Written by Mark Williams
Drawing on a range of expert insight, my previous blog made the case for including video content on your small-business website. Maybe now you want to include video about your small business on your homepage, but would like to learn more about ideal length, content, messaging and how to get one made. So, let’s see what the experts say…
Keep it short
Blogging for corporate video production company, Bold Content, Jonathan Savage says a video should be “long enough to serve its purpose”. He cites research carried out by Wistia (“the video platform for growing businesses”), which makes the key point that the longer a video lasts, the more you’ll lose people’s attention.
In general, according to Wistia: “Shorter videos are more engaging than longer videos. You should make your content as concise as possible. If your message is more complex, give it the time it deserves, but understand that a major chunk of your audience won’t make it to the end and consider front-loading your video with the most important information.”
Many experts recommend 90-120 seconds duration for a video that enables your website visitors to gain a good introduction to your business. According to Savage: “If you are capable of keeping your video under 120 seconds, you will keep your viewers captivated”. He recommends less than a minute if you’re creating a straightforward advert, to help launch a new product, for example.
Keep it simple
Rather than getting bogged down in mere features or boring details, keep things simple and focus on key messages. Crucially, your video should explain how you help or otherwise meets the needs of your existing customers. But avoid being predictable or “salesy” with your video content. Instead, engage viewers; tell a good story; provide value and knowledge.
Writing for AllBusiness.com, Ian Harrington says your business video should communicate your brand and its values, flag up your USP (unique selling proposition) and tell viewers why they should buy from you. When planning and scripting your video, he says you should be specific about “how your company or product will improve the life of your target consumer. Give your ideal customer a name and back story, and tailor your messaging to the character you’ve created.”
Harrington cautions against “trying to get too many points across”. However: “If you’re not specific with messaging, you may miss an opportunity”. Your video should connect on an emotional level with an engaging story. Your personality should shine through. Taking viewers behind the scenes to really get to know your business can prove successful, as it can give an air authenticity. While creativity and humour can work nicely when done well, be careful not to overdo it.
When writing a script, 300-320 scripted words of dialogue is about right for a two-minute video. The footage/images you use should compliment dialogue and music – one should not distract from the other. The first 10 seconds should engage viewers. And while highly stylised visuals can suit some business, they can look over the top for others. Your video should include a clear call to action.
Aim for quality
When it comes to online video, quality usually matters, because it influences perceptions of your business. Writing for SmallBizTrends.com, Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead advises against striving for perfection, because “videos for marketing purposes aren’t Hollywood movies”.
That said, marketing video, she believes, should be produced professionally (budget permitting, of course). “From the camera work to lighting, edited to voice-overs, it might be a good idea to call upon the expertise of a professional video production company to ensure that your video is high quality”.
An animated video can provide a more affordable solution. You may or may not have sufficient skills to film your own company video, maybe using your smartphone or readymade video templates or stock library footage.
Although some say it’s possible to have a basic video made for about £500, for something impressive, £1,500-£2,500 is more realistic. And as Edward George of Video My Business recommends: “Always have a budget in mind and communicate that in the first meeting with your video producer, as that will not only make the development stage smoother, but also give the producer a clear understanding of how creative they can get and the quality they can give you for your money.”
Mark Williams is a freelance editorial consultant, writer and SME content specialist with over 25 years' experience. He contributes to The Guardian Small Business Network and planned and wrote the Start Up Donut website. As well as award-winning magazines and websites, his writing has featured in national newspapers and Sunday supplements.
You can find out more about Mark's work on his website: www.markiwilliams.com