Oct. 15 2018 06:00 AM

Video can solve a lot of selling and marketing challenges if used correctly.

It’s no secret that video is a powerful marketing tool. So, why aren’t you doing more with it?

So many of your customers are watching videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other venues that impressive statistics don’t really matter. The trend is powerful and undeniable.

Video can solve a lot of selling and marketing challenges if used correctly. But we’ve all seen some lame productions. The worst kind are those shaky-camera, “talking head” videos. Equally yawn-inspiring are those overproduced company commercials. Nobody wants to sit through five minutes of you patting yourselves on the back.

It’s not as easy as hiring your friend’s buddy to make you a video. To really attract eyeballs and deliver a powerful marketing punch, you need to get a lot of things right. Here are a few tips:

1 Be solutions focused. Avoid the temptation to focus on the product or “your awesome company.”

Instead, tell potential buyers how you solve problems. Answer the question, “What can you do for me, the customer?” Take the opportunity to show your total solutions, i.e., the intangible items like the quality of your service, your technical expertise and your company’s reliability. Great visuals show that your company is up to the challenge.

2 Tell a great story. Great content gets thousands of eyeballs; bad content gets 26 views, half of them from your competitors. Here are a few common video types that apply to our industry:

Benefits demonstration. Just as in a meeting where you explain what makes your product or service better, you succinctly walk the prospect through the critical benefits, emphasizing those that are key to the decision. This type of video takes the your pitch’s main points and weaves them together with powerful imagery. Avoid the talking head look by using on-screen titles, footage of the product in action, animations and professional narration.

Problem/solution. A good substitute for in-person training. It can be difficult to explain technical details and for the audience to absorb them using printed materials alone. A video that sets up challenges and shows how they’re met by your service or product is better. For sales and marketing, these videos create interest in your product or service that will hopefully lead to sales.

Customer experience/testimonials. Companies are naturally proud of their success stories. Get those happy customers on video explaining why they chose you, how you solved their problem and why they would recommend you to others.

3 Work from a script and a shot list. A script gets everyone on the same page about goals and messages. It helps you organize props, locations, shots and on-camera talent. Plus, it forces you to really think about choosing the right words that will create a powerful message. You don’t want to be at the editing stage wishing you’d taken a different approach.

4 Have a director. During your shoot, the director will keep things on task and assure that the quality remains high. A good one will insist that customer testimonials be high-energy (no bored people sitting on a sofa uttering platitudes). He’ll make the talent read their lines repeatedly until they flow. (Never, ever use footage with poor audio or bad lighting.)

5 Keep it moving. YouTube’s growth is fueled by mobile users. They want videos that get to the point. Less than two minutes is ideal; even shorter is better. Don’t pack your video with too many messages. I learned this the hard way: it’s better to cover one product in a short video than to stuff a half-dozen of them into a longer one. Too much information delivered too quickly means none of it will be remembered. Keep the viewer moving, too — what do you want him to do after watching your video?

Have a great shoot!

Jeff Carowitz advises landscape industry firms on marketing and business strategy. He can be reached at jeff@strategicforcemarketing.com.