42 ways to use video to grow your business

video wall

New visual languages, graphic interfaces, rich media content, lower video production costs and shrinking attention spans are changing how businesses communicate. In-house or outsourced, video is becoming a standard delivery medium for marketing and communications activities. Here are some examples:

Customer Reference Videos

1. Video Customer Testimonials (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Nothing is more compelling than seeing and hearing your customer (ideally in their own environment) extol the virtues of your products and services or explaining how you helped them achieve their business goals. These videos usually run from fifteen second snippets to a minute and are typically combined with or used to support other marketing material.

2. Video Success Stories (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Similar to a customer testimonial these videos run between one and two minutes and follow an interview format where the person on screen answers questions posed by an interviewer just off-camera. These videos are usually delivered as stand-alone marketing support materials and are often grouped with other customer success stories.

3. Video Case Study (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
A video case study combines customer testimonials with more a more in-depth explanation of how your company’s products and services helped your customer be successful. These case studies usually incorporate two voices – a narrator and the voice of your customer and can run anywhere from two to five minutes. The video structure follows the same “Problem, Solution, Benefit” format found in a printed case study.

4. Man-in-the-street Interviews (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
These videos are typically done to promote events and to build buzz around coming events but can also be employed to capture ‘spontaneous’ responses to targeted questions that help promote your product or service or to help differentiate the benefits of your brand compared to the real or imagined problems associated with your competitors. Soft drink companies, phone companies, fast food companies often use this format in advertising. Sometimes they are genuine. Sometimes they are completely staged. ‘Authenticity’ is becoming a style…

5. Customer Presentations. (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Low)
If one of your customers is presenting at a conference, trade show or event or even in your offices and is talking about your products or services either directly with you or indirectly as part of a larger discussion this may be a perfect opportunity to capture the presentation of video (with permission, of course) to re-purpose on your website and intranet.

Product and Service Promotion

6. Product Presentations (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Product (or service) presentation videos are typically employed early in the buying cycle. Product or service presentations focus on benefits and talk from more from your customer’s perspective. They should speak clearly to how your product solves a specific business, personal or economic problem that your prospect is experiencing. They are used to help your customers and prospects differentiate between the benefits of your products and services to those of your competitors.

7. Product Demonstrations (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Product demos show how your product works and highlight the features that differentiate it from that of your competitors. Software screen captures, a 3D cut-away, or a high impact demo by a presenter are all excellent ways of showing how your product or service works. These videos are typically used to influence a prospect who is relatively far along in the sales cycle. In technology marketing these videos would be targeted at the technical approvers who need to understand how something works. In consumer marketing these would be targeted at buyers of larger ticket items who are further along the sales cycle.

8. Product Reviews (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
The best product reviews are trusted third party reviews. Video reviews can be found anywhere from YouTube to various business portals. To the extent they help you, they should be referenced. You can also partner with trusted third parties to create product reviews for your own products.

9. Visual Stories (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Quickly rising in popularity, visual stories employ illustrations, animations and motion graphics with a voice-over to explain complex products or services in a simple and compelling manner.

Corporate Video

10. Corporate Overview (Popularity: High  | Growth Potential: moderate)
These videos are the video equivalent of the ‘company brochure’ for small companies – intended to give new visitors to a website a better idea of the company. Corporate overview videos typically company history, key products, executives/owners and other top level business info. As the cost of video production continues to decrease and the popularity of video increases you will start to see these videos being replaced by multiple, more targeted video.

11. Executive Presentations (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Whether you are preparing for a quarterly update, responding to a major event in your industry or making a regularly scheduled presentation there is great value in presenting the “face” and “voice” of your leadership team to all of your constituents.

12. Staff Presentations (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Social media and other Web 2.0 trends have caused companies to reconsider how they communicate with external audiences. Your senior leadership team should not be the first and only consideration to represent your company. It is becoming more imperative to consider showcasing the people that drive the day-to-day operations of your company. Customer service representatives, technical experts and legacy workers are all valuable considerations for this new category of corporate video. Surveys show that there is more trust associated with these employees than with senior management. When you are selling to influencers in organizations (versus economic buyers or decision makers) it is especially important you represent your company with people that your customers and prospects can relate to.

