Ready for Your Close-Up: Using Video in Your Marketing

Adding video content to your marketing mix is increasingly important to brands across the board, and especially to small- and medium-sized businesses like remodelers. A recent Forbes article goes so far as to say it’s crucial to your advertising and marketing mix — because consumers engage more with video, especially on social media, than anything else.

It doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Some of the best tools are within your reach, quite literally. Smartphones, tablets, and a laptop — and a few low- to no-cost tools — are all you need to create and post the content consumers crave.

Many of our Roundtables members are asking questions about the power of video, or taking first steps into video promotions and production. We’re happy to say others have mastered the art — check out the examples we show a little later in the blog post, they’re inspiring.

Getting started

If you’re on a PC, use Microsoft’s Movie Creator, while iMovie comes bundled with Macs and Apple mobile devices. These basic video editors are easy to use — and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube if you need help.

Need a little help with your graphic design? You can also personalize professionally made stock videos, or use their online graphic and editing tools with photos or video you’ve uploaded yourself. A few to consider:

  • Adobe Spark, a free service from the digital design giant.
  • Promo, from Slidely, has a robust collection of video and music. There are differing membership levels, but all get you lifetime rights to use what you create.
  • RenderForest also has a fee structure, with a variety of videos available.

Pick your ratio

When creating video, keep your social media channels in mind when deciding on your format. Landscape, portrait and square mode work better on some platforms than others — but square is the one that’s more useful overall.

If you only want one version, make it square, which is a 1:1 ratio. Adweek says square videos increase the number of viewers who watch to the very end by 67% on Facebook. Squares work better overall on mobile devices, especially on Instagram.

The subject matters

One of the easiest videos to create and post is a slideshow. Pick a project and create a short video of before-and-after photos, pick some music, then add your logo and contact info, and you’ve got yourself a video.

Start taking video of every step of your project — before, during, and after. A great tool to invest in is a gimbal stabilizer for your phone. It smooths out the bounce by keeping the camera steady, and most have directional capabilities as well. Drones are useful for getting sky-high and overhead view. Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor has a beautiful example of drone footage on a barn remodel. Use the footage on your social channels as you go to show progress, then edit together at the end.

Put yourself in front of the camera. Talk about how you started, why you run a remodeling business, and what matters to you about the business. It may help to write a script, and if you’re shy, simply set your camera or smartphone up and go it alone.

Get testimonials from your clients, at their homes or at your company event. Not everyone will go for it, of course, but some will. Have questions ready for them. You may have to do a couple of takes for them to get comfortable, but you’ll get a powerful endorsement. Sun Design Remodeling in Northern Virginia threw a client appreciation party at a winery and got these fantastic testimonials, while demonstrating how well they treat their clients. Total win-win.

When to call in help

While you can make good-quality video on your own, it can be time-consuming. Many remodelers work with local video production houses, outside agencies, or are hiring marketing people with video backgrounds to create high quality content for social, web, and email.

West Chester Design Build in West Chester, PA, produces HGTV-worthy videos, done in-house. Long-form episodes of projects follow the familiar format of home improvement television, and tell the story effectively and beautifully.

Whether you jump in to do video yourself, or use outside help, video isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s increasing importance in social media marketing, especially, means it’s time for your close-up.

Paid Search: It’s Not Just About Keywords

A great paid search campaign can really drive your business. But building campaigns, identifying ad groups, and developing keywords is just part of it.

You’ll also need to integrate a negative keyword strategy.

If you don’t have one, it might be the reason that your paid ads are falling flat.

You see, it’s not just all about optimizing the keywords you DO use in the campaign.

Success largely depends on negative keywords, too.

Don’t feel bad if you’re wondering, “what are negative keywords?” Many businesses fail to take them into account.

But if you spend just as much time building this list as you do your keywords list, you’ll see a huge ROI.

What are negative keywords?

Simply put, negative keywords prevent your online ads from displaying for particular keyword phrases.

Here’s how an AdWords campaigns works:

Much like an auction, your business bids on keywords in order to get your ad in front of customers.

If the ad is relevant to the audience and the bid is good, you’ll increase the odds of appearing in search results.

That’s what it’s all about.

Negative keywords, however, stop your ad from showing up in front of the audience that does NOT care about your products or services.

Let me show you a couple of examples of negative keywords in action.

Example 1

Let’s say your business sells bathroom remodeling services. Your keywords will focus on the term “bathroom” and hopefully appear on search pages when people are looking for design ideas in general and specific materials like cabinetry, flooring or plumbing fixtures.

