Although the value of video marketing is well known to many small business owners, the task is often avoided or delayed because so many find the idea expensive or overwhelming.

Successful video marketing allows businesses to engage with customers, generate leads, increase conversions and more. And it isn’t as difficult as you may think.

If you want to start taking advantage of video marketing, this guide will direct you on where to begin and will walk you through the steps of a successful video marketing campaign.

First Steps

The first step you will need to take is to thoroughly plan and set a goal for your video campaign, like you would with any other marketing strategy. Do you want to generate more traffic to your website? Do you want to promote a new product? Do you want to improve your brand image? Having a goal will help you measure the success of your video campaign. (For more guidance on general marketing strategies, check out this free course on Marketing 101 for Small Business.)

Part of the planning process is deciding what kind of videos you want to make. Do you want to produce a commercial for your website? Or do you want to create helpful informative videos for customers? This will relate heavily to your goal and what resources you have available.

Once you have a plan, you will need to set up an account on a video hosting site, such as YouTube.

  • To create a YouTube account, you can directly log in through your Google account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up here.
  • Once you have signed into your account and created your video (see instructions below) you can just click the upload button to upload it (see a list of supported file formats here). You also have the option to create videos directly from the site by developing a slideshow or capturing video from your webcam.
  • Although YouTube is the most popular, other video hosting sites work great as well. You can expand your audience or access different features by working with sites such as Vimeo, Vevo, Metacafe or Dailymotion.

Making a Video

Pre-Production

  • Consider what resources you have available and what you will need to acquire. If you plan to create your video in-house, you need to have access to video equipment and production software. This could be a computer program such as Camtasia or Windows Movie Maker, or even simply be a smartphone and online editor. Think about your needs and your budget; it doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production, but it needs to look professional.
  • You may also opt to hire a professional to make and/or edit your video for you. You can find a service locally by searching for a “video production” company on Yelp or hiring a freelancer through a site such as oDesk, Elance or Craigslist. If you’re on an extremely low budget, consider enlisting a local film student to help your small business at a discounted rate.
  • You will benefit greatly from writing a rough script and developing a concept for the video. The foundation of a good marketing campaign is engaging and valuable content, so you need to plan to produce something worth watching. Don’t just write about your product, consider what reactions will really engage a viewer who’s bombarded with hundreds of images and ideas a day. Humor? Emotion? Shock? Sex? Fear? A celebrity appearance? Consider your resources and your demographic. What underlying drive motivates your target demographic? Write the script with them in mind.
  • In addition to planning a script and concept, be sure to plan your location as well as camera angles and equipment. Determine the cost of renting or purchasing this equipment, and make sure it leaves enough room to budget for post-production and editing. Plan to shoot somewhere quiet and well-lit (if not, you may need to acquire lighting).

Film and Edit

  • Put your plans in action and film your content. Whether it’s a commercial with actors, the business owner speaking to the camera, or a screen capture or demonstration of your product, be sure that you have all elements prepared before filming.
  • When editing, remember to cut out unnecessary content and pauses. Keep it short. A commercial should be no more than 60-90 seconds, and more in-depth product demos or brand pieces shouldn’t exceed a few minutes.
  • Use simple fonts and fades for scene cuts and on-screen titles and captions. Abrupt cuts and flashy fonts are distracting, and unless you have an extremely skilled multimedia team, they will probably just look unprofessional.
  • Consider adding music for a special touch. If you’d prefer to leave it out, try just adding it to the beginning and end (see here for a list of stock audio sites).
  • Remember to brand the video by adding your company name and/or web address on the screen during the end of the video and in the description on YouTube.
  • You want your video to be findable, so considering using some simple search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your chances of being found. This course will give you the basics on how to incorporate SEO in your video and other helpful tips.

Promoting Your Video

Simply creating videos will likely not add anything to your marketing campaign unless you connect your videos to your current marketing efforts. There are multiple outlets available to help you share your content:

  • If your company has a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and/or other social networking accounts, be sure to spread the links to your videos there.
  • You can embed the video on your website, share in your newsletter and/or your blog.
  • Talk about your videos in-person. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
  • Encourage others to share the content.

The key to successful video campaigning is to be thoughtful about your approach. Making more videos may not always be the path to success since videos are rather expensive to produce, and one amazing viral video may be the one to make all the difference (for an example of a viral product commercial that turned a small business into a success, read about the legendary Dollar Shave Club video).