13. Corporate facilities or equipment tour (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Low)
Ten years ago corporate facility videos and equipment tours were popular. Down-sizing, off-shoring, outsourcing, a couple of recessions and a hollowing out of North America’s manufacturing base has change the priorities placed on these videos. Uniqueness is key to success here. That said, it’s really not about you any more.

Training  and support video

14. Training (Popularity: High  | Growth Potential: High)
Corporate video first gained prominence with training (service, support, sales, personal development etc.) and continues to be one of the best uses of video. Online Video is a cost effective substitute for in-class training. You can also easily integrate video into online training management tools.

15. Overnight expert videos (Sales Support)  (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
If you serve a large geographic area or sell through channels then it is well worth the effort to put together short ‘overnight expert’ sales support videos that highlight the key selling points, features, benefits, objection handling and follow-up issues to consider by your direct or channel sales force.

16. Just-in-time learning (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
Contextual training videos are becoming very popular on the web. ‘How-to’ videos, video manuals, on-site video reference, quick assembly demos, and other types of video are being used to supplement or replace traditional training. Mobile video will increase the popularity of this type of video.

17. Post sale support and maintenance videos (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
No one reads manuals. You can save thousands of dollars of post sale support by creating informative assembly, installation and maintenance videos for your products and services.

Internal Communications

18. Internal Communications (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
In larger companies few people have the time or interest to understand what other groups or functions within the company do or even why they exist. Internal videos that highlight business plans, new business activities and achievements can improve knowledge transfer and lead to more effective communications. They are also a great way to show off your local hero’s.

19. Event/Conference and Trade Show Communications. (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Most companies spend a disproportionate amount of their marketing budget on attending and participating in a variety of industry events and yet only a very small percentage of employees ever benefit from these activities. Share the knowledge gained at these events by capturing the presentation, demos, interviews, commentaries etc. on video.

20. Employee orientation (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Once your new recruits are on board employee orientation videos are a great way to get new staff up to speed. Company history, structure, procedures, policies and codes of behavior can all be communicated effectively with video.

21. Health, Legal & Safety (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
The cost of dealing with health and safety related issues within organizations continues to grow. Video is one of the most effective means of minimizing these costs.

Advertising , marketing  and promotion

22. Commercials (Popularity: High  | Growth Potential: High)
While advertisers are becoming more selective in how they chose to spend their promotional dollars with broadcast television, other venues for commercials such as online video pre-roll, online sponsorships, in-game advertising, event sponsorships and in-theatre advertising are starting to take the place of broadcast / cable commercials. A proliferation of video screens cropping up on every building, device and structure will create an even more diverse set of advertising opportunities. The challenge will be to create specialized content targeted to an ever shrinking niche audience.

23. Viral Video (Popularity: High  | Growth Potential: High)
A video is viral if it is so compelling that people want to share it. (Calling a video ‘Viral’ doesn’t make it so). Viral videos have to be extremely engaging, entertaining, shocking or meaningful to be successful. Unfortunately some of the most successful viral videos have little connection (and therefore value) to any brand. (Everyone references ‘Will it Blend’ but very few viral videos are remotely this successful in actually driving sales.)

24. Email Video (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Testing has shown that open rates can double if you include video in your email marketing activities. To be effective the video should be purpose-built to elicit a specific conversion activity such as requesting a demo, more info etc.

25. Infomercials (Popularity: High  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Infomercials have been around forever. While they continue to be the primary focus of web-based parody videos they have remained remarkably resilient over time. The shopping channel is, in effect, a 24 hour infomercial. If done well, Infomercials can be very effective at selling certain consumer products.

