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Business Trends: Lights, camera...

Companies use sight, sound to enhance video marketing messages

By Joanne Friedrick
September 05, 2011

Known for bringing viewers clips of adorable snoozing kittens, waiting-to-be-discovered singers and dancers and embarrassing stunts and accidents, videos on YouTube and other social media outlets are increasingly being used as a marketing tool by companies and organizations that are trying to tell their story in 15 minutes or less.

Founded just six years ago, YouTube was created by three ex-PayPal employees. Since its inception, hundreds of millions of users around the world have taken advantage of it. More than 24 hours of video are uploaded to the site each minute, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact number of videos available.

Fortunately, users can cut through the clutter by using keyword searches, and companies that are uploading information often use search engine optimization (SEO) to put their videos front and center.

That’s one of the strategies being used by the Maine Office of Tourism (MOT) in Augusta, Maine, which started posting videos about the state and its seafood on YouTube about three years ago. Steve Lyons, MOT’s director of marketing, says lobster “is one of the iconic images of Maine” and appears often in the state’s advertising, website and videos.

One of the newest videos, Tasty Treats of Maine, revolves around conversations with people in the lobster industry; two lobstermen, a lobster pound operator and the owner of a company that makes lobster-based products. Posted in early February, the video garnered more than 5,400 hits by mid-July.

Telling the story of Maine seafood used to be done with still shots, says Lyon, but with video “now we can see and hear what is going on,” like seagulls crying in the background and boats bobbing in the water. “It gives you a feeling of being there,” he says.

Just as the videos have evolved, so too, says Lyons, has the marketing effort that goes with them. MOT now does keyword advertising on YouTube, so a search for the words “Maine lobster” puts the video at the top of a list of 2,500 results.

Paying for the top spot, says Lyons, has helped boost views of the videos and brought more traffic to the state’s website. “We found it to be an inexpensive way” to market, he says, likening it to paying for a key spot on a Google search.

As Maine is looking to build a tourist base through its video marketing, David Greenwood, owner of David A. Greenwood & Associates, a Boston public relations firm, says clients such as Agar Supply are looking to use video to educate both existing and potential customers.

Agar is a wholesale food distributor that offers fresh and frozen seafood among its items. In videos produced by Greenwood, Agar’s executive chef, seafood buyer and owner discuss such topics as serving seafood for Lent as well as its food shows and warehouse expansion.

The videos started about three years ago, says Greenwood, first focusing on the history of the company and then expanding into Agar’s brands, recipes and related topics. A recent video featured ideas for using different parts of the lobster in summer recipes.

Agar’s videos are posted on YouTube, but also get featured on the company’s website, are mentioned in Agar’s blog and will be highlighted in a newsletter that will go to 1,000-plus customers, he says.

Greenwood uses SEO, so when someone searches for a Boston seafood distributor, the videos come up “and then we can educate the potential customers.” He has already produced 60 to 70 videos for Agar, and about 25 percent of them have a seafood-related message.

For companies looking to add video to their marketing repertoire, Christina Skillman, principal and creative director for Skillman Video Group in Somerville, Mass., says it’s important to know who the audience will be and what message is being sent. She says the first steps in creating a video include asking discovery questions: Is the goal to reach another business or consumers? Is the plan to drive people to the website or gain new customers for the business?

After some thoughtful exploration, the next step is putting together a script on how the video will work. This is important for everyone involved, she says, from the client to the editor who uses the video to create the final product. “Pre-production is the most important part of the process, so when the crew arrives we know what we need to get,” she says.

While client input is a critical component, it’s up to the video company to craft the video and make it appropriate for the channel and message as outlined in the pre-production phase, Skillman says. Depending on what a client has to spend, they can do a simple video with no script and no additional lighting, or they can craft something that runs for several minutes and has a professional cast and crew. If a company is just looking to test the video water, she says, they may want to focus on client testimonials, which are less costly to produce.

In clips produced for About.com, Skillman Video worked with chefs from Legal Sea Food for some consumer how-to videos on topics such as opening and eating a lobster.

Legal then used those same videos at mall kiosks and posted them on YouTube.

Companies need to think about all the different ways in which they can and will use video, says Skillman. Video can be linked to social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube; posted on a website; mentioned in a blog; or appear when someone does a Google search. Skillman notes that if someone goes to the trouble of searching for and finding a website, there is a 70 percent chance they will watch the video posted there.

“Social media and Internet marketing is going to be the future of marketing,” says Skillman.


Contributing editor Joanne Friedrick lives in Portland, Maine

September 2011 - SeaFood Business 

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