Video camera drawing overlaid on taco with text about video.

Why Video Helps Small Business Marketing

You might not think your small business offering lends itself to video, but a variety of new video formats can highlight your product and services with flair and appeal.

As part of a video promotion community (a closed group for pros on Facebook), I’ve recently witnessed the exchange of numerous videos selling everything from nutrition drinks and real estate to novels and art. The novelist’s videos told a story about the book, without spoiling the plot.

In video, key phrases underpin the overall narrative. Remember, you are drawing people in with a glimmer of what your product is. You are not just handing them a product.

As a marketing tool, we are well beyond having a person in a conference room speaking to the camera. This reminds of the time in the early ‘90s when, as an intern, I found myself being called upon to eat tacos on camera in a boardroom. Why? More on that later.

The current crop of video combine still photos, art, music, text and effects to keep eyeballs on the content and are specifically optimized for mobile phone delivery. If the medium is the message, this content is crafted for watching in the palm of one’s hand. Indeed, a lot of social media video is viewed by people sitting in front of other screens, such as their TV or work computer monitors. This is why captioning is helpful; you are still giving content without sound.

Video also adds legitimacy in ways the written word alone might fall short. Now, the viewer feels they have met you, much as if they walked into your storefront.

This can cut another way in that video can appear to reveal who you really are… or are not. An acquaintance told me about someone he assumed did similar work as me. Whoa! Not really, the video showed a slickster doing a selfie video in a garage with a luxury car. The implication being if you buy what I’m selling, you too can rent a luxury car. The bigger problem was the content. I listened and heard nothing specific. Nada.

People watch videos to learn something, see something or feel something. If you can deliver on all three, that’s great. The only way to meaningfully deliver on anything is to be specific. All effective storytelling requires specifics, be it data, descriptions or directions.

If you are selling widgets, show the assembly line. If you sell a service, give some instructions. Most of all, direct the viewers to your store!

People want to see the experience. This brings me to the tacos. The TV news station where I interned was doing a feature story on Mexican food and was waiting on a freelance cameraman to send us video with various shots from a restaurant. We were expecting to see beautiful dishes and décor. Instead, it was a lot of B-roll of drunk people doing shots of tequila. Apparently, the cameraman (also known as a shooter, by the way) put the camera down on the bar and had a great time. This was not the kind of shooter we wanted.

We still needed usable B-roll. A producer sent me and another shooter (without booze) down to Taco Bell to get some footage. We got the boot. But we bought some tacos to go. I thought we could put the tacos down on a table and get some decent Ken Burns-style footage documenting the tacos in all their glory. Unfortunately for me, the producer took it further and insisted the cameraman shoot me eating the tacos. He got a nice tight, close-up shot of me chewing. Why? Because great storytelling puts people in the action. Turns out, the video was so compelling the story went national and some of my college friends were very surprised to see me eating lunch on a major network’s nightly news.Video camera drawing overlaid on taco with text about video.

Not every video is going to garner a huge audience. Just like blogging, if you do videos, do them consistently to build a portfolio. You will improve with each installment. Also, you cannot do something once and expect success. By blogging or posting video on a regular basis, you are informing the internet gods and your customers that you are a reliable, consistent presence.

For more information on video and other digital marketing services provided by Adroit Narratives, please see our services menu.

Mobile phone next to credit card indicating an online purchase.

Social Media Engagement is a Two-Way Street

In social media, what do people want to watch and read about a product or service? Are you giving the people what they want?

Reflect a moment on your own social media habits. Which businesses do you like and follow? Are you liking a business or ad you see on Facebook, only to not see it again? By contrast, do you often see the posts of businesses you regularly engage with? What is engagement?

When you comment on a post, you are engaging with that business, which tells a little algorithm birdie you want to see more of that kind of content. For example, I personally like many businesses, but will always see the ones about cooking because I comment on the posts by cooking and lifestyle magazines I follow. I like a handful of them so much that I told Facebook (via newsfeed preferences) I want to see those businesses posts first in my newsfeed.Mobile phone next to credit card indicating an online purchase.

What can you do to reach such elevated status with your following? Are you giving them how-to information? That how-to can serve as an intro to the rest of your expertise. Or, it may compel them to hire you to do it all for them.

You want to stay front of mind so when they hear a friend say, I’m in the market for a new widget, your audience says, hey, I saw this great video from a widget maker you may like.

The video can be as simple as one of your subject-matter experts speaking to the camera with an explanation about a product or service. The expert should be approachable.

Are you friendly? Do your written posts speak in a friendly, fun voice? Remember you are trying to reach people when they are in a recreational mode (surfing social media).

Numbers Tell the Story – Check Your Analytics

When it comes to social media and other content marketing, including website content, review what’s working and what’s not working. Social media provides analytics for businesses to see which posts perform well and which get less traction. Seize the data. Look at trends over recent months and seasonal periods. Be sure to look at the interplay between social media analytics and the Google Analytics for your business website.

When it comes to the content in your social media, give your target market something concrete, tangible, specific and, most importantly, actionable.

