Videos, videos, videos. 

We all know that they are incredibly powerful tools for delivering content that otherwise cannot be conveyed by words alone. The significance of marketing videos is only increasing: Facebook is launching AR integrated video features in its next iOS, search engine algorithms continue to prioritise video content, and studies predict that over 80% of internet traffic will be made up of video by 20211If there were to be an age of videos, then now would be it. 

But despite all the benefits of videos, less than 25% of small businesses use videos in their marketing2. Why is this the case?

Well, for one, there is the assumption that videos are expensive and difficult to produce. But this is simply not the case.The most effective marketing videos can also be the simplest – no fancy trimmings, just solid, entertaining, value-generating content. The increasing sophistication of mobile cameras and video-editing apps mean that quality videos can be produced entirely on a single smartphone.

Secondly, there is the assumption that videos are simply a passing fad meant for teenagers with too much time on their hands. But consider this: More than 80% of senior executives say they are watching more online videos than they were a year ago, with 75% of them watching work-related videos at least weekly3.

Videos are essential to businesses big and small. To this end, we’ve outlined 7 types of videos that can be easily and cheaply made by small businesses. Try them out – you might just be surprised at the results they generate.

1. Business Story Video

If a picture is capable of telling a thousand words, then how many words can a video tell?

Regardless of the actual numbers (which are probably unquantifiable, anyway!), it remains that videos are one of the best way to introduce yourself and your business to a large number of people.

Why are videos so powerful in this regard? Just consider this: If you had a choice between two equally unknown companies selling the same product, would you buy from: A) the company that has a introductory video on its website, or B) the company that doesn’t have any such introduction?

Research shows that videos increase consumer confidence in a business. Having a human face in your videos further increases this confidence. These may have to do with the simple psychological fact that people resonate with faces, not faceless brand names.

Purchasing decisions, in particular, are not made logically. If you have a business video that not only introduces yourself, but also inspire feelings of awe, excitement, empathy, and happiness, then so much the better.

For early-stage startups, one of the first videos you want to make should be your business story video. Leverage on your experience – tell a personal and authentic story. After all, the road to building a business from scratch is never easy, so there’s already immense value in sharing that experience.

Take a cue from a talk-show host! You get bonus points if you can make your personal story simultaneously touching, inspiring, funny, sad, and self-depreciating.

2. Explainer

Explainer videos are perfect for telling people about the your service and product offerings, and why they are better than that of your competitors. Do this right, and your explainer videos would not only serve as marketing material, but also help to cut down on the number of unnecessary customer service questions.

Visual aid would be nice, but there’s no need to overdo it. Just take a cue from Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, who once explained Snapchat with the most spartan of tools – a notepad and a sharpie.

While informative explainers are great, entertaining ones are even better. When someone genuinely finds a video funny, they would want to share it with their friends, regardless of whether that friend has a need for the product in question. And if this friend suddenly finds herself in need of the relevant product, can you guess where she’s going to turn to?

Funny content improves top-of-mind awareness of the brand. One business that does this exceptionally well is BlendTec. Its signature “Will it Blend” videos serve not only as product demonstrations, but also as testimony to the hardiness of the blenders. Not to mention that the presenter, the founder of BlendTec himself, is funny to boot.

Why waste money on fancy packaging, when all you have to do is to show that your product is the best at what it’s supposed to be doing?

3. Testimonials

People don’t trust brands; they trust other people. A 2012 Nielsen study shows that 70% of consumers place higher trust in peer recommendations than in professional copy4. Which is not surprising, considering the fact that major online retailers like Ebay and Amazon have built their businesses upon a robust customer review system.

This is where testimonials come in. Good testimonials are important, especially for early stage businesses with limited exposure and brand recognition. Good testimonials not only provide essential user information to prospective buyers, they also serve as reassurance and peer-affirmation – emotions that businesses themselves would never be able to produce.

As with product demos, product testimonials don’t always have to be about the product itself. They simply have to demonstrate that the product does what it’s meant to do well.

GoPro, for instance, has built a marketing strategy around sharing feel-good videos filmed by regular people using their signature action cameras. These videos do not harp on the benefits of using their product. They do, however, convey the thrill of a skydive, the exhilaration of riding waves, or the awe of coming face to face with whales.

Their message is clear: GoPro wants you to go out on the adventure of a lifetime. And when you do so, a GoPro camera would be the best tool to accompany your journey.

Would the average GoPro owner be saving kittens in their free time? Not likely. But does a video of a kitten being saved make viewers feel good? Absolutely.

4. Reach out to social media influencers

While most consumers trust online reviews, peer recommendation takes the cake. 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations, according to the same Nielsen study cited previously.

