefit from the testimonial. You can do this by centering the video around their business and not yours.

Explain it this way… you’ll produce a short video featuring their company, then about two-thirds of the way through you’ll have them highlight what it is exactly you do to help them. It’s two-thirds them… one-third you.

We’re big believers in this technique, and if you want more details please check out our post on how-to to produce better testimonial videos.

Next, make sure they understand who will be getting the video. How many people are being targeted and how you will share it.

Remind them while it’s an endorsement for you, it’s also a free commercial for their business. You’re putting their company in front of all of your prospects.

Make it convenient for them

One of the tough parts about producing a testimonial video is simply scheduling the shoot. It’s one thing setting time aside at your business to shoot something, it’s a little more complicated dealing with another company’s calendar.

The trick to this one is simply managing your own expectations. You might want to shoot it next week, your client might not have time until next month.

Remember, you’re on their schedule. They’re the ones doing you a favor, so take what you can get, be flexible, and be gracious about it.

It’s probably not a bad idea to make sure they know how flexible you are, and your willingness to make it work for their schedule. Remove all roadblocks.

Communication is key

The more your contact knows and understands about what’s going to happen, the more willing he or she is to participate. If you have an idea of what the basic story will sound like, share it with the person or people who are going to star in the testimonial.

I don’t recommend giving them the questions that will be asked, but instead give them a general idea of what they’ll be asked about. Here’s what it might sound like…

We’re going to have someone there to interview you.  They’ll ask you about your business… who you are… what you do… what sets you apart from the competition… stuff like that. They’ll also ask about our company… the product/service we provide to you… how it’s working for you. Nothing complicated.

If your client wants to know more, get your video producer involved in this discussion. Loop them in on a conference call, or simply have your producer reach out to that client. The idea is to make them comfortable with the process.

Script and final editing approval

You also have the option of giving your client script and final editing approval. This depends on how much control you’re willing to give up over your video.

I will say in most cases I’ve run across, granting that client some form of approval is a good idea and it has never turned out poorly. As long as the video is truthful and you honor their participation, they’ll most likely love the video.

That said, you can offer script and/or final editing approval from the start, hold on to it unless they ask for it, or maybe it’s a deal-breaker and you rather not give-up that control at all. It’s up to you.

What not to do

All of these suggestions are good ideas. You know what isn’t… buying your video testimonials. I don’t mean hiring a production company to create a professional video. That’s a GREAT idea. No, what I mean is don’t hire one of these companies out there offering testimonials for cash.

You pick one of their actors… provide a script… and presto!… they send you your video testimonial.

It’s a BAD idea. HELLO… don’t lie to people! I suppose you could compile some real quotes and have the actors perform them, but it’s still misleading at best.

Wrapping-up

Video testimonials are awesome. You can make them in a way that’s marketing without sounding like marketing. Clients who do a testimonial for you get added publicity for themselves. And last but not least, real people telling viewers that they like you is simply a powerful message.

Can it be awkward or difficult asking a client to take part? Sure. Is it worth it? You bet.

–Tony Gnau

How Small Businesses Can Make Low Cost Videos

Big businesses have it easy. They’re big companies with big marketing budgets. They can use that money for all sorts of things, including… marketing videos. Small businesses… not so lucky. Every dollar spent on marketing materials is closely considered.

Which is why small business owners and marketing pros need to be more savvy. They need to know how to maximize the money spent on their marketing tactics. Tough to do when it comes to video. Video can be expensive, but there are bargains to be had… if you know where to look.

Video Production Companies

Believe it or not, there are plenty of video production companies that will take on low-budget projects. You just need to ask them.

We have customers who were surprised to find out they can get a really good video for $1000. As a matter of fact, we designed a whole video production process (3-Step Storytelling) specifically to produce low cost videos.

3-step storytelling

There are other video production companies willing to take on small projects. Here’s the tough part though… you have to be honest about your budget and share it upfront.

I know… you don’t want to share your budget because maybe they’ll charge you less, and then you’ll miss out on a great deal.

Reality check… if you’re looking to get a marketing video for less than $2000, you’re already getting a deal. Sharing your budget in advance will save you and the production company a lot of time.

Some video crews won’t even pick-up their cameras for less than $10,000, so why waste all that time talking through your project with them only to find out something like that when you get a proposal from them.

On the other hand, if you tell someone upfront… I have $1000 budget… a $500 budget… you’ll weed through production companies much more quickly.

Independent Producers

If you’re striking out on production companies, finding an independent producer or videographer might be the way to go. There are websites out there devoted to finding these people, or you can always check/post on Craigslist.

This part is critical though, make sure you see some of their work in advance. Not only that, dig deeper to find out if it’s REALLY their work.

Did they shoot and edit it? If they answer yes, ask them what kind of camera they used. Ask them what kind of editing software they used.

The type of camera and editing software doesn’t really matter, but someone who didn’t really do the work will stumble over those questions.

If they give you a vague answer… I shot it on a Sony… insist on the actual model. Anybody worth their salt as a videographer is going to be able to tell you exactly what type of camera they used. We’re kind of obsessive about our gear.

