If you’re a self-storage operator striving to improve your facility’s online visibility, you aren’t alone. You may even know about the importance of writing regular blog content, staying active on social media, and working overtime on search engine optimization (SEO). But few of you are getting the results you want from your efforts. Even those who hire an outside firm to handle digital marketing are often disappointed when they realize their return on investment.
The unfortunate fact is digital marketing is tough work. Even if you spend every waking moment reading about the newest strategies and putting them into practice, generating qualified leads online gets harder every day.
As a rule of thumb, content marketing is widely regarded as the most effective way to improve your rankings on Google. That said, with more blogs popping up all the time and your biggest competitors hiring full-time writers to flood the Internet with articles, getting found on Google can seem like a losing battle. Enter video marketing.
Winning Position Zero With Video Content
While modern-day blogs are a dime a dozen, the number of businesses regularly putting out video content is shockingly low. Because producing video requires new skills and overcoming the fear of being on camera, most people never try. As you can probably guess, this creates a massive opportunity for those willing to take the plunge.
Not only does YouTube currently hold the position of the second-largest search engine in the world, Google’s 2006 acquisition of the video giant essentially puts it in the No. 1 spot.
If you regularly search for information on Google, you’ve probably seen a video carousel at the top of your results page more than a few times. In fact, a study by STAT Search Analytics found that an average of 41 percent of Google search-engine results pages (SERP) include a video carousel somewhere on the first two pages.
Producing video content creates a significant advantage for people looking to improve the visibility of their business online. Sitting in what’s known as “position zero” in the marketing community, video carousels are commonly featured at the very top of a SERP, sometimes even before the paid ads!
Improving Blog Performance With Video
As a bonus, blog posts with embedded video almost always outperform other posts on the same topic without. In fact, there are many SEO advantages of using video in your blog.
For starters, an engaging video tends to increase page-dwell time, one of the key metrics Google measures in determining page rank. As if that wasn’t enough, embedded videos are one of the best ways to win links to your posts.
For those unfamiliar with SEO, links are another essential contributor to Google ranking. Google looks at each link pointing to your site as a vote of confidence from the referring site that your content is high-quality and deserves to rank well. The more external links you have pointing to your site, the better it’ll perform in search.
Further, getting your content featured also earns you exposure to the audiences of the sites that present it. Adding this to the value Google places on traffic from social media sites like YouTube, video marketing may very well be the greatest opportunity for self-storage operators.
Succeeding in Video Marketing
Before you run off and buy a high-dollar DSLR (digital, single-lens, reflex) camera, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
Winning at video marketing requires a creative approach. This may seem like a no-brainer, but creativity is arguably the most critical success factor. Rather than producing the same tired videos everyone else in the self-storage industry is posting, you’ll need to think outside the box.
In brainstorming video concepts, think beyond trying to sell storage. Instead, focus your attention on bringing value to potential customers. In many cases, the most appreciated content is only loosely related to the product or service it was intended to promote. For example, rather than producing a video on your price specials for a specific month, try making one on how to maximize the space inside a small unit.
Building an audience takes time. A great video is only as good as the number of people who can find and watch it. Unfortunately, YouTube isn’t very friendly to new content producers, often burying them on the 10th page of search results for a keyword.
While there’s no magic formula to getting your videos featured overnight, the most surefire way to get there over time is by building an audience. Rather than pump out content in hopes a video will go viral, it’s better to like, comment and engage with other creators’ content regularly. Because these people share your interest in getting more eyes on their videos, they’ll likely reciprocate. Helping others reach their goals almost always pays off in the long run.
You need thick skin. There’s no denying that people can be mean on the Internet. Empowered by the anonymity of sitting behind a computer screen, online trolls thrive on putting other people down for no apparent reason. No matter what your subject matter or focus, if you’re creating content on YouTube, you’re going to run into these people from time to time.
As much as you may be tempted to defend yourself from these unwarranted attacks, the last thing you want to do is give them any attention. Often, you’ll find that merely ignoring the naysayers is the best way to overcome their negativity. Before you let mean comments bring you down, remember that most of these people attack others out of envy or jealousy. Instead of letting their negativity discourage you, take them as a sign that you’re on the right path!
Producing Video Content
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start a YouTube channel for your self-storage business. Excitement aside, you’re probably wondering where to start. Fortunately, producing videos these days requires little more than a smartphone and a willingness to put yourself out there.
With modern cell-phone camera technology rivaling the capabilities of the best DSLR cameras from a few years ago, filming a high-quality video has never been easier. That said, in the interest of maximizing your production value, you may want to invest in a few key pieces of equipment. While it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of camera gear and spending tens of thousands of dollars on a production setup, you can easily get a professional-quality rig for a fraction of that cost. It should include:
Tripod. Most videographers agree a good tripod is one of the most critical pieces of equipment you can buy. Shooting with a tripod improves the quality of your videos in several ways, such as stabilizing your shots, enabling pan shots, and allowing you to film yourself or others at a distance. With many great models available for $20 or less, a smartphone tripod is an excellent marketing investment for any self-storage marketer.
Lights. Exceptional lighting equipment is worth its weight in gold in video production. Proper lighting can make you look better on camera, giving your videos a feeling of professionalism that can’t be achieved with a smartphone alone.
Despite many studio lighting packages costing upward of $500, there are much more affordable options for a storage operator looking to step up his video-production value. In the interest of killing two birds with one stone, consider buying a light-ring kit. Containing an LED light ring, tripod, phone holder and hot-shoe adapter, these kits get you everything you need to produce studio-quality videos for less than $100.
Microphone. If you’re planning to shoot video outside or in other noisy environments, you’ll need to invest in a good microphone. If you’ll produce single-subject explainer videos, a simple lapel mic should have you covered. However, if you’re going to produce interview-style or live-action videos, it may be better to purchase a condenser or omnidirectional microphone. Regardless of the style you choose, there are a ton of good, entry-level microphones available for $50 or less.
Video-editing software. This is a must-have for anyone getting serious about producing video content. As much as we’d like to hope our raw videos will turn out great, this is rarely the case. From audio issues to lighting problems and bloopers, there are countless ways a shoot can go wrong.
Fortunately, there are many video-editing programs available to help you fix inevitable issues. In fact, if you own an Apple computer, you already have free software! Though iMovie is far from the most robust option available, it’s more than enough for most amateur editing needs.
If you’re more of a PC person, look no further than Blackmagic’s Davinci Resolve. While it doesn’t come installed on new computers, the free version is even more capable than iMovie, making it a perfect fit for someone looking to get into video marketing without spending a ton of money upfront.
Turning our attention to the paid options, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects are widely considered the industry standard for professional video editors worldwide. If you’re an Apple user, Final Cut Pro also gets top marks from video professionals, as does the paid version of Davinci Resolve.
Beyond being a powerful new way to market your self-storage facility online, many operators realize that making videos is fun! Armed with the right equipment, some perseverance and a little luck, you can use video marketing to take your business to the next level. While it won’t be easy, staying the course and improving your skills will almost always pay off.
Michael Seymour is the director of business development for Tomins, a business-insurance solution designed with entrepreneurs in mind. It offers a variety of coverages including business owner policy, general liability, commercial property, workers’ compensation and more. For more information, call 817.500.4140; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.tomins.com.