Online series and tutorials are becoming a popular marketing tool.

Animal behaviourist and star of the TV show Purina Pound Pups to Dog Stars Mark Vette is no stranger to the small screen, but admits producing his own online video series presented new challenges.

"We have experience on both sides of the camera and working closely with production teams," says Vette.

"But when it came to doing our own thing, and with this kind of product, it was quite a different animal."

Vette says after the success of the TV programme, which is shown in more than 150 countries, business at his behaviour clinic "went nuts" and he couldn't service demand.

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"So that was the driver for producing an online training programme.

"It was a way for anyone, anywhere in the world to access our skills and experience."

Vette and members of his team, plus production, marketing and digital strategy specialists, have spent the past year working on Dog Zen, an online dog-training programme made up of 30 15-20-minute videos.

Consumers buy the series as a package and Vette's plans for the venture include adding more series and further developing a YouTube channel.

There has been massive growth in the amount of video content being published online in recent years and small businesses are riding the wave in a number of ways - from creating new products and services, to building online communities and brands.

Ben Nathan is the founder of Container Door, an online social shopping startup.

The company creates a separate video for every product it sells and uses the content on its website and Facebook page and in its regular email newsletters to customers.

"My main lesson [with using video] has been bigger isn't always better," says Nathan.

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"You don't need to produce big fancy productions.

"And you definitely don't want to bore people to death with videos that are overly long because they'll never want to watch anything you do again.

"But if you keep it short and sweet and punchy and entertaining people will come back and watch your next one and the one after that."

Jonathan Potton and Gabriel Lunte, Chillbox Creative

What are small businesses using video for?

Gabriel:

It's a way of communicating messages to interested parties - whether that is customers, employees or recruitment. Smaller businesses are producing video content for the customer - that might be a website video that explains what the company does or as content for their Facebook page.

Jonathan: Businesses are producing video rather than written material because people seem to engage with it more. It's also a way that business owners can get in front of their audiences. It helps build trust and a rapport.

What should small business owners be thinking about to create engaging video content?
Gabriel: It's best to keep the message short and simple. There's no story too complex to be simplified and if you're having a hard time keeping your message simple you probably haven't nailed what your message is and need to put more thought into it. You want your message to come through before people have had the time to think about clicking away. If you're posting your video on Facebook, the first three seconds are important because that's the window you have.

Jonathan: You also need to respect your audience. The idea of a captive audience doesn't exist any more. Young people are selective about the content they engage with, so anything you're putting out there must have value. If there's nothing informative or useful they will go elsewhere.

How about engaging people with video content once it's produced?
Jonathan: You have to go where your audience is and that's why it's important to marry your content with the distribution platform you're targeting. Often people say, "Let's do a video" and once they've produced it they'll ask, "Now what do we do with it?" There is a variety of ways you can distribute content online so you want to figure out which ones you can take best advantage of to get the best return on your investment. Some click on to that idea now, and are creating separate pieces of collateral to serve specific purposes. If someone is looking at video for recruiting, instead of making one video explaining why their company is so good to work for, they're making separate videos tailored to specific areas of the recruitment market.

Gabriel: I also think the long tail adds up. People often say, "Let's get this video going viral" and if you can do that it's great, but there's no proven formula to do that time and again. However, if you're targeting niche markets and you narrow in on who you're targeting, a lot of little audiences add up. Every view matters, so the real value will be in recurring content and keeping that presence.

chillboxcreative.com