Worst Case Scenario

Maybe you have no budget at all for marketing videos, but you’d still like some. You can always do it yourself.

Will wonders never cease!? A video pro advocating DIY video!?
Yup. If you are a small business with no marketing budget, I think it’s perfectly fine for you to DIY.

Get your friends and family involved. Have them help you. Just do it! Video is too good of a marketing tool for you to miss out on because you don’t have a budget for it.

If you run a medium-sized company or up, it’s a terrible idea for all sorts of reasons. The main one being you don’t want to ruin your reputation by producing a cheap looking video.

On the other hand, you small business owners and managers… I’m giving you a DIY video pass. If you’re known as a small business, your audience won’t hold a less than professional video against you.

Marketing videos are no longer a luxury… they’re a necessity. Video is the way companies now communicate with their customers. Don’t let a small budget keep you from using the same marketing tactic as big business.

–Tony Gnau

 

Top Tips For Marketing Video Newbies

Video is like a lot of things that might be unfamiliar to you. Taking the first step is always the hardest, so if you’re a marketing video newbie… don’t worry. I have some tips to get you started on your first project.

First Question To Answer

Will this be a do-it-yourself or professional project? I do have some basic guidelines for DIY vs. Pro video production. Basically, if you’re a new or micro business with zero marketing budget, feel free to DIY. If you are planning a video with the intent of it looking unprofessional or kitschy, feel free to DIY.

However, if you are producing a video for a respected company where reputation matters, you should definitely hire a professional video producer. Please consider the many benefits to hiring a pro.

New Project Preps

The next thing… you need a plan. Your video needs to be a part of a greater marketing strategy. Which is why you need to start asking some questions.

You might even want to write them down along with the answers. Here are the pre-project questions I ask when speaking with clients:

  • Who’s the audience?
  • Where will they see the video? Website? Social media? Email campaign? At a live event? Et cetera.
  • What’s your goal for the video? Education? Brand awareness? Enhance reputation? Help sales? Et cetera.
  • What’s the story you’d like to tell?
  • How are you planning to promote the video?

Let’s expand a bit on each of those things.

Audience

This is the most critical question you’re going to ask. It influences everything that goes into the video because this is who you are making the video for. You have to put the audience first. Make sure the story and information are focused on what’s important to them.

Venue

This will help you with timing… think push versus pull. If the video is bound for a social media email campaign, you’re pushing it at your audience so keep it short. I typically recommend 1-minute or less.

On the other hand, if the video is mainly for a company’s website, your audience has sought you out so you can let it run a bit longer. Pull them in with a 2-3 minute video.

Showing the video at a live event? That’s a captive audience, so you have some more leeway. Just make sure it’s good, don’t put your viewers to sleep.

Goals

Video is a terrific marketing tactic, but don’t just produce a video because it’s cool or fun. Think seriously about the reason behind creating your videos. What is it you hope they’ll help you achieve?

Keep in mind the immortal words of Zig Ziglar“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

What’s your story?

Okay… now on to the fun part! Decide on a story that’s going to take into account the answers to all of those questions. Remember, video isn’t about facts and figures. Video is all about emotion. Pick a story that’s going to connect with viewers.

Promotion

You might have produced the best video ever, but if you don’t have a plan to get it in front of viewers… what’s the point? Video should just be a tactic in a greater digital marketing strategy. Looking for ideas? Check out our 7 Ways To Promote A New Video.

Feeling a little better now? Start each video project with that Q & A and you’ll be on your way to a successful campaign.

–Tony Gnau

Content Jam: life, marketing, and zombie TV

Another Content Jam has come and gone, and again I’m left with so many great insights. I was really impressed with the diversity of the speakers this year.

The morning and afternoon keynotes spoke to some big picture issues we should all consider, and the other sessions were filled with action items we can get started on right away.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from this year’s event.

Gini Dietrich | How To Shape Shift Into Your Ideal Self

I have seen Gini Dietrich speak on a number of occasions. Both her PR firm (Arment Dietrich) and blog (Spin Sucks) are T60 customers, and more importantly, she’s become a good friend.

Which is why I was so excited to see her and hear this presentation. She’s always good with the x’s and o’s when it comes to communication strategies, but this presentation was totally different and in many ways very personal.

She talked a lot about solution-based routines versus option-based routines. My take… when many of us face tough decisions we tend to use the most immediate solution. Gini argues we need to take some time to examine our options before making a decision on a solution.

Instead of jumping to a quick solution, she challenged everyone to:

  • Imagine your future
  • Create a routine to realize that future
  • Do something small every single day
  • Be agile

It makes total sense. Set a goal, make a plan, do the work, be willing to change… this is stuff we should all be doing.

I especially like the idea behind looking at options first. It’s so easy to jump to the quick solution and clear the issue off your plate. We shouldn’t do that. We really should think about our best options before making a decision.

I try to do this when producing videos. When some sort of issue arises, my first reaction is to solve it as quickly as possible. However, this can lead to other complications down the road if it doesn’t end up being the right course of action.

