December 15, 2008

Marketing With Video: Learn From An Amateur

We get bored easily. Movement creates interest. Sound creates interest. Yet few advisors use video. Here's how you can.
Disclaimer: I'm new to video and don't even have a video camera. Some steps may be "obvious"  and you may have better ideas. 
Here's what you need to make a video
  • equipment
  • script
  • video host
If you're in a large organization, you may have access to high quality equipment and experts to use it. If not, you can get equipped for a few hundred dollars. I started with the webcam in my notebook computer. The results were not good enough. I thought this was due to lighting. So I upgraded my ceiling lights to 250W of bright halogen power (five 50W bulbs). This helped but not enough.

Next, I explored external webcams. I settled on the high-end Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. It works better but not quite the way I want. Sometimes the audio and video get out of sync, especially with inadequate lighting. I'm getting reasonable results at 320x240 pixels and 30 frames per second. However, I'd like to record at 640x480 eventually. 

For video editing, I used Camtasia Studio 6. I started using it a couple of months ago to turn PowerPoint presentations into video and do basic editing. I haven't officially released a recording  since I'm facing challenges with corporate firewalls (see post).

I love audio. That means I hate webcam sound. There was always noise in the background. Attempts to remove it degraded the quality. I researched USB microphones and and eventually settled on the Samson C03U Podcasting Pak. The results are amazing, even by my exacting standards. The mic works beautifully with productivity-boosting speech recognition too,

Can you express yourself articulately and succintly without practice. I can't. So I wrote a script which I printed in a large font and placed beside the webcam. I tried reading it like a talking head on TV. Since I don't have a teleprompter, my eyes wandered down the page. This was visible in the recording and looked unnatural. Much better to look straight at the camera.

What to do? I memorized the key parts of the script and then recorded myself. Again and again. So much can go wrong with video. You need an uncluttered background --- a hassle if you're untidy like me. Your wardrobe matters. Your phone or doorbell can ring at the wrong time. Your family can barge in. 

Watching yourself can be painful. Do I look/sound like that? Actuaries are considered dull and I easily met that standard. The result was boring. I re-recorded with more energy and a faster tempo. This felt forced but the results finally looked good enough to publish.

Video Host
There are lots of places to host your videos. I picked YouTube for the sake of convenience. Here's the result, an introduction for this blog. 

(If you don't see anything, your corporate firewall is probably interfering.)

Video opens a new world of marketing possibilities for you and is relatively easy to use. Even for absolute beginners. There's still time to ask Santa for equipment and you can practice during the holidays.


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