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Making Videos that Sell: A Guide for Small Businesses

filming an event  with a video camera

By Brad Sanzenbacher, Senior Manager, Wrike

Video is critical for online marketing. According to Video Brewery, having a video on a web page increases conversions by 80%, and including video in an email campaign increases click-through rates by 200-300%. If you’re a small business owner, it can help you differentiate yourself from your local competitors and even online e-tail giants, and drive more revenue from your online and social media presence.

The challenge is that most small business owners don’t have the time or skills to make great video. You can’t blame them for that: with lighting, sound, music, scripts, and photography to master, it’s a complicated job that for professional productions, requires an entire team of experts. For DIY video makers, there are some core fundamentals that you can learn without too much difficulty that can improve your videos and help them catch buyers’ eyes. Since even your smartphone has a pretty decent camera, it’s not hard to get started.

The first thing to remember about using video for your business is that your goal isn’t just to make great videos, but rather to make great videos that help buyers fall in love with your product, and ultimately click that “buy” button. With that in mind, there are some simple tricks that you can use to increase conversions, and make videos that sell.

Shoot close-ups of details

Combat photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.” While you may not be in the business of risking life and limb to capture battle scenes, the same is true for your product videos. This is especially true in the age of mobile devices, when your viewers may be watching on a small screen. Focus on details and fill the frame with visually interesting or beautiful images.

Simple lighting beats no lighting

One of the most precise and difficult areas of professional productions is lighting. On film sets, lights are enormous, sometimes dangerous pieces of equipment that cost a fortune to maintain. For your video, large soft shop lights from a hardware store will probably work just fine. The key is to make lighting simple so you can repeat the setup quickly for product after product. If you sell small items, you may want to consider an inexpensive cube light that makes products look great, and can be used to create a consistent look and feel for all your shots.

Use a tripod

This is video 101 – but it’s one of the most important elements. Shakey video looks good for gritty documentaries and reality TV contests – but it’s not flattering for the products you’re trying to sell. Use a tripod to lock down the camera, and shoot steady shots. Here’s another tip; hold your shots for what feels like a little too long. That way when you’re editing, you give yourself plenty of time to work with.

Show the end results first

If you’ve worked in sales, you may remember the adage “sell the benefit, not the product.” The same is true with making a video. If you picture a video about a kitchen gadget that makes pasta, what would be more interesting to you: seeing a device sitting on a counter or seeing a delicious pasta dinner steaming on a table? When you show the end result first, you compel people to watch more to see how you did it. And since a lot of social viewers only watch the first few seconds of videos, it’s very important to capture their attention early.

Collaborate often

On professional video shoots, there are lots of people to bring their eyes and attention to the project. Each person can catch different mistakes and offer suggestions to make it better. Introduce collaboration with your team or somebody you trust to get their feedback and ideas at all stages of the process.

Collaboration is especially valuable if you’d decided to outsource your productions. The time and detail involved in shooting and editing means it takes a lot of time to make changes after the shoot, and that means more money from your pocket. Use technology to your advantage. There are a number of tools that let you annotate video in a single place, making it clearer and easier for your editor to deliver exactly what you want.

Don’t let the thought of video’s complexity prevent you from employing it in your marketing. There are ways to make videos on small budgets that drive huge results. Whether you’re making them on your own, or working with a video company – following these simple steps will give you great results.

Brad Sanzenbacher is a Senior Manager at Wrike, and has 15 years of experience in video production in politics, professional sports, and technology.

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