Startup Marketing: Using Video to Build a Following and Brand

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Marketing a startup company is no easy task: How do you leverage finite resources in the most effective manner to spread your content? Social media is an easy and low- to no-cost channel, and email marketing is a cheap way to reach hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts. But for most small and startup business, marketing through video can be a powerful outlet for telling your greatest stories – and it doesn’t have to break the bank either.

Here are a few best practices for jump starting your video marketing efforts, cultivated from my own work as well as the broader creative community:

Pre-Production / Strategy

Before you hit the upload button on your next project, it is important to build a solid strategic foundation. After all, offering no video can actually be a better option than sharing a poor one.

Short is sweet: Think of your favorite YouTube videos – how long are they? If they were more than a minute, did you watch the whole thing? Statistics say a majority of people do not; Wistia 2012 data showed that nearly 60% of viewers watched an entire video when it was under 1 minute in length, but the percentage decreases as the video gets longer. Therefore, it is imperative to get your message across quickly. Here is a quick guide on timing from the Next Web:

  • General rule of thumb: Less than 2 minutes
  • Creative / Brand commercials: Less than 1 minute
  • Tutorials / Product demos: Less than 90 seconds
  • Testimonials: Less than 2 minutes

Lay the groundwork: Jimm Fox of One Market Media suggests 11 strategies for video success, all of which happen during the pre-production process. These include: defining project goals as well as the intended audience; this will further help formulate key themes and messaging. He also recommends storyboarding the project, which includes video, narration, additional animation etc. In my own experiences, a full storyboard of every scene is NOT necessary, but definitely for those critical shots essential to telling the story. It is also imperative to script out any narrative or voiceover, which will help provide a framework as you produce your video.

Production

By now, you have developed a clear vision for your video, and you are ready to start filming. What can you do to bring it into existence?

Be as authentic as possible: Use real people when you can, such as actual customer / client testimonials. Filming in or around your office as opposed to a cold studio will also provide authenticity to your project. In one of my brand-building videos, “The Arizona Legacy” which showcases the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state, I recruited colleagues to do voiceovers and scripted on-screen scenes as well as identified uniquely-identifiable locations to solidify the message I wanted to convey. It sounds simple, but be as genuine as possible as it can only help you better reach your audience.

Film, film, and film some more! Get more B-Roll than you could possible ever need. There is nothing worse than beginning the editing process and realizing you do not have nearly the amount of footage needed to cover up those awkward transitions or to emphasize a key message; variety is even more critical than amount as you do not want to repeat the same scene over and over. This is why it is so important to be flexible during your shoot and not let your storyboard or script stifle your creativity and desire to get a particular shot. That said, if you find you are missing something, you can always check out stock video footage from places like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto.

Video is important, but audio makes it: Everything these days is high-definition, right down to the camera on our smartphones, so there is no excuse to have anything less in your project. You can use DSLR cameras or other high-end gear (personal favorite: Canon EOS 7D), which can get expensive, or you can easily enhance the existing capabilities of your smartphone with the Bridge Optix Case-and-Lens System (CLS) and other similar products for a fraction of the cost.

However, as important as HD quality video is, audio is the DIFFERENCE MAKER. Poor, scratchy or incomplete audio is a personal pet peeve and turn-off for many viewers. If you are going to invest in video as a marketing and promotional tool, then purchase a high-quality audio system, such as the Sennheiser wireless mic kit or Handy Zoom recorder.

Post-Production

Here is where the magic happens - from your raw, unedited mess to the polished output that is ready for primetime.

Editing basics: What would we do without smartphones? Not only can you shoot, edit and upload photos and video directly from them but I have been told you can actually make a phone call with them! In all sincerity, they can be a great resource to edit a video cheaply and effectively with apps like iMovie and others. If you are looking for something a little more powerful, desktop software Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premier are excellent tools for a more advanced editor.

Music is another differentiator: We all remember those videos that inspired us, made us cry or otherwise touched a nerve inside. I can guarantee that most, if not all, had a perfectly selected music choice to complement the message. The truth is an appropriate music track can really drive home the emotion behind your company, and resources like Premiumbeat.com provide a vast catalog of well-produced and royalty-free options to help amplify your project.

Distribution

One of the most overlooked aspects of a project is its distribution. Now that you have a spit-shined and awesome new video, how are you going to share it with the world?

YouTube for branding and SEO; 3rd Party hosting for web traffic: When it comes to content sharing, Rand Fishkin (Moz) takes a multi-layered approach by hosting videos in two places: 1) Placing it on your website through a 3rd-party hosting option, such as Wistia, because it helps “build your site's authority, influence, and traffic.”  2) Subsequently posting it to YouTube because it helps with brand building and also for Google-related SEO, and it is also a way to have your content reach the site’s 1+ billion users.

External and social amplification: You need to be sharing your content on social media, but you should also realize that it is perfectly acceptable to share your high-quality promotional video more than once. It can be an especially good cure-all for the “I have no new content today” syndrome…

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Another way to enhance the visibility of your media is to put it on display externally during presentations, tours and events. Although you will not necessarily get credit for additional views as you would if they watched it online, you can spread your message to a large and/or influential audience that can further your marketing efforts. Another simple tactic is linking to your video in your email signature. And do not forget to encourage ALL viewers to share, share, share! 

A conversion tool for potential customers: It is no secret, customers are eager for quality video-based content. In fact, embedding your media on a landing page increases the conversion rate by 90% (Tom Pick, 83 Exceptional Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014). Make sure you include a call-to-action (CTA) too, whether it is to share it, visit your website, call your office, etc.

So there you have it! With the prevalence of video content, it needs to be a part of your startup marketing efforts. Hopefully this post can give you some ideas and starting points to get your next video project off the ground.

Greg BullockComment