But what if people are looking for “bathroom remodeling jobs?” You don’t want to be included in these searches.

In short, negative keywords help Google know when a search query doesn’t apply to your business.

That way, you can limit the ad impressions for these kinds of searches. And that’s important because they will never lead to a sale.

Example 2

Not all people search for the term “remodeling.” To some, it makes perfect sense to search for “home improvement.” But let me ask you, do you remember the popular TV show “Home Improvement” featuring Tim Taylor?

You know know where I’m going with this right?

As you can see, negative keywords play a big role in ensuring your ad is served to the correct eyeballs, and they will save you big bucks in the end.

How to create a negative keyword list

It pays to do extensive research when finding negative keywords. And there are a few different ways to build your list.

  1. Create a list. For example, if your business offers high-end services, your negative keyword list should include terms like “jobs, pictures, tv shows, magazines.”
  2. Use the search query report. The AdWords search query report will show you the searches that are currently triggered by your ad. Look carefully through the report and identify irrelevant searches and terms. Add them to your list.
  3. Turn to the Keyword Planner. Another great tool to use when searching for negative keywords, the Keyword Planner lets you build a list of related and common keywords. Generate your list and then look for negative keywords.

With an effective strategy for generating keywords and negative keywords, your paid search campaigns will soar — and build a business you can bank on.

3 Reasons Why It’s Not Enough JUST to do SEO Anymore

After a recent speech I gave at the 21st Century Building Expo & Conference in Charlotte, I had the chance to chat with a group of remodelers and builders about their experiences with search engine marketing. My conclusion? If SEO and pay per click (PPC) were competing for the next presidency, SEO would win in a landslide. Hardly any of the remodelers or builders I spoke to had ever even given pay per click advertising a chance.

If you want to maximize your search engine real estate—a proven strategy I always recommend to business owners who seek my company’s help—pay per click is something that shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, several big and recent Google updates make it something that you CAN’T ignore.

1) Google Has Reduced the Number of Local Listings It Displays

Google has come a long way regarding personalization of search—and one of those evolutions is serving up listings based on a user’s location. These local listings, displayed before the organic listings, have been an excellent opportunity for LOCAL remodeling businesses to gain first-page visibility simply due to their proximity to the searcher.

Before Aug. 2015, if a homeowner searched, “Baltimore kitchen remodeler”, they would typically see a search page with a paid ad up top (and along the right-side of the page) with a map below and seven local companies in/near Baltimore. Today, Google has reduced the number of local listings shown to just three.

sample SERP

This isn’t a problem if you already appear 2-3 times on the first page of Google (for those of you who are in prominent paid and organic spots, I applaud you) or if you somehow generate more referrals or word-of-mouth marketing than your team has the capacity for.

But if not, it’s likely you’ve seen a 100% reduction in first-page visibility post Google’s local listing update and this update could be pretty devastating to your business. Pay per click advertising isn’t starting to sound so bad, is it?

2) It’s Now Possible to Hyper-Target Ads to a List of Your Prospects

You (or your sales reps) likely have a large prospect list you’ve built and marketed to over the years (I know we have one!) and as of October 5th, it’s now possible to upload that email list to hyper-target your ads to prospects via paid search advertising (as well as through YouTube Trueview ads, and Gmail ads).

3) A New Home-Service Specific Ad Listing Is Coming

As I write this, Google is currently testing a new type of listing that will connect searchers directly with home service companies. At present, Google’s tests have been limited to plumbers, locksmiths, housekeepers, and handymen in the San Francisco Bay area, but depending on the results, they’ll almost certainly expand the program to include other types of home services.

Home-Service Specific ad listing screenshot

While the point of the listing is to connect homeowners directly with high-quality home service companies, as a side effect, this new ad type will decrease some of the first-page organic real estate (and also appears to completely eliminate the local listings). Just another reason to reconsider paid search if you haven’t already.

If You Do Nothing Else

PPC certainly isn’t for everyone. For some niches within the remodeling and design/build industry, the line between generating leads and sales profitably and throwing precious marketing dollars out the window is razor thin. However, there is one form of PPC advertising that practically every remodeling company can benefit from, and that’s remarketing.

Remarketing is a form of paid search advertising that allows you to show your ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the web. Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is beneficial for many different industries, but I highly suggest it for industries with longer sales cycles, as it promotes top of mind awareness for users who don’t convert on the first visit to your site.

What about you?

What has your experience been with paid search marketing? Do you use retargeted ads? Leave a comment below—I’d love to know what you’ve tried, what’s worked for you, and what hasn’t.