Video Is Not The Holy Grail

As a video maker I probably shouldn't be telling people this, but it's true.  An online video will not solve all of your small business problems.  It is not the catch-all solution for everything you've ever done wrong and now need to right.  It isn't even the one and only way to get customers or clients.  

So what is video good for, and why do people hype it so much?

First, the hype.  People like to hype video for the same reasons they like to hype anything.  It feels good to have an opinion.  It feels good to have a strong opinion.  Most hype is just that: hype.

So when do you need a video and how can a video actually help you for real?

First, you don't ever need a video.  Video is icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

If you have a great business, and a great product or service and your ducks are, for the most part, in order, then it's time for you to dive into video.

But only if you actually want to.  If you aren't a video person, if you don't love watching movies and videos yourself, if you don't ever look things up on YouTube, then trying to make a video that you like is going to be awkward and a bit pointless.  

Why am I never going to have a Pinterest account for my business?  Because Pinterest is not really something I can get enthusiastic about.  

And I'd rather spend my extra time doing things that I feel excited about. Obviously I don't feel excited about accounting.  But it needs to get done.  There are lots of ways to promote your business and to ensure that people have a great experience on your website.  Video is not the only way.

So if the idea of having a video on your website doesn't excite you, then spend your time on something that does.  

Now, realistically, when is it a pretty darn good idea to have a video? 

There are three main cases where I'd say having a video should be a priority.

     -When you're selling something relatively expensive/high risk
     -When you're selling something new/unusual/or that people have never heard of
     -When you're selling something that involves a personal interaction with you

Let me break down my reasoning for each point.

First, if you're selling something expensive ($1000 or more) and you're doing so online, and people don't have the option to test it out first or even see it, then creating a video that very clearly shows the benefits in action of what you're selling is pretty damn smart.  

Would the BlendTec guy be selling $1500 blenders if he hadn't come up with the genius idea to make a ton of videos of him blending the crap out of a bunch of weird and wonderful objects (uh cell phones, golf balls...)?  Probably not.  

Second if you're selling something people have never heard of, a new invention, something unusual, like say an invisible bicycle helmet (yes it's real, yes it's Swedish, yes it's amazing!) that is kind of hard to imagine let alone believe in, then you need a video.  Especially if your new invention also happens to be expensive.  

And finally, if your service involves a lot of personal interaction with you then having a video is a great way of gaining trust and showing people who you actually are.  This isn't necessary so much as really awesome and helpful of you.  

A video starring the person with whom the client will be interacting, allows them to more easily imagine who they're talking to you.  They have a live image of this person.  And they have a better sense of who this person is and a reason to feel connected.  The person isn't just a voice on the other end of the line, or a blurry Skype face, or a series of e-mails.  

So you see, having a video is not going to save your business, but it can certainly help your business to be more memorable, to cut through the clutter, to gain trust, and to create a sense of connection.  

Not The Holy Grail.  No. 

But a damn fine frosting.    

(And for those of you who recognized that I ended on a mixed metaphor and are kind of ticked about that, let me be clear: I love mixed metaphors!)

-Colette Nichol, Vancouver