A few years ago, I was filming at a digital futures event for Digital Annexe, making the video below. I heard Will Sansom of Contagious magazine say businesses always want to jump on the latest band wagon and develop their strategy for it so they ask questions like: What’s our Pinterest strategy, what’s our Instagram strategy, what’s our YouTube strategy….
As I spend a lot of my time convincing people about how video would be good for their business, It should come as no surprise that I wholeheartedly agreed with businesses asking themselves the last of those three questions. Especially when I am close by with business cards at hand.
But then, Will said: "THAT IS THE WRONG QUESTION TO ASK."
"Instead of asking how can we jump on the latest social media platform/fad/ flash in the pan," He said, "businesses should ask ‘What is it that we do? What do we specifically offer? Who are we trying to reach? and which of these outlets are best poised to help us out."
I found myself agreeing with him even more.
In my travels spreading the “online video gospel”, I’ve run into a wide range of people, from those who have heard of this YouTube thing and want a piece of that action right now, all the way through to people who think it has nothing to offer them and its just what these kids waste their time with nowadays.
When I meet up with potential clients, my standard line is that "Video is how a lot of the world takes in information nowadays and the old maxim of 'I won’t read the book, I’ll watch the film' now extends to websites, and any message you might care to put out there."
Now this true. But still it might not be obvious where to begin, and the truth is that there is no one size fits all approach to video. Here are some questions and considerations that you can ask that will help you decide, as Will put it, how and whether video will best work for you.
FIRST THINGS FIRST ... WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE?
Make sure you have something definite to say, even if it’s just BUY OUR PRODUCT. if you are already in business I’m hopeful that you’ve already got this down. I’d recommend you having a look at your Welcome and About Us pages on your website. That is probably the beginning of a video script right there and a healthy refresher for you. If you still find yourself going, 'Yes, that’s exactly why we do this’ you’re in good nick.
Is it primarily for existing customers, or are you trying to get new business through the video? Young or Old. This is extremely key as depending on who you are trying to reach (whisper it) video might not even be the best way of reaching them. But assuming that video is what you’ve decided on, this will decide what type of video you’ll make. Fast, frenetic, pounding music, or stately, regal, classical music are just two choices based on who’s watching
It’s important to think of what you want to say, but probably more important to think of what the people watching the final video want to know. Bear in mind they will be constantly asking the question, why should I care?
THINK ENGAGEMENT, NOT JUST INFORMATION
I worked at a place where there was a lot of enthusiasm for video but the approach was mainly ‘It’s a way for us to tell people things’ and while on the surface, that’s true, the real power comes in engagement. You are not seeking to tell your customers what you want them know or do, you are inviting them to start a conversation through which they will get to know more. It’s why there are subscribe, like and dislike buttons on YouTube. and even though they have a tendency to attract the worst of Internet scuttlebutt, it’s why the comments section of anything is popular. People want to know that they are being listened to and that there is a way to have their say or affect the outcome of something. If there is no way for this, you might make a great video, packed full of important information, but once they’ve watched it, without something for them to do as a result of watching it, they are likely to forget you exist.
For instance in the video below, it gives information, but at the same time, there is a clear ‘part for you to play’ section where it is inviting viewers to come be a part of it.
WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS LOOK LIKE?
Are you a visual, activity based business or an information business
This will determine what type of videos will be useful for you. For instance, I’m about to start work on a video for a zoo and in many ways, that is a video that makes itself. You know that you want to see the animals, and lots of them. You want to see people (most likely kids), gasping at something amazing, face to face with the animals, and generally having as good a time as you will if you choose to go, you want to see where you will visit and you probably want that to be the first thing you see when you visit the website.
BOOM!! We’ve got it. Get that video made, splash it on your websites home page and get it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, email lists etc. It’s a zoo!! You’ve got an easy sell.
But what if you are an accountancy firm (sorry to any accountants reading this)? You don’t want a video of an office full of people behind computers, dealing with a massive pile of tax returns with a slow motion shot of an accountant growling down the phone “Pay my client, or I will find you, and I will kill you”… Actually, I would watch that. The main reason you wouldn’t make that video is because unlike a zoo, the main benefit you offer is far removed from what your business looks like. So if we run through the questions laid out above
Looking at these would lead me to would suggest a series of videos, spread out over the course of a year on topics like
STOP THINKING ABOUT IT...
Once you’ve covered these bases, get someone like me involved. This could be someone on your team, but once you’ve answered the questions above, get someone in to help you move forward. If not your message will just remain a great idea.
My next blog post (released by the end of July) will cover more of what someone like me does to help you get your message out there, first stage, Scripting. See you soon. I leave you with another video I made for Digital Annexe, mainly because I prefer this one, even if it doesn't feature our good friend Will.