Employee Morale: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The holidays are a busy and important time of year for your small business. But all the hustle and bustle of the holidays can negatively affect your employees, which could end up affecting their productivity. It’s important to keep them motivated and engaged so they can provide the best service to your customers. Improving employee morale during the holidays with these simple tips will help your company succeed this holiday season.Article title on a white background under a string of red and green holiday ornaments

Get into the Spirit of the Season

Your employees’ surroundings can really affect them. It could be the difference between them doing the bare minimum and putting their best foot forward. Putting some festive decor in your workspace can bring some life to the area and lift their moods. 

It’s important to remember, though, to be inclusive, not intrusive, when you start decorating. Instead of asking everyone about their religious beliefs, decorate in a more seasonal way with items like:green tree branches with red and white holiday ornaments on top of a wooden background

  • Snowflakes
  • Plain or snow-covered evergreen wreaths
  • Pinecones
  • Leaves with fake snow or silver glitter sprayed on them
  • White, gold, or silver garland
  • Candy canes

Recognize Their Hard Work

Your employees are an important part of your business’ success, so make sure they know you appreciate their contribution. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to feel motivated to work hard.

Some great ways to say thank you include:

  • Writing thank you notes in winter-themed cards
  • Providing lunch for the team 
  • Verbally offering words of encouragement 
  • Giving small gifts like candles or gift cards

Plan a Holiday Party

group of women standing around talking and laughing at a holiday partyA holiday party is a great way for your team to socialize with each other and with you in ways they might not get to during business hours. Not only that but planning a party to celebrate this time of year can give them something to look forward to and remind them what a great company they work for. Consider some fun party ideas like:

  • Booking a private room or large table at a restaurant
  • Renting a few lanes at a bowling alley
  • Going to a karaoke bar 
  • Doing a themed escape room

Hire Seasonal Help

This time of year can mean a lot of extra work for your employees and piling too much onto them can lower their morale. If this is the case at your business, hire a few extra hands for the season, if at all possible, to make sure all of the work gets done without burning out your permanent employees.

Hiring seasonal help can also help keep your work schedules on track. Some employees take time off around the holidays to spend time with family and friends or to travel, so having extra help will allow them to take that time without leaving the rest of the team short staffed. 

Morale can take a huge hit during the holiday season. Knowing how to keep your employees focused and productive without burning them out will do wonders for your small business. Planning ahead, appreciating their work, and being festive will end the year right and set the tone for a great new year.

Co-Written by Brianna Hartnett

Is “Quiet Hiring” a Thing and Could It Help You Build the Right Team to Grow Your Business?

There have been a lot of “quiet” things going on in workplaces in the last few years, since we’ve settled into our “new normal” of work. Employees have been in the spotlight for “quiet quitting,” and bosses have had their share of scrutiny for “quiet firing.” But what about “quiet hiring”? Is that even a thing? Yes! Turns out giant companies like Google have been employing this practice to their great advantage, and using it to build the best teams they can. So what does it mean to quiet hire, and can you borrow some of the ideas from the big boys to make sure you’ve got the best team possible, and grow your business?

Quiet Quitting, Firing, and Hiring, Oh My!

So what is all of this quiet stuff going on in the workplace these days, and is there a reason why it’s all exploded recently? 

Quiet quittingquiet quitting on a paper

You might have heard this term on social media, and you might even be experiencing it with your own team. Quiet quitting refers to employees doing the bare minimum expected of them rather than truly abandoning their positions. The term took hold on social media, with one TikTok user posting a video describing the idea behind quiet quitting in this way:

“You’re not abandoning your job overtly, but you’re losing the concept of going above and beyond at work. You’re still doing your job, but you’re not buying into the hustle culture attitude that says work needs to be your life.”

Quiet firing

While some employees lack the will to fully quit, some employers also feel unwilling to outright break ties with their less-than-stellar team members. Instead, employers who engage in quiet firing will purposely behave in a poor manner towards their employees, passing them over for promotions or raises, moving them to a less desirable position, or withholding development opportunities. This is certainly not a tactic we recommend for your workplace. Instead of engaging in negative practices that discourage employees, you might want to consider more positive and nurturing practices, like quiet hiring.

Quiet hiring

According to an Inc article, quiet hiring is Google’s little-known but incredibly effective recruiting method, a method that excludes employees unwilling to go the additional mile. This strategy is all about picking out employees who are already going above and beyond, doing things like taking on additional responsibilities, and proving they have what it takes to excel. These employees are then recruited from within to fill open positions. According to the article, “It’s part of what enables [companies like Google] to identify the brightest minds (internally and externally) and place the best candidates into its open positions.” 

