According to Vern Oakley, CEO and creative director at Tribe Pictures, people are eight times more likely to watch a video than read an article. If you’re looking for ways to market your small business, that statistic should catch your eye. But are marketing videos a realistic marketing tool for small-business owners? We spoke to Oakley to get the answers.

Small Business Center: Are marketing videos only for the big guys, or can people who own very small companies boost profitability by creating one, too?

Oakley: What’s great about marketing videos is that small-business owners can compete very effectively against much larger companies, including the Fortune 500s. Marketing videos that are well made appeal to a targeted audience, have specific information, and offer ways to connect to your product or service. They can be made inexpensively and achieve great results by informing your audience, exciting potential customers, and showing why you’re different than your competitors.

Other than increasing profits, what are the benefits businesses that derive from creating a marketing video?

Marketing videos raise brand awareness, show leadership, and help with SEO since videos are highly ranked in Google search results.

The process of making the video allows you to think about who you are, what you’re offering, and what you have to say to the world about your product or service. Putting a video together and going through the exercise of distilling your message into short, bite-size, consumer-friendly bits, makes you a better communicator. Marketing videos also make it easy for customers who are looking for something that solves a particular problem or are researching for a future purchase.

What is the first question small-business owners should ask themselves before deciding whether a marketing video is right for their company?

They need to think about whether they’re willing to invest not only the money but, equally importantly, the time to do it well. A poorly done video will not help you and can actually hurt how your audience perceives you.

The trend seems to have moved away from humorous videos to videos that evoke more significant feelings. Can you explain the this shift?

I believe the shift from humorous videos toward more sentimental videos is a function of what’s successful at the moment. People follow trends until the next one comes along. And a lot of the tone for the year gets set with Super Bowl advertising.

Humorous videos are successful because they are entertaining. Sentimental videos are as engaging and have the ability to evoke and create emotional connections between the audience and a company. As humans we crave these connections.

Marketing videos for small businesses can be humorous, sentimental, and even self-empowerment focused. What matters is what is most effective for your brand and what appeals to your particular customers.

How involved in the planning and design aspect of the video should business owners be?

It is extremely important for business owners to be involved in the planning and design of a video because the essence of a good marketing video is all about establishing your positioning in the marketplace. As a small-business owner, you have to determine your brand and positioning. You have to know what your customers are looking for. Others can help you implement your ideas. However you must guide the people who are helping you.

What can small-business owners do to increase the chances that people will share their video?

It’s important to understand why people share videos. They share the videos they find funny or cool, that offer valuable information, or that contain something human and universal, like a good story.

What should small-business owners expect to pay for a marketing video?

The cost can vary greatly depending on the approach a business owner chooses to take. If you have a strong concept, you can DIY with an iPhone for almost nothing, or you can hire a mid-tier video service for around 0 to ,000 per minute of completed video. Or you can go to an agency that will probably charge ,000 to ,000 per video.

What kind of return can a business owner expect?

That depends on the business you have, how well the video is done, and how smart the distribution plan is for your video. I have seen some people not recoup their investment, and others have made 100 to 1,000 times the cost of their marketing video. It’s a wide range.

Is it realistic to think about monetizing the video?

Absolutely. A smart marketing campaign should be paying for itself, driving traffic to your website and/or to your store, and building your brand. All of that is possible if you have the time, energy, and creativity to find and develop the right idea, and have the proper resources to help you.

What is the best way to get the video where customers will see it?

We like to talk about an integrated marketing strategy. Small-business owners will definitely want to add videos to their website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and provide links on Twitter. Human beings are hard-wired to connect, and social media is a great tool. And while you can’t predetermine where people will find your videos, you’ll want it to be available on as many platforms as possible and, of course, cross-promote them.

If business owners can’t or don’t want to pay for a professional to conceptualize and create their marketing video, how effective are DIY videos that can be created using tools like like Animoto and Stupeflix?

These services are reasonable tools for beginners, and can help people easily design videos that can work well if you have a strong creative concept. The film has to be something that entertains your audience, so be careful not to rely on the ease of execution, but be bold and creative with your concepts. Remember, your video needs to be entertaining, informative, educational, and represent your brand. Do this and people will watch it.

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