Video Marketing: Sell Your Experience on the Small Screen

Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik
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Video Marketing: Sell Your Experience on the Small Screen

Video marketing for tour & activity companies

The people have spoken–or rather, watched.

We love videos. We love them in 7-second Vines or Snapchats. We love them in our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. We love emails caked in gifs. And let’s not forget about the wonderful world of YouTube.

Chalk it up to any of these social media sites, to the explosion of GoPro technology, or simply to “kids these days…”  – whatever the reason, videos are in vogue. And if your tour looks good on camera, that’s good news.

“When you’re selling an experience, still images can only go so far,” says Sara Bell, CEO of The Gorge. “That’s where videos come in to complete the picture.”

In the marketing world, videos can do no wrong. Ninety-three percent (read: pretty much all) marketers use video in their roles and just over half think video delivers the best ROI compared to other types of content.

But anything offering a high reward also comes with a high risk. It’s hard to produce a cinematic marvel. The best ones will be short, look professional, and excite viewers.

With your tours winding down this winter, it’s the perfect time to plan out some video projects that bring some A-list entertainment to your website. Enchant your customers and boost your sales, as long as you follow these video marketing tips.

Will your video influence customer behavior?

With anything as hyped as video marketing, there’s the risk of going along with the bandwagon without anything to show for it in the end. It’s not worth taking the time, money, and energy to produce a video just because everyone else is doing it.

Before you press record, you need a strategy. Any marketing, video included, should ultimately influence your audience’s behavior, nudging people closer to a sale. To do that, you need to get inside their heads. Are your potential customers swayed more by information or by excitement and entertainment? Will they listen more to you or to what other customers have to say?

These questions will help you determine how to present the information, but how do you know what information to present in the first place?

Start by brainstorming all the things people look for when they book a tour. Why would someone choose your experience over your competitor’s?

Now that you’ve got your list of reasons, put it to the screen test. Let’s be honest, there are some stories that don’t need to be told in film. For example, some of your competitive advantages could be your pricing or proximity to a major metropolitan area. But neither of those topics make for compelling videos.

Let’s look at an example: On its home page, The Gorge features a video on its guides.

Video Test #1: does the it provide relevant information that could influence a customer’s purchase decision? We know that people love to talk about great guides in TripAdvisor reviews, so it makes sense to double-down and highlight guides ahead of the booking as well.

Alright, now for Video Test #2: is it a story worth telling on video? I’ll let Bell answer this one.

“So much of the feedback that we get from return clients is about how amazing our guides are,” Bell explains, “and that’s also a really challenging thing to communicate to people that have never been here before.”

Bingo, this video meets both requirements.

Extra tip: The placement of your video is in some ways just as important as the content itself. Make sure you consider where on your website it will have the greatest influence.

Leave it to the pros

You’ve nailed the content, now for the presentation. If your customers were looking for amateur footage, they would’ve gone to YouTube. But they’re here on your website and it’s your job to make the right first impression. While videos may be one portion of the website, they can really leave a bad taste if executed poorly.

And don’t think you can get away with shoddy videos if you bury them in your site. Every page, not just your home page, speaks to your brand. Anything that looks like a school project will do more harm than good for your image.

Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour offers a perfect example of a well-done video on its home page getting overshadowed by low-quality videos elsewhere on its site.

Let’s look at the home page video first. Except for being a little on the long side, it checks all the boxes of a top-notch video.

This is where you want to stop while you’re ahead. With videos it’s always quality over quantity. Don’t undermine your hard work by pointing customers to more videos that aren’t up to snuff.

Under the great video on the home page, Harpers Ferry adds a link for other canopy tour videos. But instead of more Blockbusters, these fall more on the “Horror” side of the spectrum.

Let’s start with the first video in the list, shot by a reporter from the local newspaper. But there’s a reason why that person is a reporter and not a producer. I can only make it to the 15-second mark of his 3-minute video before the wind in the background begins to blast in my ears.

This video highlights all the reasons why it’s important to invest in professional footage. Zip tours and aerial parks are not always forgiving environments. They’re usually wooded, which presents lighting obstacles, and speeding through the air can sound awful without the right editing equipment. You need someone with not only the tools but also the knowledge to mitigate these glaring imperfections on film.

Poorly-crafted videos like this one misrepresent the Harpers Ferry experience and undo all the success of the home page video. As I warned before, video marketing giveth but it also taketh away.

Here’s Bell again: “It’s like anything in marketing–if you’re going to do it poorly, you might as well not do it at all.”

Hold their attention

You’ve made it through two-thirds of the video marketing gauntlet. Unfortunately, you’ve yet to face your most menacing enemy: boredom.

Excitement is the Holy Grail for marketers. Boredom, on the other hand, is our Kryptonite.

When people get excited, our bodies sends all kinds of physiological signals that make us feel aroused and impulsive. Impulsivity temporarily frees us of our inhibition, making it easier for people to act. Get someone excited and she’ll be more likely to engage with your blog, share something on social media, or buy your tour.

But it’s easy to slip up especially when it comes to these trouble spots:

Music

Bell can back me up on this one. “The biggest fail is the music selection,” she says. A classical soundtrack will turn any action-packed video into an immediate snoozefest. Same with jazz. Pick a genre that complements your experience. Your music will make or break the energy and excitement in your video.

Length

Assume your audience has the attention span of a squirrel. Past 90 seconds, your video will push people’s limits.

Long videos not only test our focus, but also our sense of control. We like to dictate the way we consume content. Videos, while offering rich visual cues (good), are hard for us to skim (bad). If your video drones on, there better be a good reason.

When it comes to video marketing, less is more.

Choose Your Subjects Wisely

The surest way to make a boring video is to put a boring person on screen. Part of what makes video so effective is that it’s an immersive experience. We can’t help but create an empathetic connection with the people we see on screen. You can thank the mirror neurons in our brains for that.

The flipside of this, however, is that your audience’s excitement will droop if you put someone on camera that shouldn’t be there. Someone with a monotone voice or with no facial expression north of a frown will kill the mood. It doesn’t matter how important that person is, you want someone on camera that will enliven your audience. Viewers will copy what they see on screen.

All of these tips boil down to one thing: keep up the excitement! No one will be able to resist a high-energy professional video that captures the essence of your tour.

Final Thoughts

Video has transformed the way we think about advertising and marketing. Take this time in your off-season to revamp this part of your strategy. As long as you master these tips, video could be the biggest asset in your marketing arsenal.

This article originally appeared in my “Insider Marketing” column on Adventure Park Insider.
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Writer Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik

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