Here’s a stat for you: YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Web with more than 2 billion views a day. That’s right, two billion. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not all just silly cat videos and adolescents injuring themselves. Your customers turn to YouTube’s search bar every day to look for how-to’s, product reviews, and other information about the companies and brands that interest them. And even when they don’t turn to YouTube, Google is using Universal Search elements to put the videos in traditional search. Video is everywhere and it’s what people want.

As a small business owner, you want to find ways to take advantage of that. And there are plenty of them. Here are six ways small business owners can use video to attract customers, increase their rankings, and differentiate their brand from all the others competing for the same eyes.

Offer reviews and tutorials

This should be a no-brainer. Lots of your customers are likely visual learners. If they have a problem setting up your product or getting it to do what they want, they’re going to have an easier time figuring it out by watching you explain it, than simply by reading. And that makes video a really great way to help solve their problems and make yourself useful. Video reviews and tutorials help people see your product in a way they can’t on online. For example, the site offers great blackberry tutorial videos to help users get more from their smart phone. They have videos on everything from how to reset your Blackberry to how to use your phone as an external modem. It’s super helpful for users and a great differentiator for them. It builds trust that later leads to conversions.

Record presentations

Lots of small business owners pride themselves in being active in their communities. They speak at their local chamber of commerce, they offer training classes, and they seek out opportunities to share knowledge wherever they can. If that’s you, why not ask for permission to record these presentations? You may not always get a ‘yes’ from the organizers, but when you do, it will give you a great video to post on your site. These videos act as strong testimonials and help portray you as an expert in what you do.   They’re also great training tools for potential customers who will find the video via search and may even open the door to future speaking opportunities.

Highlight what makes you unique

Small business owners have great stories. There’s a reason and a passion behind your business and something in you that drives why you do what you do, how you do it. Share that! Bring people in and highlight what it is that makes your company stand out among your competition. By sharing it and telling your story in your own words and with your own mannerisms, you give people something to connect with and relate to. You make them more interested in who you are and they can put a name and a mission behind an otherwise cold brand. There’s something about listening to someone tell you why it is they love what they do that makes you want to do business with them. Passion is as contagious as giggles.

Show your product in action

If a picture is worth a thousand words than I can’t even calculate how much a video is worth to visitors. Sometimes it’s hard to get a feel for exactly what a product does by simply looking at images or reading site copy. People want to see it in action. And that’s where video comes in. Use video to take your product out into the wild so that customers can see how it works in every day use. They’ll see its dimensions, how easy it is to use, how attractive it looks, etc.  It will work to give them a much better idea as to how valuable it can be to them or why they need one.

A classic example of this is the Will It Blend video series. Sure, they could have written great site copy about how powerful their blenders are, but there’s nothing like seeing your blender take on an iPhone, a rake or other odd objects to instill confidence. I also liked Bensons for Beds’ mattress dominoes. You’re not really seeing the mattresses in action, but they help associate a bit of fun with what they’re selling.

Introduce your office

One of the biggest struggles small business owners have is gaining street cred. Some customers are fearful of getting involve with Web-based small businesses because they don’t trust they’ll be around tomorrow. They worry that if there’s a problem with their order they’ll have no one to contact. By creating videos that introduce your employees, that give people a tour of your office space or that show you doing what you do every day, you help ease those fears. You show people that there is life behind your Web site and that you can be trusted. I think this is one of the biggest benefits of video for SMBs.

Customer testimonials

Creating customer testimonials or providing real-life videos of customers actually USING your product is another great way to show off your product and increase interest. It’s pure social proof that seeing other people enjoying a product causes others want to make the same investment. It also helps give customers an idea of what the product looks and feels like, better than your Web site can. Video works great for selling on the Web.

Above are some simple ways to incorporate video onto your Web site. Video is a great marketing tool because it creates a more intimate experience when you can see and hear someone at the same time. Thanks to things like Universal Search, it’s also a great way to increase the visibility of your Web site.

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