Strictly Business: Success Secrets for Your Web Site
Posted Jan 23, 2006

The World Wide Web turns Sweet 16 this year—and what a tiger it has turned out to be!
       Internet surfing has replaced watching TV as the "preferred entertainment" for adults. But it's much more than entertainment, such as looking for pictures of Jessica Simpson or the latest basketball scores. Prospects are also looking for someone who can help them with their video production needs. And that means you have to be there, ready and available to help them.
       It's no secret the Internet is rapidly changing the way we find information and resources. According to a recent study by Pew Internet, of the 94 million Americans who went online any given day last fall, 63% used a search engine to locate resources.

It's obvious that a good Web site is a must-have tool for your business. Never before has there been such an easy, economical, and persuasive way for videographers to attract clients to their businesses—if they use it right.

Which means that, in order to maximize your marketing opportunity on the Internet, your Web site has to do more than just show up. It has to educate your prospects, present the benefits of doing business with your company, reassure prospects that you're the right person to handle their video project, and let them know how to get in touch with you—and do it quickly and succinctly.

Without person-to-person contact, prospects visiting your Web site usually have two questions foremost in their minds when considering doing business with you: "Who are you?" and "Why should I do business with you?"

Here are a few basic steps you can take right now to answer those questions and help turn your site into an effective tool for success.

1. Include your contact information. This is the easiest credibility-booster to implement on a Web site. Yet many businesses ignore the power of simply stating where they're located on the planet and providing a telephone number and email address. If you don't provide real-world ways to contact you, some visitors will wonder whether you are real or just another Internet scam, and whether you can be relied on to deliver the goods. There's no time for false modesty when it comes to promoting your video business and your services. By including contact information on your site—meaning your name, address, and phone number(s)—you'll come across as a legitimate business. I highly recommend that you include this contact info on every page of your site.

2. Use your photo. You don't need Hollywood looks to make an impact on your Web visitors by including your photo. As long as you aren't frowning or looking depressed, a photo makes you seem real, appealing, and accessible. Likewise, pictures of your company location or of your staff (clearly not stock-photo models but actual staff members) help bring your company to life. You don't want to do business with faceless corporations devoid of all human personality. Neither do your prospects or customers. So a few lines about your experience, your clientele, and the benefits of doing business with you are essential as well.

3. Include testimonials from satisfied clients. Benefit-laden quotations from satisfied customers posted on your Web site attest to your legitimacy, and help defuse your prospects' anxieties. For greatest effect, testimonials should be brief and specific, and signed by a full name, along with a meaningful identifier, such as a company name or city and state or province. As with any good marketing tool, I strongly recommend that you put a different testimonial on every one of your site's pages.

4. Speak in plain English. Forget the technical jargon! Remember that 98% of your audience doesn't care that you happen to use the very latest Thunderbolt HD 12-chip camcorder with dual exhausts and triple XLR ports. All they really want is to be assured that your creativity and talents, combined with your professional equipment and software, will capture their event flawlessly, or show their products in their best light.

5. Practice what you preach—show samples. EventDV columnist Russ Jolly of PixelPops says—and I heartily agree—that your streaming video demo is the strongest "draw" possible for your video production Web site. This is what your customers want to see. "Video is the reason they want to find you," says Russ, "and you can offer a video viewing 24 hours a day, seven days a week." With the advent of low- or no-cost streaming software, there's no reason your site shouldn't include some clips of your very best work.

6. Let them know you're available offline, too. Interactive Video CDs are popular for advertising your production services because they're easy to mail out as samples or hand out to prospects anywhere you travel. Let your Web visitors order a hard copy demo right from your Web site. And when you're putting that demo together, use interactive authoring software that will allow you to include a link back to your Web site from the interface of the CD. This way, your prospects can see more or different video samples and get additional or updated information about your production services.