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Lights, Camera, Action!

One of my favorite TV sitcoms is Last Man Standing. The main character, Mike Baxter (played by Tim Allen) is the co-owner responsible for marketing his store Outdoor Man. In most episodes, he creates a humorous short online video that goes to customers and prospects, enticing them to buy a product.

Of course, it’s just entertainment, but it reflects the fact that video should be a major part of any marketing strategy, including those of boat dealers. Indeed, the recent successes of some virtual boat shows documents the effectiveness of video. So it’s time for dealers using social media and digital marketing to take videos seriously.

According to content marketing agency Three Girls Media, it takes just a little creativity and a well-conceived plan to produce good video content. Videos can help any dealership stand out and hold a viewer’s attention while providing useful information.

And there’s other evidence that using video can be a powerful marketing strategy. In general, people watch an average of 90 minutes of video a day. Further, most people (72 percent) claim they would rather watch a video about a product or its use than read about it.

Video can be distributed in several ways. At the top of the list is social media because people gather online to engage with others, as well as learning products and brands. Just as important, a dealer’ website can effectively include video to provide new and potential customers a unique look into the showroom. Add a short welcome video that visitors can watch as they land on your home page, and define what sets you apart.

How about producing a video newsletter for customers? Videos that focus on a major activity that customers engage in, such as fishing tips, can be popular. Make a short video that offers maintenance pointers. Introduce a new member of the sales or service team. Offer occasional special deals only to existing customers. Use video to promote a customer-only preview night of new models. Any video gives you the chance to get in front of your base without waiting for them to approach you.

In addition to your website or newsletter, YouTube has become a very popular video platform for consumers and businesses. It’s free, widely used, compatible with a range of applications and user-friendly.

Another hosting site, Vimeo, has customizable features, a great analytics panel and a tighter-knit community of viewers. Some perks come at a cost, but they do offer a free service option that’s nothing extremely fancy or exciting but gets the job done.

Producing video can seem daunting, especially when you get in the weeds with the technical terminology. The good news is you don’t need an engineering degree to create great videos. Here some tips to get started.

Keep the camera simple — don’t drop big bucks. In fact, your video camera might be in your pocket. Chances are your smartphone or tablet is all you’ll need to create videos for your website, newsletter or YouTube.

Sound is important. Mic selection will depend on your camera setup. If you’re just talking to the audience at a desktop webcam, a Blue Yeti USB mic is more than adequate and costs less than $150. A simple lavalier mic is even cheaper and easier to hide for video interviews, such as the Rode smartLav+ for about $75.

Editing video is not daunting. WeVideo is a good program. It’s simple, affordable and user-friendly for any skill level. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a Mac or a PC because it’s online. You can even start for free and upgrade to a paid plan.

Lastly, there’s the content. A video can cover anything from a chat about a new product or tips for customers from the service department. Really good subjects are brief customer stories about that big fish or days of family fun beaching or wakeboarding. It really boils down to using some imagination, and it can be fun for the whole dealership team to come up with ideas and participate.

A great way to start would be to bring in some pizzas and have a team brainstorming lunch in which everyone can throw in their ideas. It’s a sure bet you’ll have more possibilities than you could ever actually video.

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