Lights, Camera, Action! - Putting Your Business on Video (Part I)
A couple of weeks back, I offered up five steps to creating excellent written customer success stories for your business. This time the medium is video, and how you can use it to engage prospects and show them what you can do for them.
Too often, people think of a video for their business as just something that runs on their website. But videos can be included in presentations, used at trade shows, put on flash drives or discs as leave-behinds, and shown on salespeople's computers. They are another tool in the sales and marketing toolbox—and these days you need every tool you can get.
The nice thing about modern, low-cost video cameras and sites like YouTube is that they make basic video easy. If you know what you're doing, you can get some good footage and show off your operation fairly effectively. But there's more to it than standing a few people up in front of the camera. Because video engages the viewer, the best results come when you plan the production thoroughly. Just as with the words and pictures in your brochures, customer success stories or website, video should tell a story that leaves viewers wanting to learn more. Here are a few points to consider when it's time for lights, camera and action.
Tell a story—Tell a story that creates interest, much like you'd see on a TV documentary. You want the video to make the phone ring and to share your unique selling proposition with the world. This requires planning what you want to say and who will say it, how the video can show the way your business philosophy extends out to your customers, and even how the spirit that's part of your work environment extends from the CEO to the people running presses, inserters and right out onto the loading docks.
This requires upfront planning, thinking about the most important parts of your message, and all that you need to show and say. You want to show why someone should do business with you. Videos are a place to strut your stuff—highlight your strengths and show off the depth of your team and its expertise.
Plan the shoot—Beyond the message, your video needs to be visually interesting. Use different backgrounds, multiple rooms and settings, and different camera angles. Avoid the talking head in front of the camera format as much as you can. Think in advance about what you want the video to look like. This planning is tightly tied to the story you want to tell. Consider bringing in a customer or two who can provide a "celebrity endorsement" about how your company delivers for them.
Make it look natural—This means no scripts for anyone. Unless you have a crew of folks with broadcast or theatrical training, no one will be able to memorize and deliver the lines of a script and have it not look stiff and rehearsed. Have them know what they need to say—a set of bullet points works well—but they should deliver it ad lib, much as they might when a prospective customer is on site for a shop tour. And don't limit people to being formal in front of the camera. I recently did a shoot where the head of the company happened to be great on camera for his planned pieces. But his best stuff came in a 25-minute session just chatting in his office. The camera was running the whole time, and it will make a great segment in the final video.
But wait! There's more! Come back in a couple of days for the rest of the story, including b-roll, lights, audio and post-production.