Modern Marketing for Contractors
Online Promotional Videos for Contractors
Contractors who are marketing-savvy should maintain their websites by occasionally adding consumer-targeted videos. As technology becomes cheaper and more dummy-proof, it’s easy for a contractor to shoot a short video at a jobsite and upload it to his website. Such a video should give consumers some basic home maintenance tips, or even a brief tutorial about a step in the construction process that imparts some interesting information. Short videos on your website can serve several purposes.
Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.
Videos can show your prospective clients:
- what you look like, as well as a flavor of your personality;
- an indication of how you conduct yourself on the job;
- that you’re knowledgeable about the subject matter of the video, even if it’s brief, and even if it’s strictly informational regarding the building process;
- that you’re busy with work and not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring;
- that you’re comfortable with technology; and
- that you’re confident engaging your prospective clients by putting yourself out there on the Internet.
Consumers will naturally feel more comfortable with a contractor they can see in action before hiring him, which is actually a rare opportunity. Think of your video as an audition that you’re offering your website visitors. At the very least, it’s a visual advertisement, which consumers are used to watching for the products and services they want to buy. All things being equal—including licensing, experience, building style, and overall pricing—the contractor who offers a video of himself and his crew on the job will surge ahead of the competition. Creating familiarity ahead of your actual appointment is something that will stick in your prospective clients’ minds. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
TIP: Read this article on Websites for Contractors.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Website Videos
- Write a basic script beforehand, so you have a general idea of what you want to say during your commercial. The more comfortable you are with the material, the better it will sound when recorded.
- Appear in your own videos. Unless you look like a serial killer, you should be the star of your own website videos.
- Rehearse. If you have a camcorder (or even a cell phone with video capabilities), take some time to practice being on camera. When the camera turns on, even a confident contractor can lose his or her composure and come off as uncomfortable, unsure and maybe even unqualified. We typically look and sound different when recorded, and getting comfortable with those differences before your shoot will translate to a better commercial. If you don’t have a camcorder, practicing in front of a mirror can be helpful.
- If you’re shooting in a studio, wear crisp-looking attire, which translates well on camera. Consider having your clothes professionally dry-cleaned and pressed. You want to look as professional as possible.
- If you’re a man, considering getting a haircut a few days before the shoot, and shave as late as possible before shooting (you might even want to consider bringing your razor to the shoot and shaving there).
- Dress appropriately for both the job and the image you want to present to your viewers. Save your on-the-job videotaping for a day when you won’t be covered in mud or dirt, which will make verbal and visual communication more difficult.
- Do vocal warm-ups before the shoot. As silly as this may feel, having a confident and commanding voice can really help you connect with your commercial’s viewers. It doesn’t need to be much: clear your throat, open and close your mouth a few times, and maybe try a few tongue twisters that you remember from your childhood. What’s most important is that you prepare yourself to speak clearly and confidently.
- Look at the lens of the camera, which translates on video as making eye contact. Look directly at the camera to show that you are engaged and ready to demonstrate your prowess as a contractor. Try not to look down between sentences (unless you’re referring to your script), as this can convey shyness and a lack of confidence.
- Smile! Remember, your clients want to feel like they can trust you and be comfortable asking you questions about their project. If you appear relaxed, comfortable and happy, your potential clients will be relaxed, comfortable and happy while watching your commercial.
- Introduce yourself on camera. Don’t assume the viewer knows who you are.
- Introduce everyone else appearing in the video with you. This is simply demonstrating common courtesy and respect for your crew and colleagues.
- Mention your website address throughout the video.
- Get permission from your current clients if you’re shooting a video during their project on their property. This is done largely as a courtesy, but it demonstrates your professionalism.
- Engage in some jobsite activity. Walking and talking while your crew works in the background is okay if you’re strictly a manager/owner, but, in terms of watchability, demonstrating supervisory skills is secondary to actually being hands-on at a project. Your video should show you doing something.
- End your video with a brief sales pitch, such as “Be sure to contact ABC Contractors if you’re thinking about building a new home.”
- Provide your business name, logo and contact information, including your service area, as a superimposed image before your video ends. In case it gets uploaded to other sites, such as YouTube, your contact information should be a part of the video that cannot be edited out.
- Copyright your video using your business name, the copyright symbol and the year. Again, superimposing your copyright notation at the bottom of the last few frames of video makes it difficult to edit out.
- Catalog your videos using titles and brief descriptions that will be of interest to consumers so that they can find them easily, both while they’re searching the Web and searching your site.
