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A Crash Course in Video Marketing for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

7 min

There are dozens of other video marketing stats I could reel off. But rather than try to sell you on video marketing, I’m going to assume you already know you should be doing it. Trouble is, just knowing you should be doing something often isn’t enough.

That seems particularly true with video.


The above is a section of the infographic, 2015 Video Marketing Cheat Sheet, by Animoto.

Many small business owners know they should be doing video, but some concerns are holding them back. If you’re pretty sure video is worthwhile, but you still haven’t gotten a video out, this post should help to finally get you started.

Video is on its way to being the dominate content format of the web. By 2018, 84% of Internet traffic will be video, according to estimates by Cisco.

Hate to write, but know you need to make content?

If you hate to write, it may be easier for you to make videos than it is to write blog posts. Then you can just “vlog” instead of blog. This alone is sometimes enough to get people started with video. After all, the resistance to writing can be pretty strong…

Even if you are okay with writing, videos represent a terrific way to reformat much of your existing content. You may not want to make a video out of every blog post or ebook you’ve got, but surely a few of them could be good videos.

Videos themselves can also be reformatted into podcasts, webinar segments, and more. This leverages one of the best secret tricks of content marketing: Take your best-performing content and reformat it. Again and again and again.

Video production doesn’t have to be expensive

Got a smartphone? You’ve got enough gear to make videos. Seriously. There are people on YouTube making tens of thousands of dollars a month with barely any more gear than that.

If you still crave an upgrade, invest in sound first. Bad sound on videos is a serious problem. We think of videos being visual, but bad sound is one of the top reasons people will stop watching a video. So fix that problem with a good quality condenser microphone. A new one will run you about $50-$120 depending where you buy it and which model you buy.

You will probably also want a stand for the microphone. Those go for about $20. Also consider getting a lavalier microphone. They run about $25 and clip to your shirt. This means you can be in front of the camera and not have to hold a microphone.

If you’ll be recording outside, consider getting a windscreen or “muff”. They’re about $10-20. And if you are really animated and high energy in your videos, also consider a pop filter. It will even out the recording and remove most of the “pops” some people make when they talk.

That’s enough to set you up with a pretty deluxe sound system. Again, it may be more than you need – especially until you’re in the habit of making videos.

There are a couple more things that are nice to have. One of them is a drop cloth to use as a background (a sheet, tablecloth or a nice wall works fine, too). And if you’ve got so-so lighting, consider getting a light box set. They can run as little as $50. You’ll get two or three things that look like umbrellas with lightbulbs, and two or three stands to put the umbrellas on. Good light is extremely important, but often plain old sunshine is enough.

Videos don’t have to be long

Worried you’re about to undertake making a major motion picture? Forget that. Forget about even making a 30-minute video. Think more like 3-minute videos.

The ideal video length varies depending on which study you cite, but shorter is almost always better. Animoto did a study earlier this year that can give you some guidelines for lengths of different types of videos.


Caption: Animoto asked over 1,000 U.S. adult consumers what they viewed as the ideal length for watching specific types of videos. This is how they answered.

Wistia also did a study of video length. They measured at what point people stopped watching videos. Wistia found that shorter videos are more likely to be watched the whole way through.


Try to get people to watch your video all the way to the end. That’s because one of the ranking signals YouTube uses is how long into your video people tend to watch. So shorter videos, which are more likely to be watched all the way through, might help you get more views.

The easier it is for you to make videos, the more likely you are to do it

If you really want to commit to making more videos, set up a specific spot dedicated to video production. It can be as simple as a camera stand with a nice background – you just attach your phone to the stand and hit record whenever the idea for a video strikes you.

Some businesses dedicate an entire room or part of a room to their video production. This helps control noise and light, but not every business has enough space to do this.

But even if you’ve got a meeting room, you’re well on your way. Plenty of business videos have been shot in what appears to be nothing more than a meeting room. That includes the extremely popular videos by Google’s Matt Cutts.


This is no fancy background, but it was good enough for Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, to make his videos with. In this shot, there’s even someone walking by in the background (on the right in the blue shirt).

There are slews of places to promote your videos 

Please don’t go to all the effort of creating a video, only to upload it to YouTube and nowhere else. That would be a tremendous wasted opportunity. There are over a dozen places to use videos in your marketing:

  • In blog posts
  • On your About Us page
  • On your home page
  • On landing pages
  • In emails
  • On Facebook (upload directly to Facebook)
  • On Instagram
  • On Pinterest
  • On Twitter
  • On a tablet near the checkout area in your store (basically a “poor man’s” in-store kiosk)
  • In your presentations
  • At events
  • On product pages

Caption: This is a section from an email James Wedmore sent me. The image here looks like a video, but it’s not. While videos can be embedded in emails, most marketers just make an image that looks like a video, and then link the image to a page that automatically plays the video.

A thumbnail checklist for optimizing your videos for YouTube

Even though there are over a dozen places to post your videos, YouTube is still the big kahuna. YouTube marketing is, of course, an entire world unto itself. But this checklist is enough to get you started.

  • Understand that while YouTube is owned by Google, it uses a different search algorithm than
  • Do keyword research before you make your videos. Don’t decide to not make a video if you don’t find much keyword traffic, but do use the keyword research to inform your video strategy and which keywords you use for individual videos.
  • Add a title to every video. It should be sprinkled with relevant keywords, but also be enticing for human users.
  • The video file itself (“example.mp4”) should include a keyword or two.
  • Write a description that includes some keywords. Again, don’t over-optimize, just say enough to give YouTube’s search algorithm a good idea what your video is about.
  • Add at least 2-3 tags to every video. Include your keywords there, too.
  • Add annotations to your videos – both onsite annotations and an external annotation that goes back to your site. See the video here for how to do that.
  • Add social media links/icons to your YouTube Channel. There’s a video on how to do that here.
  • Add a custom thumbnail image. Otherwise YouTube will pick one for you, and that’s not good.

Notice the external annotation and the social media links in the lower right-hand corner of this YouTube Channel.


Every business needs to stand out. Videos are an ideal way to do that. They’re also a great way to reformat much of the marketing content you’ve already created, and they can be manna from heaven for people who simply cannot get themselves to write.

The trick is to make video creation a habit. Once you’ve created just two or three videos and worked out how to mix them in with your marketing, you’ll wish you started sooner.

Got any video creation or video marketing tips to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Pam Neely
Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 15 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.