Video marketing tips that work for small businesses

Think about what your audience will respond to and want to see, and make it worth their time to watch

Temple Lentz

Video marketing isn’t what it used to be! The tools and resources available to small businesses to use video are more widely available, easier to use and accessible for all range of budgets. While high quality, professionally produced video still has an important place in marketing efforts, for the budget conscious and social media savvy small business, most of us have a phone in our pockets that can do exactly what we need. However, having the tools and knowing how to maximize them for best effect isn’t always the same thing. With the rise of more and more multimedia platforms and posting opportunities, you’ll need to be even more thoughtful and strategic to be sure your video efforts stand out from the crowd.

It’s well-documented that video content is far more effective at grabbing users’ attention as they scroll through their social media feeds. Online consumers significantly prefer video content, and Small Biz Trends has reported that 60 percent of Millennials prefer watching a well-done video to reading a well-produced newsletter.

So how can you make your video shine?

1. Start strong, and keep it tight

The days of taking time to make a case and build up to a strong crescendo are long gone, unfortunately. Audiences need to be hooked immediately, or you’ve lost them. With our increasingly mobile lifestyles and short attention spans, you’ve got from three to five seconds to grab your audience’s attention. In that time, the viewer should be able to intuit what the video is about and why they should be interested. When you’re planning your video, think about how you can start strong and include as many visual cues for the viewer as possible.

Okay, so once you’ve got them hooked, how long should you try to keep them? The answer varies depending on your platform, topic and resources, but a good rule of thumb is to make it as short as you can to get your message your across, and then consider how to make it even a little shorter.

There are always exceptions to the rule! Some videos with very engaging content and innovative presentation can keep their viewers for a long time. However, in general, think about one-to-three minutes maximum for social media marketing. If you can’t make your bite-sized point in that amount of time, you’re probably trying to do too much.

2. Consider removing the audio

More and more, videos that are specifically created for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are cutting the audio altogether. A lot of viewers check their phones in meetings or public places, and don’t have headphones. They’re likely to catch your video with the sound turned down – so think about how you can communicate them without the audio element.

You can consider how to add text to your images, add titles and words to the video itself, or consider how you can incorporate text into the images you show.

3. Don’t forget hashtags and tags

Your video will live a much longer life of its own if you make it searchable. Use the tags function in YouTube and use tags that will help your audience find you. If you’re posting on Instagram or Twitter, be sure to use relevant and popular hashtags to increase your reach. Identify what is trending and reaching your audience, and use those tags and hashtags.

4. Use the resources and assets you have

If you’re promoting your retail front on social media, you don’t need to bring in professional lighting and sound or go to a fancy studio. Your audience will connect much more strongly with a video set in the aisles of your store, or from behind the counter. Use the assets you have to show off who you are and what you do.

Take the time to think through and plan out what you want the video to communicate, and then set it up to achieve those goals. If you want to showcase your dedicated staff and their incredible customer service, show some of them at work or get one of your most enthusiastic customers to give a testimonial – all in front of the award you received for excellence in customer service. Figure out whatever those assets are for your business, and use them. They set you apart and show why you are unique.

Now go out there and do it!

The best videos may look like they were done spontaneously, but they weren’t. Identify your goals, map put how you will achieve those goals, and highlight the strengths that make you different and special. Think about what your audience will respond to and want to see, and make it worth their time to watch. Once you’ve pleased them once or twice, they’ll start to look for your videos, take time to watch them, and share their favorites with their friends.

Temple Lentz is principal and director of content and communications for High Five Media, as well as business director for The Heather DeFord Group of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. Visit High Five online at