The Internet makes a lot of marketing tools and activities readily available to small businesses and sole proprietors for a very low cost or free (i.e. YouTube). The latest tool coming soon involves video-based advertising on Facebook. That said, not every tool should be used immediately by a growing business. In fact, with video, using a tool too early can actually hurt a business's brand development with new customers and consumers instead of improving it.
What's in a Picture?
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. So a video is probably worth ten times that much. Where graphics and written content can create an online impression, video takes away the mystique and shows the bare-boned truth about a business and its people.
Just look at the difference between a Coca-Cola commercial on prime-time television and a local pizza restaurant commercial on a local cable channel. It's pretty clear which one was put together by a professional. The pizza restaurant looks corny; it uses 1980s style computer scripting on the video, and the lighting is horrible. It often makes the restaurant look like a hole in the wall versus an appealing place to eat.
How Successful Video-Users Work
So just because anybody can load up a video on YouTube doesn't mean they should. Those successful Internet video marketing users who are small businesses and can't afford a top-notch Hollywood video team and consultant use a different trick instead. They focus the video on providing free, useful information. Car mechanic and part shops online are quite successful in this trade, showing people online how to perform simple car repairs step-by-step. That develops trust and then consumers often click through to the business's website to find out more about parts or services to purchase. Even if they buy nothing, the viewer feels she received something valuable watching the video versus a generic commercial advertising the business.
Who Can Play With a Camera?
Many service-type local businesses can benefit from the instruction approach as well. This includes HVAC maintenance, home repair, painting, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, medical, and more. And the audiences often come back because once they learn how well one video benefited them, they want to see others. Now the business has made a connection with video use. Product-makers can take advantage of video using the same help method; it just needs to be clear how to use the product to solve a consumer problem.
So instead of being just another online video commercial showing an amateur presentation of an office with bored employees and bad lighting, local companies should sell what's valuable to their customers and viewers. Focus on providing education and help versus direct selling. Then the purchasing will often come naturally after the fact as people come back repeatedly for further help.