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Can you believe Google paid $1.6 billion dollars for YouTube? How could that be?

Well, it's quite simple, really. Video is the most powerful communication medium we have, unless we're actually in a room with someone, and YouTube put the tool of video communication over the Web into the hands of the common folk.

In doing so, the site's popularity soared and marketers everywhere clamored to get in on the action.

But YouTube isn't the only game in town. For marketers truly interested in putting video communication to good use, the key to getting the job done is finding the right tools.

Do you want to record a video message for on-demand access? Do you want to do live video from a large meeting, conference, or other event? Do you want more than just video, such as text chat, polling, Q&A or PowerPoint slides alongside your video? Do you need to secure access to an employee webcast or an online seminar you're charging for?

The array of tools at a communicator's fingertips can accomplish so much: interactive training sessions, video sales presentations, live meetings with prospects, "video voicemails" recorded and sent with just a few clicks, and, of course, live or recorded video played back from your Web site.

Clients from healthcare, technology, finance, advertising, and others are using video to achieve business objectives.

For example, a medical device manufacturer uses video webcasts to market a device used in heart surgeries. Live video webcasts let surgeons around the world—all potential customers for this manufacturer—see the device in action during real-world operations.

It's the old marketing maxim in action: Show, don't tell.

The manufacturer also coupled the power of live video with an automated system for managing viewer registrations, confirmation and follow-up emails, and audience statistics reporting. This lets the company track and convert leads and report the ROI of the video project.

So how do you get started down the road of adding video to your marketing mix?

First, find the right purpose for it. It makes no sense to put a talking head in front of a camera to read your recent whitepaper on enterprise software and inventory control. But if you go to your customer's manufacturing plant, show interesting footage from the plant floor, interview people who can speak to the importance of automated inventory control, and show the smiles on their faces—that's good stuff.

Next, carefully consider what you have to offer and how you can best deliver that:

  • For a live or recorded business presentation with PowerPoint slides and other rich media elements, try Proclaim (from my firm, Netbriefings).
  • If you just need an easy way to get a video on a Web site and share it with others, try YouTube or
  • If you want to post a video with clickable "chapter" descriptions so people can jump right to a particularly interesting spot in a longer clip, use a service called Veotag.
  • If you envision a series of related video content—say, an occasional video case study highlighting users of your flagship product—get familiar with the video section of the iTunes Music Store.

You should consider publishing your videos as iPod-ready (or "any other video player"-ready) video podcast files. This helps grow the potential audience for your content, plus it gives your audience the flexibility to take your content with them and consume it when, where, and how they please (and that's not a small point).

When it comes time to shoot and edit, you'll find that there's enough to learn to keep Steven Spielberg busy for a lifetime. I recommend enlisting the help of a professional—or at least someone who has done this stuff before.

But if you're on a tight budget or just want to try your hand at some simple video production, keep the following few tips in mind.

Simple Video Production Tips

  • Get good lighting: Too dark, you'll be fuzzy and hard to see. Too light, you'll be washed out and, again, hard to see. Don't put your subject in front of a window with the sun shining in; you'll never see your subject's face.
  • Don't wear stripes: Have you ever seen those black and white optical illusions where the really-close-together lines get blurry and start swirling? That's what a striped shirt looks like on camera.
  • Pace yourself: If you're trying to get people engaged and interested, kick it up. Put some bouncy music in the background and make tight, quick edits. If you're telling a dramatic story, slow things down and let the emotions flow. If you get bored or uninterested watching your own video, imagine what everyone else will think.
  • It can always be shorter: Whether you're recording a "video voicemail"-type message or producing a planned-out feature video, don't let it drag out. Question the purpose and value of every clip, every sound bite, every transition. Respect your audience's time and value their attention.

* * *

No matter what you do with online video, don't forget that the video is part of your marketing mix, not some standalone project.

Think about how the video will encourage people to visit a Web page, call a salesperson, request more information, or take some other action that you can measure and that contributes to your marketing and sales goals.

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Gary Anderson is the CEO of Netbriefings, a webcasting services provider that helps businesses communicate with video. He can be reached at 651-225-1532 or

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