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Beginner’s Guide to Video Marketing

Category : video marketing


Disclaimer: I’m am not a professional video producer. If you’ve read my blog for a few years you’ll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams’ strategies. While video has been a part of our mix for a few years, I’m working to utilize it more as a strategic medium to display positioning and messaging. If you’re more advanced in video, some of these tips may seem a bit simplistic.

I’m a fan of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain on the food and travel channels. I like how their shows use unique camera shots and interesting script to make you want to jump on a plane to a new location or run out and try a new food. They’re storytellers. But, they have camera crews, the best equipment, $$$, and people to professionally produce these shows. Well, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I want to use video in marketing but I don’t have the budget dollars for a professionally produced video every time and our equipment comes in at around $1500 – $2000. I also don’t want to produce something that could negatively impact our brands due to low quality or that looks like it was produced in the basement. So, is there a middle ground?

Absolutely! Here are key steps you’ll want to consider as you get your start in producing video content:

  • Have a Strategy: Why are you producing this? What is the end goal? Content marketing is not just a buzz word, but rather a necessary reality. Content is key and video is another way to present compelling content to your target audience. But, there has to be a purpose just as there would be a purpose to writing a white paper. Every aspect of producing this video should be done with your main strategy in mind.
  • Know Your Equipment: Our equipment consists of a DSLR, a boom mic, portable light, wireless mics, tripod, and camera/accessory mount. We purchased quality equipment within our budget. We also got together as a team and shared what we know about the equipment. This was key as we wanted a systematic approach to shooting the videos as it won’t be possible to always have the video experts with us in the field as we shoot. Know your camera settings, how the equipment is setup, and know some basic sound and lighting strategies. (Yes, despite all this I still shot some key scenes without the mic on!).
  • If All Else Fails, Revert to Simple: This is important – especially if you’re like me. In my mind, I was going hit the field and BE the Andrew Zimmern of corporate video. But, in reality, I quickly discovered my limitations – both on camera and off (those guys are very talented at what they do). Don’t let that stop you. Remember, we’re sticking to our goals which is to present content, messaging, and positioning for our brands. Sometimes, extravagance can draw the viewer away from the core purpose. I’ve found keeping it simple can produce the right result. Plus, trying to produce over what your capabilities actually are only increases the chances of a less professional outcome.
  • Script It: This seemed both obvious and wrong to me. I certainly don’t want the people on camera to look like they’re reading or have memorized a script. I want to humanize our companies through personality and creativity in presentation. Not make us look like robots. But, without some outline scripting, we would be in trouble. There has to be a structure and boundaries to what is said on camera. Going back to building off of a strategy, you want everything said and done on camera to represent that core strategy. That’s why it’s important to lay out in words what you want to say and convey. Practice from those scripts until you and the team feel comfortable. Then, dump the paper script and be yourself.
  • Storyboard It: Storyboarding is the funnest aspect for me as this is where you really start to feel like you’re producing a video. This is where you sit in the viewers chair and imagine what they want to see on the screen to stay engaged and absorb your content. If the viewer is going to take the time to watch your content, they’re going to want to watch a story unfold. This means shooting secondary footage – or B-roll – to show while commentary is in progress. This means showing the viewer how you came to be where you’re at and why you’re talking about the topic. We took out a large white board and drew little pictures that represented the scenes we wanted to produce. I snapped a picture with my Droid, sent it to Evernote, and I was ready to go.
  • Be Flexible: Where you’re shooting the video will never be as perfect as what you draw up in your mind. You also don’t have an advanced crew going to stage the scene for you (if you do, you’re reading the wrong article). This is where you roll up your sleeves and turn the setting into what you need. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to practice the flexibility ahead of time and plan for anything and everything. For instance, I was in Florida recently shooting an introduction to one of our companies and we planned for the perfect opening set outside the front door framed with Florida-like trees and plants. What we didn’t plan for was the strong winds the three days I was there. The audio was going to sound similar to those crazy reporters that stand outside in the eye of a hurricane! Instead, we found a setting inside that helped support our goal which was to present the company as a high-tech company. We shot the opening in their state-of-the-art training facility which positions them as thought leaders and having the ability to train customers on their technology.
  • Keep it Short: Attentions spans are shorter and your target audience has other pieces of their day demanding their attention. I typically find we almost need to cut in half what we want to convey in the video. Remember, you can always have a Part I and Part II. I think 3-5 minutes is pretty good for a corporate video piece. Depending on your purpose and intent, there are always situations where it can be longer.

