No matter what business you’re in, video is one of your most important assets.
Words by Mark Blair, SVP International, Brightcove
Mark Blair: Every business is now a media business. There’s no excuse for not building engagement with video.
he online world has been a blessing and a curse for business. A blessing for giving us instant communications everywhere in the world, offering greater control over supply chains, adding broader engagement – anyone could make a list of a dozen things off the top of their heads.
But for all the talk around democratisation of the Internet, the facts are that digital technologies have tended to enable a very few players to control big percentages of certain markets. The list of sectors that have been decimated by the convenience of Internet technology is long. Explaining to your child how you used to rent videos when you were their age feels a bit like explaining how you had to go hunt bison to get your food. Amazon and other ecommerce giants can offer a greater selection, more cheaply, than most brick and mortar shop can compete with.
An enterprise that wants to thrive has to get creative.
Video is vital
In the past decade, businesses have put a lot of hope in SEO – search engine optimisation – the theory being that if you can only get a higher rank in a Google search, you will get more business. Paying attention to SEO is good online hygiene and any quality business will do all it can to make sure its ranks well in search engine returns. But SEO is mostly a passive activity, like putting better bait on your hook and hoping a bigger fish will swim by (then hoping you can haul in that fish and convince it to call/email you so that you can do some business).
The Internet has passed the point of being a resource that we refer to. It is now deeply integrated part of our lives. This means that as a business you have the opportunity to become deeply integrated into the lives of your customers. You have the opportunity to become a part of their everyday experience. And if you don’t take advantage of it, someone else will.
The days of building a better mousetrap and watching customers come rolling in are gone – if they ever were. You need to engage with your customers beyond just selling them products. You need to offer them value and an experience that will enrich their lives. You need to explain to them what your company’s vision is – and how they can and should support it.
One of the best ways of doing all these things is video.
Every business is now a media business. No matter what product or service you are offering, you can start publishing video content to show off your skill sets and your satisfied customers, provide education around your area of expertise, or engage an audience with a special event.
As a media business – and remember, you’re a media business now – you need to be approaching your video offerings with both forethought and a well-thought out business plan. And creating a video offering – deciding exactly how you want to communicate to your customers and stakeholders and choosing what you really want to show and to say – will be a great tool in clarifying what your company’s vision is and for developing new types of services.
If you’re a plumber, for example, you could start doing short videos on simple home plumbing fixes – How actually do I turn off the water supply to the toilet? You could set up shop at a local event and answer home plumbing questions from passers‑by. If you belong to a plumbers union, you could develop video around union activities. You can ask customers for a short video testimony when you’ve finished a job. You can be imaginative. You can try everything.
There’s no reason to wait for the perfect set-up either. You can start with a mobile phone and an inexpensive clip-on mic. The important thing is to be consistent, to have a plan (which you may decide to change many, many times) and to actively communicate to your intended customers.
As you start to develop your video offering, you’ll start to imagine more expansive ways of developing your business. When you know that you have a video scheduled to go out next week (which will be announced in your monthly newsletter), you may be more inclined to visit that trade show you’ve been putting off, just so you have an interesting subject to shoot – which could lead to more connections and business and a deeper integration and higher profile in your sector. Just by doing video – and doing it as well as you can – you will raise the status of your enterprise, you’ll be noticed.
Analysing your audience data – who has viewed what and for long, what videos are popular and why – is essential for moving forward. You don’t need to obsessively chase numbers – a handful of devoted viewers may be worth more to your business than a load of casual passers‑by – but by trying different subjects, different styles of content, different types of outreach (email newsletters, social media outlets, live events) then studying the resulting audience data given back by your video platform, you’ll start to get a clearer sense of what content is working to achieve your goals, and what untapped customers there may be waiting in the shadows.
Ultimately, you want to drive people to your own website and get them to take action, whether that’s through your bricks and mortar store, ecommerce site or just getting them to pick up the phone and make a call. The more you can control your video through your own platform, the better. And as your video following grows, your site, with video at its core, will become the hub for all sorts of engagement, beyond merely offering contact info or an online shop. Live-streamed events, special offers, contests, education, opinion vlogs and customer interaction can all be handled through one single portal and will boost your brand measurably.
The next decade is going to be about bringing businesses and customers together, and the centrepiece of that collaboration will be online video.
This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of FEED magazine.