Businesses with small budgets and big aspirations can still capitalize on these tried-and-true video marketing strategies.
Most small business marketers mistakenly believe that video is simply outside of their budget.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s true that you won’t have the resources to create Superbowl-style ads. You may not be able to hire actors, create convincing sets, or even buy professional equipment – but you don’t have to.
All of those things are great, but small businesses don’t really need them to succeed with video marketing. The only thing you truly need to make great videos for small business is a creative strategy.
Don’t worry about the things you lack. If you can identify the resources you do have, and the creative opportunities you can take, you’re already halfway there.
Five Paths to SMB Video Marketing Success
There are a lot of small businesses using out-of-the-box thinking to capture and build their audience. The core of your early-stage strategy should revolve around identifying the videos that will have the biggest impact on your business. You’re going to want to go about creating them as cost-effectively as possible.
There are five places where most new video marketers are going to yield the greatest results at the lowest cost. These videos improve customer outreach, create a sense of credibility, and generate conversions without demanding extraordinary investment.
1. Product Explainers
The product explainer is by far the simplest and most effective video for new marketers. The premise for this video is as simple as it gets. All you have to do is introduce your product and show how it works.
This achieves multiple goals. First, it establishes your credibility as a brand. Website visitors may not immediately understand what you do or who your product is for. They may even doubt the authenticity of the brand itself; for all they know, you could be running a malicious spam website.
A product explainer dispels that uncertainty by focusing on a customer use case. You introduce the problem that your product solves, and then walk the viewer through the process of solving it.
There are many different types of product explainer videos. Each one presents a unique set of advantages and drawbacks for particular products:
- Animated explainers. Animation is a great way to sidestep equipment costs and still get great video content. 2D animated video is generally much cheaper than 3D animation, and there are plenty of dedicated studios and freelancers who can deliver cost-effective animated product explainer videos.
- Live action video explainers. Live action videos offer greater authenticity and humanity than animations do. Not as abstract as the aforementioned animated videos, live action can offer a more direct, hands-on perspective of what your product does and how it works. Although many marketers hire actors and create sets for their videos, you can shoot a DIY-style explainer video with your phone, too.
- App preview videos. If your product is digital, there is a third option available. App previews are essentially edited screen-share videos with a voice-over explaining how the app or service works. These are among the easiest and cheapest videos for new marketers to create. You can even use a free browser extension like RecTrace to make one.
For the best results, each product explainer should focus on a single potential use case.
Even if your product can do multiple things, your website visitors probably have a single problem in mind. Lead them to a short, easy-to-understand video that shows how to solve that one problem.
The single-use-case approach allows SMB marketers to quickly and effectively segment their audiences. If you use a video hosting solution that gathers engagement data from viewers, you can immediately see which customer use-cases are the most popular.
2. Customer Testimonials
Customer testimonials can be a powerful tool for marketers making videos for small businesses. The testimonial approach helps build the credibility and trustworthiness of your brand. All you really need to create a convincing customer testimonial video is an enthusiastic customer.
The more authentic and excited your customer is, the better the video will turn out.
Start by interviewing some of the customers who have been with you the longest, and find out what made them choose your product over its competitors in the first place.
If you have a high-profile customer who other customers are likely to recognize, that’s a definite plus. However, it’s important to select your testimonials according to the individual, not necessarily the brand they represent.
An authentic, excited individual may offer a more compelling testimonial than a disinterested influencer who happens to work for a famous company. Video is all about human connection. If you interview a customer whose face lights up at the mention of your name, it will create a far more memorable impression than a face that is merely recognizable.
Since customer testimonial videos don’t necessarily focus on your brand, they operate in a different way from many other types of marketing videos. Customer testimonials work in four main ways:
- Appealing to social proof. Instead of telling viewers how great you are and asking them to take your word for it, you are putting the spotlight on someone else. That person’s credibility is what matters. Their support for you will make your brand that much more credible in the eyes of your audience.
- Connecting emotionally with viewers. A good customer testimonial doesn’t spend too much time talking about the reasoning behind choosing your product over another. It’s an emotional appeal that focuses on the problems customers have solved, the time and money they saved, and the superior quality of life they now enjoy, thanks to you.
- Telling a great story. The single most important element of the customer testimonial is the story it tells. You are introducing viewers to a customer they don’t know, using a product they aren’t familiar with, to achieve a goal they may not understand the value of. The thing that informs viewers about all these unknowns is the story your testimonial tells.
- Giving your brand a face. Good testimonials make your brand appear more grounded and human. You are no longer a faceless corporation trying to sell something. You’re something that helps real people improve their lives. Those customers are now your spokespeople.
