Why Your Business Needs Web Videos

Web video has been around long enough for companies to no longer make excuses for not promoting a business online.
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Gone is the time when commercials appeared exclusively on television. Nowadays, businesses can benefit from an Internet video commercial or promotion.

Pew Internet & American Life Project, a research initiative,

estimates

that 57% of Internet users have watched videos online. And worldwide

online video revenue

is expected to leap to $4.5 billion in 2012 from $1.2 billion in 2008, according to In-Stat, a market research firm. Web video has been around long enough for businesses to no longer make excuses for not being in the game.

Why Promote Business with Video?

"Video has become what brochures were in previous decades," says Jeremy Richter, co-founder and president of Chicago-based multimedia company

Richter Studios

. "Videos have the ability to emotionally connect with a viewer. The right combination of music, sound effects and imagery can leave a lasting impression on viewers and, most importantly, get them to act on it."

Edward Royce, founder and president of

Royce Multimedia

, has an even simpler answer as to why a business should be promoted with video -- because competitors are going to do it.

Royce adds that analytics should convince businesses of the need for Web video. "There's such good software out there now that can track who's looking at your site, where they're going, how long they are staying and what seemed to be of interest to them," says Royce.

Making the Video

Rex Williams, founder and director of

SunPop Studios

, a video production company that focuses on authentic, unscripted video, recommends business owners be mindful of the end result they are striving toward. "Remember what the video is trying to communicate," says Williams.

There are three steps in making a video happen: pre-production, production, and post-production.

One of the first things pre-production addresses is what a video is trying to accomplish and the size of the budget to achieve this goal. Royce warns, however, that businesses shouldn't allow the video to become homegrown because of budget size.

"You can go out for $2,500 and buy a digital high-definition, 16:9 video camcorder and you can have a computer for $5,000 that can edit the pants off of most things," says Royce. "You find a lot of people who think because they have that technology that it makes them a producer, and that's not necessarily the case."

Pre-production also tackles the production workflow and the decisions for casting, location, wardrobe, script, and shooting schedule.

Production is when the actual video is shot. By this point, a business should know how the video is going to be used and in what formats it will be displayed, whether it be TV, Web, mobile devices or video press releases. Williams says it's easy for businesses to get caught up in the idea of making a video and recommends when looking for outside help that businesses look at the past experience and portfolio of the producers.

"When you see a portfolio, inquire about specific roles they played in the production," recommends Williams. "Too many video 'professionals' will let you watch an impressive demo reel without admitting the very minor role they played on the production team."

Post-production is when the video is edited (including the addition of sound), approved and moved into its desired format. This is also the time when the video should make its way onto a businesses' Web site.

Success Secrets

Getting a promotional video made can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to about $25,000. Depending on a company's needs, Richter says less is really more many times.

"We spend a majority of our time trying to convince our customers that video isn't PowerPoint and that viewers can't read a hundred words in five or six seconds," says Richter. "Find a few short phrases to live by and let the images do the talking."

Williams points out that when the goal of a video is promotional, a company should make sure it gets on outside Web sites. "That's where the exposure gained through promoting a business will be more effective," says Williams. If a business puts the promotional video exclusively on its own Web site, it's addressing an audience that's already interested in that company's offerings. "Simply by visiting

a company's Web site, a person has already expressed their interest in the business."

Royce says that when a company sets a goal for its use of video, it should think longer-term and how the material can be used in other campaigns, in a video library, or to document a company and its processes. When a video is completed, and a company has paid for its first deliverable, it should have deep resources of multimedia to be used in other ways in the future because of the flexibility that digital assets allow.

Finally, it's tempting for many to attempt to make a video in-house, such as shooting something for a holiday party, vlog, or to record basic training techniques. Richter says that's fine but up to a point.

Williams emphasizes the importance of making a good first impression with the outside world.

"Yes, the digital revolution was a great thing and video equipment is more affordable than ever," says Williams. "But you can go to the grocery store and buy the same ingredients as a professional chef. Can you quickly cook a five-star meal with those same ingredients?"

Steve Cooper spent over six years at Entrepreneur magazine and Entrepreneur.com. He was most recently the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com and was previously the research editor for Entrepreneur magazine. He has a degree in journalism from San Francisco State University and runs his own business, Hitched Media, Inc.