26.  Content Marketing (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Huge)
This is a broad category that will become very important over the next months and years. Much of the content (video or otherwise) being creating today by companies is focused on selling. Focusing on solving your customers problems first and then associating your brand with those solutions will be increasingly more important and effective. (i.e. Home Depot could create a branded ‘how-to’ series that sits on their website and shows their customers how-to fix anything. They would, or course, reference tools and supplies available in their store but more importantly, they would generate tremendous value for their customers and prospects – value that would accrue to them over time.)

27. Landing pages and micro sites (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential: High)
Video is beginning to replace or supplement text and graphics as a content element on many corporate websites. Landing pages can offer a more compelling call to action with video. Some micro sites on larger web properties are self contained, purpose-built conversion machines that have the singular purpose of generating a conversion activity (sign-up for more info, attend event, order something etc.). Video is becoming an important part of the conversion process.

PR Support and Community Relations

28. Video Press Releases (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
The standard four paragraph press release is now being supplemented with video and rich media to tell a more engaging story. Video is now being purpose-built to directly support the important company announcements. The new challenge for press releases is to change the focus from the company to the customer.

29.  PR Support Materials (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)

Make it easy for networks, bloggers, news gathers and others to promote your business and also to talk about your industry. Smart companies are developing video support catalogues of company and industry related materials (b-roll, industry footage, sound bites etc) and offering them to news and business portals. The demand for video is everywhere. If a news agency (online or broadcast) is looking for stock footage to use in a story it might as well be yours. (assuming the story is positive, of course)

30. Community Relations Video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
If your company is out working in the community, being good corporate citizens, helping the environment or contributing to important causes you should be capturing those efforts on video. Show the world what you are doing, don’t just talk about it.

Event Video

31. Event Presentation video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
Events represent a unique confluence of expertise and opportunity – often under-leveraged. Trade Shows, meeting and conferences are usually attended by your top sales people, your corporate executives, industry experts and other influential business people. If you are speaking at an event or someone is referencing your company you should be capturing this valuable content on video.

32. Round table Sessions (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
Take the opportunity at an event to corral four to six of your best customers and other industry experts, put them in room and video tape them talking about industry trends, business issues and the future of your industry. This content will be the most valuable content you could ever capture.

33. Q&A Expert sessions. (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
There are many opportunities to take specific event participants to the side and take them through informal Q&A sessions on various topics that matter to your customers. This content is valuable lead generation content.

Other Uses of Video

34. Recruitment Videos (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Finding the best employees is the single most important function of any company and yet comparatively small amounts of time and money are allocated to this critical task. Recruitment videos that feature company employees, highlight corporate culture and promote the direction of the company can be very influential.

35. VLOG (Popularity: Moderate  | Growth Potential:Moderate)
There are many levels  and types of Vloggers today but for the sake of brevity I will identify two: 1. Pro Vloggers who have engaging styles, rich content and a growing list of followers who promote their vlog on their site and through various syndicated channels and 2. Regular Vloggers who have chosen, for whatever reason, to speak into a camera instead of typing on a keyboard. The problem today is that, unlike onscreen text, you can’t scan a vlog – you sort have to watch the whole thing to see whether it is worth your time. The other problem is that most people just aren’t that compelling on camera so there is little, to no value of a talking head – and often it’s a distraction. Of course everyone references Gary Vaynerchuck (from Wine Library TV) as the rule (rather than the exception) for video blogging in the same way that everyone references the success of Will It Blend as being what to expect when you launch your first viral video project. For individuals looking to gain notoriety from their passions vlogging can be a good option if you have a good on-camera presence and great content.

36. In Store Video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: High)
Wal-Mart has its own profitable in-store TV network that makes shoppers aware of new promotions. LCD screens are ubiquitous. In store LCD’s will be networked and customizable offering you the ability to promote your own goods and services or make money by promoting other complimentary services.

37. Company Lobby / Waiting Room Video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
HD video screens are popping up everywhere – why not in your lobby or reception where you can get a jump start on first impressions and also take advantage of a captive audience.