3. Company Stories
When it comes to telling stories, you don’t have to focus solely on your customers. Your brand has its own story to tell, and so do the people who make your product what it is.
Company stories can offer insights that other videos for small business can’t. For example, company culture videos can do more for improving the quality of new job candidates than any other video type. If you want to attract the best talent, showing them what makes your company a great place to work at is a winning strategy.
These benefits can also blend into your customer-oriented messaging.
If your company prides itself on not outsourcing customer support, that could be a major selling point for customers who are frustrated with their current tech support options.
If you show your customers that you treat your employees well, they will generally conclude that those employees will treat them well, in turn; and according to Gallup, it’s true.
Video is a great medium for showcasing exactly what makes your company unique.
Customers want to know how your business got started. They want to see what drives your employees to be the best they can be. If you have a story that extends beyond the pure economics of starting a business to make money, you have something to share with your customers.
There are multiple ways to use a company spotlight video to showcase your brand. Each one offers a slightly different set of benefits compared to the others:
- Crowdsourced employee videos. One of the simplest ways to create a successful company culture video is asking your employees to submit video clips about themselves. These don’t have to be elaborate, polished studio clips; a handful of selfie-camera testimonials is all you need to show customers who the people behind your brand are.
- Employee interviews. If you want to take the company culture video one step further, you can interview employees about their day-to-day life at the company. This can help attract similar-minded job candidates who may resonate with the things your employees say.
- Event footage with voiceover. If you have footage of an event or a corporate party, you can layer a voiceover that showcases the event in a positive light. This is an easy way to introduce customers and employees to your brand without having to spend a great deal of time and money on pre-production.
4. Holiday Specials
Holidays are a great chance to reach out to your community in a meaningful way. These videos can have a lasting impact on your customers, and play a role attracting qualified job candidates towards your company.
Most companies already incorporate special events into their end-of-the-year activities. These may include employee awards, charity drives, and corporate sponsorships. All of these are great opportunities to create holiday-themed videos that resonate with communities.
When it comes to holiday specials, it pays to really know your customers and employees.
The best holiday videos are representative, diverse, and inclusive. These three factors will hugely impact the success of your holiday video marketing strategy:
- Representative holiday videos reflect the cultures your customers and employees share, without leaving anyone unrepresented. A fun, Christmas-themed holiday video won’t have the desired impact on a predominantly Jewish community. Create content that speaks authentically to the culture, beliefs, and heritage your employees, customers, and community share (in that order).
- Diverse holiday videos demonstrate a work environment that treats all individuals respectfully and fairly. They showcase employees with different backgrounds benefitting from equal access to opportunities and resources, all contributing fully to the organization’s success, and the success of the community as a whole.
- Inclusive holiday videos embrace and promote peoples’ religious and ethnic identities. Inclusivity showcases how employees, customers, and local leaders work together to create a thriving community.
These subjects dive deep into the core beliefs that individuals use to define themselves as people. As a result, many small businesses shy away from focusing too much on what they see as a delicate subject. However, brands that take a nuanced approach to their company culture can integrate ethnic and religious identity to create a flourishing community.
Does this mean you need to add Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Kwanzaa to your holiday video greetings? If enough of your Hindu, Muslim, or African-American employees agree, the answer is yes. When in doubt, the most important thing small business leaders and video marketers can do is ask.
5. Support Tutorials
Customer support and education is another area where low-budget video creation can generate significant returns. These can be similar to (and may coincide with) your product explainer videos, but they offer more in-depth solutions to some of your customer’s most frequent problems.
Not every customer is going to understand how a product works from the moment they purchase it. Great customer support content, delivered when customers need it most, can significantly reduce the number of support calls you need to field.
Every support and tutorial video you create prevents customers from having to call your support team. Fewer support calls means less resources spent hiring and training a support department. It also means happier customers, and more opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.
The best part is that customer support and product tutorial videos are incredibly inexpensive to make. In most cases, you only need the appropriate employee to show up and act as the product expert. Place an empty desk in a well-lit area, put the product on the desk, and your set is complete.
Of course, your mileage may vary when it comes to large, complicated, or technically demanding products. However, compared to many other types of videos for small business, customer support content remains one of the most cost-effective business drivers available to new video marketers.
Small businesses that invest in a purpose-built video hosting solution can even collect engagement data on their tutorial videos’ performance. Find out what problems your customers face most, and cut out tutorial content that viewers skip over. Optimized support content can drive value and cut costs across the board.
Originally published Jun 09, 2020, updated Feb 12, 2023