Many of my fellow videographers see current trends as the end of an era. Others look at those same trends and see them as the beginning of a new era. Mark Twain wrote, "The secret to success is to find out where everyone is going and get there first." Where is everyone going? Online! It's no secret that the internet is the new Yellow Pages, and video is fast becoming the language of the internet. For many businesses that can become your clients, learning to leverage online video effectively is a lesson you need to teach them.
Recently, I conducted a seminar sponsored by the Better Business Bureau titled "How to Use Video to Grow Your Business." Almost everyone who attended the seminar had a video camera and had tried using it in their business, only to find that there is a difference between shooting video and knowing how to use video to communicate a message in a compelling way. They were there to learn, and I was able to offer what other videographers can also offer: knowledge on how to use video effectively illustrated with lessons from years of experience. Here is some information you can use to teach your prospects in the business community those same lessons.
First, become aware of how much video is being used on the internet. Keith Kelly of Chicago-area Innovative Communications shares these statistics: "People watched 60 billion videos on YouTube each month [of 2010]—that's 730 billion videos throughout the year. And the average Internet user watched 186 videos each month."
C. Lee Smith, the president and CEO of Ad-ology Research, notes, "Small businesses are becoming increasingly savvy on how to market online, and their plans for increased spending on video and mobile show they are ready to try new ways to reach the customer. They may not have the resources of big businesses, but things like online (video) and social media help level the playing field."
A good resource for keeping up-to-date on the use of video by businesses is ReelSEO's newsletter (go to www.reelseo.com to subscribe). No longer is video limited to a video on a website promoting the virtues of a business. There are how-to videos, informational videos, and product videos. For these videos to be effective, they need to be short and entertaining.
Look for opportunities to communicate your expertise to the businesses in your area. It might start with an email to existing customers letting them know about your services. A great way to communicate is through business network meetings.
It's also important to create your own opportunities. Recently, my son, Jason Naumann, saw the need to advertise apartment buildings in Southern California. It resulted in him offering promotional videos to fill the void. Another friend is now offering to interview out-of-town relatives for free as part of his wedding package. He believes that once the family sees a sample of what he has done, they will hire him to produce a full-fledged video biography.
Third, use existing resources. One great resource I've discovered is Talk Fusion, a company that offers a suite of nine video products to businesses at a remarkably low rate. For example, a business that subscribes to Talk Fusion can use video email, video conferencing, live broadcasting, video blog, and a host of other turnkey items. I recently told one of my business clients the price the service charges ($35 a month). He immediately saw the value; his company was paying more than $60 per month for just one of the services. There is a one-time fee of $250 to get started, but most businesses would consider that quite reasonable. The advantage for us, as videographers, is that we make a small amount for each business we sign up. Plus, as we get involved with Talk Fusion's business plan there is a great opportunity to make a steady residual income. For more information on Talk Fusion, go to http://1344953.talkfusion.com.
I'm excited that more companies are becoming involved with video-both as users and producers. I heard that if McDonald's is looking for a place to build a restaurant, the company looks for a place that already has another fast-food restaurant in the neighborhood. The volume of fast-food places doesn't decrease business; rather, it encourages business. The same is true of video.
Change is inevitable. A wise person understands what is happening and can take advantage of change. To quote Mark Twain again, "I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one." Today, as videographers, we have unprecedented opportunities. Let's see these opportunities as the beginning of a new era and not mourn the changes that have ended the old way of running a video company.
Alan Naumann (alan at memoryvision.tv) is co-author, with Melonie Jeska, of The Complete Guide to Video Biographies, a comprehensive set of training materials for professional video producers. A featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2004–2010 and
a two-time EventDV 25 honoree, he is based in Minneapolis.