What I do is take a deep breathe and doing my best to think things though. I’ve even had customers ask me on occasion what I’m doing as I simply stand there considering my options.

“I’m just thinking things through,” I tell them. While it can seem painful to give-up time to wait for a solution, I have found taking five minutes to think things through can often save you time in the long run.

Gini totally nailed it!

Roberto Blake | YouTube Marketing for Businesses and Brands

I met Roberto Blake at this year’s Content Jam and walked away super-impressed. He’s a fellow video guy, so considering I run a Milwaukee video production company, no surprise the two of us were speaking the same language.

His presentation focused on using YouTube as a marketing channel, and even though I’m pretty well-versed in this area, Roberto provided some stuff I’d like to work on.

Specifically, I liked a lot of what he talked about regarding call-to-actions and how to position them in and around your videos.

CTAs can be…

  • Spoken in the video itself
  • Included as a visual component in the video itself
  • Posted as a YouTube Card
  • Added to the YouTube description
  • Written in the comments, then pinned to the top

Roberto also suggested uploading the video as “Unlisted” and doing all of your optimization before making it public.

This is really smart. YouTube bases which videos it promotes based on things like number of views in the initial hours the video is public, so it makes sense to have all of your optimization done before it is sent to the masses.

Joanna Wiebe | Creating Content That Converts

Joanna Wiebe made a really big impression on me. The message I received? I’m doing it wrong.

Okay, maybe I’m not getting content marketing entirely wrong, but I definitely need to broaden my perspective.

I think my personal experience probably mirrors that of many content marketers. When I produce a piece of content, I want it to be the best content I can produce. I want it to be super helpful to the person looking at it. And I want the readers/viewers to walk away feeling good about T60 Productions.

Now? Well, now I kind of hear Joanna in my head saying, “Don’t forget, content needs to sell.”

She’s absolutely right. It’s great to educate people, but we still need to make money.

The whole reason we’re engaging in content marketing is to help us make sales, and yet many of us are afraid to ask for the sale… no matter how that might look.

Whether you’re pushing a product/service, or simply trying to build an email list. There needs to be some sort of a call-to-action.

Which means our content objectives need to be:

  1. Drive sales and leads
  2. Educate
  3. Brand building

Joanna is a copy writer at heart, and she says there’s a difference between the way many people write for content versus copy. A lot of, if not most, content is written to educate people, while copy is what gets people to say, “yes.”

She says we’re trying to be so elegant with our content that we forget to ask for the sale.

I know I’m guilty of that. How about you?

I’ve often lived by the belief that if you want something in life, you have to ask for it. Why haven’t I been applying that to my content marketing?

Well, I’m going to change that.

Andy Crestodina | Super Advanced Content Marketing and SEO

Last but not least, Andy Crestodina. Like Gini Dietrich, Andy has become a good friend over the years. When Orbit Media Studios revamped its website, Andy asked T60 to produce a series of videos for the site and I was so proud he chose us.

I’ve seen Andy speak a bunch of times… a bunch!… but I always manage to walk away with great stuff to try.

This time it’s centered on refreshing old blog posts and doing a better job of optimizing them. Focusing specifically on posts that might be on page two of Google, but are in good position for a move to page one.

I’ve been working really hard on our content over the past few years. Thanks in large part to guidance from both Gini and Andy, we have two posts ranking number one for key phrases. Not just on page one, we have the number one post.

I’m not going to lie, I love getting my Moz report every week showing those number one rankings, but over the last few months I’ve grown increasingly unsatisfied… because I want more! More posts ranking!

While I’m all for producing more content and will continue to do so, I know Andy is right. One look at our analytics and I can see several posts begging for a little love to get from page two to page one.

I’m definitely going to get on that ASAP.

Content Jam Wrap-Up

Finally, something else I’ll takeaway from Content Jam 2017 is another point Andy talked about. There’s no substitute for hard work.

This was possibly my favorite part of this year’s event. It was vintage Andy. His enthusiasm for content marketing is one of his biggest assets as a speaker, and I loved his message about getting to bed early so we can wake-up early to produce better content.

“Stop watching zombie TV shows at night. Go to bed!” he told me later.

He said we need a crossfit mentality about producing content. We need the voice of a sports coach in our heads urging us to push ourselves more.

For the record Andy, I’m writing this at 6:15 a.m., I’m over 1000 words at this point, and I don’t even like zombie TV shows. 

Anyway, it was a fun reminder that while we’re all about working smarter these days, working harder can and should still be part of the equation to success.

Video Strategy: planning for next year’s budget

video strategyYou know you want a new marketing video. Heck, you know you NEED a new marketing video… and next year is the year you’re going to make it happen! But knowing you need a video and creating a video strategy are two different things, and trust me, planning ahead will make things much easier on you.

Who’s Your Audience

The first step seems like an easy one, but in my opinion a lot of people tend to get off on the wrong foot.

It seems logical to decide on the type of video you want to produce (About Us, testimonial, product video, et cetera). Now, there’s nothing wrong with starting this way, but I look at the process differently.

Your first step should be identifying your audience.