And when Google does hire externally, they tend to prioritize candidates who have been referred by trusted employees, or who score high on notes from other employees who sit in on their interviews. This also cuts down on making bad hires, and keeps the team feeling cohesive.

So quiet hiring can be good for employees who are up to the job, but why can it be so beneficial for employers? Again according to the Inc article, “For employers, there is far less risk, as well as little to no cost associated with recruiting and training, saving what can amount to a lot of money.” In addition, studies show that high-achievers can produce 400% more than the average employee, so from a business perspective, prioritizing them over the quiet quitter type just makes sense.

Quiet hiring can help you to promote and reward the best members of your team, but can it also help you to turn things around with those who aren’t giving their all, or even engaging in quiet quitting? Let’s look at that, but first, we need to look at why workers might be quiet quitting.

Why All the Quiet Quitting? questions

So while the attitude that leads to quiet quitting can be very frustrating for employers, it is rooted in more than just laziness. The last few years since the pandemic have seen employees reexamine their work-life balance, and the “grind” that is driving the high levels of burnout we’re seeing in workers. 

And not only that, but when it comes to employees quiet quitting, it takes two to tango, as they say. It might not just be an employee problem: according to data gathered by the Harvard Business Review, quiet quitting typically has less to do with a worker’s willingness to work in better ways, and more to do with a manager’s capacity to create bonds with and engage employees.

In fact, employee engagement seems to be falling for the first time in a while. According to a Gallup poll, from 2019 to 2022, the percentage of engaged employees fell by 6%. At the same time, the proportion of actively disengaged employees climbed by 6%. This is bad news for employers, because employees who aren’t engaged at work will bring less energy and passion to their jobs, which is a slippery slope to quiet quitting. 

And once they do that, a vicious cycle can begin. Other team members will have to pick up the slack, which could lead to those employees becoming dissatisfied, and a toxic work culture. So if you’re experiencing this in your workplace, could quiet hiring be a way to turn things around? Or is it better to do everything at your business out loud?

Can Quiet Hiring Tempt Quiet Quitters?

With all of this surreptitious quitting going around, you might be a bit worried. And you’re not alone! According to SHRM research, 51% of HR professionals are concerned about silent resignation. Furthermore, HR experts are afraid that quiet quitting will have a negative impact on their business, because they worry it will reduce employee morale in the workplace (83%), employee productivity (70%), or the quality of employee work products (50%).

But engaging in quiet hiring, or at least taking some of the best parts of it, like rewarding employees who are engaged and working creatively, can possibly entice those who might otherwise fall into quiet quitting to go for the gold. 

It’s also important, though, to look at your own management style. Quiet hiring can motivate employees, but you still need to do at least the following to keep the right atmosphere at your business:

  • Have a set of well-defined values that are aligned with the actions of you and your other leaders
  • Foster a culture of accountability
  • Know your staff as people, including their life circumstances, abilities, and ambitions
  • Make sure your employees understand how their efforts fit into the bigger picture
  • Consider the impact of requiring mandatory attendance in tasks that employees may accomplish from home, and have a shared understanding of what amount of flexibility is acceptable
  • Give employees a clear roadmap for their career trajectories
  • Pay attention to their health and well-being, perhaps by offering family leave, healthcare, and other perks

So quiet hiring can be a win-win for employers and employees. It can be seen as giving the power back to employees who want to move forward in their careers and be rewarded for their stellar performance, and it can also save you the pain and expense of recruiting employees, only to be saddled with the wrong team – or even quiet quitters! 

But on the other hand, all of these “quiet” goings-on, including using a quiet hiring strategy, could point to a vaguely toxic or passive-aggressive workplace, where employees and employers aren’t engaging in enough direct communication. It’s up to you, then, to set the tone, and use the strategies that will work for your business, so you can build your dream team and soar to new heights of growth!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

How to Hit the Holidays Running: Unique Ideas to Market Your Business in the Festive Season

‘Tis the season…for sales! We’re now smack in the middle of the time of year when your sales should be soaring, but if you’re a small business owner, you have to remember that Santa isn’t simply going to drop those extra sales down your chimney. You’re going to have to do some work for them! But boosting your holiday sales doesn’t have to be complicated: there are some simple, yet clever, things you can do to get your business noticed this holiday season, so you can make the most of the holiday season, and stay in the black well into the new year. 

Get Creative This Holiday Season!

As we mentioned above, the holiday season should be the time of year that gets you into the black. In fact, the holiday sales season accounts for up to 30% of annual sales on average. So how can you capitalize on this? The best way is by seriously stepping up and focusing on your marketing efforts, of course! And notice we didn’t say by pouring money into your marketing – you can do this by getting creative and implementing some of the following ideas:

Don’t take a holiday from social media

Now is not the time to slow down on social media, much as you might feel like you’ve got other things on your mind. There’s no better – and cheaper – way to get out in front of, and engage with, your customers. In fact, 57.5% of people say they are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media. 

