How to Use Online Video to Market Your Business - The University of La Verne Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
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How to Use Online Video to Market Your Business

April 5, 2012

With YouTube now the second-largest search engine, 70 percent of Internet users regularly watching online video, and Web video viewing projected to increase at a rate of 78 percent this year, it’s clear that online video has the power to attract a lot of attention to your business.

What are the benefits of using online video to market your business?
“Including video as part of your website strategy can generate more business by improving your site’s search engine optimization, increasing web traffic and driving lead generation programs,” says SBDC Business Advisor Antonio Ruiz. “Any company can use videos; the challenge is how to engage the audience in an entertaining and informative way.”

What is the first step in creating videos for your business?
“Begin with the script; that will determine your technical needs,” says Ruiz. “The simpler, the better.” Don’t think you have to accomplish everything in one video. “Instead of one 20-minute video, think 10, two-minute videos you can post over a period of time,” says Ruiz. “You can shoot it all in one session, but edit them into smaller segments.” Instructional videos and customer testimonials are easiest to produce, he says; avoid lengthy dramatic or comedic videos that involve actors, public places or copyrighted music.

What kind of equipment do small business owners need to create videos, edit them and post them?
“You’d be surprised what you can do with simple technology,” says Ruiz, adding that most of today’s home video cameras, digital cameras and even computer and smartphone cameras record high-quality video and have built-in microphones (if not, you can purchase a good handheld microphone for under $25). Editing is simple, too: Today’s PCs come with Microsoft Moviemaker software installed, and Macs come with iMovie. You can also edit videos directly on YouTube, which has online tutorials to help. Posting is as simple as accessing a broadband Internet connection.

What are some low-cost options for getting outside help?
“If you keep it simple, you’d be surprised what you can produce yourself,” says Ruiz, who feels most small business owners don’t need outside assistance. He recommends searching online for videos that provide step-by-step instructions, and says ReelSEO (, Mashable (, Desktop Videos (, and are good resources.

How much should a small business owner expect to spend on a video marketing campaign?
If you produce the videos yourself using equipment you already own, your costs will be minimal or none, says Ruiz. At most, if you have to buy a camera, a computer and a broadband Internet connection, you’ll have one-time costs of $2,000 to $3,000.

What are some do’s and don’ts for creating effective videos?
“Before you worry about technical equipment, lighting or audio, think about the message,” Ruiz advises. “The message is the story you want to tell about yourself, your business, and your products or services.” Whether it’s an instructional/training video or testimonial, the key is to keep it simple and direct. “The videos that go viral are the human ones—funny, cute and from the heart,” says Ruiz, who recommends studying other businesses’ videos to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Where should small business owners post their videos?
Ruiz cautions against storing videos on your website host’s server. “Video takes up a lot of storage space, which is why so many people upload to sites like YouTube and Vimeo,” he explains. Link to your video on your website and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How can small business owners drive awareness of their videos?
Ruiz recommends a diverse strategy that includes the tags you enter in the description of your video when you upload it (“These are the one-word descriptions you see under the video on YouTube, for example”), your social media networks, your email newsletter, your blog and search engine optimization on your website.

Are there certain elements that should always be included in a video?
“The most important element is the call to action,” says Ruiz. “At the end of the video, what do you want the viewer to do?” That could be exploring your website, watching more videos, contacting you for more information or visiting your business. To encourage action, Ruiz says, you should verbally say the name, location and hours of your business, the specific services or products you sell, and contact information including your website address. “Reinforce the verbal mentions with titles—text on the screen or at the bottom of the screen.”

What common mistakes do small business owners make when marketing with video?
Entrepreneurs frequently try to cram everything about their business into one video, says Ruiz. “Instead, think of the video as a trailer at the movies. The point is to grab attention and drive curiosity to find out more about your business.”


Rieva Lesonsky is founder and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Before launching her business, she was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Follow Rieva at, read her blog at, and visit her website to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for free TrendCast reports.

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