Design for Small Business: Integrating Online Video into Your Marketing Mix

Although both corporate spending on and consumer consumption of online video keep rising, many UK small businesses have yet to make video part of their marketing toolbox. Some think video is not as popular as gurus make it out to be; others do not see the relevance to their particular business or consider video production an insurmountable challenge. All of them could not be more wrong.
Video is not just popular, it is explosive—the world over, and in the UK in particular. January numbers from comScore show that over 15 million UK consumers are going to watch 200 million videos today. Over 35 million people watch an average of 17 hours of online video per month. More than three quarters (84%) of all UK Internet users watch online video, and 64% watch video advertising content.
The proliferation of video is not just a consumer phenomenon; the numbers are similar in the business-to-business environment. Forbes says that well over half (64%) of business executives head over to a prospective vendor’s Website after watching their online video.
In this light, it is not surprising that the first half of 2010 saw UK companies nearly double their online video advertising spending. The growth in other uses of video is equally staggering; it is now difficult to find a Website that does not feature some video element or a business without a YouTube or Vimeo channel. The bottom line? If you are among SMEs who have not considered what video can do for your business, you are probably allowing your competition to reap its benefits first.
Companies everywhere are recognizing that video has become the factor that can provide an edge over the competition. The New York Times, for instance, recently likened the impact of using online video as a small-business promotional tool to the impact of having a Website in the early days of the Internet.
What does it have to do with you, you ask? SME uses of video range from advertising to how-to content, such as dentists helping parents teach children proper brushing and flossing habits. Using video on your Website or blog has also proven to boost search-engine traffic, because search engines tend to prioritize video above text in search results.
Take a look at your existing marketing content and consider how much of it would work in a video format. There may be some instances, such as how-to or instructional manuals, that could even become more effective than their original tactile counterparts—and producing such content with the most basic equipment is a snap for the entrepreneurially minded. 
Production need not be complicated in general. Remember, video usage statistics don’t say that only professional quality video is popular. Features that distinguish popular video content are creativity, which has resulted in the birth of the viral video phenomena, and a much more pedestrian concept of practical usefulness. That is where the opportunity lies for most businesses.
Whether you are aiming to turn out the next “Will It Blend?” or a B2B spot on your latest toner cartridge, numerous online resources are available to you’re your conceptualize and produce it. Even a novice can combine a few stock images, video clips and background music, such as those offered by iStockphoto and several others, into a compelling story for as little as a few pounds. 
Help is also available with more complex video projects, including multimedia agencies that specialize in online storytelling and project bidding Websites that can connect you to solo videographers, sound engineers and other creative consultants. While this may cost substantially more than doing it yourself, it is not as prohibitive as one might think; working with a freelance videographer can start under £500.
A word of caution: be realistic about whether or not you are ready to dive into video publishing. If you already have a popular Website, publish a blog or email newsletter and are familiar with social networks and microblogging services, your business can easily take the next step and benefit from integrating video into the overall marketing mix. Just remember to first address the basics.
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