Video for Small Business Marketing: Costs and Tools

Video is a powerful way to increase the visibility of your company and gain new customers. It is the fastest-growing segment of the internet and more than half of all web traffic is now video because people prefer viewing this kind of content to reading text online. In terms of numbers, there are 13 million Vine users on Twitter, social video platform Vimeo announced 14 million members, YouTube has a viewership in the billions and it is the second most used search engine. In fact, more than four billion hours of video are viewed each month.

But using video to promote your business is difficult, time consuming and expensive, right? Wrong! Video marketing is possible for every budget. You can improve your Google rank, turn your visitors into customers and increase the amount of sales from your marketing spend.

Type of Content

Because videos grab attention, people are more likely to click on them than to read text. Furthermore, they are more likely to share video on Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon and other social channels, leading to more views and potentially more revenue. The type of content that works well in video format is:

  • A physical product or service so it can be shown or demonstrated. This allows you to illustrate benefits and skills. Video is especially effective if you have an interesting or novel product.
  • Instructions on how to use or do something. These videos let customers make an immediate connection and see how your product helps them.
  • Creative or funny topics. When you make viewers smile or laugh, it is more likely the association with your brand will be positive.
  • More detail on a news story with statistics and information. If you add your own spin or angle, you build authority and credibility.
  • Coverage of live events. This is a way to make your company more relevant.

But instead of creating video commercials, you should concentrate on providing value. For example, if you are a restaurant, think about sharing cooking tips or bringing signature recipes to life. This is a great way to educate your prospects and customers. You can also show a different side of your business, such as how products are made, how team members are trained or special features of stores. Testimonials are also more compelling in video format.


  1. Focus on viewer needs. The best way to approach your videos is to consider your target audience, the main features that will interest them or questions they need answered, and the most effective way to convey that information.
  2. Keep videos brief. The ideal length for a video is under four minutes. You have about 50 seconds to capture viewers before they are likely to skip a video. If you have an involved, detailed topic, consider a series of videos as an alternative to long and in-depth content.
  3. Show your personality. Videos should spotlight your company’s culture and personality in a genuine way.
  4. Tell a story. There should be a narrative curve to your videos, including climaxes and resolutions, even if you are selling products.
  5. Use hotspots. Embed links to additional content, quizzes, contests or other interactive features for viewers. Just be careful not to overload your videos with these.
  6. Choose your cover image wisely. No one will click on videos to watch if the images are boring or blurry.
  7. Choose your video style and music carefully. Typically, upbeat music works best.
  8. Add a call-to-action button. You message should be simple and direct.
  9. Analyze what works and doesn’t work. Google Analytics, Salesforce and Optimizely highlight where in videos people stop watching, which sections are most effective eliciting responses and when people share videos.


According to the 2013 Advertisers Survey from placemedia (commissioned from uSAMP), when it comes to small businesses, 95 percent of advertising executives felt that video advertisements on cable or broadcast TV are highly effective, with 66 percent of the respondents stating they introduce products to people in the surrounding areas. Nearly half said video advertisements on cable or television make small businesses look as big as national brands, followed by 36 percent who said these advertisements provide a local call to action.

However, 97% of respondents believe the reasons keeping small businesses from buying video ads for broadcast or cable include cost (89 percent) and that videos are too difficult to produce (42 percent).

But it is now possible for small companies to create video that looks and sounds as great as what major brands produced for millions of dollars just a few years ago. High-quality cameras cost just a few hundred dollars and there are many free tools. You can use photos and screen captures of your website along with simple transitions to give your video an animated look. Depending on the effect you want, you can also use low-cost options for editing software, voice overs and hosting (see next section on tools).

If you don’t want to produce videos yourself, there are services available through publishers, local media and specialty providers at a range of costs. For example, your local cable TV station may produce videos for an additional fee if you buy air time. This article provides some good perspective on what you can expect to spend, depending on your requirements.


  • YouTube. Take advantage of free uploading, extended video length options and powerful editing tools. By adding a keyword rich title and description, along with tags associated with the video content, videos can rank high in search results. An added benefit of YouTube videos is that Facebook converts them to they play inline right in the Facebook News Feed, so people are not getting bounced somewhere else to view. Videos can be embedded into websites and shared on other social media with YouTube tools. This is how to embed a YouTube video montage.
  • Facebook Video. Facebook allows videos to play in the News Feed, offers free video hosting space and has easy social sharing tools. Videos can be embedded on websites and blogs. Plus, videos can drive high volumes of Likes, comments and shares to extend the reach and visibility of your company.
  • Instagram. This mobile app has features for quick and easy video creation and sharing, offering up to 15 seconds of video recording on mobile devices, social media sharing and more. You can create videos anytime and anywhere because you use your mobile phone. The videos can be embedded on websites.
  • Vine. This is another mobile app, which enables you to introduce products and demonstrate them. Videos are six seconds and automatically loop. This can be used to show your company culture, event excerpts, testimonials and more. Videos can be embedded on websites and shared on other social media.
  • GoAnimate. This tool offers numerous templates, characters, backgrounds and music tracks. You can add special effects and the videos are hosted for you. Not only is it easy to learn to use GoAnimate, there is one-click publishing to YouTube. Pricing starts at $25 per month (billed annually).
  • Animoto. Get high-quality background and motion formats. You can also drop in video and still images, select music from the library and produce professional videos. There is a free plan and a pro level for $39 per month.
  • Screencast. Many companies use Screencast for tutorials and software demos because this simple format lets you create videos by taking screen shots and adding voice-overs. A free account provides 2 GB of storage and 2 GB monthly bandwidth.
  • Camtasia. This screencasting tool lets you capture the action on your computer and will record your voice narration if you want. This can be helpful when you want to demonstrate software, share slides, or use photos or camera video. Rather than provide long manuals, conduct telephone training or host expensive in-person demonstrations, you can cost-effectively employ video. Camtasia enables you to edit the videos for polished final footage. You can also use themes, graphics, clickable links and other elements. It also integrates with YouTube for one-step uploads. The license is $299, but there is a free trial to test it out.
  • Bravo. You can conveniently let customers record, review and send their videos to you. Then you approve and place them on your website, blog, YouTube or other channels. The starter plan is $24 per month and a free trial is available.
  • VoiceBunny. You can get professional voice overs in a few ways. 1) Search the database of choices and book talent directly. 2) Post a casting call and evaluate the responses. 3) Let the system match you with an appropriate professional. A wide variety of voices and accents in more than 50 languages are available. Rates start from $.04 per minute and pricing is provided upfront.
  • Wistia. You can host your video and customize it with social sharing buttons and clickable calls to actions. You can also collect viewers’ emails to add to your database. Flash and HTML5 versions are encoded automatically at multiple resolutions. The videos are Twitter-friendly and can be played within a tweet. The analytics package includes a heat map for every view, showing when individuals watched videos, what parts were skipped or repeated and what they previously viewed. There are a variety of packages including a basic free plan that includes hosting for up to three videos.

Here is some additional data to consider. EMarketer found that 64 percent of survey respondents said they planned to use more video content in marketing. ComScore found that people who view videos online are 64 percent more likely to complete purchases than other visitors. found that customers who viewed product videos were 144% more likely to add products to their carts than those who didn’t watch. Zappos discovered that products with videos outsell those without videos by 35 percent. As Forrester Research notes, “One minute of video is worth up to 1.8 million words.”

The final words of advice to small businesses: keep your videos short, engaging, searchable and sharable.

Are you inspired to start using video to market your company? What type of video content do you think would best engage customers and drive revenue?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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