Anyone who's been in business for any amount of time knows this indisputable truth: We want to do business with people we Know, Like and Trust.
And aside from a face-to-face, in-person encounter, the fastest way to create that type of engagement and experience with your clients and customers is through online video. With that in mind, here are 4 different "Do it Yourself" tools and resources you can use right now to create professional-quality videos for your brand or business.
Tool 1 - VideoMakerFX
One of the more popular new video software programs to hit the scene in recent months is VideoMakerFX. It's a desktop software that works on both Macs and PCs. VideoMakerFX enables you to create professional-quality, animated videos and stories in just a few minutes.
The best part of VideoMakerFX is that everything is already done for you. The videos, text effects and characters are already animated. In addition, the premade storylines (many with a business theme) are easy to follow. All you have to do is type in some text or upload a logo and you have a finished video! Here's an example of a video I made on how to craft compelling LinkedIn invitations that took me about 15 minutes to create:
VideoMakerFX comes with scores of templates, characters and business- or product-themed stories (with the option to buy more for an additional monthly fee) already loaded onto the software. Each set of stories or videos is broken into 5-, 10- or 20-second long "slides" that you can drag, drop and rearrange in the video editor. You just arrange the slides in the other you want, add in text, and then customize as much or as little as you'd like for each video in terms of extra animations, effects, fonts, colors, etc.
Tool 2: iPhone/iPad and iMovie
Sure, many of us already know you can shoot 1080p, HD-quality video on the newest versions of Apple's iPhone and iPad, and that many non-Apple tablets and phones feature similar offerings. But how many devices also include free, built-in moviemaking software (iMovie) that's fairly simple to use and allows you to create slick videos that you can upload to YouTube or Vimeo on the spot?
Now, before you jump into the moviemaking business, you'll need to make sure you have a method for holding the iPhone or iPad steady. (Nothing is more distracting than a shaky camera!) There are a bevy of tripod attachments and other add-ons you can purchase to ensure steady shots with mobile devices. My favorite tripod-ready attachments for the iPhone include Glif and Anycase, but of course you should research any accessories on your own before purchasing. (Note: I offer these and the product suggestions that follow based on my personal experience, but I am NOT officially endorsing or suggesting you must purchase these items instead of something else. I'm also not affiliated with any of these brands or products in any fashion.)
When it comes to the iPad, I love using Makayama's tripod mount - it fits easily on any standard tripod and helps with steadying my iPad for standup shots and scenes. Second, you'll need great audio to go with your video.
Here's why: Viewers will stick with a video even if the production isn't amazing, as long as the content is good and they can hear the audio clearly. But if the audio is bad, you essentially guarantee people will ignore your video no matter how good your content and production quality is. There are a bevy of microphone options available for the iPhone and iPad, and depending on your setup and style you might want a lapel or lavalier-style microphone (for presenting/speaking on camera) or a handheld setup (for doing on-camera interviews).
I would not rely on the built-in iPhone and iPad microphones to get the job done. Instead, I'd invest in a high-quality microphone that you can plug into the headphone jack or your iPhone or iPad.
Please note: There are a wide variety of options available, and the microphones vary quite a bit in terms of price and quality. Your best bet is to do as much research as possible and (better yet) find an audio store that lets you test microphones first if at all possible. (Also, if you have suggestions on great audio add-ons for mobile devices, please leave them in the comments!) Personally, I use a Stenheiser wireless lavalier microphone setup and love it, but it is very expensive (around $700.00).
Get Moving with iMovie!
As I mentioned previously, iMovie is now a free app for both the iPhone and iPad, and it helps you create high-quality movies and event trailers with ease. Just shoot the footage, open iMovie on your device and go to work! (Note: iMovie is also available as a desktop application on Apple computers, and I prefer using it that way given the larger screen size available via my laptop.)
Here's an example of an iMovie trailer that I made in about 20 minutes for an event:
iMovie trailers come in a variety of styles and formats and work well as a quick teaser for an upcoming event or product, while regular, full-length iMovie templates come premade with transitions and branding styles. You just drop in your footage, add music or other special effects (if you want) and you're all set.
Tool 3 - Video Blocks & Shutterstock
Speaking of being on camera, it can get tedious for viewers to watch the same static shot of your or someone else standing and talking. That's why stock video is so valuable. It helps break up the monotony of the scene and can also be used to illustrate a point or create a memorable scene. For instance, if you were making a video teaching your audience to better utilize Twitter, wouldn't it be great to have some pre-made stock video of Twitter icons floating around or moving across the screen to drop into the shot? Sites like Video Blocks and Shutterstock help you create those types of effects. It's easy to search, locate, purchase and download royalty-free stock videos to help tell your story. (Note: Pricing can get expensive, so make sure you shop around multiple stock video sites for the best rates and options. I've found Video Blocks to be the most affordable.)
Tool 4 - EasyVideo Suite & Camtasia
A great way to demonstrate your expertise and teach your audience is by doing video screencasts or screen recordings. Examples include walking viewers through a presentation (PowerPoint slides, an online Prezi, etc.) while you do a voiceover explaining the benefits and features they're looking at.
You can use software such as EasyVideoSuite, Camtasia or another type of screen capture tool to make these types of videos. If you go this route, you'll also want to invest in a high-quality USB microphone that you can plug into your computer for the voiceovers you do. (My favorite is the Blue Yeti.) Screencasts are also a great way to demonstrate an online solution. For instance, say you want to teach your audience how to optimize an individual LinkedIn profile. Why not record a screencast where you walk them through it step-by-step on LinkedIn?
FINAL THOUGHT: I'd love to know - Have you used video to humanize and market yourself or your business to prospects and consumers? Why or why not? Are there other video-related tools not mentioned here that you can't live without? Let me know in the comments!