Start adding video to your digital marketing mix

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I confess my favorite sitcom is Last Man Standing. Tim Allen’s character Mike Baxter is marketing manager for the store Outdoor Man. In many episodes he creates a short online video that humorously urges customers to buy a product.

It’s entertaining television, but it’s not fantasy. It reflects the fact that video’s growth and popularity has made it an essential part of a marketing strategy. So it may be time for dealers using social media and digital marketing to seriously think video.

According to Danielle Winski at the marketing agency Three Girls Media, “With a little creativity and a well-conceived plan, videos can help any organization stand out with an unforgettable voice and its ability to capture and hold an audience’s attention while providing useful information.”

A study, the State of Video Marketing Report for 2018 by HubSpot, offers some strong evidence that using video can be a powerful strategy. In just one year, the number of marketers who used video as a part of their marketing strategy was 81 percent (growth of nearly 20 percent). More than half of the 19 percent that did not use video in 2017 have planned to use it this year. Why?

The study revealed that people watched an average of one-and-a-half hours of video a day in 2017, with 15 percent watching more than three hours. Further, most people (72 percent) would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

Video can be distributed in several ways. At the top of the list is social media. “It makes sense,” says Winski, “because social media is a place where people gather online to engage with others, as well as products and brands.

Your website can effectively include video, providing new and potential customers a unique look into your dealership. Add a welcome video that visitors can watch as they enter your website and see what sets you apart.

Like social media, producing a newsletter gives you the chance to get video in front of your audience without waiting for them to approach it on their own. Adding a video that relates to the theme of your newsletter also reinforces your message.

“Don’t limit yourself to just sharing your videos on social media and in your newsletters,” says Winski. “They also provide strong support for blog posts. Not only will you be placing the content on another channel, giving it more potential for viewers to see it, but you’ll also be doing your website a favor by adding content to your blog.”

When it comes to platforms for your video, YouTube is popular for consumers and businesses alike. It’s free, widely used and compatible with a versatile range of applications and websites. Plus, it’s user friendly.

Another hosting site, Vimeo, is gaining popularity, according to Winski. It has customizable features, a great analytics panel and, since it’s not as saturated as YouTube, a tighter-knit community of viewers. These perks come at a cost, though.

“They do offer a free service option that’s nothing extremely fancy or exciting, but it gets the job done,” Winski says. “If you want more features and options, you need to sign up for a paid account.”

While producing videos can seem daunting, you don’t need an engineering degree to create great content. It comes down to making video a priority and knowing what equipment to use, according to Brian Pittman, a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager. Here’s his quick breakdown to get you started.

Keep cameras simple — don’t drop big bucks. Your video camera might already be in your pocket. “Many pros are trading their fancy gear and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras for iPhones,” says videographer Lou Bortone. “Chances are that your smartphone or tablet will be all you’ll need if you’re creating video for YouTube or a vlog.”

Sound is very important. Mic selection will depend on your camera setup. “If you’re at a desktop webcam setup, the Blue Yeti USB mic is more than adequate and costs under $150,” says Bortone.

However, if you’ve got a DSLR rig, then check out the Rode VideoMic Pro. It attaches to your DSLR as a shotgun mic and runs less than $200. And simple lavalier mics are cheaper and easier to hide for video interviews. Bortone prefers the Rode smartLav+. “It gets high ratings and can be yours for about $75,” he says.

Bortone recommends WeVideo for editing. “It’s simple, affordable and user-friendly for any skill level,” he says. “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 later.”

Finally, there’s the content question. A video can cover anything from a chat about a new product or tips for customers from the service department. Brief customer stories about that big fish caught or days of family fun beaching or wakeboarding make great videos. What it boils down to is using some imagination.

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

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