Now that video is financially viable for even smaller businesses, it’s a hugely powerful marketing tool. One supplier of pop-up marquees has a video on their site showing a marquee being erected and taken down again in less than ninety seconds. The impact of their video knocks the spots of anything that could be achieved in words: with video, seeing really is believing.

What will a video achieve?

A video is a quick, visual, appealing and straightforward way of people getting to know you. We buy from people we like and trust and can put a face to. So the beauty of video is that it can:

  • Show people who you are and what you do
  • Deliver vivid, genuine testimonials from existing customers
  • Add credibility and authority to your company
  • Demonstrate your product in action
  • Generate lively presentations for networking meetings and other events

Video testimonials in particular are very good value. Business development for small businesses usually focuses around building relationships. The relationship comes first, then trust, finally the sale. Seeing a customer extolling your virtues is more dynamic and more memorable than simply reading a couple of paragraphs.

And don’t be reticent to ask customers to get involved. For many people, the power of being asked to be filmed works its own magic!

Making the best video possible

Any small business can put video on the net quickly and cheaply, but as Ken D’Souza, director of video producers D-Vision Ltd points out, “This creates the perception that anyone can make a great video, put it on YouTube and have the customers knocking at the door the same morning.

“You can also buy dentistry tools very cheaply on the internet but I doubt many would consider it wise to carry out work on either their own or anyone else’s teeth!”

But the realities of today’s economic climate mean that many small business owners must consider the do-it-yourself route – and luckily there are plenty of ways that even amateur videographers can up their game.

I asked Rob Burchell, MD of post-production video specialist The Hall, what tips he could offer to budget film-makers using just a webcam and a PC. For making the film itself, he recommends these key points:

  • Buy a tripod. If your webcam or digital camera can’t take one, use books or a beanbag on a table.
  • Don’t rely on a camera microphone, plug an external microphone into your camera or PC sound card for a more pure sound.
  • Look at where you place the person you are shooting. Don’t put the subject in front of a window with a nice sunny view. Use desk lamps for light: the camera should balance it all out.
  • Film cutaway shots. These are static shots of related items which you can intercut with talking-head shots.

Editing skills

Once you’ve captured your raw images, download Windows Live Movie Maker (free of charge) for editing. Use the AutoMovie feature to quickly put together a video with titles, transition, credits and effects.

Alternatively, get your hands dirty with the editing tools. As well as all the usual cuts and transitions there are neat options like creating pan and zoom shots that you might not have been able to do with your webcam. For first-time editors, Rob offers this advice:

  • Don’t add in too many effects. The most effective transition between two well filmed shots is often a simple cut
  • Keep captions and graphics simple: don’t use thirteen different fonts and colours
  • Bring footage into your computer using the highest possible quality
  • Export at the best quality you can handle, too. If you’re uploading to YouTube, then the site will down-convert automatically, using their own expensive and effective conversion routines- a great free bonus for you.

How do I promote my video?

Once you have the finished product, it’s time to let everyone know. Much of the discipline of internet marketing focuses on links to your site from other places, particularly social networking pages. So…

  • Put your video on your own website. If you don’t have your own website yet, get one free with Office Live
  • Upload your video to a YouTube page for your company (you can upload direct to YouTube from within Windows Live Movie Maker)
  • The same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social network that is relevant to your business. You can even send Tweets that link to your video. Use every opportunity to tell the world that your video is out there.

And as a final note – always tell people what you want them to do next, in a video, a Tweet, a brochure or a phone call. ‘Please ring us on… Visit the website at… Email us for quote…’ If you want people to find you, you have to tell them how.