Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You’re reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that marketing online in vital, and if you’re at all experienced with it, further know that using video is a critical tool in that effort. I teach business owners about strategies for digital marketing on social media, and the most important advice I offer them is how to create videos that people will watch, along with how to distribute them properly. Done well, this ensures that you can cut through noise in the market and become noticed. Some quick bone fides: In 2021 alone, I won three Two Comma awards for digital marketing campaigns that made more than $1,000,000, and one Eight Figure award for another campaign that made more than $10,000,000.
Broadly, I’ve found that educational and informational videos, distributed properly, are the fastest and surest ways of standing out from the pack. That said, people have found so many ways to botch these campaigns.
Some key principles to avoid being among them:
Serve, don’t sell
People want to get value from a video. They don’t want just another sales pitch. Content marketing isn’t about telling a community how great you are or how awesome a product is. It’s about knowing potential customers or clients and giving them solid information that will improve their lives. The mantra I teach students is, “Serve, don’t sell.” You undoubtably have knowledge within your field that can benefit potential customers, so don’t be shy about sharing it. The more they see that you sincerely want to help them, the more likely they are to become customers.
Don’t be perfect
In this kind of marketing, you want people to get to know, like and trust you. How relatable is slick perfection in that pursuit? I’m not advising anyone to be unprofessional, merely that authentic is the key. I remember long ago in the early days of a real estate career. I was determined to become an expert, so looked online for classes. One teacher had wonky hair and ugly glasses. He waved his hands around and hardly ever looked in the camera, but was so sincere and passionate about what he was teaching that he became one of my favorites.
I’ve now done thousands of videos. Sometimes I speak too quickly, and often forget a word I’m struggling for. Sometimes my dog jumps on my lap. It doesn’t matter. In fact, clients and students often say that it’s that authenticity that draws them in.
Still, there are some necessaries: You want to have decent lighting and sound, make sure your underwear isn’t drying in the background (been there, done that) and that you’re not videoing your feet (I’ve done that too). You may want to get more polished down the road and set up a studio and enlist the services of an editor, but even if you do, authenticity and content are what engage people, not a perfect production.
Don’t make just a few
This is the biggest mistake business owners make: They’ll try one, two or three videos, and if immediate results are not seen, stop and go back to old techniques. In earlier days of marketing, could one ad in one newspaper create a non-stop pipeline of business? Did two commercials shown during a few TV shows bring customers storming to the door? Of course not, which is why you might have already heard of the “seven-times factor”: On average, people need to see an ad seven times before they even notice it, much less decide to buy.
It’s much the same with educational/informational videos; you’re trying to create a relationship with the viewer (one often referred to as “para-social”), in which someone feels they know you even though you’ve never met, similar to the way people feel about the characters on favorite shows. That relationship takes more than one or two exposures to develop, and, provided your videos give enough value, the audience will be eager to engage and get to know you.
Don’t bury them
All too often, great videos with great content are made, but rather than distributing them properly, makers will put them on a website or Facebook page and call it a day. Who’s going to see them there? Your mom, some existing customers, and if you’re lucky, you might even get a curious visitor to the site who notices, and that is simply not using the power of video. It doesn’t matter how great they are if few see them, and effective distribution means getting them on a variety of places like Facebook, yes, but also YouTube, LinkedIn, and others. It also means “paying to play”… spending some of your marketing budget to give videos exposure.
Don’t be longwinded
To be watched, a video typically should be no longer than two minutes. It’s been further proven that it’s more likely to be watched if it’s less than 90 seconds! We all have short attention spans, and most check to see how long a video will be before ever hitting play. So, make it short and sweet. If you can’t cover all you want to cover within 90 seconds or so, carve out a portion of content for the first video, and present the rest in others.
Follow the six “E”s
To create a great video, one that will be watched and that will make an impact, be sure to:
- Educate. Provide information in a way that’s understandable. Without talking down to an audience, try to remember what you didn’t know as a novice in the field. And avoid industry jargon; position yourself as an expert by showing how much you know, not telling them.
- Entertain. I’ve found this is effectively done by incorporating interesting stories or dramatic examples, and humor is always a plus. Start a video with a hook that catches attention, not just with a wrote introduction. Rather than, “Hi. I’m Joan Doe of Making Money LLC, a business consulting firm that specializes…” Yawn. Instead, begin with something like, “What if you could tell that your business idea was doomed before you start? I’m going to show you five early warning signs and how to solve for them. Hi, I’m Joan Doe, and help business owners like you avoid…” Which beginning is a better attention grabber?
- Excite. The key here is to show an audience that they can solve a problem, attain a goal and improve their lives. Give great practical tips and tricks to help them get what they want or resolve issues.
- Engage. Let sincerity and personality show. Perhaps you can let people know that you struggled with the same issues or have the same desires they do? Make it clear that you are aligned with an audience’s feelings.
- Encourage action. This is not simply saying “Buy now!”, but encouraging viewers to take a next step. Methods could include, “Email me to let me know what other questions I can answer to help you”, or “Download a free step by step guide” on the topic you just presented.
- Enthusiasm. Let your genuine passion for and interest in a subject show. Even if you aren’t the cheerleader type, try to punch it up a notch. Since you aren’t in the same room with an audience, energy has to be a bit bigger than usual so they can sense it.
One last tip: Just begin. Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t used the video format before. If thousands of entrepreneurs have successfully figured it out, you can too!