Sunday, March 24, 2013

Video Quality Matters

Here’s a question I get a lot. “I have a camera and iMovie, why can’t I do my own web video?”

Maybe you can, but it's not as easy as it looks. Here’s some useful info.

The average American, by age 65, has seen some two million TV commercials. Which is why Americans of all ages know something about video production values.

So, if your web site video looks like a home movie, they’ll know it. And they will hold it against you.

You do this yourself. We all do. We judge the business by the quality of their business video.

We don’t say … well gosh, that was smart. They saved money on their video so they could spend it on … something really useful. All we know is that the video doesn’t look professional and we then assume that there’s something not professional about the business. And we click on to the next site.

A Good First Impression 

You’ve heard this saying and it’s still true: You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Why does video cost so much? Well, it really doesn’t, or doesn’t have to. But it’s a highly technical business with specialized hardware and software and a long learning curve.

Sure, your neighbor kid in high school did a fabulous video his first time out. But will handheld, thrilling skateboard wipeouts represent you?

Choose the Producer That Fits

So what’s the answer? Choose a producer with a track record for quality production at an appropriate cost level. How do you do that? You make it a point to sit through a prospect’s portfolio samples and ask about costs.

If there's one you just love, ask how much it cost to produce. If you don't have that much, ask to see one that matches the amount you have to spend. And unless a production delay is your fault, never pay more than the amount you negotiated.

The best way to get a very accurate bid is to complete a detailed shooting script and ask for bids at several levels. Why pay for a Maserati when a Volkswagen bug will get you there?

One thing is for sure. Don’t put out a flawed video and expect that others won’t notice. 

It’s all they’ll notice. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lizanne Coker for Reel Life Productions

We've worked with Lizanne Coker on and off for years. Always a delight. She's smart, a detail aficionado and wonderfully marketing-savvy. Projects with Lizanne include the Port Townsend Library, United Good Neighbors, and an ambitious Internet safety program for school use.

Here's a great example of a testimonial that works wonderfully in 27 seconds.

Thanks, Liz!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Testimonial in Less Than Two Minutes?

Oh yeah! Check this testimonial video produced for Port Townsend's Townsend Bay Marine.

Why I Believe in Video

I'm often invited to marketing meetings, because I've been an advertising writer, creative director and/or  video and audio producer for thirty years. By now I'm happy to say it's something I know something about.

My solutions to marketing problems are almost always video or audio, and it's not unusual for someone to point that out and say that it's because I'm in the video and audio production business.

That's true, I am, but I wasn't always. I started out as a print copywriter, first for Eddie Bauer, then companies like McDonald's, Schucks, Bank of America, Holland America/Westours, and Starbucks.

I've written millions of words for print and helped to sell a ton of stuff.

The World Keeps Changing

Do I still believe in print? Yes and no. As a novelist, receiving a regular check from Amazon for both electronic and paperback sales, enthusiastically yes!

In sales, not so much. You know yourself that you don't read as much. If you're like me, you feel that you don't have the time, and that there is probably a more efficient way to get the information. 

There is, of course, and that's where video comes in. 

Video Attracts

I tell people to imagine a short, informative video as a dry fly tempting a trout. The video isn't going to catch the trout. Video doesn't make the sale, you do. Video is a quick and efficient way to interest a sales prospect. To get them to call, click, stop by ... whatever it takes. 

Here are a couple of ways that video works wonders. 

1. Fundraising. The classic model is to show the need, not the pathos, but the triumph of what can be done if people like you contribute.

But that's not the whole story. Another way to fundraise with video, is to put a short–emphasis on short–video on your website and let one or more of your contributors talk about why they give. It's very difficult to find a font that replicates passion

2. Something new. Even people who send out YouTube links to cool gadgets often forget that they could be sending out similar links to videos of their own new stuff. Yeah, you!

For example, say you're a hospital outside the metro area and you spent a lot of money for a tool you needed, but don't get to use very much. So it sits. Although you're keenly aware of it, chances are the man (or woman) on your streets has no idea it's there, and that it would save them tremendously having to go to the city for a mundane procedure. 

And it doesn't have to be a gadget. Could be a new employee who does something wonderful, a new procedure, and so forth. Video says "hey, look at this!" better than anything.

3. Testimonial. Yes I do talk about testimonials a great deal. It's not just a chance to have other people praise you (instead of or in addition to praising yourself), it's also a left-handed way of saying "hey! I do this other thing too!