- Take advantage of social networking sites. Do you have a Twitter account or Facebook page? Be sure to post a link to your latest videos there to drive traffic to your website.
- Don’t wear green. You may want to use a green screen to superimpose your video onto a different background. If you’re wearing clothes that are similar to the color of a green screen, it will be hard for the editor to remove the screen without also removing part of your body. You should also avoid wearing stripes (particularly tight ones), bright red, or all white or all black, as these generally look bad or visually distort in the video. Also, avoid using an all-black background, as this tends to darken the overall look of the video.
- Don’t make your video a straight-ahead sales pitch. You should be (mostly) providing a service rather than annoying your website visitors with an infomercial. While this approach has some limited value, it will be far more interesting for your visitors to watch you in consumer-targeted videos rather than commercials, and they will be less likely to be put off and click off.
- Don’t stand in front of the camera reading a script word for word. This is boring video. You should be engaged in an activity and speaking at a natural pace. Pretend that the camera is a person who’s accompanying you on part of the job.
- Don’t act lethargic. Be confident in your stance to reflect your confidence in your contracting abilities. The camera will tend to cloak subtle movements and weak posture. You’ll have to go a little bit over the top for things to look natural on film. Be sure to stand tall with your shoulders back. Plant both feet solidly on the ground, and avoid rocking from side to side. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, try holding a tool or device that you normally use during a project (such as a clipboard, PDA, or some safety gear), or stand with your hands behind your back (similar to the military parade rest position). Don’t lean on anything. Be expressive in your movements when they’re intentional, and avoid nervous movements, such as tapping your feet, rocking, or fussing with a tool.
- Don’t make off-color jokes or engage in horseplay during your spot. While some of this type of relaxed behavior may occur at the jobsite on a regular basis, you don’t want to have such moments preserved for time immemorial on the Web. Remember who you’re creating your videos for and how you want your business represented.
- Don’t go crazy with post-production. Loud or fast music, and special effects and quick or flashy edits will do more to distract the viewer than add something worth watching.
- Don’t make your video longer than two or three minutes. Keep the topic brief.
- Don’t post your videos in multiple locations. They belong on your website and, ideally, also on YouTube (which is owned by Google). If you use Twitter, Facebook or some other social networking tool, post a link for the video that drives traffic to your website—that’s your ultimate goal.
In the end, the most important thing is to be yourself. These tips should help you prepare, but if you over-think things, you might start second-guessing every word and every movement you make on camera. Before your shoot, take a moment to remind yourself that you’re a great, professional contractor and that people ought to hire you. Take a deep breath, smile, and say, “Take one.”
TIP: Create a video to show potential clients the progress of a current project.
Watch My One-Minute Video—Why does this sentence work?
It works because people don’t want to commit the time to watch a 45-minute video. Alerting visitors to the fact that the video on your website is only a minute or two long actually entices them to watch it.
(And the argument for including a short video on your website in the first place is compelling. Many people are visual learners, and the ability to remember information, faces and impressions is also primarily visually-based.)
The theory for specifically advertising a short video comes from years ago when grocery stores used to place popular items at the end of long aisles, which forced consumers to commit to walking down them—and past lots of other potential purchases, of course. The strategy eventually backfired as consumers who saw long aisles began carefully reading the aisle signs at the front of the store before committing to heading down a long aisle, thereby making their shopping trips much more efficient and shorter in duration. Consumers basically stopped consenting to having their time engineered for them through the store’s bald attempt to separate them from their cash through impulse purchases.
So, grocery stores resolved this silent consumer revolt by opening up aisles to other aisles—creating a more divergent traffic pattern—so that consumers could see that, halfway down the aisle, they could jump sideways to another aisle. Grocery stores gave up precious shelf space to create these intersections between aisles, and consumers regained some of their freedom while offering up more shopping time. The compromise worked.
The same strategy works for inspectors who have online promotional videos on their websites, too. Keep your visitors on your site for as long as possible by giving them useful information, but let them know that you respect their time by presenting that information sensibly and in a user-friendly format, which includes videos. Advertising that your video is short lets them know that their valuable time will be well spent.
Google owns YouTube, so it gives YouTube clear preference in its organic search results. It’s not unusual to see a new YouTube video outrank a website that has been up for years. And think about your script from a search engine optimization standpoint. According to Google, their new audio indexing system uses speech recognition technology to transform speech into text and then ranks videos by spoken keyword relevance, YouTube metadata, and freshness.
TIP: Read this article on Search Engine Optimization for Contractors.