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QA

Video is a powerful tool that enables you to communicate to a wide audience about your company and products. When discerning customers need more than product descriptions, video is the answer to your marketing challenges.

To learn more about how businesses can use video, we emailed Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, for a Q&A session.

Full Q&A below:

As a recognized expert in online marketing, we’d love your input on how businesses can leverage video for branding and developing thought leadership.

As they say: if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth millions. While video has always been an engaging content format, the recent rise in visual marketing presents compelling reasons why companies should leverage more info-taining content formats to attract, engage and inspire action from their community. Storytelling and demonstrating expertise through video can be instrumental for building a company’s brand and thought leadership.

Entertaining and informational videos that communicate key messages along with the company’s unique value proposition can facilitate branding, awareness and consideration.

Video interviews with executives on industry trends and with overall industry thought leaders can, by association, help build thought leadership for the company.

There are many different storytelling formats that can contribute to branding and help facilitate thought leadership, but all need to answer the questions that help viewers understand what’s different and valuable about the company and why they are trustworthy. Inspiring confidence and trust while being entertaining, useful and engaging makes for a winning video marketing strategy.

TopRank has helped businesses and organizations dramatically improve their online marketing for more than a decade now. What are some of the best examples you’ve seen of businesses leveraging video?

A lot of our work is in the B2B technology world, so some of my favorite B2B video channels are technology companies like Cisco. Their videos are often clever, like this one. It hasn’t had a lot of views, but adds some flavor to an otherwise staid topic. Another good example is Corning, with wildly popular videos like this one with over 21 million views demonstrating future products.

Smaller companies such as GravityLight and PaperTab have great examples of using video for product demos.

Last summer we compiled a collection of top B2B video channels on the TopRank Blog.

As someone who has been involved with online marketing for 15 years, what has changed for video marketing and why? Also, what are some of the biggest challenges video marketers face as consumers and the industry evolve?

One of the biggest changes is that producing, hosting and promoting video has become much easier. That said, with a lower barrier to entry, video has become far more competitive.

I started experimenting with taking short video interviews at conferences in 2006 with a little Sony video camera. Now it’s common to see exhibit halls include mobile studios, which allows companies to run live video feeds and interviews continuously throughout the day.

Another change is the influence of mobile and tablet devices for capture, editing, promotion and consumption. Someone with a smartphone and a lavaliere microphone can now shoot high definition video with great sound quality and edit it on the same phone, then upload to YouTube and promote through social networks without ever involving a regular computer. They can do this in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional video editing.

The challenge for marketers is to think beyond the video production process. In other words, applying what they already know about marketing to video in terms of having goals, understanding the information needs and preferences of the target audience and what will engage and motivate them to action. A lot of companies get hung up on video creation without considering promotion or building social networks on the video hosting platforms. Video content without community or an audience doesn’t help anyone.

Businesses that understand how their customers discover, consume and engage with video content will be in a much better position to adjust their ability to create, promote and structure video consumption as their audience behaviors evolve. For some companies, video podcasting might be the answer and for others, a video channel on YouTube with cross posting to a blog will do the trick. Others still might find running a Google Hangouts On Air will provide the right combination of real-world event and video that resonates best. Optimization for mobile video consumption and social sharing presents a huge opportunity as well.

Of course, none of this matters if a company hasn’t even started answering fundamental questions about “why” video storytelling makes sense for the brand and how it will create value for customers.

Finally, we have to ask: How did you build TopRank from the ground-up and turn it into the successful digital marketing agency that it is today?

Today’s TopRank Online Marketing is successful because of a first-class team that includes people like Jolina Pettice, Brian Larson, Miranda Miller and many others. We get to work with amazing companies that are willing to invest in customer-centric content, social engagement and a continuous effort to optimize marketing performance.

The company was originally founded in 2001 by Susan Misukanis. I joined shortly after as a contractor, then employee, then partner. I became CEO in 2005. What started as a PR and Direct Marketing company became a Digital Marketing Agency and we evolved TopRank as a product into a suite of online marketing consulting services. I decided in late 2003 to start blogging and after becoming CEO, my involvement in the industry as a public speaker at conferences and private company events increased.

By creating customer-centric and useful content, growing our social networks and conference speaking, we’ve been able to grow our business with no salespeople or advertising. We work with a number of Fortune 500 companies and many mid-market companies providing strategic advice on how to integrate digital marketing tactics that grow more revenue, engage customers and build communities. In 2012, I authored a book about this approach, Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. The book has been endorsed by senior executives at Ford, Walmart and Microsoft, which has led to even more corporate speaking and consulting business.

However, this endeavor of a digital marketing agency has always been a team effort. I am just the public face of an incredibly talented group of people that does all the hard work.

In summary, here are four takeaways from Lee:

1. Video marketing needs to answer What and Why: What makes the company different and valuable, and Why they are trustworthy.

“Inspiring confidence and trust while being entertaining, useful and engaging makes for a winning video marketing strategy.”

2. Marketers have more than enough skills to do video.

“[Marketers can apply] what they already know about marketing to video in terms of having goals, understanding the information needs and preferences of the target audience and what will engage and motivate them to action.”

3. Improve your video marketing by understanding your audience.

“Businesses that understand how their customers discover, consume and engage with video content will be in a much better position to adjust their ability to create, promote and structure video consumption as their audience behaviors evolve.”

4. Finally, know why you should make videos.

“Of course, none of this matters if a company hasn’t even started answering fundamental questions about ‘why’ video storytelling makes sense for the brand and how it will create value for customers.”