Your Business Story

Asking these questions first will save you a lot of time and money later.

As a savvy business owner or manager, you’re probably aware by now that the second most used online search engine is YouTube. You’re also aware that website visitors enjoy being entertained, and that they love video. And I’ll bet that the thought of putting video on your business website has been tempting you for a while now (if you haven’t succumbed already), but you’re not sure what it should be about, or if it would even benefit your business.

In this article, I’m going to arm you with the three questions you need to ask before investing your valuable time and money in video. The answers to these questions will tell you not only whether or not video is a good idea for you, but will also provide you with a blueprint for creating a video that actually does what you want it to do. And if you’ve already put up a video and it’s not working well for you, these three questions might be a good place to start with in figuring out why it’s not performing.

Question One: Who is my audience?

This one that goes deeper than most people think and is not quite as easy to answer as it sounds. You might answer, “We want to give our message to potential customers, potential employees and potential investors.” With that statement, you’ve actually identified three different audiences with three different orientations to your company, not one.  Targeting more than one audience with the same video will dilute your message to the point where it doesn’t address any one of them effectively, wasting your time and your money. You have to clearly identify the audience you want to reach. Narrow your focus.

Take potential customers for instance. Who are they more specifically? What’s their income level? Age? Sex? Profession? What else do you know about them? A good place to start is by identifying your current best customers (or your ideal customer if addressing a new type of client.) Then list all the characteristics that make them such good clients. Create the clearest picture you can of your perfect customer and what their needs are that your product and services can address.

Question Two: What message or information do I want to give them?

Here again, the focus needs to be relatively narrow. One of the secrets of “stickiness” in holding the viewer’s attention is to give them useful information. Sharing useful information not only helps build your value to them, it also builds credibility. Make their time watching your video worthwhile, especially the first ten seconds while they’re weighing whether or not they will continue to watch. Avoid sales pitches! The instant they feel like you’re only selling to them (as opposed to entertaining or educating them), they leave and don’t come back.

For example, you can teach them what they need to know to make an informed decision about purchasing the kind of services or products you offer (be balanced – don’t slant the viewpoint.) You could tell them how to most effectively use your product (tips and tricks.) Once people feel they’ve gotten useful information, they’ll look around your website to see what else you can offer them. You may even find you’ll want to have more than one video for them to look at (search engines love multiple videos on websites, by the way.) Or you can tell them the unique story of your business, how the original idea was born and how it became reality.

Transform your business image into real people with a real story. All other things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they feel like they know – so help them get to know you and value what you have to offer. And most importantly, keep it brief: 90 seconds to a max of three minutes.

Question Three: What specifically do I  want my audience to DO or FEEL when they are done watching my video?

While this seems almost like an afterthought, it’s likely the most important question of the three, because it affects how (or even if) they take the “next step.” If you want them to do something, your video needs to tell them what to do. And keep in mind that the purpose of the video may not actually be to get them to buy from you – the next step may actually be to contact you for more information, sign up for your newsletter, tell a friend or even to just watch the next video in the series. This is a key element you need to identify clearly before you begin the process of planning your video, and will directly affect its content.  This should be a simple, focused action – if you offer them more than one or two choices, they are likely not to take any action at all.

The Payoff:

Money saved by avoiding the wrong path in creating a video where it isn’t a good fit; time and money saved by having the right kind of information in hand when you go into production (your video professional will love you for it); and a finished video that generates a return for your business the way you want it to.

It’s all in knowing the right questions to ask.