By Chris Paradiso
FOCUSING IN ON VIDEO
How to effectively market your business in a post-pandemic world
Unless you’re FedEx or Amazon, there’s a pretty good chance the pandemic has or could have impacted your business in a less-than-positive way. Whether you provide services online or in person, I trust you were able to quickly adapt your agency’s brand to respond to a more digital and socially distant audience. If not, there’s a good chance you’ve seen considerable loss of profit over the past year.
Regardless of how you’ve performed, you’re not alone. Every one of us—even those of us who are more digitally savvy—have undergone an unprecedented learning process this year. As we start to see restrictions being lifted across this great country, we’re left with the pandemic’s remnants and proof that many of us were right in our predictions that circumstances will not go back to normal anytime soon.
[W]ith COVID-I9 giving us more free time and fewer options for in-person activities, video’s dominance has no doubt grown—and it will continue to do so.
Relationships have suffered in a big way; they have been exponentially more difficult to maintain. With communication being limited to digital methods, we’ve been challenged to develop connections that are as authentic and transparent as those we enjoyed before. We’ve gone from person-to-person relationships to digital ones.
Virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting have become the new norm for conducting renewals, annual reviews, and interviews; interacting with remote co-workers and partners; and even converting leads through digital marketing.
But news is not all bad. There are other options you can integrate into your updated business processes to optimize relationship growth in a new era—one where handshakes have become taboo, and meeting face to face needs a six-foot marker between you and the next person. Let’s look into this new—or at least newly important—way of doing business.
Video to the rescue
It’s not a stretch to say that video (YouTube in particular) not only is best for search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities, but it has become an essential part of reaching an agency’s audience.
In 2018, Statista reported that 86% of all internet users in the U.S. absorbed monthly video content on their smartphones and devices. If you’re like me, it’s most likely a couple hours a day—and for my kids, it’s even more. Video has taken over the internet, and if your agency isn’t using it, you are missing out in a big, big way.
A huge portion of our population chooses to engage with video more than any other form of content. This was already the case a year ago, but with COVID-19 giving us more free time and fewer options for in-person activities, video’s dominance has no doubt grown—and it will continue to do so.
There are two video marketing methods we use at Paradiso Insurance to engage with our clients and prospects to promote relationship growth.
Inbound marketing video. When you can’t go out and pound the streets to meet up with existing clients and find prospects, you need to bring them to you and your agency using inbound marketing tools, such as blogs, vlogs, social media, and—most important in my mind—video content.
Video is an extremely inexpensive and hugely engaging method of growing your agency’s brand. You can use your own content to attract new connections, and you can use it to develop and enrich connections you already have. Do this by sharing video updates and important/useful information via email and other platforms.
The key is to produce and distribute interesting and engaging content; if the content is canned (the pictures and/or the content), you will lose the interest of your prospects and clients.
What I am really saying here is that you must know your audience and what they will like. Your networks are far more likely to positively engage if they recognize you and your agency’s voice and face than they would with an email of written words alone.
If you are going to commit to an email strategy, make sure to include video that comes from within your agency.
Video advertisements. Video-hosting platforms such as YouTube and even Instagram—and soon, LinkedIn—have a strategy of monetizing their video con-tent through skippable and unskippable advertisements. All of these advertisements will soon be unskippable, so we will be obligated to watch short ads.
Often, the hosting brand doesn’t have a choice as to whether their content will have ads; however, they can customize and monetize them, as well. Your insurance agency can create short video content and relationship-based videos that can act in the same way for other brands, directing their audiences to you and your agency.
There are two types of video advertising:
- In-stream. I’m sure you have all watched YouTube before. There, along with Instagram and Facebook, in-stream ads play at the beginning of the video. These can be anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes long, depending on whether they can be skipped or not.
Some social platforms allow you to skip right away, while others force you to watch five seconds or so of the ad. Your agency brand’s job is to create video content that your audience won’t want to skip—using engaging stories and other features that will keep their attention until the end and essentially spark a relationship.
Remember, the key is to be short and engaging so that you will get the results you are looking for.
- Pre-roll. Similar in length to a standard TV commercial, these ads can play at any point before, during, or at the end of a video and are unskippable by the viewer, unless they pay for a premium package.
Although users can’t skip the ad, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to put the same love and care into engagement as you do in all your marketing content; having some kind of call-to-action plan is crucial.
Yes, every single piece of marketing content your agency puts out must have a call-to-action plan.
Virtual meeting to market your brand
If your agency is focused heavily on client interaction, such as we are in ours, adapting to a more digital approach is even more important for maintaining relationships. Phone calls can be great and are still very effective, but I find them to be less personable than having a one-on-one, in-person conversation.
Video calling can bridge that gap. I personally love FaceTime. If you don’t have an iPhone, I would suggest using a tool like www.useloom.com for video proposals and as another way to communicate and get yourself in front of others.
Successful agencies have built a strategy to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom or some other virtual meeting platform for open communication and effective customer service/experience when in-person is impossible or difficult. Doing this gives your agency an advantage over your competitors, and it provides clients even more options to speak with your team without compromising around restrictions and other pandemic-related issues.
Many agencies use a scheduler such as Calendly to allow current and potential clients to book virtual meetings with you or a member of your team without having to call, text, email, or work around any schedules. As appointment times fill up, they are removed from the availability calendar that clients can access.
With this knowledge, the million-dollar question is: What tools are you using now—or will you use—that weren’t a part of your strategy before COVID-19?
Chris Paradiso is president of Paradiso Financial & Insurance Services, headquartered in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. His agency won PIA National’s Excellence in Social Media Award in 2013. He also heads up Paradiso Presents, LLC, which provides social media consulting, seminars and workshops to help agencies thrive in the online marketing world. Contact Chris via email at email@example.com.