There is obviously a lot more to producing a video and I plan to expand on a few of these points in future posts. But, this should give you some things to think about as you plan the plunge into video marketing. Also, if you have tips and tricks of your own, please leave them below. I’m sure readers would appreciate more insight!

Hotel Video Marketing – Good Tool or Not?

Category : video marketing


I recently wrote about an experience I had in Europe staying at Ibis hotels. I was impressed with their marketing of their services and the backing of that brand marketing by hotel staff. The post was fun for me to write and discuss with readers as I end up staying in quite a few hotels throughout the year – some good and some…not so good. Traveling in the US is a bit easier on the hotel selection as the locations to which I travel are dominated by trusted (most of the time) chain hotels like Marriott or Hilton. But, internationally is a different story. The chains are there but often at a price that the corporate budget can’t handle or a location that doesn’t work for me.

Often, I’m faced with a decision process based on price, location, and a few pictures and amenities posted on the random hotel website. Not exactly reassuring when your worst nightmare is a dingy, dirty hotel room. Sites like TripAdvisor help in the decision process with customer reviews but what happens when there are only a few reviews and they could easily be from friends of the hotel owners.

So, I’m in the process of finding a room in Paris for a week this Fall and I came across this website with an interesting video feature. Before I dig in, check it out:

The hotel is the Hotel Gramont Opera and to see how the video looks when launched from their site, click here.

The video depicts a businesswoman utilizing the hotel amenities such as free wifi, breakfast area and conference rooms on site. It gives you an idea of what rooms will look like as well as other locations such as the hotel salon and bar. Obviously, this is professionally done and shows the hotel in the best light possible.

I realized after I watched this that video depiction of a hotel experience is a rare marketing tool. Admittedly, I found myself more inclined to consider this property after watching someone else go through their stay.  So, it begs the question – Is showing an individual or group of people enjoying the hotel a good thing? Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • You can tell this is professionally done, but likely on a tight budget. It’s quality enough that it portrays the hotel in a good light. I do think, however, that some boutique hotels could go low budget and perhaps harm the opinion of their property if the video is poor quality.
  • This video portrays a businesswoman, but what if I’m a family considering that hotel in Paris for a vacation. Would the focus on a business person lead me to believe that children probably wouldn’t fit in? Of course, there is a chance that this hotel’s goal is to try and attract the business person.
  • I think this is a strong tool for boutique hotels that might not get the large exposure of a bigger property or chain. I’m often most leery of these types of hotels because there aren’t many reviews and the websites are often lower budget. It doesn’t cost a fortune to produce this and it gives the website visitor more confidence in the hotel.
  • This hotel “gets” marketing more than others I’ve seen. They’re prominently showing the video on their home page and advertising the fact they’re reviewed on Trip Advisor.

Overall, I’m a fan of this type of marketing and see little downside. Did I book at this hotel? Unfortunately, no. I went with something a bit closer to where I’d be spending a majority of my time.

What are your thoughts? Does video give you a unique perspective of hotel properties or would you pay little attention if one was offered?

How Viral Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be About Viral

Category : video marketing


Most of my viewing activities this weekend revolved around March Madness (best sporting event of the year), but I did manage to catch a YouTube video or two that caught my attention. Namely, a video created by Corning that has caught fire and defines the meaning of viral – without really being viral. Confused by that? Let me explain.

First, I’m a techie geek and admittedly, I’ve watched this one a few times. If you’re curious what our world in technology could look like one day, check this out:

Unbelievable, right? As a consumer I’m in awe, but I was also intrigued from a marketing perspective. Many of us dream about creating that piece of video content for our small business that goes global and is shared by millions of people and creates a swarm of interest around our products or services.

Well, that wasn’t Corning’s intent. The video was created to inspire and educate investors at a corporate investor’s day event. This wasn’t intended to be emailed, Liked, Tweeted, posted about, and spread globally – it was to show investors how glass will continue to increasingly impact our daily lives.

One of two things happened next: either someone at Corning decided on a whim to post it to YouTube for the heck of it, or maybe, as Rebecca Lieb points out in her iMedia Connection article, this was a strategic move to reuse a brilliant piece of content creation. Whatever it was, it worked – over 9 million people have viewed the 6 minute video (I’m three of those).

There are some good strategies around marketing viral videos with stealth, but I don’t think that was the case here. I think this was a well-produced piece of content that Corning will continue to get some mileage out of in other mediums. It isn’t exactly a small business budget that created it (I’d love to know how much), but it was well done and does show how important it is to proliferate content through various mediums and at different audiences.