In order for online video to become a completely viable marketing tool it needs to be accessible to all levels of business from sole proprietors all the way up to multinational corporations. There are far more SMBs than large corporations and that means there's a larger possibility to get some new clients for the online video industry. But the question right now is, how accessible is it to small and medium businesses and how do we as an industry go about getting them involved?
The general movement of the industry is certainly in a more transparent, more accessible direction. But this trend definitely needs to continue before everyone is able to climb aboard the online video train. Here's our list of what the industry needs to do in order to get the SMBs fully ready to jump on.
- Ease of use – This is first and foremost in the minds of many business leaders. Others might argue that cost is first, but we believe that in order for the widest possible range of SMB owners to become involved in online video, simply put, it has to be easy for them. Without services that take all the guesswork out of a multitude of factors, many SMB owners just won't even know where to begin. Without knowing where to begin how can they possibly do it?
- Cost – Certainly cost is a major factor in all business decisions. The costs involved in creating an online video campaign are varied and range from the creative to the ad placement to advisers, video hosting services and a myriad of other things. Kaltura's Community Edition may be able to take many of the costs out of hosting and distribution and the IAB online video ad standards could take a lot more out of the equation if they become widely accepted. This would be helpful because advertisers need less versions and formats to maintain. Creative will always be a cost in creating good, informative, professional online video content. The scripts, camera operators, video editors, etc will always need to be in the loop unless they take a more DIY approach.
- Metrics, analysis and ROI Determination – SMBs have, by definition, smaller budgets and that means they generally need to see the value of everything they do or they simply aren't going to do it. That means that the industry needs to give them the information they need in an easy-to-understand and qualitative way while still being quantitative. That means that they needs lots of information and that it needs to be valuable. Differing calculations on what makes an online video campaign successful and what exactly the return on investment is are only going to be deterrents to SMB owners getting into the game. Every SMB owner might see ROI in a slightly different light and some might be going for increased brand awareness while others will be looking for cold hard sales increases. Either way these need to be incorporated into ROI calculations.
Interaction is key in all of this. The SMB owners need to be engaged on multiple levels. They will need attention paid to them by the video platforms, the ad networks and the creative side of the industry. I'm not suggesting that they're stupid or that they need extra hand holding. I'm suggesting that they have less to spend and that they generally will need more convincing of the value of something prior to diving into it.
What kind of interaction?
Well first off you're going to need to show them how it will benefit them. You might also need to have some form of system to show or educate them in what they would need to do in order to help have the most successful online campaign they can. Periodically, you'll need to actually talk to them, not just send an email or have them fill out a survey or a form. Many SMB owners, myself included, require some amount of personal contact. This is more of a way for us to know that we're appreciated and that the companies and partners we do business with acknowledge us. It's not about being special, it's about good business.
In the end, SMB owners have less time to sit around and think up great new ways to promote their businesses. They also have far less time available to them to implement those ideas. That means that if you truly want to help them you'll need to supply a fast, easy solution for many. Something that they can get into and out of with a minimum of fuss and something that gives them all the information and abilities at a touch of a button. You might even need to make payment as easy as possible including credit cards, online payment services, etc as well as flexible since many SMBs have lower cash flow and fluctuations in capital are common.
At present we're probably at a place where the cost of utilizing online video is not as prohibitive as it once was to SMBs. That means one hurdle has been mostly removed for them and it's only a matter of getting past the others. SMB most likely will drive online video in the near future and historically when there's an economic downturn where a lot of people lose their jobs, many turn to starting their own businesses to survive. That means right now might be the best time ever for the online video industry to begin working to attract this type of clientele. Plus with the vast amount of SMBs in operation at any time there are an ample number of potential customers that one could obtain and with proper handling and good results, keep indefinitely.