6 Secrets to Making Online Video Work for Small Business

kathy saenz NA video Kathy Saenz of Neighborhood America Shares What It Takes to Make Video an Effective Content Marketing Tool

Even a micro business can use video effectively to communicate with its customers online.

But, as we amateur carpenters know, you can wind up with a mess instead of a masterpiece unless you understand how to use a potentially powerful tool well.   In that spirit we’re happy to can share with you six terrific tips for using video successfully from talented Southwest Florida professional, Kathy Saenz.

We recently caught up with Kathy, who is Neighborhood America’s corporate communications manager, for a brief interview on the best ways to communicate with video. Kathy’s unique background as a university trained former TV producer and reporter taught her what it takes to tell great stories in our short attention span world.  She has been able to help Neighborhood America add  video communications to their core marketing capabilities. When it comes to using video effectively, Kathy and her company really get it.

Here Are Kathy’s 6 Secrets to Video Success for Small Business:

  1. Make sure that you are telling a compelling story. Kathy notes that there is a danger of using video to share the same boring statistics or data that handicap effective print communications. Instead, think like a TV producer or reporter and come up with a compelling angle that illustrates the successful use of your product or service. This approach lets enthusiastic customers make an engaging case for the real-world benefits of your products and services. Kathy gives the example of the video they shot of their mobile solution client, Adidas, in the slam-dunk context of the NBA All-Star week. Click here to take a look at the video.
  2. Be concise. Keep editing down, down, down. Folks don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting for you to get to the point. Kathy notes that, with rare exceptions, your video should be no more than 2 to 3 minutes long. If you go beyond that point, you are not likely to capture your prospective customers attention.
  3. Do real interviews of your company team members or third party spokespeople. Don’t shoot a video of people who have memorized a script and then read it word for word. This comes across as stilted and less than compelling. Instead, do a real interview which enables your subject to be more natural, to exhibit their real personalities, and to be believable when they’re talking about your company and your products.
  4. Don’t skimp on good audio production values. A small investment in good quality audio equipment will pay off in providing professionalism this to your video. A simple, but important, touch is the use of a wireless lavaliere microphone on your interviewee’s lapel. Rather than use a camera microphone of questionable quality, you can improve sound quality dramatically by investing just a few hundred dollars. This makes your small company sound like a big company.
  5. Provide good quality lighting to show your subjects at their best. You should invest in the right set of front and back lighting to make your subject look good. If you’re not careful, the folks you’re interviewing will look washed out or display the dreaded raccoon eyes. Kathy noted that if you want to shoot in natural light, go outside rather than try to shoot near a window. Again, the investment in good lighting equipment is relatively modest, probably less than $1000. But the investment lets you put the very best light on your company, its products and services.
  6. Unless you are skilled in each of the five previous elements, seriously consider hiring an outside expert. It is difficult enough to use content marketing effectively in a more traditional verbal and static visual context. When you move into the unfamiliar world of video, you will benefit from the hard-won expertise of someone like Kathy who knows how to tell a great story quickly and compellingly. And, if no one within your organization communicates well within a video context, you may also want to hire a professional to be your video spokesperson. This can be just as effective online as it has been for decades on television.

I also asked Kathy to share the biggest mistake to avoid. She emphasized that you should not use a bad video just because you spent time, effort, and money to shoot it. The last thing you want to do is show your CEO or an important customer in an unflattering performance. Wait until you’ve got it just right to go live online.

A great example of effective video that can be created without breaking your budget

Here is a video that features Kathy introducing Neighborhood America’s CAPTURE product that enables companies to gather and organize user contributions to their websites.  It illustrates how effective video and a professional like Kathy can be in telling a compelling story for a small company.

The Bottom-Line: You have only one opportunity to make a great first video impression. So, be sure to make the effort in time, equipment, story development, and talent so that your customers watch and respond to your online video. Just like any other potentially powerful tool, video will work for you only if you learn how to use it right.

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  1. Posted September 29, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I very much agree with the time frame you suggest! Too many vids have a great concept that I would watch, but you can look right in the corner and see it’s 8 minutes long…unfortunately if I have a lot of content to go through, it’s just not going to happen.

  2. Posted October 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for the tips in this post. Next month I plan to add video to my blog and I am a little apprehensive about it. I will definitely refer back to this post when the cameras start to roll.


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