Is it customers? Prospects? Your employees? Who are the people who will ultimately be watching and benefitting from your video.

Here’s why I like to start here. It’s the most important factor in putting together the video, and I want it to be front of mind from the get go.

Anytime you’re faced with a tough decision to make regarding the project, your first consideration should be how it impacts your viewers. You should base your actions on what’s going to appeal to them most.

That’s one of the reasons I think it’s important to make audience identification the top priority when you start a project. Let me give you an example.

Your first instinct might be… we need an explainer video for a product. However, maybe the audience you want to reach is first-time buyers as opposed to existing customers. Instead of an explainer video, a testimonial might be more effective since you’ll need to build trust.

Identifying your audience will guide you in making a more informed decision.

Have a Goal

A big failure for many video projects is that people don’t establish a goal. This is a huge mistake since there is so much data we can now collect.

Think about it ahead of time… what do you ultimately want this video to accomplish for you?

  • Brand awareness?
  • Push people through the sales funnel?
  • Drive traffic?

There are all sorts of goals you can establish for video, so make sure to pick something and then decide on how you’re going to measure success.

You can use the video analytics provided through YouTube, Facebook, and Google… or whatever video platform you might be using.

Those numbers can tell you who’s watching, how long they’re watching, what they clicked on next… all sorts of stats to help show you how effective your video is and guide decisions you make on future video projects.

Selecting the Type of Video

Now that you know who your viewers are, you can pick the type of video you need. Here’s a basic list to get you started:

  • About Us video
  • Testimonial
  • Marketing campaign video
  • Event video
  • Product or service video
  • Recruiting video
  • Mission or corporate culture video
  • HR video

Now, this is just a starter list. The possibilities are endless. I encourage you to consider video any time you need to communicate with a large audience.

Delivery

Next up, how are you going to deliver your video? Will it live on your website? Pumped out through social media? Used in an email campaign? Displayed on monitors in your lobby? Shown at a live event?

You might be thinking… well, we’ll definitely post the video on our website, but we also might want it for social, and maybe we can use it in sales presentations.

That’s totally fine. I love it when companies find multiple delivery methods! We want as many eyeballs on your video as possible. The key thing is to simply figure out which is the most important delivery method.

For example, maybe you’ve decided you need a new About Us video to go along with a website redesign. Sure… that video has the potential to be shown across many platforms, but the main reason for it is to create a good first-impression on people who visit your website.

Knowing this impacts how long the video should be. Websites are a pull, not push delivery method. Since people have come to your site to learn more about the company, you can get away with a little longer video (2-3 minutes).

Had you decided your primary use for the video was social media, you’d want it to be far shorter, like a minute or less.

Video Budget

Budget is always an important consideration and video projects are no different. Do you need to produce low cost videos, or will you have a decent amount of money to work with? Deciding how much you want to spend will greatly impact the scope of what you produce.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • DIY or professional production?
  • Do you want a big production team or something less obtrusive?
  • Do you just need someone to execute your plan or do you need someone to help with the storytelling?
  • How many days will it take to shoot?
  • Are any special permissions needed for production venues?
  • Will consent forms for participants be necessary?
  • Who will “star” in the video?
  • What’s the deadline like? Quick turnarounds tend to cost more.

These are good things to keep in mind as you plan your budget, but if you want some really helpful information start contacting video production companies now. Production houses like ours are usually more than happy to help you plan how much money you’ll need for your project.

How do pick a video company? Check out our video production buyers guide.

Promotion

This falls under the category of… last, but not least. How are you planning to promote your video?

I can’t tell you how many companies mess this up. They produce an awesome video, post it on their website, upload to YouTube and Facebook that first week… and that’s it. Then, they wonder why nobody is watching.

Have a plan in place regarding promotion. It’s not good enough to just share it once. You have to make it a part of your regular content marketing calendar. Not just for that first week… for the entire year!

Now, maybe you plan to show it several times during that first week, and then you scale it back over the course of the coming months. That’s fine. Just don’t forget about it.

Promote! Promote! Promote!

Wrapping-up Your Video Strategy

Video is a great tool for your communications toolbelt, but remember… you need a plan.

It’s not good enough to simply produce a good video. You need a plan in place before production starts to maximize your video’s potential.

And there’s no time like the present! Start working on your video strategy now, so that you have a good foundation to work from next year.

How-To Produce Better DIY Marketing Videos

If you’re a marketer who hasn’t embraced video and everything it can do for a company or brand, what’s the hang-up? Cost? Sure, video does have the potential to break the budget, but there are also plenty of ways to create low cost videos including DIY marketing videos.

Will wonders never cease?! A video producer advocating DIY videos?! Yup, although, I do have some special criteria before I grant you permission to create your own videos:

  • If you have zero marketing budget or you’re a start-up
  • If you are a kitschy company and your customers/clients know this about you
  • If you’re producing short videos for social media like Facebook Live or Instagram

Let’s break down and then I’ll give you some solid tips on how to improve the look and feel of your DIY videos.

