Business Services

Shooting Online Video for Beginners

A Simple Guide for Turning Contractors into Videographers

February 4, 2013
Trans

The evolution of communication has brought the HVACR industry to the doorstep of video production. For some, this is a welcome step, but for others the thought of producing effective videos inspires a cold sweat. Thoughts of studios, expensive equipment, and time-consuming editing often threatens to keep contractors on the video production sidelines. What many don’t realize is that video production can be as simple or as complex as a contractor makes it. Successful video campaigns don’t have to cost large sums of money or consume extensive amounts of time. Here are a few tips for contractors, to help them get the footage rolling.

Setting the Scene

To make videos a worthwhile idea, you have to have a place to play them. Most contractors will want to host videos on their websites, but this idea can be challenging, depending on how the company’s website is designed and maintained.

Instead of trying to navigate those waters first, make it simple and start a YouTube account. Go to www.youtube.com and click “Sign in.” You will be navigated to a Google account page. Once there click “Create an account.” This Google account will provide the user access to Google’s many online services, including YouTube. Once signed up, it is free and simple to create a YouTube account. As the account is being set up, remember to make it about the company and not about the individual creating the account. For security purposes, the account password should be maintained through a few trusted people. Posting should then be done by those who have the password, or can be accomplished through an account-specific email, provided in the YouTube settings. This email address can easily be changed with a click of the mouse, in case the address is somehow compromised.

When setting up the page, be careful not to settle for the default settings. Optimize the page for user viewing and eye appeal by making changes to the settings, such as providing a background. See www.youtube.com/achrnews as one layout example.

Posting to a YouTube account will not only provide businesses with a platform to display their videos, but will also give a recognizable destination for all of the company’s email marketing and links. Use the YouTube logo, create bit.ly links, and use mobile tags and QR codes in each piece of marketing.

Idea Brainstorm

Now that there is a physical platform in place, it is time to make a video. The question is; what kind of video should be posted?

1. Video business cards — Customers can get to know company staff simply and effectively using video business cards. Consider this: Send an email and let a customer know which technician will be coming to address their HVAC needs. Provide a link for the customer to “Click here and meet your service tech.” Then put the video business card link into mobile tags, or QR codes, and print them out on each technician’s business cards. A company can do this for its entire staff. This provides added customer security and — to today’s technology-savvy consumer — may be more welcoming than a simple card and a handshake.

2. Installation expectation videos — Customers usually don’t know what it means to replace a thermal expansion valve anymore than they know what it means to adjust the timing belt on a car. Creating a video that explains to customers the why and how of a repair could be helpful in explaining the process. This may also serve as a way to justify differing prices to the customer. Greg Crumpton, president and founder of AirTight Mechanical in Charlotte, N.C. introduced this idea and has been utilizing it at his company.

3. On-the-spot video testimonials — Issue technicians a smartphone and start recording on-the-spot video testimonials. If a customer is happy with the work that was done, and is willing to share it on camera, that is just one more positive notch in your customer-service belt. Get those videos posted and send the customer who participated in the shoot a link with a thank you note via email. It is likely they will brag to friends about it and share it online. Offer them a discount on their next call, or on a maintenance agreement, if they are willing to post the video on their personal Facebook page or Twitter account. This could help create a social buzz about the company. If customers are involved — especially as on-screen talent — in the video process and the contractor makes sharing simple, then the buzz may grow even louder.

Filming Like a Pro

With the physical platform set up and the application ideas flowing, here are a few tips to help implement the entire project.

1. Find a quality balance — Don’t get caught up in perfection. A company should do its best to provide quality videos that represent its mission, employees, and commitment to quality customer service. Doing this does not require a studio full of equipment, expensive software, or George Lucas to direct the film. Just grab a camera and start filming. Of course, the more experience that a company gains, the better the videos will likely turn out. Experience, however, comes with practice and that takes time. Stop wasting it trying to budget for state-of-the-art equipment.

2. Turn the lights on — Decent lighting is necessary for good videos, but professional lighting is not. Shooting in a dark basement or attic without some form of ambient lighting could prove to be useless. When possible, take advantage of natural lighting. Be careful not to position a video subject with the light at their back or shining directly down on their head. A little light on the face from natural or artificial sources is all that is necessary to get started.

3. Be careful of the noise — Sound is a big deal on videos and there are different factors to consider. Listen for sound items that will be a distraction or possibly create distortion in a video. The wind is a big one. Loud pets, washer, dryers, children, fans, and industrial machinery are just a few examples. Silence and professional microphones aren’t necessary, but paying attention to sound will improve the overall quality of a video immensely. Also, have the subject speak loudly, clearly, and at a consistent steady pace. Encourage them to speak as if they were talking to someone standing behind the videographer. Don’t forget to remind the videographer that they should be quiet. They are closest to the camera and consequently nearest to the microphone that typically picks up most sounds including, clicks of the tongue, breathing, sniffing, snickering, etc.

4. Hold still — A little wiggle is fine and a tripod isn’t absolutely necessary, but too much wiggle often makes a video unwatchable. There are expensive tripods, but decent ones are available at a cost-effective price. An inexpensive tripod will help settle a jittery videographer, thus promoting video quality to another level. To accomplish holding still for a long period of time, have the videographer think of herself as a tripod. She should find a comfortable way to hold the camera and then tuck her elbows tight to her body. Standing with her legs a little apart provides a steady base and when she wants to move left or right, she should twist slowly at the waist. The key is to keep as still as possible from the waist up and make all movement occur from the waist down. With a little practice, your novice will soon become a pro.

Lights, Camera, Action

These are just a few ideas and tips to get a contractor started. It really is easier than many think and once the company starts filming, the learning comes quickly. Most of the above ideas can be accomplished with a smartphone. Imagine the amount of word-of-mouth money that could be made for 10 minutes on the scene and 10-15 minutes at the office.

Here are a few final pieces of advice. Be sure you have permission to film, backed up with a signature to publicize each participating customer or subject. Also, be encouraging to those filming and editing your footage — and those being filmed. Just a little bit of encouragement usually pushes the shy guy into a confident confidant. And while in the process, don’t be afraid to ask a subject to reposition, or say something again.

Most of all, have some fun. If those involved in the process are having fun, then their subjects and customers will have fun too. This translates into genuineness and that goes a long way in the world of online video.

Publication date: 2/4/2013

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