Internet Retailer Show: How to produce budget-conscious videos

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SAN DIEGO — It used to be that to create video, one would need a small Hollywood budget to produce something that didn’t look like a low-rent student film set in someone’s basement or garage. (Not exactly the way to sell a product.)

But Lou Bortone, president of Online Video Branding and Video Marketing, claims that today, you can buy everything you need to create compelling Internet videos for just under $500. This price tag includes a web cam, Flip video camera, tripod, hosting, a video player and editing software.

“Video really levels the playing field,” Bortone said in his session at the Internet Retailer Convention & Exhibition this week. “You don’t have to be technologically gifted, and you don’t have to be a Hollywood producer to make great video.” Bortone was joined by Jordan Blum, president of BeautyChoice.com, and the following are some of their tips for getting started with online video.

Define your goals. What do you want your web videos to do for your business? Whether drive traffic, generate sales, or build your brand (or all three), have a clear goal in mind before you proceed. “You want to engage with your customers on a personal level, and there’s nothing more personal online than video,” Bortone said.

Have a message. In each video, you should convey a message to your customers. Is the message to educate or inform them about a new product or vehicle? Offer them a vehicle demo, or a how-to video. If the message is a promotion for a store-sponsored event, make sure the message is clear, from the event’s details (location, date, time) to what customers can expect (huge sale, etc.)

Choose your format. Types of videos include the “talking head”-type, where you are the main focus, the live webcast, photo slide show, or demo. Figure out which one of these will get your message across the best.

Choose your distribution. You should have your video prominently featured on your website, as well as YouTube and all of your social media pages.

Don’t invest too much. For all of that video equipment, $500 seems like a bargain price. But even so, you can always purchase video equipment as you go along. “Start with what you’ve got,” Barton said. “I actually use my iPhone 95 percent of the time.” There also are free online video editing software that you can take advantage of — Bortone mentions Jaycut.com as one of them. And, if you don’t have a camera, an interesting way to make video is to use PowerPoint. You can narrate a photo slideshow and save the file as a video, then upload it to your website.

Keep it simple. The attention span of most online viewers is short. “Most videos on YouTube get less than 100 views,” Bortone said. “The important thing is to reach the audience you want. One of the best ways to do that is to keep your videos short and sweet.”

More from the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition:
SHOP TALK: Where to place your in-store pickup counter
Business tips for economic survival
Tips for competing against e-commerce giants
Consumers research online but prefer to buy local
Do your employees have a clue?
Convenience top reason to shop with smartphones