Zero Marketing Budget

Whether you’re a part of a small business or a start-up just getting off the ground, I know there are plenty of companies out there that don’t have much of a marketing budget. In many cases, you don’t have a single dollar advocated toward marketing.

While I think everyone should be thinking about marketing and willing to at least spend something on it, that’s a topic for another day. However, if this is the position you find yourself in, by all means create your own videos.

Create a basic “About Us” video. Take people behind the scenes of your company and show what you do everyday and how you do it. Introduce the people working at the company.

There are all sorts of videos that can help market your business.

Kitschy Company

If a lot of people at the company wear t-shirts and jeans to work… you might work at a kitschy company. If you have a ping-pong table or video game center at the office and people use them… you might work at a kitschy company. If the release of a new Star Wars movie warrants a day-off, you might work at a kitschy company. (FYI… that one happens to be true at T60)

Kitschy companies get a special pass when it comes to DYI marketing videos. They can get away with videos that look less polished because they can chalk it up to their company culture.

They don’t have to worry about ruining their reputation with an amateur-looking video. Their customers just know this is who they are, and they love that about them.

Facebook Live and Instagram

No, you don’t have to hire a video pro to produce live and short social media videos. These are videos that in many cases are meant to be less polished.

The appeal of live videos are that they’re happening right now, not that you have perfect lighting. The appeal of a short social media post is providing a snippet, not an in-depth or intricate story.

DIY is just fine in these circumstances.

Doing Better DIY Marketing Videos

Now, for those you ready to take-on a DIY marketing video project, I have some practical tips for you to follow.

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is perfect for this first time. Don’t do too much, keep it simple. You may have the tools to produce a  video (smart phone or DSLR camera, editing software), but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at using them. It takes dedication and years of experience to hone your skills as a videographer and editor. Especially if you’re a newbie, I recommend starting with some basic videos. A vlog is a great place to start. Simply put someone on-camera and have them talk about their views on subjects facing your industry, and maybe how your company is handling them. These videos are easy to shoot and edit.
  2. The dead giveaway of an amateur production… bad lighting, bad sound, and a shaky camera. You probably don’t have a video light kit. That’s okay. If you’re shooting a vlog or an interview-style shot, move a regular lamp in front of the subject, just out of frame. No lamp? Position them in front of a window so the natural light is on their face. The idea is don’t rely on the overhead lights in the room.
  3. Next, let’s address the sound issue. The microphone on your smartphone is… okay at best. The build-in mic on DSLRs… terrible. Do yourself a big favor and buy an inexpensive lapel microphone that you can plug into the camera and clip on your subject.
  4. Another worthwhile investment is a tripod. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you want a nice stable platform for your camera. You can always look for ways to prop-up your camera on things you have available, but once you do… hands-off! Try not to touch the camera while it’s recording.
  5. Speaking of setting-up the camera… try not to leave too much headroom. There can be a little space between the top of the frame and the subject’s head, but just a little. Even chopping-off a tad of the top of their head is preferred to a big gap. Also, position them in the frame slightly off-center, and for crying out loud… NO VERTICAL VIDEO! Video screens are horizontal, so if you’re using a smartphone turn it on its side while you shoot video. The only exception… if you’re shooting for a platform like SnapChat that encourages vertical video.

One Last Thing

Finally, temper your expectations and have patience. Shooting and editing will probably take you longer than anticipated. Don’t sweat it… this isn’t your expertise. The more you do it, the more efficient you’ll get at the process.

And remember, your DIY marketing video is not going to measure-up to the professional corporate videos you’ve seen. It just isn’t, so don’t hold yourself to that standard.

Finally, if you’re not happy with what you’ve put together, find yourself a pro to produce it for you. It might cost you less than you think. Companies like ours are willing to take on small budget projects. We even have a specific process for producing high quality, low cost videos called 3-Step Storytelling.

The Home Stretch

These tips will certainly help your production, but chances are you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking a pro produced them. As long as you fall into my DIY criteria stated above… that’s totally fine. Don’t try to fool them. Own the fact that you DIY your videos.

Better to own it, than have people think you’re trying to be something you’re not.

So… what are you waiting for?!

Is It A Good Time To Be A Marketer?

Experience Inbound… what a great conference! For those of you who attended, I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. For those of you who are, like, what’s Experience Inbound? It was a two-day, two-city marketing conference in Wisconsin (at Lambeau Field and Miller Park, cool, right?!) that I had the pleasure of speaking at last week.

I did put together a little video (below). Sam Mallikarjunan from HubSpot inspired it when he talked about scaring us with the first half of his presentation and then giving us hope in the second half.

I’m a half-full type of guy, so the second half rang true for me. Which is why for the video, I pulled aside some of my fellow speakers and asked them a simple question: is it a good time to be a marketer? I hope you enjoy their answers.

My Biggest Takeaways

Sam Mallikarjunan (HubSpot) – a couple of things hit me with Sam’s presentation. The whole notion of asking yourself what’s the thing I do that someone else couldn’t do without adopting the same cost structure. That totally got me thinking about my business! Also, when he talked about when you’re good at keeping customers, you have money to acquire more customers.

Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media Studios) – I’m lucky to call this guy a friend. I’ve see Andy speak about eight times, and I aways come away with something new. Selfishly, I LOVED that he told everyone that a video testimonial is the best conversion tool out there. Cha-ching! :-) Things he talked about that I’ll now be checking on my company site… counting the number of unsupported marketing claims we make, as well as keeping in mind the idea of structuring pages using prominence, promise, and proof.

Britney Muller (Moz) – SEO talks make my head spin sometimes. It’s crazy how quickly things are changing out there. I’m always looking for tools to help with SEO and digital marketing in general, so I loved that Britney gave us some good ones. I’ve been starting to dabble in Facebook ads, so when she mentioned AdEspresso it totally got my attention!

Content Goodies

Finally, for anyone who attended my presentation on video storytelling, or for those of you who missed it (for shame!), don’t forget about the resources page I put together for you. There’s some helpful stuff there for anyone interested in video marketing!

3 Low Cost Videos Entrepreneurs Can Produce Today

Marketing is crucial to survival as an entrepreneur, and these days an important part of any marketing strategy is video.

Now, you might think video marketing is for big companies with big budgets. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to create low cost videos, and there are different types you need to consider producing right now.

About Us

The About Us video is the one video every company needs to produce. There are plenty of others that can help your business, but this is the one everybody should start with.

A good About Us video tells viewers who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Think of this as your first-impression video. When new customers visit your website, the About Us video is your best chance to get in front of them and introduce yourself.

Unlike text, video is great for this because people get to see and hear from you. You’re a real person they can relate to. You’re a real person they can do business with. Video gives them a chance to get to know you, and we all know people are more likely to buy from someone they know and like.

Andy Crestodina is the co-founder at Orbit Media Studios in Chicago. His team builds high-end business websites, and he says they recommend video because it’s the next best thing next to face-to-face.

Creating an About Us video is like that first handshake with your prospects. Your website, social media, email newsletter… they should all feature this video.

Product/Service Video

Once you’ve produced your About Us video you’re free to test other waters. One that I recommend is the product or service video.

Produce a video on each of the products and/or services you offer customers. Now, if you offer 50 products, you don’t have to create 50 videos. It wouldn’t be wrong, but I’m also realistic about budgets.

Instead, think about how you can group your products, then produce videos on the various product groups. You can do the same thing with services.

In each case, share with viewers what the product is, how it can help them, and what sets it apart from competitors. If it’s a unique product, share the story about how you came up with it.

Testimonials

There are few marketing tools as valuable as a customer testimonial. Get them on video and you only amplify their power.

Having someone on-camera telling viewers who they are, what they do, and how your business helped them… well… it’s a home run.

We live in a customer review world. Thumbs up or thumbs down. How many stars did it get? These are the things we consult before making a purchase. Whether it’s a diapers on Amazon, a movie on Netflix, or a multi-million-dollar B2B transaction. Everyone wants some validation that they’re making a good purchase.

Providing customer testimonial videos is a great way to do that.

Just like your About Us video, they work because we get to see and hear from real people. This isn’t some name at the the end of a quote. It’s an actual human being telling viewers how you helped them.

Video testimonials are one more way to help your audience relate to your business.

Why These Three Low Cost Videos

There are plenty of other types of videos I could mention, but I chose these three for a specific reason. Think about the journey your customer is on.

They’ve found you online, or someone has told them about you. They visit your website to learn more and come across your About Us video. Feeling good, they move on to take a look at the various products or services you offer. After watching some of those videos, they’re becoming interested. Finally, they see that one of your existing customers has endorsed you, so they watch the video to hear what they have to say.

Chances are after going on this journey, the next step will be to contact you.

About Us, product/service, testimonial… it’s a natural progression… all three can become part of your sales funnel.  

Thinking about DIY?

This might be the point where you’re thinking about how you can produce all three on the cheap, and that could lead you to consider a do-it-yourself project. Here’s what I have to say about that… beware.

Anybody can produce a video these days. We all have smart phones with HD video cameras in our pockets, and there’s free editing software to be had. But just because anyone can do it, doesn’t mean they can do it well.

Here’s the deal… if you have zero marketing budget and your audience knows (and may appreciates) this about you, go for it. I’m fine with you producing your own videos.

However, if you and your business’ reputation is important to you, find a professional to produce your videos. It might mean producing them one at a time over a longer period of time than you’d like. It’s worth it.

Nothing screams “unprofessional” more than a poorly produced video. The last thing you want is to look unprofessional, so why would you risk that by creating your own videos. Remember, that About Us DIY video you’re considering in many cases will be the first impression people have of your company. Don’t blow it by attempting to do-it-yourself.

Need some help? There are plenty of talented production companies and independent producers out there standing by. As a matter of fact, we even developed a specific process to produce high quality, low cost videos called, 3-Step Storytelling. ;-)

One Last Thought

Now that you’re psyched about producing some videos, one final thing to keep in mind. These videos aren’t for your business. They’re not for you, the entrepreneur. These videos… are for your customers. They’re for your prospects.

