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Copyright 2006 Jenni Baty
If you’re a small business, you know how hard it is to compete against larger, wealthier competitors. Indeed, today’s small businesses face a dilemma. While they need to sell their products and services as much as any Global 1000 company, many lack the marketing resources big firms take for granted. For example, large companies have highly aggressive sales people driving sales. These people contact customers and prospects regularly, reminding them of a product’s or service’s existence as well as its advantages and benefits. Unfortunately, many small businesses lack the resources to do this and employing other traditional marketing methods, like print advertising and direct mail, is not always financially feasible either. To compensate small businesses must find a way to ratchet up their marketing communications programs. What’s needed is a dynamic, cost-effective way of marketing products and services, one that helps small businesses battle competitors and capture market share.
The Internet has been a viable alternative marketing method for small business. Publishing a Web site is a proven way of selling one’s products and services, and an effective means of reaching a worldwide marketplace. In fact, it costs less to build a site than most people think, particularly when compared to the cost of rent for an off-line business. Web sites also offer benefits other marketing tools don’t, such as regular contact with customers and prospects and the ability to convey large amounts of information quickly and easily. In addition, Web sites offer consumers access to a company’s products and services twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, all year long.
But Web sites have one major drawback’ anonymity. Consumers are reluctant to buy from someone they don’t know. Other drawbacks include the possibility of misinterpreting the marketing message, the limitations in demonstrating product’s features, and the difficulties of incorporating customer service. Even adding e-mails to the marketing mix doesn’t always help. While email marketing is a cost-effective to send, easy to create, and fast to distribute, they’re often boring, making little impact on the viewer. And the proliferation of e-mails means that your marketing message often gets lost in the clutter.
Video communications, which includes video e-mails, video streaming, and live Web casts, represents the next wave of marketing for small business. It’s proving to be so powerful it’s revamping the way businesses communicate with customers and each other. Simple and easy to use, video communications puts a human touch back into the process of communicating with consumers, enabling sales reps, consultants, and professionals to generate ‘face time’ with consumers, clients, and businesses without spending a great deal of time and money. It’s a win-win situation for all involved, and it’s proving highly effective for small business.
Video communications is ideal where personal communications is an advantage. Even political candidates are using it to communicate with their constituencies. Howard Dean, for example, helped transformed the face of presidential politics by being one of the first candidates to harness the power of the Internet. Dean broke new ground by being among the first presidential candidates to use streaming video on his Web site to communicate broadly and successfully with American voters.
One of the most effective uses of video communications is video e-mail, which the corporate world is quickly embracing. Once dismissed as a gimmick, video e-mail is now making in-roads into business communications. As the technology has been refined and costs reduced, Global 1000 corporations have begun using video e-mails to reach target audiences.
Sheridan Square Entertainment, a New York-based firm, employs video e-mail not only for corporate interoffice communications, but also as a way for its artists to communicate directly with their fans. With offices in four U.S. cities, using video e-mail cuts down on flying time and its associated costs while generating awareness and visibility. Organizations such as the Miami Dolphins, DaimlerChrysler AG, and Eli Lily use video-e-mail for everything from internal announcements to market surveys. They also use the technology for sales training, public relations, customer updates, and product releases.
Using video e-mails and adding streaming video to your Web site is simple and easy. In fact, it’s as easy as sending text e-mails, and cutting and pasting text. Most small businesses already have all the necessary skills to send video e-mails and post streaming video online. And thanks to the emergence of video portals, offering video e-mail, video on demand, video instant messaging, and live Web casts, businesses now have a mechanism for sending video communications to buyers quickly and easily without investing a lot in additional software or computer equipment and without the platform incompatibility or long download problems associated with Windows Media Player, Real Player, or Apple QuickTime. In addition, proprietary bandwidth protection enables videos to stream at the speed most appropriate to each viewer’s connection.
Video is a boon to business marketing. It provides small businesses with an economical yet powerful way to reach buyers. Delivering the impact of television, it generates higher click-through rates and increases brand recognition, as well as shortening the sales cycle. Simple and easy to use, video communications is the ideal way for small business to compete against firms with more resources. It gives them a powerful competitive edge that other businesses don’t have, and it’s becoming the accepted way of delivering personal rich media. More important, it boosts sales and profits. If you’re a small business, you can’t afford not to use video communications to market your company.