38. Mobile Video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Huge)
Yep, ‘there’s and Ap for that’. Mobile video will soon be the largest video category outside of broadcast. In the short-run, mobile video will consist of hastily re-purposed video made to fit on a mobile device. It will quickly evolve into a much more specific format – five to fifteen second hyper targeted messages that are part of geo-located and micro-niched promotions.

39. Market research, focus groups and polling (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Market research firms are now capturing the anecdotal feedback along with the raw statistics of their research. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video of your customer describing her likes and dislikes of your new product is priceless. Go to YouTube to see how people are describing your products and services.

40. Website FAQ Video (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Moderate)
In certain formats video can be a suitable replacement for text where an authoritative voice, support materials or other visual references are required. A list of FAQ’s answered by a company expert is an example.

41. Video White paper (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Low)
Video white papers have evolved over the last years from basically a person reading a white paper on camera (what’s the point) to a professional delivery that is accompanied by charts, graphs and other visual references to make the presentation more valuable.

42. Video Magazine (Popularity: Low  | Growth Potential: Low)
Some video production companies specialize in helping companies deliver serialized video content to their customers. Like the name implies video content is created on a regular basis (usually monthly) that customers and prospects can view through a subscription service.

Have I left any out? Let me know.

71 Responses

  1. Simply awesome post Jimm! Are the popularity and growth numbers based on metrics or gut feel?

    I really appreciate that you added context to each of the 42 ways… well done.

  2. Thanks all for the feedback.

    Mark, the popularity and growth numbers are my subjective input. The two I am rather excited about are mobile video(geo-targeting contextually relevant short form video that is dynamically compiled based on a number of variables – including input from new tools like google goggles – is going to be huge) and content marketing (the stuff that the folks at Junta 42 and Hubspot have been preaching for years)

  3. Thanks Jimm for a great article. I’m going to re-post on my FB.
    Video Business Cards
    Video Home Tours
    Video profiles for award winners
    Non-profit special events (to promote future events ie. Race for the Cure)
    Non-profit overview of services to attract more donations

  4. Great post; very informative… -Mind if I link to it elsewhere?

    I recently moved to Beijing and I’m going full-bore on video for the web with a focus on #10 in your list.

    I also like Sue’s suggestion for video business cards. I wonder how the pricing for such a production would be structured? Business cards are typically very cheap; video production- not. I also wonder how it would be distributed; via email? They’d obviously have to be small Flash files to work.

    Anyway- interesting article… I’ll be following your blog.

    1. Chris, link away.

      My assumption about Sue’s suggestion were the those mini-CD’s or dvd’s cut down to business card size but still able to play in a cd or dvd player. As CD’s and DVD’s are simply portable bandwidth I imagine the use of these tools (If that is what was suggested) will diminish over time.

      … and good for you for moving to Beijing – the epicenter of the next economic growth cycle.

  5. wow. I have just realize that video has many uses for the business, and of course for promoting products. I would like to add this knowledge to the info that I have learned from ProfitableProsperity

  6. Hey Jimm
    i could kiss you right in the mouth. -yecch- this is an awesome list and helps me in my little video business. Hungry tweeps like me can and will do the videos for you for fees that start way below the value. Excellent work. I would likely think of another one if I weren’t so ecstatic over the 42 above

  7. This is a great list. I’m going to post it over on my book site:

    Your readers might be interested in my book, Get Seen, which explains how to put video online including choosing tools and hosting. There’s a lot of good information on the site to, alond with discussion forums if anyone has questions.


  8. An excellent post, and valuable indeed! Crystal-gazing is not everyone’s forte, but I hope this list proves true in the coming time.

    I notice Jimm, you’ve only 2 ‘huge’ growth potentials among the 42 in the list. Lucky me, I already have a good number of ‘how to’ content marketing videos in my blog, and I’m adding more.

    Thank you!

  9. Great article Jimm. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

    I think my favorite is the video success stories – a very powerful way of demonstrating customer satisfaction.

  10. Great job. I’ve been creating one myself and now you’ve saved me a ton of work.

    Does that mean I can take the day off.

    Just followed you on Twitter.

    I will tweet this.

    And you’re Canadian too! Even better.

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