Focus on quality when making business videos

The number of American video viewers is growing,

The number of American video viewers is growing, and businesses not yet utilizing video marketing may want to look into it as a potential marketing medium, experts say. (Credit: iStock)

Jamie Herzlich

Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

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By 2016, online video viewers will represent 61 percent of the U.S. population and 77 percent of the nation's Internet users, according to eMarketer.

Given that predicted growth, businesses not yet utilizing video marketing may want to look into it as a potential marketing medium, experts say.

"Today everybody is doing online marketing videos," says Michael Miller, based in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and author of "YouTube for Business" (Que; $24.95). "A lot are doing it poorly and some probably shouldn't be doing it at all."

If you're going to produce a substandard video then there's no point putting it out there, particularly in today's competitive environment, Miller says.

"I still see a lot of small businesses' [videos] out there look like late-night community cable TV," he notes. "It's not acceptable now."

If you're doing it yourself, you at least need a decent high-definition camcorder, as well as external lighting and an external mic, Miller suggests.

If you don't have quality equipment or time to produce the video yourself, consider hiring someone to do it for you.

"For a typical small business, it could cost as little as $1,000 to make an effective and entertaining online video," says Keith Muller, owner of Muller Video Productions in Franklin Square, which makes promotional videos for businesses.

Brevity is key. The typical length of an online video is less than three minutes, he notes. "People have very short attention spans," explains Muller, who uses Vimeo to host his clients' videos, which are then embedded into the home pages of clients' websites.

Other outlets for videos include YouTube, social media sites and blogs, he notes. Find out where your audience is and what keywords they're searching so you can incorporate some of those words in video tags and headlines, he says.

Muller tries to keep viewers engaged by using multiple cameras to get the subject at different angles. Showing what the company does rather than just having a chief executive talking behind a desk is also a way to keep viewers engaged.

For instance, in a recent video he did for Ferrandino & Son Inc. in Farmingdale, Muller got shots of the company's crew out in the field doing landscaping and snow removal.

"It shows the faces, the services . . . it emotes what this company is all about," explains Alyson Bruu, director of marketing for Ferrandino & Son, a national provider of maintenance services and general contracting.

The video "has gotten tremendous response in both comments, compliments and actual leads for new prospective business," she notes.

Keep it real. Not every business offers products or services that might be particularly visual for video, but that doesn't mean you can't still make it interesting.

For instance, a sales trainer could have customers speaking on their behalf in a video, says Bettina Hein, co-author of "Video Marketing For Dummies" (Wiley; $24.99) and chief executive of Pixability, a Cambridge, Mass.-based video marketing firm.

"Get your customers to talk for you," she says, noting you can also include a call to action in your video. Invite viewers to call for a free consultation, go elsewhere for more in depth-tips, etc.

Create videos that show your expertise and don't try to be over the top in getting viewers' attention.

"A lot of people try to be super funny and that's really hard," Hein notes.

Also, don't go in with the goal of trying to make the next viral video because that's unrealistic, she says.

Go for information versus entertainment, she says.

And be real. "Be authentic," Hein says. "Show your passion. That will shine through in any video."