By Colleen Malloy
Ninety-four percent of consumers watched a video online last week, and 73 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after seeing an online video explaining a product or service. Think about it: YouTube is not only the second-largest search engine in the world, but it also has more than a billion unique, worldwide viewers each month. If your dealership doesn’t have a YouTube channel, many potential consumers will tune in to the dealership down the road that does.
So, I don’t need to spend any more time selling you on the value of video, but what I probably need to convince you of is the fact that you and your team can absolutely execute a video strategy without it turning into a big-budget Hollywood production.
In this article, I’ll walk you through production and planning, so you can get your video strategy rolling in 2015!
You absolutely do not need to purchase expensive video production equipment to start filming your dealership’s videos. The quality of video that you can shoot with a smartphone will absolutely work. What you do need to buy is a tripod. Go online, and you’ll find a ton of options, depending on the model of your phone, starting at less than $20. This small investment will make a huge difference in the quality of your videos — there’s not much worse than the poor jumpy quality of video footage that’s shot free hand. Just don’t do it. When you mount your phone to your tripod, mount it horizontally. We live in a wide-screen world, and you want to make sure your videos look great across all platforms.
* Lighting. You could invest a ton in a professional lighting kit, but you don’t have to. If you’ve got windows in your dealership, take advantage of the amazing natural light provided by the sun. Simply shoot the video with the sun at your back, facing your on-screen talent. No natural lighting options? Replicate that natural glow with a few floodlights — from your local hardware store — set up behind the camera. Diffuse the light so it isn’t direct, and avoid harsh overhead lighting or backlighting. Experiment with your setup, and over time, you’ll get the hang of it.
* Sound. You want the microphone to be as close to the speaker as possible, so using the internal microphone on the phone shooting the video, just won’t cut it. You could invest more than $500 in a professional-quality microphone, or you can take advantage of a second smartphone closer to the speaker to capture the sound. When you’re ready to start your take, hit “record” on both the video smartphone and the audio smartphone, and then just clap loudly before the action begins. This clap mimics a clapboard and will help you sync up the sound when you edit it all together.
* Editing. Whether you use a Mac or a PC, there are some excellent, easy-to-use editing tools that will add extra polish to your dealership’s videos. You can edit the sound, add titles, cut together various clips, and even add background music. For Mac users, I recommend iMovie; and for PC users, I recommend Movie Maker. Need to get up to speed with these programs? Search YouTube for “how-to” videos, and you’ll be a pro in no time. When you edit your videos, keep them short and sweet — no more than just a few minutes long.
Sounding a bit too technical? Don’t fret; if I’m losing you here, remember these are just my recommendations for your best results. If you can only handle a single source for both sound and video, that’s fine for now — don’t let technology barriers prevent you from moving forward with video. Keep it in perspective that your video doesn’t have to look like it was produced by George Lucas, but it should be reflective of the quality of the products and services that your dealership offers.
Infographic courtesy of Animoto
Planning your content
You are ready to get rolling, now what? While the lure to create a clever, viral video may be too tempting to avoid, the reality is that most videos don’t go viral. Millions of users tune into non-viral videos every day to make their purchasing decisions and help them solve everyday problems. What do you want video to do for your dealership? Do you want to score a million views, or do you want to establish yourself as a local authority and drive buyers to your location? The latter is true? That’s what I thought, so I’d recommend starting with these top non-viral content types:
* How-to videos. How-to content is a great way to extend your reach beyond your regular customer base. Think about all of the things that your customers need guidance on to shape your list of how-to topics. Sit down and brainstorm with your team, and generate a list of your top-12 how-to topics. Who are your internal experts? You want your on-camera personalities to be able to talk to the camera just as naturally as if they were explaining the process to a customer. While scripting out an outline of what you want to be covered in your video is encouraged, reading from cue cards isn’t. It just won’t come off naturally. Book out a dedicated afternoon quarterly, and shoot three how-to videos.
* Product videos. While you won’t necessarily have time to shoot a video explaining the features and benefits of that new oil filter, supplementing your major inventory listings with video will not only help your customers make more informed buying decisions, but it will also help your products and services gain higher search engine rankings. Now, I know you’re thinking that you stock a heck of a lot of inventory over the course of the year, and that creating new product videos for each and every unit would be totally impossible. Here’s one instance where I recommend that you consider using a third-party vendor to automatically generate product videos for you. As an example, ARI Inventory powered by LotVantage takes the inventory data that you’re already using on your website, including product specifications and photos; automatically generates product videos; and posts those videos directly to your YouTube channel. Using a service like this allows you to quickly scale your video production and lets you focus your manual video production on other product-related content of a higher value.
Just like with your how-tos, sit down with your team and come up with 12 product-related videos that answer some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that your dealership receives on a regular basis. Talk customers through the benefits of a snow plow versus a snow thrower, or perhaps introduce a product line that’s new to your dealership. Just like with your how-tos, set aside an afternoon each quarter and record a few at a time to ensure that you’ve got plenty of video content ready to share throughout the year.
* About Us videos. A video tour of your dealership is a great way to show potential customers a little bit about your dealership location, but don’t stop there. Show your dealership’s expertise and personality by shooting brief introductory videos for every member of your staff. In addition, invite your best customers to come into the store to shoot brief video testimonials in exchange for a discount or some other thank you. Ask your customers to answer three key questions:
1) Why do you do business with us?
2) What sets us apart from the competition?
3) Why would you recommend us to a friend?
Post and share
Each and every video that you produce should first get shared via your dealership’s YouTube channel. In the March 2014 issue of OPE, we covered some YouTube optimization basics in an article on “Social e-commerce: How to use social tools to drive online sales.” To ensure your videos are search friendly, read the article at outdoorpowerequipment.com in the digital edition of March 2014 OPE on pages 18-19 or via its direct link at outdoorpowerequipment.com/2014/03/23/social-e-commerce-how-to-use-social-tools-to-drive-online-sales/2942/. While I encouraged you to bulk produce your videos to save time, I don’t encourage you to upload your content en masse. Spread out your posts, so that you are regularly adding new content to your YouTube channel. Don’t forget to share your videos on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networks included in your digital marketing strategy.
In addition to YouTube, talk to your website provider about incorporating your video content into your website. From your home page to your product pages to your blog, your optimized video content will help your website perform better in search.
Finally, make sure you’re sharing your video content with your current customer list. Adding your video content to your email newsletter is a great way to make your emails more engaging. Most of the leading email marketing vendors offer newsletter templates that include slots for video content, making it simple for you to customize your email marketing messages.
Got questions on how you can get the most out of video? Don’t hesitate to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! While getting up-to-speed with video will take some hard work, I’m confident that you’ll find it is well worth the investment.
Colleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of an award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”