For example, I've been a film maker for twenty years, but still occasionally write something for someone. If I put up a writing testimonial, prospects know that's another arrow in my quiver, something else I can bring to the party. 

And, it means that I put together a video with a concept. Not just stitching images to music. 

Not Just Video on Your Site

So video on your site is not just video on your site. For as little as a few hundred dollars, video is a power tool on your site, attracting, inspiring, motivating ... and saving time. And unlike the fleeting TV spot or newspaper ad, video is on your site long, long after it's more than paid for itself. 

So yeah, I like video. 

And that's it from here. Be Well. Do well. And call or write anytime with questions. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's So Great About Video on a Website?

Simply everything!

Twenty years ago, when we were first starting out as Reel Life Productions, our clients didn't have that many easy, productive things to do with their videos. Maybe show them to Rotary, or trot them out for visitors or new hires.

Today, thanks to the Internet with websites and YouTube, your video can be working for you, twenty-four/seven, telling or selling, no matter what else you're doing.

Some people are still wary of YouTube. Did you know that, since its purchase by Google, YouTube is the second most-used search engine?

Did you know that, while it can take months for a new website to be 'searchable,' a fresh YouTube video can be searchable, usually in three or four days?

You can link a YouTube video back to your site, or you can actually originate, or home-base your video right on your site–in most cases. And there's more.

Video Keeps Them Around

I like to think of video as the personal greeting on a website. Like a greeter in a retail store. You walk in to look at something, someone says 'hey' and 'can I help you find something.' Or 'here's what's special!'

Imagine walking into a store full of merchandise and finding no one. Probably wouldn't stay long, which is exactly what happens on your website. 

Website metrics indicate that visitor time changes from about a minute to nearly seven minutes, with video on the site. And beyond the length of time of the videos themselves. 

Why? Most sites tend to be copy heavy and people aren't readers anymore. Sites with lots of images, captions on the images, headlines and subheads ... and video ... catch and hold prospects better than the ones that don't have these things. 

Consult an Expert

People are sometimes unsure about what their website video should be about. Consult an expert: you! You know what you like to see, what seems believable and what would encourage you to respond.

Since the beginning of time, the best kind of advertising has been word of mouth. Someone who likes something tells you, you like it and tell someone else. Nothing else compares. And since most companies get testimonial letters–and don't really use them effectively–consider adding one or more short, real, testimonial videos to your site. It's so much more effective to let someone else sing your praises. 

Or how about this. Your business has something new, an employee, tool or process that you're really excited about ... tell people. Enthusiasm communicates. Enthusiasm makes a great difference in website video.

That's it from here. Be well. Do well. Call or write anytime with any questions.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Keep Nepotism in the Family

We invite everybody we meet to call us anytime to ask us video questions. You don't have to be our client or customer, you just have to be interested in video and be looking for answers.

Yes, we want to be the go-to guys for video. Why? Well, it's good for business. Often people will come to realize that video is harder than it looks, and hire us. 

But also, we get the satisfaction of sharing information that we learned the hard way over time. It feels good to be able to get that extra advantage out of the hard work. 

My Cousin Has a Camera

One of the most common questions/comments we hear is that (fill in the blank) "My _______ (husband, wife, niece, nephew, son, daughter ... ) has a camera and will work very cheaply." 

That's a tough one. 

Cameras are great now and the software is plentiful and affordable ... even free. Here's the problem.

Most videos now are web videos. Web video is wonderful for web sites for a whole bunch of reasons I'll talk about later. If used properly, visitors to your web site are darn near greeted by a short video selection. 

Like walking into a store and someone greets you and offers useful information.

But you never get a second chance to make a great first impression. Would you let your relative make a suit you planned to wear to a new-business meeting? Would you let that person come along and make your business pitch? Or would you send them out in your place? Probably not. 

How much business reputation are you willing to risk in these trying times. 

A Brief Video Checklist

So don't just post a video because someone with your DNA made it. People will decide about your company based on your video. If it's sloppy, they will think that about your company, and so forth. 

Look for these qualities: 

1. Is the video all in focus and more importantly, is the sound wonderful? Loud and clear.
2. Spelling on the I.D. bars and titles? Is it good?
3. Does anything jerk, jump or spasm onscreen. If you notice it, nobody else will miss it. 

And finally,

4. Does the video, no matter how well produced, make a clear points-of-difference case for your company? If it doesn't, does it matter if it's well-produced. In the end content is what makes the difference in successful business video.  

That's it from here. Be well. Do well. Call or  write with any questions.