Using video to promote your business

  1. Washing machine centred against an orange wall
    Ray Newman

    Ray Newman UKBF Regular

    147 31
    4 |

    I’m a writer – hullo sky, hullo clouds! – and not generally much use with tools or machinery, so I surprised myself when I managed to fix my washing machine. My secret weapon? A YouTube video.

    You’ve probably seen the kind of thing I’m referring to. They pop up at the top of the Google search engine results page (SERP) whenever you enter something like ‘replace filter hob extractor’, ‘broken charger port Android tablet’ or ‘how to remove wasp nest from walk-in wardrobe’.

    The videos themselves aren’t always masterpieces – usually a member of staff in a branded polo shirt stumbling over the introduction before cutting to a point-of-view shot of a screwdriver bending the cross beam to get it properly skewed on the treadle, or something like that.

    But that’s exactly where these videos come into their own – showing the fix rather than describing it, depicting the precise contortion necessary to get a clip to snap into place, or exactly where you need to look for the final hidden screw that allows you to take out a deceased component.

    Video really is the next best thing to having someone standing at your shoulder talking you through each step.

    Speculate to accumulate

    How-to videos are a great example of how to sell products or services by giving knowledge away for free.

    The most popular video on the eSpares channel, ‘How to Replace Washing Machine Bearings’, has received 3.7 million views. It’s not exciting viewing but it is laser-targeted to answer a specific, practical search query.

    People are good at spotting sponsored or commercial content and will generally trust it less than peer-to-peer advice but this kind of practical, technical how-to is a rare example of where businesses have added credibility.

    We know it’s an advert, essentially, but as long as they don’t ram the product down our throats, we’ll put up with the soft sell in exchange for authoritative, clear information.

    Exploiting the long tail

    You might be thinking, great, but how does this make anyone money? The answer to that lies with another important concept of the ecommerce age: the so-called ‘long tail’.

    When I was growing up, if you wanted to repair a household appliance, you’d go to an odd little shop at the edge of town with yellow acetate in the window, a single ancient vacuum cleaner on a pedestal in the window and a bloke in a cardigan guarding a storeroom full of spare parts. He might have the precise widget you were after but most likely not, so there would be a conversation about ordering it from Germany or Japan or wherever, before you gave up and decided just to buy a new appliance and save yourself a lot of bother.

    Then in the 1990s along came Amazon, famously divorced from ‘bricks and mortar’. Its online bookstore offered more titles than your local shop because Amazon could afford to keep a single copy of a book in one of its vast warehouses for months or even years, waiting for the buyer to come along. Selling one copy of a million obscure books is almost as good as selling a million copies of a single publication, if you’ve got the real estate and infrastructure to do it.

    Firms like eSpares operate on a similar principle, providing consumers with direct access to specific parts for particular appliances from a vast online catalogue.

    The videos answer a need, provide the knowledge necessary to make the fix and only then invite you to buy the necessary item.

    You might choose to shop around and that’s fine, as long as a substantial number of consumers do exactly what I did and think, “Aw, that nice person in the video was so helpful – of course I’ll buy a washing machine seal replacement kit from them.”

    And in fact, if what you do is sneak off to eBay or Amazon, you’ll find eSpares there, too, so they’ll probably get your cash one way or the other.

    Who can use this marketing technique?

    It’s not just about spare parts for white goods, cars or computers.

    If your business sells add-ons, accessories, tools or anything that the buyer might need help using, recording a set of instructional videos could work for you.

    Craft shops, for example, can use inspiring how-tos to entice customers into buying equipment and materials for specific projects.

    And if you sell kitchenware or exotic ingredients, recipe videos or cooking tips can be a great way to demonstrate the benefits.


    The most efficient approach is to set aside a day or two and produce a set of videos all at once – three, five or ten, perhaps.

    Start by identifying the most commonly asked questions, either based on conversations with customers or through more scientific techniques such as keyword analysis.

