Reaping value from video
Some tips on using YouTube videos to enhance your marketing efforts
By Heather Lockwood
It is almost incomprehensible how much content is accessible on YouTube. According to YouTube's FAQ (http://www.youtube.com/t/faq), more than 24 hours' worth of video is uploaded every minute. A Mashable.com article dated February 19, 2011, said, "More video content is uploaded to YouTube in a 60-day period than the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years."
The power of video is amazing. And it's fun to look at the crazy stuff people do in YouTube videos. Getting down to brass tacks, though, there are ways you can use video to market your business and, as a bonus, you may even entertain viewers in the process.
There are several ways that you can use video and directly tie it back to your business to help customers and potential customers find you, understand your business and services and actually make contact with you to increase your selling potential.
Topic areas that people search for on YouTube relate to specific areas of interest. Use key words in your title as well as the video's description so that they're searchable and tie back to your topic. If it's motorcycle insurance, be specific and title your video "Motorcycle Insurance." If you want people to find you via your agency name, include that. The more searchable your video is, the more people will find it and click on it, even if it's not specifically what they were searching for. Also remember to keep your titles interesting enough to pique the curiosity of people who weren't actually looking for it but who stumble upon it.
Think about all of the things you're already doing to market your business. Then consider how you could extend that into video. Here are some examples:
Talk about the products and services you're selling. You do it with customers every day. Think about the questions customers ask. Chances are if one person is asking, others may be interested too. Create a series of videos that answer commonly asked questions. Or talk about the highlights or features of the products you sell that people may not be aware of or may not have considered.
Make videos of agency events and share them. Hosting an open house, planning an agency picnic or playing in a charity golf outing? Make a video and post it on YouTube. Show viewers that your agency is made up of real people in a real community. Helping viewers get a feel for what's important to you and what you stand for is a great step toward building the kind of relationship that is important when trying to attract new customers.
Stand by for news. This is readily available and often is a topic of conversation in the office first thing in the morning. Do a quick, daily update that you can post on your Web site. Talk about what's going on today. It doesn't have to be a complete news report, but it is often easy to pick up on one specific news item or weather event to help you talk about your business. If you're in New York and it's snowing again for the fourth day in a row, that is awesome for snowmobilers. And if they're looking for a snowmobile policy, your agency can help.
Presentations, Webinars or TV ads all translate into video. Use the things that you're already developing and make them available through your YouTube channel. (Make sure that the content is appropriate for all audiences.) You can send customers, potential customers and colleagues there just by forwarding them the link and making it available through your Web site.
Make YouTube an extension of your Web site. If you use logos, tag lines or particular images on your Web site, open or close your videos with them to make a connection between the two. Mention your Web site address in your video and show it on the screen. Try a QR code at the end of your video that will directly connect viewers to your Web site through their smartphone.
Get your customers in on the action. There is nothing quite as real as a customer talking about the great service your agency provided them. Written testimonials posted at an agency's Web site come across as a bit contrived. When done properly, video eliminates that problem.
A few cautions
• Don't use your family or close friends for testimonials. People who know you may also know them, and those family ties reduce the credibility of the comments.
• Use a range of stories that will give a sample of all that you do. You help different people in different ways based on their situation. You provide consultation for your customers to select a product to purchase, and you are also there providing various services along the way. Show many different interactions.
• Don't be so serious! Video is a great conduit for laughter. Interview those customers who have had really odd or unexpected experiences.
Remember, you need to have permission to use people's stories and identities, and you cannot reproduce anything that's trademarked or copyrighted without express written consent.
A couple of quick reminders on using video overall
• Have a plan. You can certainly enhance your video plan with impromptu videos as topics come up, but put together a plan for seasonal products, customer testimonials and events to ensure that you have fresh content to post on a regular basis.
• Keep videos to under a minute and a half, and stick with one point per video. If you have several topics, break them out into several videos. Creating a series entices viewers to watch for the next one and provides you with an opportunity to post fresh content at regular intervals.
• Be patient. Just because you posted a video, don't assume it's going to go viral. If you promote the videos through your Web site, blog, Facebook, e-mails and other correspondence, people will find you.
• Don't assume you want your video to go viral. What's more important is finding the customers who are looking for what you offer. Large numbers of viewers might look impressive, but if it's not bringing more business in your door, it doesn't amount to much.
YouTube is an incredible tool, and if you just think about it as an extension of your current marketing plan, it can lend itself very well to rounding out your marketing efforts.
Heather Lockwood is advertising manager for Foremost Insurance Group. For more information, visit ForemostAgent.com.