The local video movement

By Thomas Escourrou

Video and technology are changing the way local businesses interact with customers. Local products are easier to find. Worthy news reach citywide audiences in an instant. This marketing revolution means that local entrepreneurs now need to create digital content often, and do it well. In this area, we are seeing some interesting uses of video. We'll cover examples here, and we'll continue to write about the local video movement, as more local businesses embrace video to connect and grow.

Video and Local go together well

Bi-Rite is an iconic grocery store in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood

Video is a great medium to tell authentic stories and capture the soul of a local business. Because they are realistic and spontaneous, videos can be used to share an event at the store, to tell the founder's story, or to collect customer testimonials. Short of a face-to-face conversation, video is the most convincing medium for a local business.

And it works!

Savvy local businesses are using video to their advantage. The video above and the one below were viewed nearly 10,000 times. That’s a lot of views for neighborhood stores, even for a city like San Francisco.

Like delicious chocolate? Watch this video and get on the next plane to San Francisco

Videos are watched from your homepage, shared on Facebook, or they get picked-up by local news sites. You can also add them to your Yelp profile to reach large audiences.

Should you create videos for your business?

Depends! If many of your customers go to your website (eg. patients of this chiropractic clinic before booking an appointment), then the video is the first thing they'll see on the homepage, and yes a convincing video will be an amazing asset.

This clinic is making a very good first impression

Or if your business has a growing Facebook following (like this restaurant in Vancouver), then a good video will get shared and seen widely (this one nearly got 10,000 views)

Stunning video of a chef and his craft, no voices, just beautiful ingredients and skills.

At the end of the day, it's all about matching investment with opportunity. And since video production costs have come down a lot, many local businesses find that the math works, especially for businesses that have or want to grow a digital audience.

Thinking about making videos?

We'll leave you with a few tips, dos and don'ts (below). And we plan to write more specific how-tos soon (eg. how to choose a videographer? how to set your budget?). Leave us a message below or write us to get updates or to get involved.

Tip #1: Make real content, not advertising

The most effective videos do not feel like advertising. They tell authentic stories rather than deliver rehearsed marketing messages. This is true for any video but particularly for local businesses. Local customers expect a genuine and personable interactions.

Tip #2: Be yourself

No need to take acting lessons! Most local business videos don't require you to put up an act, rather just work with your videographer, to capture real-life snippets. Chances are that your store looks great and that you already have plenty to say about your services/products.

Tip #3: Team up

Filming is time consuming and technical, especially if you want people to actually watch your videos. You'll want to team up with a videographer and an editor within your budget, which leaves you to focus on planning and on articulating your story.

Tip #4: Spend wisely but don't skimp

Your videos need to pass a certain quality threshold, otherwise you risk hurting more than helping. For example, I am not a fan of this animated slideshow for a restaurant. Businesses work hard to create their brand, and they should invest in making good videos or not at all.

Making videos is real work. Between the equipment, the set-up, the shooting, and the editing,... and the years of training that preceded. That said, there are very solid options even for small budgets. For example, a simple Yelp profile video only costs ~$400-800 (depending on location), while a bespoke video that you can also use to advertise on Youtube, with master cinematography and storytelling, starts at $2k.

Tip #5: Plan the shoot

Finally, even if you hire the best director there is, make sure to prepare for the shoot. Simple things like making sure the office/store is clean, that the staff has been briefed, that the shoot is happening during a quiet time.

The local video movement is only getting started. More people make videos, and more people watch them. It'll be interesting to see how creative local businesses embrace the trend. What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you have other examples of successful local business videos? Let us know below or by email.