Why Every Company Needs An Online Video — An Interview with Rapidfire CEO Jay Bailey

Does your company have an online video? Something that tells your story and shows off your product in a compelling, unique and easy-to-understand way? I had the opportunity to interview Jay Bailey, CEO of RapidFire Video, an online promotional video production house, who feels very strongly that all companies need an online video to showcase themselves and their products. In our interview, Jay talks about his experience with online video and why every company needs an online video, as well as offers up some advice for businesses looking to create an online video of their own.

Jay got into the online video industry while he was working in marketing at Answers.com. He was looking for a company to produce a few videos to tell Answer.com’s story and found that all of the video production candidates he spoke to were expensive, flashy and, in short, just not what Jay and Answers.com were looking for. Then Jay saw a presentation that changed his whole perspective on online video forever. Dick Hardt’s ‘Identity 2.0 Keynote’ presentation told a compelling story using simple text and basic images. Jay says, “he told his company’s story in the most riveting way I’d ever seen. It’s clean, direct, entertaining, and refreshingly easy to follow.” He went on to produce a series of videos in the same style for Answers.com, and when he started RapidFire Video he continued in the Identity 2.0 tradition.

Why Every Company Needs An Online Video

You may be sitting there thinking that it’s all well and good that Jay and Answers.com wanted to create an online video presence, but what does that have to do with you and your company? I asked Jay whether he thought that all companies and brands should have a video on the web that tells their story and he answered with a resounding “yes”.

“I think that there are very few products that don’t need to tell their story in a digestible, concise, (and often, entertaining) way. People have an aversion to reading a lot of material. Whether it’s A.D.D., general distraction, or only initially tangential interest, you need to hook them from the very start. Even if you’re selling hammers and nails, you still need to inject your sales pitch with something unique – it can be about your factory, the company’s history, or your obsession with hardware stores as a kid. And people want something they can relate to…that speaks to them…that assures them that you know what their pain is and you know how to fix it.”

“At the end of the day, someone reaching the home page of any company generally needs more than a few bullets that list features. They’re wondering: Can I trust these guys? Do they get my problem? Is their product as good as the three others I’ve seen? They get answers to these questions when you tell you story.” And, of course, there’s no better way to tell your story than with a video. As an example, check out the online video RapidFire created for fring’s mobile communication service below.

Don’t Get Bogged Down In Viral

Before getting into advice for companies looking to create online videos of their own, I asked Jay how the types of video he suggests companies create differ from “viral” videos. Jay told me, “I think it’s very, very rare to actually be able to tell the story about your product/company and to do so in a way that has millions of people passing it around. Yes, there’s “the blender” exception – made simple by the utter simplicity of the product, and the universal benefit we see in its function. But for the most part, you want to target people who are interested and need to be encouraged to engage with you and have their hand held to establish confidence in you. That takes a clearly crafted script that moves from the viewer’s pain point, to the general solution, to a specific no-brainer solution that you offer. It’s got to feature enough detail to make it clear the viewer is in the right place, but not so much that it overwhelms.”

“A viral video, by contrast, is not created for a specific, narrow audience, but essentially for the lowest common denominator…and as such, the central themes are usually humor, or simply, “Chutzpah”: showing you something you didn’t think possible or probable. It has to so “bend the rules” of expectations that you simply must share it, almost as a subconscious sanity check. Now – a product video can certainly drive a viewer’s need to share it, but typically it’s only with someone specific, for whom the product is relevant. And that’s usually not your whole address book. In short, your video can go to 700,000 people, of whom 300 are potential customers, or to 25,000, of whom 4,000 are.”

Advice For Companies Looking To Create An Online Video

Now that you understand why it’s important for your company to create a video that tells your story, and you know that you shouldn’t get bogged down in the viral aspect of your video, where do you start? I asked Jay if he had any advice for businesses, and he gave me a few tips and pointers to share with you.

Don’t Go It Alone

Jay’s first piece of advice was to “think long and hard before you do it yourself.” Why shouldn’t you do it on your own? Well, for starters, if you want to pull it off you’ll have to have great marketing and copy-writing skills to create the script, and voice over, design and video editing skills. But even if you do have people skilled in these areas working on your team, it is important to keep in mind the fact that often you know your product so well that it is easy to forget that your customers don’t. Therefore, it’s easy to leave out information, use jargon that is familiar to yourself and your employees but not to the general public, and to oversell your product or focus on the wrong aspects. For this reason, it is important that if you do decide to create your video on your own then you should constantly ask for feedback from friends and colleagues that aren’t connected to your company.

Don’t Skimp On The Script

The script is one of the most important components of your video, so put in a lot of time making sure your script is effective and gets your message across in the best way possible. Keep it simple, leave out extraneous details, and don’t forget to remember your ultimate goal – getting your viewers to take action and convert to customers.

Jay says, “Humor is always a terrific component, but keep in mind that your goal is triggering the call to action. So almost as important is what I call “No Consumer Left Behind”. It’s the technique of adding enough urgency to make the viewer recognize that if he/she doesn’t act soon, it’ll be too late (money wasted, others will get ahead, they will look silly, etc.). The most serious mistake is creating a video that focuses almost exclusively on features. That’s valuable to have, but should be features on an inside page – the homepage should be about the need, and the ideal provider (you!) of the solution to that need.”

Get Your Video Out There

It’s all well and good to have a video online. But if nobody sees is, what’s the point? Jay says, “No video strategy is complete without a plan to get it out there. Sure, you can be reactive and have it seen by people who happen to get to your page. But you simply have to leverage social media and targeted user clusters to get the message to the right people, both to convert them into customers, but also to have them help you spread the word to their friends and colleagues, who are other relevant potential clients for you.”

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