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The Production Process

Creating online marketing videos. 9/10/2010 8:00 AM Eastern

The Production Process

Sep 10, 2010 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

Creating online marketing videos.




A well-produced marketing video on YouTube can help increase traffic to your website and drive you higher on Google search results.

A well-produced marketing video on YouTube can help increase traffic to your website and drive you higher on Google search results.

If you're thinking about creating an online video to promote your business, you've probably asked yourself, "What's the best way to make it happen?"

This month, I'll illustrate the process for you with a project we finished this summer: three short videos for Wireless Computing, a company that manufactures long-range wireless keyboards and mice used for presentations.

I have acted as an outsourced marketing manager for Wireless Computing for several years. We have an aggressive marketing strategy, based on the goal of establishing the company as a major—if admittedly niche—player in a market that includes Microsoft and Apple. Compared to those companies, our budget is quite small, and we need to be very careful about how to allocate it. Still, I thought it was important to hire a professional videographer in order to support the image we had established.

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Encrypted Wireless Keyboards (long range) From Wireless Computing
An example of an online marketing video, which was created for Wireless Computing to help sell long-range wireless keyboards...

I was able to work out a budget we could afford with Wendy Ellis, a freelance writer and videographer I have worked with for many years. Martin Phillips, Wireless Computing's CEO, approved a plan in which Ellis and I would produce the three videos, then load them on YouTube and on wirelesscomputing.com.

Eight steps

Based on our experience with this project, I would say there are eight key steps in producing a successful online video.

1. Define your goals. The original impetus for the videos came from our search engine partner, Tim Grant of Gamma Partners. "Google considers YouTube a highly credible website, so if you place a video on YouTube and link it back to your own site, that can be very helpful in boosting your natural search results." Grant says. "More importantly, all of the search engines have made a commitment to what they call 'universal search.' They want to display a page with results from different databases: natural search, product search, local search, and videos if videos are available. So you can earn some more real estate on a search results page if you have some YouTube videos.

"The big surprise is that the search engine within YouTube is now used more often than either Yahoo or Bing." Since many people prefer to acquire information from videos rather than other sources, YouTube can help you reach a segment of buyers you may otherwise miss.

2. Define your message. In any marketing campaign, the more successful you are in establishing your product, your service, or your company as different from and better than your competitors, the more successful you will be at closing profitable sales. For Wireless Computing keyboards, the most important differentiators are security through AES encryption, long range, and reliability. Each of those became the theme of one video.

3. Rough out a script. I wrote the first draft of each of our three scripts, working with Phillips to make sure I was accurately describing his products. I turned our efforts over to Ellis, who said my scripts were too long and too detailed for the videos.

"I read the scripts from a different point of view," Ellis says. "My primary concern was the kind of visuals we could use over some of the more detailed parts of each script. The right visual can do a lot to help people understand a detailed technical explanation."

The revised scripts were something of a work in progress, as we changed the text here and there to sound more natural during the production.


The Production Process

Sep 10, 2010 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

Creating online marketing videos.




4. Find or hire talent. As we drew closer to shooting, we hired a spokesman, Tom Olsen, to serve as our on-camera talent.

You may be able to find someone on your staff able to appear in or narrate your video. It's crucial that the person be comfortable in front of the camera and look and sound natural and sincere. Often a salesperson can fit the bill, and using a staff member can add to the credibility of your message. On the other hand, with a professional actor, you can expect the shoot to go more quickly and the results to be more predictable. It's a good idea, either way, to do a screen test and make sure all parties are happy with how your talent looks and sounds on screen.

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5. Shoot with editing in mind. To create a good video, you will need to shoot many more minutes of footage than you will use, and that certainly was the case with our production. We probably spent 8 or 9 hours on our set to produce 8 1/2 minutes of finished video.

6. Plan for B-roll. For me, a lot of the power of the Wireless Computing videos comes from the supplemental visuals that Ellis added over Olsen's narration. She shot live video of the keyboards in use, we used still images of keyboards and conference rooms with the keyboards installed, and she also brought in stock footage to illustrate the concepts of AES encryption and two-way wireless communications. Ellis edited the piece in Apple Final Cut Pro, which allowed her to do pans and zooms and add other special effects within the computer.

"The effects gave us an opportunity to illustrate parts of the script that might otherwise have been nothing but a talking head," Ellis says. "The danger you have to watch for is not getting carried away. Final Cut has quite a lot of options, but you don't want the effects to become the focus instead of the product."

7. Upload your video. Once we had finished and approved videos, we set up a YouTube account for Wireless Computing, as well as a YouTube channel. A channel allows you to make all of your videos accessible from one place and, more importantly, it gives you the opportunity to describe your product or company and link back to various pages on your website.

"Setting up the YouTube channel is very similar to what you'd do to optimize your own website," Grant says. "It's true you have a lot less space to work with, but you want your channel to stand on its own as well as reference your main site, and you'll want to include your most important key phrases in both."

Be sure to review YouTube's formatting guidelines before you upload your video. Essentially, your video can be high definition, up to 2GB in size, up to 15 minutes long, and in any of a wide variety of formats. Ellis uploaded our videos directly from Final Cut in 720p, and then YouTube generated additional 360p and 480p versions, which users with slower connections may prefer.

8. Post the videos on your website. The final step was to add the new videos to several pages on wirelesscomputing.com. Most people will embed a link to their videos on the YouTube server rather than load them on their own server. YouTube makes it very easy to do so and provides all of the necessary resources for free. Furthermore, viewers who access your video from your website will be included in the YouTube viewer counts, which helps increase your ranking and visibility.

The results of our efforts, so far, have been very encouraging. Within two months of posting the videos, we were in the number one position on the YouTube and Google video search sections for our most descriptive keywords: "long range wireless keyboard(s)," "encrypted wireless keyboard(s)," and "encrypted keyboard(s)."

We were already highly ranked in natural search for these terms, but one of our goals was to increase our website ranking for the more generic and competitive term "wireless keyboard." That term has moved up more than 10 places in Google this summer to the top of page two.

"It's hard to give all the credit for that move to YouTube," Grant says, "but producing the videos is the biggest step we've taken this year, and this has been our biggest advance on the results page."

Phillips reports about a 2 percent increase in web traffic and even greater sales increases for his RF-240 AES-encrypted keyboard. "I would not give all the credit to the videos, but they have had a positive effect," he says. "We have to look to the long term. Part of the reason for the investment we made was to get up the learning curve. It's taken us years of iterations to get our website where it is today, and I think the same will be true of our videos. As we produce more and more videos, they will get more and more powerful. Clearly the trend on the Web is to video communications."


Don Kreski is the president of Kreski Marketing Consultants, which offers marketing services to the AV industry. Reach him at www.kreski.com/contact.html.


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