When it comes to competing with larger corporations, small businesses struggle to compete in the marketing and advertising arena.
While a mom-and-pop store may not have a $1 million advertising budget, a great equalizer has recently entered the scene: the viral video.
While it's true that not every video will reach the "viral" superstardom of YouTube favorites like Blendtec's iPhone "Will it Blend?" clip, which has garnered more than 3 million hits, video can help you market your business in a unique way without spending a lot of money.
Nathaneal Mohr, a small business marketing coach, said while many small businesses readily acknowledge that video marketing is something they should be trying out, most are confused on how to begin.
"With confusion, people usually stay still," said Mohr. “They're probably a little intimidated and have so much on their plate already that they don't want to risk the time and money spent in an area they don't understand."
John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, said fears aside—entrepreneurs need to take advantage of the opportunity video marketing presents.
But experts warn that while it is important to add a potentially 'viral' element to your clip, the material still needs to be relevant.
"Where people make mistakes is setting out to make a viral video, so they put something with dancing cats in it, and it has nothing to do with their business," said Jantsch.
Here are some expert tips small business owners can use to get started on a video marketing campaign:
Define your audience. Before you pick up a camera and microphone, figure out who you are talking to, Mohr advised.
"The clearer you can become about who your target market is and what is important to them, the more your video will stand out because it feels like a personal, one-on-one conversation that was meant for them.”
Think about your formula. Many of the videos that people pass along have a humorous or emotional element, Mohr said. Think about what would make you, as a consumer, want to share a video and start your project from there.
"From that point ask yourself how you can tie in the product or service and create your story from there," he said.
Jantsch warned that having a funny element in your video can be tough, and can backfire if not done correctly.
"It's harder to pull off in a way that is complementary to the brand," he said. "Step back and look at how you can inject humor and surprise into something that will motive a person to share."
Try newsjacking. Jantsch said getting on top of a big news story in a relevant moment can help make a video become a hit.
"If you know there is some big story out there that will happen in real time, think about how you can embed it into your video," he said. "Take on something you know will have this quick storm."
Outline your story. Once you figure out the direction of your video, outline the actual story points, Mohr advised. This will ensure the video makes sense and flows properly. It’s also a good idea to get help and input from all levels of your team.
Include a call to action. Your video can be hysterical, touching or inspiring, but if you aren't asking consumers to actually visit your website or shop at your store, it is pointless from a sales perspective, Mohr warned.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see in a video that finally goes viral is that it's missing the call to action. Although brand equity is important, the most important thing you can do for your marketing is give it a measurable return on investment; the best way to do that is with a clear call to action in the video.
Ask viewers to share. Mohr said video content, through his own testing, is 10X more likely to be shared by viewers if you remind them to actually share it.
"If you have a service business, use this as a call to action," he said. He suggested including something like, “The highest compliment I can get is if you share this video with everyone you feel would benefit from my services."
"Make sure it's easily embeddable into their community," Jantsch said.
Don't forget to post the video on your own social media pages, website and YouTube.
For most businesses, marketing videos can be made with low-cost equipment like a FlipCam, lapel microphone and free editing software, such as iMovie. You may even be able to use the camera on your cell phone to tape the video.
"There are great success stories where people have elevated their brand's awareness through having others be willing to pass their video on," Jantsch said. "But don't just wake up and think you will make a great viral video that will get millions of hits. Those who have had success have also probably made 74 videos that got zero hits."