Every video you produce should be focused on them. If you’re wondering whether or not to produce a specific video… or to include something in a video… simply ask this simple question. Why would my customers care?

If you don’t think your customers would care… about this video… about this snippet of information… then don’t include it.

This might entail killing video ideas you really like, something you think is really cool. Again, this video isn’t for you. Set your ego aside and ask… why would my customers care?

Video marketing is a great way to endear yourself to customers. Used properly, it’s a tactic that will help earn you business. The best part… the more videos you produce… the more people will feel like they’re getting to know you and your business. The more they feel that… the more business you’ll earn.

 

Ultimate Website Video Guide

Ultimate Website Video GuideThere’s just no way around it. The way many businesses handle website videos… it’s wrong. A website video is an awesome tool, so let’s do our best to clear-up how they should be used and provide a helpful case study as well.

First Things First

The first thing you need to understand is that if you put a video on any webpage… it’s an eye magnet. People are drawn to videos. Whether it’s a video that’s already playing, or simply an image with a play button on it. The promise of video catches people’s eye, and in many cases entices them to click.

So… knowing that… why is it that many businesses make visitors seek out video? How many websites have you been to where they gather all the videos in one place? A bunch… I’m sure.

Even when the location makes sense, something else tends to be weird… placement. I’ve been to many sites where I’ve clicked on the “About” page to learn more about the business, then found a good video sitting at the bottom of the page as I scrolled through.

Why would you bury the most interesting element on the page at the bottom where someone might miss it?

You Need a Website Video Plan

What I’m getting at here is you need to think strategically about where you place your video. Having a video to display is great, but you’re doing your site a disservice if you don’t figure out the best way to use it.

Now, before I go any further, I’m going to assume you like your video(s). If you don’t, if you’re not proud of them, don’t display them. Remember, videos are eye magnets. There’s no point in drawing attention to something that’s not going to reflect well on your company.

The One Video Every Company Needs

Alright, let’s start with an easy fix… the About Us video. If you can only afford one video, this is typically the one to produce. It shows people who you are and what you do. It’s the video that starts you down the path of earning that visitor’s trust.

The About Us video is a natural fit for… where? Don’t overthink this… it’s the “About” page. In some cases, you might put it on the “Home” page, but for the most part the “About” page is the natural location for this video.

And don’t be shy! Put that sucker up top where people are going to notice it. This is your chance to create a good first impression. We want them to see and click on the video.

Now let’s move on to the really good stuff. You know and understand the power of video, and you want to start adding videos to your website. What’s the best way to go about it?

Case Study: Orbit Media Studios

It should come as no surprise, but Orbit Media Studios totally gets it. The company’s team members not only talk-the-talk when it comes to website design and content creation, they walk-the-walk. They are some of the best in the business… bar none.

Disclosure time… Orbit is one of our customers and has been for years. Having said that, when I proclaim them as some of the best in the business… it’s just the truth. They design sites for major brands, and Co-Founder Andy Crestodina has been a keynote speaker at Content Marketing World. They’re the experts at this stuff. They’re big time.

So… when the Orbiteers decided to re-do their own website, we were honored when they asked us to produce some new videos for it.

The Orbit Strategy

Their plan… see, they had a plan going in!… was exactly what I recommend to most businesses, which is why they’re the perfect case study.

  • produce an About Us video highlighting who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart.
  • identify your key business offerings (products and/or services), and create web pages for each one.
  • produce a video on each of those business offerings.
  • display the corresponding video on the page for each offering.

In Orbit’s case, we produced an About Us video, and then videos focused on their main services, Strategy & Analytics, Web Design, Web Development, Analytics & Optimization.

Proudly Displayed

If you are looking for any further proof of how highly these website and content experts value video, simply click on each of those pages and see how they have chosen to display them.

They’re not sticking them on a “Videos” page, forcing people to seek them out. They’re not burying them at the bottom of each service page. Each video is the main component of each of those pages. You can’t miss them. The way they’re displayed screams, “Click me! Watch this video!”

Why do they value video so much? I’ll let Andy tell you himself. It’s the focus of what he talks about in a testimonial video he agreed to do for us.

More Website Video Options

Orbit did this with the various services they offer, but I know they have plans for additional videos as well and you should too. Here are some more ideas for website videos:

  • Testimonials: you just can’t go wrong with this. It’s one thing tooting your own horn, but when your customers do it for you, website visitors take notice.
  • Employee/Team Member Videos: we’re more likely buy from people we know and like. Let your prospects get to know your team by creating videos that shine a light on each of them!
  • Company Culture: if you’re proud of your company culture, show it off. If it looks like a good place to work, it’s probably a good place to do business as well.
  • Event Videos: hosting events is a great way to drum-up business. Producing a video during the event allows you to share it with people who couldn’t attend. The event effectively lives on after it’s over.
  • Community Support: do you give back to the community? These days consumers reward community-friendly companies with their businesses.

Hopefully, that gets you started. Again, if you can only produce one video, start with the About Us video. Then, move on from there.

You’re on your way to a digital platform you can be proud of!

