Video has always been a great marketing tool, especially in the horse industry. Let’s face it, horse people like seeing horses, and what better way to do that than through video. However, one thing that has kept many horse businesses from using video in their marketing toolbox in the past was cost. But that has since changed. Effective, good-looking videos no longer require expensive cameras or huge production crews. Today, most quality cameras and even smart phones have the ability to shoot high-definition video that can be easily edited and uploaded online. With a little work and some planning, video can be a huge asset to any horse business.
Here are eight tips to help you make the most of video as a marketing tool:
1. Give Your Videos a Purpose
One of the first steps you should take when creating video, and one that is sometimes forgotten, is to decide why you are creating your video. Is it to bring awareness to a stallion by showcasing some of his foals, educate potential customers on how to prepare their mares for breeding or create a video library of answers to frequently asked questions to refer customers to when they call or email? By starting with the “why” you can better tailor the video to meet that goal.
Once you decide on the intended goal of your video, you should craft a call to action that goes along with it. Calls to action can include a message to call for more information about your services or direct viewers to your website to download a breeding contract. Be sure that it is clear what action you want the viewer to take. Be sure to use strong words such as “Act Now”, “Contact Us Today!” and “Book Now”.
2. Keep your videos short!
When it comes to online video, it’s best to keep it short. Attention spans online don’t allow for a lot of long-form video unless the content is stellar, and that can be really hard (and expensive to create). Instead, plan to limit your videos to less than five minutes. If you have a video that you think you just can’t keep short, think about ways to break it down into smaller sections instead of trying to include all the information in a single video. Keeping your videos short will also help you focus your ideas and clearly portray them to your audience.
3. Use Quality Audio
While people are demanding higher quality videos these days, the one thing they won’t tolerate is poor audio. If you are going to be doing many videos that involve audio, you will want to invest in a good quality external microphone. Some of the better microphones include the ones from Sennheiser or Shure. They usually hold up well in dusty environments and the sound quality is exceptional. If distance is an issue, the Sennheiser wireless microphones seem to transmit well from quite a long distance away.
4. Hold it Steady
Nobody likes watching a video that could possibly make him or her sea sick. Ideally, you will want to have a tripod or other camera stabilizing system for your camera. These will help ensure a higher quality video product, and low-end tripods can usually be purchased for around $30. If you don’t have a tripod, you can use a fence post or some other stationary object to rest your camera on while you’re filming. Another tip is instead of holding the camera out in front of your face, hold it close to your chest with your elbows pressed against your sides. This will help stabilize your hands and reduce the amount of shakiness in your footage.
5. Host Your Videos on YouTube
YouTube is second only to Google when it comes to search. Often, people skip the major search engines and go straight to YouTube to find the videos they are looking for. YouTube not only makes it easier for you to share videos, it makes it easier for others to share them on your behalf. This is important because the power of video “sharing” has grown exponentially with the explosive growth of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Here is a quick rundown of the benefits that YouTube offers:
- You and other YouTube viewers can share your videos by clicking the auto share links or by sharing a direct link. YouTube videos integrate very well on both Twitter and Facebook, which will allow you to upload the video once, and post it in multiple places where your potential customers might see it.
- YouTube enables you and others to embed your videos using the embed code provided by YouTube (as long as you have this feature enabled). This comes in handy when you would like to add one of your videos to your website/blog. It also enables other people (like mare or foal owners) to share your videos with their audience.
- YouTube is very Google friendly. Because of this, posting videos on YouTube can drastically improve search results and increase traffic to your website.
- YouTube also has its own stand-alone search benefits. It is surprising how many people search YouTube for video results when searching for information, rather than using public search (like Google). Setting up a YouTube account and regularly posting videos can ensure that you and your business aren’t left out of these important results.
In a nutshell, video is the message and YouTube is the marketing and distribution channel that makes sure the message gets seen by as many people as possible. In order to take advantage of all that videos and YouTube have to offer your horse business, you must produce both effective videos and understand how to maximize the marketing and distribution benefits of YouTube.
6. Include Keywords in Your Video Titles and Descriptions
Search engines such as Google are not able to interpret the videos themselves. Instead, they read the text you include in your title, description and tags. Make sure that you use the best keywords in these areas and that you use them often.
For example, if you want to get your video in front of someone looking to book their mare to your reining horse stallion, you will want to include keywords such as “Reining”, “NRHA” and “Stallion” in the title and description.
7. Include A Link To Your Website In Your Video Description
Even though you can include your website address in your video either as a title screen or by adding an annotation within the video, it is important to place a live link to your website or blog in each video description. This not only makes it easy for viewers to contact you, it also creates valuable back-links to your website. It’s best to put your website address at the beginning of the descriptions so it is easily seen and someone watching the video doesn’t have to click the “Show More” link.
8. Realize That Video Is Content And That Good Content Has Value!
Video gives you content for your own website and provides you with interesting material to post to your own social media network. Plus, the better and/or more entertaining your videos are, the more likely they will be shared further by other people on their social media networks (like Facebook and Twitter) and/or embedded in Blogs. Regardless of who posts them - The more places your videos are shared the more views they are likely to receive. The more views, the higher ranking they will get from YouTube and Google.
A few years ago, EasyCare, a hoof boot manufacturer, transitioned to using video as one of their main marketing tools. In less than six months, they were able to increase their Facebook Page “likes” by 22,000 and increase their monthly website visits by 300%. What’s even more impressive was they were able to do all this while cutting their marketing budget by 90%.
Not sure where to start with your video content? One easy place to start is by answering some of the frequently asked questions that you receive on video. Most likely if one or more people ask a question, there are several more out there who were thinking about it. This can also be a great way to have your videos show up in the search results pages. For example, let’s say you are a stallion owner and you create a video explaining the process of putting mares under lights. When a mare owner searches for information on “Bring mares into season with lights”, your video has a good chance of showing up in the search results page.
You can also just have fun with your video content. The owners of the AQHA stallion Magnum With A Dream shot a 14 second video of him “dreaming” in his stall. While that type of video might not be something you would think about as something to promote your stallion, think about the 736 people who liked the video, the 519 people who shared it, or the thousands of people saw it and who might have been introduced to him for the first time. All that exposure for a quick, fun video that was probably taken with a smart phone and uploaded directly to Facebook.
Take Home Message
Videos can help you buy and sell horses, educate your clients, provide customer service, market your business, make your website more interactive, increase profitability and more. One of the most important steps you can take in getting started with video is to just get started. Some of your first videos might not be perfect but they are still better than the ones you never create. Think about creating videos from your customer’s point of view. What are they interested in, what questions do they have and what information do you think is important for them to know. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of videos and content. The more fun you have creating videos, the more likely you are to do more and the more likely your customers are going to see them.
Chad Mendell is the editor and partner at EquestrianProfessional.com, a website dedicated to helping horse businesses become more successful. He has also been the executive editor of TheHorse.com, where he kick started the video production department for Blood-Horse Publications. Additionally, he and his wife own and operate a 34-stall boarding stable near Lexington, KY, and they raise and show reining horses. You can reach Chad at email@example.com.