Online video has been explored as marketing tool by large companies, and as a buzz-builder for content producers of all sizes. But what about small businesses: can they jump into the fray and get noticed by video audiences? The short answer is yes. Let’s look at some formats and how they can fit into your small business marketing plans.

Behind-the-scenes videos

The concept here is that people will be curious about topics that are related to your business, and that you can leverage their curiosity to inform them about your business. You’re basically playing the role of a Discovery Channel producer, looking for interesting tasks, processes, or people that are involved in your business. If you’re a clothing retailer, you’re shooting the prep area for a fashion show. If you’re a machinist, you’re showing-off the laser cutting machine and the stained-glass window you made with it.

From a search standpoint, the goal is to pick an interesting, creative topic that also happens to be squarely in the path of a search audience. If you’re a car mechanic, then “hypermiling” could be the hot keyphrase you’d want to focus on, because many people have become intrigued by the concept of extending their car’s fuel economy.

How-to videos

A close cousin to the behind-the-scenes approach, the idea behind producing a how-to video is to catch the attention of people who have some interest in your field, but have some immediate need that you can address. For example, a men’s clothing store can produce a video showing all the ways to properly knot a necktie. The person searching for this information may not be in the market for a new tie, but if you show them a few sharp designs, then you can count on some viewers visiting your site to see what you have in stock.

How-to videos are also ideal for contractors and other forms of skilled labor. Even your best customers will be inclined to try doing simpler tasks themselves. Producing a video on installing a shower head probably won’t cost you any business, but it will increase the odds of you becoming the go-to person for bigger jobs.

Play up your contribution

In this strategy, the goal is to piggyback on the fame of your customers. If your company makes accessories for the iPod, then this is your entire business model. However, less direct or significant contributors can also play-up their connection to a high-profile product or event.

A caterer at a charity event can tap into search traffic for that event, by taking the behind-the-scenes approach described above. And if a machinist created the molds for those iPod accessories, he could work with the accessory manufacturer to show the whole process start-to-finish. Then both companies could use the video.

Are you a local business?

In all these examples, there’s one hidden caveat: for businesses with a very local market, a strategy like this needs some extra help. There may be thousands of people checking out the necktie video, but how may of them are within driving range of your store? Obviously, if that business also ran an online store then the payoff would increase substantially.

But even if you are strictly local, you can still use online video and create visibility in your market. The trick is to couple your videos with a locally-targeted campaign, perhaps through Google AdWords. AdWords allows you to target your state, town, or even neighborhood, giving you a chance to attract viewers and drum-up business.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Google: YouTube & Video | Video Search

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About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

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