In this regard, word-of-mouth publicity would be most desirable for businesses. But because this is difficult to achieve immediately, what businesses can do is to partner with social media influencers, who, at least to their loyal following, would seem more like trustworthy peers than anonymous online reviewers.

Influential social media personalities are powerful marketing avenues for businesses. If partnerships with the right social media personalities are made, then businesses can stand to tap into a veritable market segment they would otherwise have difficulties accessing.

While collaborations between social media influencers and for-profit businesses may be frowned upon by some, other social media influencers have found ways to repackage product placements into entertainment for their viewers. For instance, Youtube duo Rhett Mclaughlin and Link Neal had a television series where they made commercials for small town businesses across America. One of these commercials star an Ojai Valley taxidermist, who not only became an internet meme sensation after the commercial aired, but also saw a sustained boom to his taxidermy business.

How’s that for maximising your marketing ROI?

5. Build a community around your brand

You know how certain online communities speak a lingo of their own? On Reddit, Imgur, and 4Chan, you find people saying things like “OP”, “shitpost”, and “TL;DR”. In gaming communities, you get bombarded with the likes of “AFK”, “d/c”, “GTG”, and “beastmode”.

What makes an online community so “sticky” to consumers? For one, they have their own conventions and norms. This makes online communities self-perpetuating: New members play by implicit rules, and are rewarded with inclusiveness and mutual connections.

The presence of tight online communities is one reason why certain businesses succeed while others fail. If a business can help individuals feel like they belong to a larger whole that shares in the same traits, interests, and goals, then it will be well on its way of building long-term customer loyalty.

One of the most prominent examples of community building in today’s world of online businesses is that of Kayla Itsines, a 26 year old Aussie who effectively built a fitness emporium of (largely female) exercise lovers that swear by her signature Bikini Body Guide (BBG).

Far from being just another fitness guide, the BBG espouses wellbeing and happiness above physical perfection. Itsines’ message boils down to two things: (1) Physical fitness is achievable, and (2) fit = happy and healthy, not a number on the scales. Itsines herself is the de facto brand personality, and her name is attached to feelings of self-empowerment and personal ownership. It comes as no surprise that she has more than 7 million followers on Instagram – many times more than that of most other celebrity trainers.

Don’t underestimate the power of peer-affirmation. Itsines’ followers willingly travel long distances – across county borders, even – just to attend her workout events.

6. Show off your “behind the scenes” process

When you think of behind the scenes shots, you think of video footages that are candid, off the cuff, and authentic. The point of behind the scenes videos is to showcase the creation process behind products and services. Through these videos, businesses can show that they are people too, just like the rest of us.

Behind the scenes videos therefore lend themselves well to social media platforms that host ephemeral videos, such as Instagram Stories and Snapchat, which are on the rise to becoming powerful marketing platforms. If used right, behind the scenes videos can serve as a low-cost, high-returns marketing avenue for businesses.

When it comes to making the actual behind the scenes videos, keep them short and simple. Your business would come across as being more “transparent” simply by not sweating it. Let the raw quality of your business shine through. Sophisticated cameras and skilled camera operators are not needed. Smartphones and a few assistants should be more than enough to do the job. Just remember – spontaneity and improvisation is your friend here.

General Electric’s Instagram account is almost dedicated entirely to showing the unseen side of their business.

7. Webinars

With the rise of internet video streaming, everyone has a voice. Everyone can be a teacher to the next person about something only they know. Businesses have been tapping into this trend by producing content in a format called the webinar.

Webinars serve two purposes: They reach out to consumers, and they educate them in subjects which the business has expertise on.

Topics for webinars can range wildly. From “How to Hire Employees Without Spending Money or Giving Up Equity”5, to “Status of American College Admissions: Cured or Cursed?”6, there are all kinds of content for every need and purpose. You can even find webinars on making webinars (“Making Your Webinars More Engaging and Interactive”7)!

For businesses that are just starting out, a good method for choosing webinar topics is simply to ask current and potential customers what they want to learn from you. It’d be best if the topic ties in with the product or service that is being sold. If you do not have the prerequisite expertise, the alternative is to invite experts and thought leaders in the relevant industry to deliver the webinar.

It’s worthy to note that there are now, in fact, whole businesses based around inviting recognized individuals to teach courses over the internet. One of the most famous example of this is MasterClass, a San Francisco-based online education platform that engages international celebrities to teach its courses. Having a celebrity instantly lends the course an aura of appeal. While you certainly don’t need to invite Christina Aguilera or Gordon Ramsey to your webinar, you can still take a cue or two from this innovative business strategy.

If you had Hans Zimmer as your music teacher, would you still want to skip class?