Low Cost Videos: 3 Tips To Save Your Marketing Budget

low cost videosVideos are way too expensive. Videos are where your marketing budget goes to die. There isn’t a way to produce high quality, low cost videos.

Blah. I’ve heard it all before… excuses… and in this case those excuses are hurting your business.

The statistics are in and the evidence is clear. Video is no longer a cool marketing tactic that would be nice to have, but you can live without.

Visual content is critical to PR and marketing, and the top dog is video. It’s no wonder why. Research shows that 76% of marketers and small business owners who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business.

I know what many of you are thinking… great… I get it… but my business still can’t afford it.

Ugg… that’s not true! When you do a little research, you’ll find there are plenty of ways to produce videos on a tight budget. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right spot because I’ll help you navigate some of your choices.

Now, let’s get this straight upfront. These suggestions don’t involve animation or whiteboard videos. That’s a whole separate thing, and there are plenty of low cost online options for those types of videos. The videos I’m talking about here are the types of videos that require a video camera.

Professional Video Production Companies

The first option is surprisingly not as obvious as it might seem. Sure, it makes sense for pros to produce your videos, but if you’re concerned about price many might bypass this group.

Don’t do that. There are plenty of video production companies who will work with your tight budget. Our company has a specific process just for producing high quality, low cost videos for customers all over the country.

how to produce low cost videos

Now, it’s true. You will find plenty of production houses that won’t even pick-up their cameras for less than $10,000. You’ll have to do some research here, but I’m going to give you an awesome tip to save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

As you’re researching an contacting local video production companies… share your budget with them.

This can be a tough one for many people to swallow. It’s engrained in us not to share how much we’re willing to spend. Everyone is always hopeful that they’re going to get a great deal. I only have $1000 to spend on the video, but who knows… someone might quote me $500 for my project!

Umm… yeah… that’s probably not going to happen here. Is it possible? Sure, but it’s far more likely you’ll spend all sorts of time talking with a production company about your project, waiting on them to put together a proposal, only to find out it’s more expensive that what you have budgeted.

Sharing your budget in advance solves all of this and saves you time and aggravation.

Hi, Joe Video Production Company. I’d like to produce a short marketing video for my business, but my budget is only $1000 (or $800, $700, $100… whatever). Is that a budget you can work with?

Many of them will say, “No,” but there will be some that’ll work with you. There will probably be restrictions on what you’ll get, but in most cases the skill and ability of working with a pro will outweigh those limitations.

Remember, these are people who produce videos like this everyday. It’s what they do, and they’ll likely do it better and faster than anyone in our next two options… certainly the last option.

Independent Video Producers

Your next best option is to turn to independent video producers. You can find these folks on various websites like SmartShoot and Thumbtack, or you can always look at Craigslist.

This is a close second to hiring a production company. Actually, if video production companies are option 1A, independent video producers might be 1B.

In many cases, you might be getting just as qualified a professional as hiring a production company. They’re also going to be much more willing to work with your limited budget.

The trick is finding the right one. With bigger production companies, they’ll have a nice website. There will be all sorts of video examples for you to watch. There will be content there to help you learn more about the company and the people who work there.

When you go to hire an independent pro… those things might be in short supply, or they might relay on a less polished website or YouTube/Vimeo to share their examples.

Bottomline, it’s possible to find a really good independent video pro. You might just need to look past a lack or marketing refinement on their part.

Do-It-Yourself

Your last low cost video option is to do-it-yourself. I’ll give you a few reasons why I like this option the least, but don’t worry… I’m actually a video pro who advocates producing DIY videos in certain circumstances. I’ll get to those in a minute.

Here’s why I don’t like DIY videos:

  • They’re terrible:
    let’s be honest, most DIY marketing videos stink. You’re never going to be able to create a video as good as a pro who has devoted their life to the craft.
  • They’re embarrassing: the goal of your video should be to impress your customers and prospects. A DIY video usually looks so bad, it makes your company or organization look bad.
  • They don’t save you money: say what?! Yeah, they don’t save you money. Sure, you’re not paying someone to produce the videos for you, but you’ve heard it before… time is money. Producing a video can be very time consuming, especially if you’re a rookie or amateur. You will spend a ton of time working on your project. Time you could be spending servicing your customers or adding new ones. In other words, you’ll lose out on business while you’re making your video.

However, as I mentioned… there are certain circumstances when I’ll give you a pass to DIY:

  • You have zero marketing budget: if you’re a micro-business or a solo-preneur, forget having a small budget. You might not have a marketing budget at all! If this is a case and your customers know this about you, by all means DIY.
  • If your image is kitschy: does your team wear t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops to work? Is there a ping pong table in your office? Do your customers think of you as cool and hip? If so, feel free to DIY. An amateur-looking video might play into your image and work well for your audience.
  • Short Social Media Videos: if all you’re doing is Facebook Live or posting a short video to Instagram, feel free to DIY. You don’t need a big production for these.

Wrapping-up

Well, there you have it. Three ways to produce low cost videos. It might take a little research on your part, but it’s worth it. Put the power of video to work for your business.