The Web is now really an option for video marketing and promotion in this Golden Age of independent video production.
We live in the Golden Age of independent video production. Twenty-five years of relentless hardware development has given us computers so fast and so powerful that they scream through project tasks more like digital lighting than digital technology. According to Moore’s Law (Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel), the number of transistors on a CPU doubles every eighteen months. That observation has been remarkably accurate for the past thirty years. Software too, has progressed. With powerful, stable and creative apps, we can make special effects that astound our viewers with visual shock and awe, all done with a click of a mouse. Clearly, this is the best of times for independent producers.
Or Is It?
Does marketing of indie productions and services follow Moore’s Law? I haven’t noticed brochures doubling in capacity. Has the digital revolution left independent video marketing and promotion behind? Not on your life. The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for promoters to connect with customers for their productions and services.
How can being on the Web help with video marketing and promotion? Meet Josh, Marie, Don, Arthur and Gwen, independent videographers like yourself, who are effectively generating revenue by marketing their video goods and services on the Web. Of course, they are imagined folks, but they represent the marketing possibilities that are opening up today in the here and now. Josh makes indie fiction features, Marie shows her work at arts councils and galleries, Don sells video stock footage, Arthur produces corporate video, and Gwen offers video conferencing services. They all use the Net to market their goods and services.
What Do I Need to Do?
First, you’ll need a Web site. Don’t know how to do a Web page, much less an entire site? HTML is a foreign language? No problem: surf over to Web Monkey or another portal site, to get the latest on authoring tools, some of them free, to build your place on the Web. Web Monkey provides tutorials, examples of code, and advice on almost every aspect of authoring and deploying a Web site. A basic page is not hard to construct, especially if your content is compelling.
Building a Web site and getting it deployed is only the beginning. If getting a page up was it, all you would have is the online equivalent of a brochure. There is more to marketing of videos than a Web site. Online marketing requires effective techniques as well as effective technology. Like any other sales material, a Web site needs a strategy in order to be effective. Let’s see how our group of producers uses its Web sites to market their goods and services. The most effective marketing strategies make use of connecting and reaching out, two strengths of the Web.
Josh has produced a feature length film with his DV equipment. Local audience response has been great, but he wants to reach a larger audience now. How does the Web help him? All day, all the time, the Web is marketing his productions. The Web, with its nearly infinite links, can connect Josh to potential buyers across the planet on a 24/7 basis. One very easy and effective way to make this happen is for Josh to list his productions with a search engine that specializes in movies and videos.
A good example of this is the DivX Web site (www.divx.com). Getting your video listed is easy: just follow the on-site instructions. Once submitted, DivX’s Web spider application crawls through your Web site looking for and noting all the links to movie content. Once complete, your content is listed by the search engine and will appear in the hit lists of people querying that search engine for content. Going beyond that, Josh could submit his movie for inclusion in the DivX Featured Movie section.
Before going ahead with this, make sure that your movie is the best that it can be. Forget about submitting your videos of Davy the dog fetching Uncle Al’s briefs. Stuff like this isn’t going to cut it with the DivX crew. Beside quality, the DivX folks require that the production be encoded with their technology. Fortunately, DivX produces one of the most widely used (and highest quality vs. compression) video codecs in use today. There are copyright permissions to be gone through as well. For all his work, Josh gets a path to his Web site where people from all over the world can buy or rent access to his film.
Marie specializes in screening her work at arts councils, galleries and libraries all over the country. She would like to offer DVDs of her work for sale, not only after her presentations, but also on high-traffic Web sites like eBay, Amazon and Yahoo. Marie gets her discs mastered and duplicated using an online finishing service like CustomFlix (www.customflix.com). CustomFlix can get you set up for DVD sales for as little as $50. If you need to get your tape converted to MPEG-2 for DVD, they make it happen starting at $100. Marie focuses on perfecting her presentations and productions while CustomFlix takes care of the entire marketing, manufacturing and order fulfillment back end. The integration of traditional distribution methods and a coordinated online strategy is what makes this all work for Marie.
Don produces royalty-free title animations and stock footage that he sells online through eBay. To get an idea of the scope of this market, try searching eBay, using terms like video stock footage, clip art, royalty free, and stock footage. Don also sells loops and samples for use in ACID, Cakewalk and other music production authoring programs, which are perfect for creating custom soundtracks. Don got started by establishing a seller’s account with eBay and following the step-by-step process. Don gets access to a global niche market of video producers who need his services, makes a little money today and establishes a presence on the Web that may become a full-time career in the not too distant future.
Gwen produces corporate training videos. She doesn’t make money by retailing her productions, but instead uses her Web site to market her services to new clients. Gwen can use her Web site as a portfolio to stream her demo reel to anyone who is interested. Gwen integrates her Web site’s URL into every communication material that she uses. It appears on her business cards, in her magazine ads, on her letterhead, and on her CDs and DVDs. Everyone who interacts with Gwen gets directions to her Web site. Using services like Strong Streams (www.strongstreams.com), she can host her video streams for as little as $50 per month.
Ten Minutes Into The Future
What’s next? With the Web, the answer to that question is always surprising. Perhaps we can discover a clue to the future of video marketing by looking at Web broadcast pioneer Mark Cuban and his venture, 2929 Productions. The company is currently producing feature films in HD, with production budgets in the million-dollar range. These films will play in theaters, run on cable and broadcast TV and be distributed on DVD. Are million dollar budgets out of your range?
Remember Moore’s Law. Over the coming years, these technologies will rapidly become available to us as well. With JVC and others not far behind, we have entered the age of consumer HD production. Editing applications and the computers that run them will be able to handle high definition video quite handily before you know it. Hi-Def quality Web streaming is only a matter of time.
Sure, it’s all fun to dream about, but modern distribution and promotion can and should be practiced today. There is fame and fortune waiting for the motivated. Technology is now more of a booster than the barrier it once was.
Roger B. Wyatt, Ed.D. is a partner in McLellan Wyatt Digital, a new media company, and on the board of
directors of the Saratoga Media Arts Institute.