Your Next Challenge: Make a Video

I could toss statistics your way about how many businesses are using video and how many hours of video people are watching. However, if you’ve spent any time on Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn recently, you know many businesses are using video. You’ve also probably seen videos from some of your competitors.

When I speak about email marketing or social media, I always highlight video as the one tool that businesses, especially service providers, should add to their marketing mix. It’s the most effective way of conveying personality and generating engagement. However, there’s often some pushback and I hear things like “I don’t like the way I look on camera,” or “I don’t like the way I sound.” Here’s some tough love: you need to get past this. Nobody likes how they look on camera.

You also have to remember that you’ll never achieve perfection. Before the pandemic, I spoke at Realty in Toronto, run by real estate broker and TV star of Property Virgins and Buy Herself, Sandra Rinomato. She says that you should aim for 70 per cent. The wind may be blowing your hair, you may stumble across a word or two, but if you can get it 70 per cent right, consider that a success. You will definitely get better as time goes on.

One hurdle is not knowing where to start and not knowing what questions to ask because there are a range of options for creating and editing video – from a total DIY video to hiring a company that will film and edit the videos for you, delivering a completely finished product.

I spoke with Kate Jonker, owner of Kosmic Creative, a Toronto-based video and web design company, for some advice on how to get started.

For those on a budget or looking to DIY, she says, “The most important aspect to be clear about is the key message you want to get across in your video.” Videos for Facebook or email should be under two minutes and for Instagram, you have a maximum of 60 seconds, so the message needs to focused.

If you don’t have a camera, don’t worry. “Most new smartphones have a decent enough camera that will do the trick but be sure to test your footage first to confirm it’s crisp. The typical HD standard is 1080p and at that quality, your video will present really nicely on YouTube, phones, tablets and laptops.” Another thing Kate suggests you consider is stabilization. A selfie stick can work or a tripod, but something that cuts down on camera movement will keep you looking professional.

If you’re looking to up your game, there are many digital cameras that you can buy for under $500, but you get what you pay for. Kate says renting is always an option – some companies will give you a weekend rate and you can rent a good camera for $150 or less, a fraction of what it would cost you to buy it, and you can try different options to see what suits you.

As for sound, if you’re sitting at your desk or a computer in front of a wall, you can use a headphone that has a mic. In terms of low-budget audio, it will be pretty clear.

“A great option is a lapel mic that clips on to your shirt. You can get a solid mic, which plugs into your smartphone such as a RODE SmartLav+, for around $100,” says Kate.

The next step is editing.

“If you’re a Mac user, iMovie, Lightworks and DaVinci Resolve are free tools that offer basic editing capability and allow you to use effects that, together, will make your video look somewhat professional. You can add transitions between clips, colour correct your videos, add captions and you can also combine background music with your footage to tell a story,” says Kate.

Windows 10 has a built-in video editor. Lightworks, DaVinci Resolve and HitFilm Express are also available. There are many step-by-step tutorials available online.

Hiring a professional “takes on the stress of making a production. You have enough on your plate as it is, so working with a videographer allows you an opportunity to enjoy the process. Put simply, after teaming up with an experienced filmmaker, the quality of your video will be exponentially higher in a shorter amount of time,” says Kate. “The idea is for your piece of marketing magic to be crafted behind the scenes while you continue doing your job.”

A good video company acts as a storyteller – they can help put a script together that really speaks to your audience. When it comes to editing, they also have experience in colour correction, brightness, contrast, saturation and clarity of clips. They’re used to optimizing footage and, without experience, you – as a beginner – can sometimes make it worse or the video could fall short of its potential.

Once your videos are completed, you can share them in your email marketing and your social media. Once you see the level of engagement you’re driving, you’ll be encouraged to make more.