Everybody loves YouTube. In January 2008 alone, Americans watched more than three billion videos on the site, according to an analyst report from comScore. Capturing even a fraction of a percent of those eyeballs could reap big profits for a small business. But how do you cash in on all that love?
We suggest you read, YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business (Que Publishing, 2008), by Michael Miller. But until you pick up your own copy, take a look at these eight ideas the author outlined for us during a recent interview.
One of the biggest advantages that YouTube offers small businesses is its low barrier to entry. "Uploading videos to YouTube is free, and you don't need high-end production values because the video plays in a such a small (320 x 240 pixel) window," Miller said. "By using simple camcorders and consumer-grade equipment, you can keep your costs well under $1,000."
As impressive as YouTube's massive audience is, it does present a challenge. "The technical aspect is easy. Finding the right concept and reaching the appropriate subset of customers is tougher," said Miller. "A video that attracts an audience must provide entertainment, educational or informational value. A video with one or more of those qualities will get eyeballs."
In an excerpt from his book, Miller recommends eight ways to market your businesses on YouTube:
1. YouTube for Brand Awareness
Instead of focusing on individual products or services, use a video to push your company's brand, just the way you would with a traditional television ad. According to a Millward Brown study, online videos are better at imparting brand awareness than are traditional TV ads [generating] 82 percent brand awareness and 77 percent product recall versus just 54 percent brand awareness and 18 percent product recall for similar TV ads. Experts agree this is because online viewers are more engaged than television viewers.
2. YouTube for Product Advertising
If you can use YouTube to push an overall brand, you can use it to push individual products, too. This requires a direct approach while keeping the video informative, educational or entertaining. Include lots of close-up product shots and link back to your own Web site where more product information is available.
3. YouTube for Retail Promotion
You can use YouTube to promote a company's retail stores. They can be general in nature or more specifically targeted to shorter-term promotions. Consider recording a short store tour or highlight individual departments or services within the store, rather than resorting to claims of 20 percent off and "this weekend only" specials. You'll have a better chance of grabbing eyeballs.
4. YouTube for Direct Sales
YouTube is a terrific channel for generating direct sales for products and services. All you have to do is show the product in action or provide a clip of the service in question, and then ask for the sale by directing the viewer to your Web site.
One of the best ways to showcase a product is in an instructional video ‑‑ the online equivalent of an old-school infomercial. The key to converting eyeballs to dollars is to generously highlight your company's Web site address or 800-number within the body of the video. Put the contact information at the front of the video, at the end of the video and overlaid at the bottom of the screen during the body of the clip.
5. YouTube for Product Support
Consider some of the most common customer problems and questions, and produce one or more videos addressing those issues. If you can help your customers help themselves, you provide them with a useful service and reduce your company's support costs ‑‑ all with free YouTube videos.
6. YouTube for Product Training
You have a new product to introduce and a sales force to train. In the old days you'd fly salespeople from around the country to a central office and put on a day's worth of hands-on training. Doing so is both time-consuming and expensive. Instead, consider using YouTube for your product training. Create a series of short training videos, upload them to YouTube and provide access to all of your company's salespeople. This way you are creating an archive of product information that anyone can access at any time.
7. YouTube for Employee Communications
Instead of holding a big company meeting, have the big boss record his or her yearly state of the company address and post it on a private channel on YouTube. Employees can watch from the comfort of their own desks, while they're on the road, or even at home. Done right, YouTube gets employee information out there in near-real time, with all the benefits of face-to-face communication. Much better than sending impersonal memos via email.
8. YouTube for Recruiting
If you have a company welcome video, post it on YouTube and make it public. Think of this as an exercise to attract new talent to your company. You can link to the video from all your recruiting materials, even from any traditional ads you place. Produce separate videos for individual departments, as well as to illustrate company values, employee benefits and facilities.
Miller believes that YouTube offers business owners both value and opportunity. "It's one of the lowest-cost marketing vehicles you can find," he said. "Your only serious investment is your time, but you can reap a big return on that investment."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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