What is the point of telling people you are a master craftsman of widgets if you don’t give them a way to buy the widget. This does not mean you should plaster tacky ACT NOW buttons all over your social media posts and website. Instead, you are giving them options for engaging:

  • Promote an event, such as an open house
  • Offer a free or lower-priced consultation
  • Provide a link to a digital coupon or limited-time special offer

What are you selling? Yourself, especially if this is a small business. What is it about your background and best practices that provide the value people get for what they are paying? Answer those questions in your content.

Video is Eye Catching

Remember when Facebook first started autoplaying video and consumers freaked out because they thought it would eat into their mobile data costs? Well, that was resolved and now when people scroll, they naturally stop at video. The movement and colors really pop off their phones.

I really love creating videos for clients, especially one with music and backdrops because I can use still photos of products or scenes in such slideshow-based videos. There are apps and programs you can use to create and edit videos. Of course, Facebook wants you to use its video ad builder, but it is not as advanced as other set-ups. That said, the Facebook video ad builder is a useful platform I have used and seen good results.

What is you favorite video editor? Your favorite platform or venue for watching video?

For more content marketing ideas, contact communications consultant Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives.

How to Deliver Bad News with Good Communications

How does one maintain a positive message when a product is realigned or even ceases to exist? If a business line is unwinding, how does one gracefully support it while acknowledging its demise?

Sometimes a product line unwinds because it was associated with a celebrity whose star faded or imploded (see Nike Livestrong accessories). Or, a product line might get pulled in the face of stiff competition, in which case you may want to promote that you are clearing inventory. Even stating the sales will continue “while supplies last” could hasten the dwindling of the inventory. Granted, you want to say that in a tasteful manner and not evince any sense of desperation.

You can put a positive face on a fall.

You can put a positive face on a fall.

Be honest

Perhaps you believe you built a better mousetrap, and perhaps you really did, but too many competitors also had great mousetraps and maybe better marketing, distribution, pricing, cost basis, etc. Tell the customers how much you still back the product, but feel the time has come to let it go. Communicate the positive.

Put it out there

Gone are the days of a static memo. You need to put a face on your words. Here is where video can really help by serving multiple purposes in your crisis communications. The people who made the difficult decision should be on camera explaining how they arrived at this decision. Contrast that with just plain, cold words on paper or on a screen. The speakers’ faces and verbal tone will show empathy and regrets.

A second reason video helps is it is easily sharable on social media and your message will be quickly and readily disseminated to audiences you may not otherwise reach. Thirdly, this medium for storytelling really allows you to define yourself rather than allow other parties to describe you. It shows you have accountability. Fourthly, videos are memorable and will replay in people’s minds, further reinforcing your message.

Move fast on messaging

The news is going to come as a shock to some and bad news travels fast. You want customers to hear it from you first. Give the news to employees and then immediately roll the outside communications. Separate human resources discussions from external communications, but do give employees links to the press release and FAQ so if anyone asks them for information about the closing, then they can forward the proper information. Make it easier for the employees this way.

Disclose as much as possible. Vagueness and glaring omissions tend to invite speculation and rumors. Spare yourself as much aggravation as possible by disclosing the real reasons yourself.

Open a dialogue

Make it immediately clear that you are not pulling up stakes and leaving any customers in the lurch. Be sure to communicate contact information for questions and provide a frequently asked questions (FAQ) sheet with information on returns, redemptions, replacement parts, etc. Stand by the product and stand by its customers. Let them know the schedule for the product’s end or business closing.

Thank your customers for their business and support. If possible, recommend a competitor. After all, if you are exiting the market, suggesting an alternative is good customer service. Plus, if you are selling other products or expect to be in any other business, you want consumers to remember you in a positive light.

Delivering bad news is no fun, but if properly handled, you can hold your head up high.

For more information about business communications, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

How & Why Print Marketing Still Matters in the Digital Age

Aside from your arsenal of digital marketing tools, I bet you rely on the time-tested staple of brand management: your business card. Not only do people still hand out business cards – because they work – but now there are new mod designs and shapes for business cards. Business cards are held, carefully read and, ideally, retained. They can also contain technology that brings people into digital content.

Augmentative reality images can be placed on printed material and then scanned on a phone or tablet. Using an app, the user is taken to a video. Imagine handing out business cards at a conference that bring people to a video about your product. That business card doesn’t seem so old-fashioned anymore, does it?

It is a first impression that determines if the card is retained and used by the recipient. Is it easy to read and is that content clear? The questions that must be answered are what is it this person does and does that offering matter to me? Does the content of the card make clear what is the nature of your business? If your company name does not explicitly include the business category, consider adding a tagline that does.

You want to strike the right balance between capturing as much useful information as possible and, by contrast, making it too busy looking. For instance, do you really need to list three or four phone numbers and a FAX number? Direct and mobile numbers suffice. Drop the www. prefix from your website address.

There is more real estate on the back of the card. I have a client who was inclined to cram a lot of information back there, enough copy for a large brochure. Still, it’s not a bad idea to place a list on the back of the card. We winnowed down the essentials of what a customer of this service provider would experience at their first consultation. We trimmed it down to five bullet points with short phrases. It looks good and tells a story of what the first meeting will accomplish and what key services are at the core of his business.

The business card remains a reliable workhorse of content marketing and can easily be integrated with your other marketing channels, including digital. Your card is expresses your business identity and should be as respected and carefully considered as your other communications.

To review your business communications and how to improve and augment them, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

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