    This isn’t the place to go into the ins-and-outs of filming but I’d recommend getting a professional videographer to help. If you don’t want to do that, or don’t have the budget, just make sure you film somewhere with plenty of flat light and avoid making your viewers seasick with camera wobble.

  2. Paul FilmMaker

    Paul FilmMaker UKBF Enthusiast

    245 84
    It's good advice and my customers generate tons of sales without spending money on a videography firm. Essentially, if you're selling washing machines and put a vid on about 'how to fix a broken washing machine,' you'll attract people who will need a new washing machine because theirs is broken. Or if you're selling high end coffee beans, snobvids are great such as putting a 'how to tell the difference between...' or 'how to make a great cappuccino' attracting the kind of people who want to buy your product.

    I run a video production company and encourage my customers to do this without me. I only come in for the heavy lifting or if your product really takes off and you feel you want to take it to the next level. Video's easy and you need 4 things:

    1. Light. Face a window. That little bulb above you is 60 watts. The sun is 2,000 watts so face the sun.
    2. Stability. Stabilise your camera. Us professionals use a tripod. Otherwise, gaffer tape your phone to a chair. Or bookcase. Or Mavis from accounts. Just don't make your viewers seasick.
    3. Sound: Buy a 'lavalier microphone' on Amazon compatible with your phone. There are tons. This mic is one of the tiny ones that clips onto clothing. Easy.
    4. Editing. Don't bother editing. Just do it all in one take and cut the end and beginning off using a bit of free software (or something that will cost £50). If you can't edit, drop your neighbour's 12 year old £50 and tell them to sort it out. They'll do it or get one of their mates to do it. For my regular customers, I do this for free!

    As a video guy, I don't want to do the easy stuff. I want my customers to do that and then pull me in when they need real ideas and the professional touch to take them to the next level. The number of times I've said, 'just do it on your phone...'
    Posted: Aug 21, 2020 By: Paul FilmMaker Member since: Aug 29, 2018
  3. Videoguy

    Videoguy UKBF Contributor

    157 11
    Here here. I've heard it said that YouTube is now the second most popular search engine after Google (which happens to own YouTube). It's a darn sight easier to rank on YT than Google, too.

    Paradoxically, if these videos look too slick people get suspicious. Something wobbly, badly lit and shot on an iPhone tends to have an air of authenticity.
    Posted: Aug 21, 2020 By: Videoguy Member since: Sep 4, 2006
  4. The Byre

    The Byre Full Member

    11,730 5,112
    I do not watch wobbly, unscripted, unedited, badly lit videos. Not many people do!

    Let's try that check-list again -

    1. Three-point lighting (there are enough videos on that subject on YT.)
    2. Put Mavis down and save her for later - get a tripod. It'll be cheaper than Mavis.
    3. Yes, a lavalier mic or a shotgun mic.
    4. If you want to avoid jump-cuts, get a second camera for a B-roll. But you MUST edit.
    5. Write a script, learn it and put a bullet-point cue sheet under the main camera.
    6. Learn to be able to stand on your hind-legs and talk without saying um, err, well, you know.

    And whilst I am here, at best, use your blasted smartphone as the B-roll cam and get a decent 4K capable bridge camera or DSLR. I say 4K because that makes editing 7.3-times easier as you can zoom in and/or crop the image in post. If you are happy with a low-res image, there are thousands of cheap video cameras out there.

    Tip - DaVinci-Resolve is free and is used for almost every major film release, usually for finishing, though it does everything including 3D sound and surround, colouring, green-screen and all kinds of FX. Vegas Pro is cheap and good.

    Tip - you can use household or building-site LEDs or strip lights, but keep the shutter speed down so that you don't get flicker and pulsing (another good reason to not use a smartphone, as most do not let you alter the shutter speed). You can change the colours on your lights for a bluish key-light or a warm fill-light using gels (filter sheets). These are cheap and easily available on eBay.

    Here's a 'how-to' on some of the above -

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020
    Posted: Aug 22, 2020 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
    Clinton likes this.