Here’s why you should add video

May 23, 2009 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Here's why you should add video

If you visit our home page, you'll see that we've added Yours Truly as a video spokesperson. We believe in it, and we're creating video for a number of our clients. Here's why I believe it works:

  • It's moving. If you watch people watching a video website, you see that they stay focused on the screen longer and more intently than with an ordinary site. It's why Flash animation was popular five years ago – because it  moves. If you want to get really primal, it's the same answer a friend gave me years ago at a camping trip: I asked: Why does everyone look at the campfire? He said: Because it's moving.
  • It's personal. From the time we were infants, we're conditioned to pay attention to someone who is looking at us and talking to us. Why are there "talking heads" delivering the news on television? Because it holds our attention better than just a voice narrating over other footage.
  • It's compelling. A good speech involves two things: A person with something to say and the ability to say it well. You want to stick around to hear the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph.
  • It creates familiarity. All of us, as customers, want to meet in person with a prospective attorney, dentist, doctor, financial planner, mechanic before choosing them and writing a check. It's because we want to see how we FEEL about them. If you are that service provider, the prospect can see how friendly you are by viewing your video. That lowers a big hurdle.

So much for the behavorial, human side of the equation, which is the most important. Now let's look at why it has become such a good business proposition:

  • High-speed internet is now commonplace. Many of you already know that the United States, while ahead of the world in many areas, has been behind in bringing high-speed internet to the masses. But it's here now, and it makes video possible.
  • File sizes are smaller. With advanced file compression, it's now easy to create video in manageable sizes. The convergence of high-speed delivery and smaller file sizes is what made YouTube possible. Those guys got the timing right. (There are lots of video sites now, of course).
  • Digital video shooting is possible for everyone. You don't need an expensive camera anymore. You can even shoot video with your phone. That doesn't mean you should, necessarily. More on that in a minute …
  • Video on the web is the new television. It really is. You saw what happened with the printed word on the internet and newspapers? Be prepared for video to take a bite out of television as well.

OK, if it's so easy, why isn't everyone doing it? Although we believe in it strongly, there are some obstacles. For example:

  • Fear. Not everyone is comfortable getting in front of a camera. It's the same fear that keeps people from speaking in public – by some polls a fear greater even than the fear of death. It's not easy having people look at you, with critical eyes. Without several years of Toastmasters and other practice, I wouldn't have done it either.
  • On-camera talent. Some people who aren't afraid of speaking to a camera still shouldn't do it. Why? Because they're not good on camera. Case(s) in point: The many, many many bad locally produced commercials. I won't single anyone out: You DON'T know who you are. And that's the problem
  • Shooting talent. Although cameras are cheap, good shooters are rare – and not cheap. But not too expensive, either.
  • Writing talent. This goes back to the "having something to say" thing that I mentioned earlier. With a flaccid script, you can lose your audience quickly – even if your video is as smooth as cream and you're as polished as an Azalea Festival Queen.
  • Money. Although cameras are cheap, good video costs some money. If yours is a legitimate business and you can't afford to do at least a B+ video, save up until you can.

So how do you get in the video game?

  • Crunch the numbers. That's my bias, anyway, and if you're a businessperson, I think it should be yours as well. As you'll see on our website, and in lots of other things I write, I believe that making money is the only reason to have a business website. (It's also known as ROI – return on investment). If your "commercial" is on your website, you can spend a whole lot less on TV time. Invest $3,000 – $10,000 on a good web video, and you might run it for five years on your website. You can't get five years of round-the-clock on-demand video with TV. It's not the dollar cost that matters, it's the cost over time. More importantly, it's the return you can achieve over that period.
  • Write a good script. What is your business proposition? What is the argument for your company over another? If you don't know and couldn't lay it out for a prospect, you've got bigger problems than just making a video. But you probably DO know, and don't mind telling anyone who will listen. Still, few business owners write well. Most should hire a writer.
  • Hire a good shooter/editor. A good shooter, with a good script, can make even a marginal on-camera talent look great. And if you are the product – a doctor, lawyer, dentist, CPA, financial planner – the customer wants to see YOU. How do they do it? By using a spokesperson while showing you in action, B-roll, graphics, quick cuts, showing your location, voiceovers, you name it. The viewer won't even notice that it wasn't you talking straight into the camera for minute after minute. This is the big secret: the real problem with bad local commercials is poor writing and production. They sometimes cut corners, or use young camerapeople, and because they are beholden to the customer for all that paid air time, they might not tell them that standing stiffly, or bringing their kid on, or having a thick accent isn't making them look good. You don't have to be an on-camera star. You just have to have a tight script and a shooter who will make you look good.
  • Make sure your website gets found. With a great video on your site, you'll be persuasive and get more calls when someone visits. Now you just need more people to visit. That's another article, or click here and I'll tell you how to do it!
– Michael Byrd

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This post was written by Michael Byrd

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