From online shopping to working from home, COVID-19 pushed a lot of digital business trends forward. None more so than online video. After months of remote work, classes, and hangouts, Americans have embraced video communication like we’re the Jetsons. For online video, that means your target consumers are ready to engage with marketing video that is more earnest than polished.
Here are three ways you can use cheaper, less-polished, “low-fi” online video to connect with your target market.
1. Let Your Customers Speak: User-Generated Content
One of the mistakes you might make with low-fi video is to assume it has to be you in front of the camera. It can be, and we’ll get deeper into that in the next entry, but some of the most powerful videos you can use in your marketing won’t be made by you at all.
User-generated content lets you lean on your audience to create videos that their peers will respect and use. This type of video immediately appears more trustworthy because an unbiased third party is talking instead of your paid personnel.
Check out Adobe handing control of a video series to one of its customers: A creative team who filmed a project from conception to completion. This isn’t just a testimonial video, it’s customers showing how they use the product and what it allows them to do.
The team used Adobe’s tools in some episodes, and they mentioned Adobe branding in all of them, but viewers also see behind the curtain. It’s no longer just a series showing how to use Adobe products (which is what brand-made videos mostly are). Now it’s a video series that shows how to be a successful creative team and how Adobe’s tools fit into that process.
That’s a more powerful story to tell than just how someone used your product to do something cool. It’s a story that will connect with Adobe’s target audience on a more emotional level. It also provides social proof that Adobe’s tools empower successful creative teams.
2. Share What You Know: Vlogging
The best way to think of online video is as part of your content marketing and brand strategy. It’s not the best direct response channel, but it is great for engaging consumers in your market and building a reputation as a thought leader who can be trusted and a brand that has the knowledge to solve their problems.
Before you say you don’t have the resources to do influential video in-house, I want you to go take a look at Gary Vaynerchuk. No, not his latest video, this one:
That’s how Gary V built his video brand: He launched a “vlog” to educate customers of his family’s wine-by-mail business about their products.
Two years later, he started talking about personal branding, and the rest is history.
This is “vlogging,” and it’s a great way to connect on a human level with your audience.
Unlike personal vlogs, business vlogs are almost always focused on teaching an audience how to do something. Any brand in a space with a significant learning curve can expand its presence and thought leadership with a good vlog.
Some great examples include MOZ, which Rand Fishkin grew using whiteboard vlogs. Mint.com’s founder and CEO Aaron Patzer started with an earnest, direct-to-camera video series demystifying money matters for millennials.
If you want an interesting non-business vlog that presents a good example to follow, check out Hank and John Green’s Vlog Brothers channel on YouTube. The Hank and John EXPLAIN series is essentially just them talking to the camera about things they know, and that happens to be exactly how younger millennials and Gen Z like to learn things.
A vlog will always benefit from a little bit of polish in lighting, sound, and editing — you can see how far Gary V has come over the years. But in each of these cases, the brand grew its audience with a bare-minimum video investment. It’s just the speaker’s charisma and knowledge connecting with curious people.
The point of a vlog is not to sell products but to grow and educate your audience about the way your industry works. Your goal is to teach them how to be savvy players in your space and engage with the kinds of problems your products or services solve.
That knowledge may not directly make them customers, but it teaches them the things they need to know to move further into your market and become prospects. And since they learned how to do that from your vlog, your brand has every advantage over the competition when it comes to winning their business.
3. Show Them How It’s Done: Demo Videos
As you might gather from the vlogging section, online video has also become the best way to teach customers how to use complicated products and services.
This technique is used extensively in the cloud software space. Salesforce has a series of videos showing how to use its different products. It’s also used in totally mundane training situations, like when the Tennessee Department of Revenue wants to train its constituents how to prepare for an audit.
Filming demos and training videos is easier than you might think. Obviously, you can show how to use a physical product in a hand-shot video. If you’re trying to show an online service or software, like Salesforce, there are a variety of tools like Camtasia and Loom that allow you to record quick instructional videos with voice-over.
A good suite of product and service videos allows you to give customers the onboarding experience they want.
Turning Low-Fi Video Into Sales
By the way, the Jetsons cartoon was set in 2062, so we have about 40 years to work out flying cars and robot house cleaning. And we’re going to need just as long or longer before we can make video selling that easy.
The point is not to sell the product, it’s to connect with the audience. You achieve that by entertaining them or expanding their knowledge. This builds brand engagement.
By creating a stronger, more earnest, low-fi video presence, you cultivate an audience that will be more receptive to all of your marketing in the future. That’s not just because they liked your video, but also because your videos have shown them the market you serve and problems you solve in your words from your point of view.
The more people who see the world that way, the better your brand will perform.