And how can you dazzle customers a little more on social media specifically at this time of year? First of all, make sure you have a lot of well-planned and festive posts, especially since people are using their newsfeeds to get gift ideas during the holidays, making this time the perfect opportunity for you to boost brand awareness and promote your products/services. In addition, though, you should also consider offering a special holiday discount to customers who follow you – and you’ll have the added bonus of growing your network.

When engaging on social media during the holiday season, try:

  • Using festive hashtags
  • Making gift lists

    the word sale with ornaments

  • Promoting special offers
  • Supporting/highlighting a charity
  • Posting giveaways and contests
  • Updating your images with festive photos of you, your team, your business, etc

Get involved in your community

Now is the time when a lot of communities are hosting holiday events, so check out what’s going on in your area and connect with organizers to see how your business can get involved. Getting your name on a program for a local event by sponsoring or helping out can work wonders in terms of growing an engaged customer base. 

Focus on your strengths

With things getting holiday crazy, now is definitely not the time to try to work on your weaknesses (you can save that for your New Year’s resolution)! Instead, build on your strengths, using the 80/20 rule to focus on the 20% of the activities that give you 80% of your results. If that’s video marketing, double down on that; if it’s social media engagement, get posting, commenting, and replying; if it’s face-to-face meetings, get out there in front of your customers! 

Feel the New Year’s vibe

You might be thinking that we’re already pretty well through a lot of the holiday season, but don’t forget to look ahead to the new year, when your customers will be feeling the burn of the post-holiday season. Leverage the desire for self-improvement that comes with this time of year and try to give your product or service a New Year’s resolution spin. Try promoting products or services that:

  • Are focused on organization or productivity
  • Enhance health, fitness & wellbeing
  • Help with decluttering & cleaning
  • Offer safety and protection

Get personal with your email marketing

Email marketing is always a good idea, and personalizing it to your customers is a must. But at this time of year, why not try sharing something more personal about you and your business? Tell a heart-warming story, or pick a “story of the year” about your business, and remember to make your customers feel like they’ve been a big part of your life (and don’t forget the call to action). 

Be charitable hand with a ball of money

Charitable giving is certainly its own reward, but there’s no harm in leveraging your good deeds as a marketing tool. After all, you’ll be supporting a good cause, and your customers will see you in a very positive light – a win for both your business and the organizations you support. In fact, did you know that 56% of shoppers will travel an extra 10 minutes out of their way to purchase a product that supports a cause they care about, and 71% are even willing to pay more for that product? So get giving, and you might end up also receiving!

Promote gift cards

Whether you offer a product or a service, offering gift cards can make you a go-to business for frustrated shoppers looking for a gift for the loved one who already has everything. And you know what? 72% of customers will spend more than the value of their gift card, so it’s smart to offer and promote them, even if you don’t think of your business as one that would traditionally offer them!

Offer special deliveriesthe word free in red

You might not be able to offer free shipping for your products all year round, but you might want to try offering it as something special for the holidays to help you stand out from the crowd. Or do you offer a service? Consider offering an upgraded hand delivery service of a gift certificate with a special treat (like a spa gift card hand-delivered with flowers), or offering your services done on-site. Remember, you might not be able to compete with the big guys when it comes to shipping costs or speed, but you can make up for it with personalized service! 

Launch something new

Maybe December isn’t the time to launch a new product or service – you might be too busy – but consider planning for a launch in January, when the New Year’s vibe is strong. You can jump onto the whole “new year, new you” feeling and apply it to your business, so you can excite your customers!

Partner up

Sure, you can bust your butt competing with local businesses, but this time of year is all about love and togetherness, right? So try to find local businesses to partner with – you can offer a multi-business-wide discount or allow them to put out coupons in your store and vice versa. Especially at this time of year, customers will appreciate you and other local businesses supporting each other, and will feel good shopping with you!

Send a New Year’s greeting

When the new year arrives, don’t forget to send a personalized message – ideally a card – to your customers. This is a simple way to thank customers for their business and will help remind them of the importance of shopping locally. It will also help keep the momentum of the holiday season going into the new year!

No matter what holidays you and your customers celebrate, you can make your business stand out and feel more relatable and memorable by incorporating some clever marketing strategies at this time of year. Take a little extra time out of your hectic holiday schedule and try some of our ideas, so you won’t miss the opportunity presented at this time of year to really connect with your customers!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

The Shipping Season Cometh: How You Can Wow Your Customers with Your Online Shipping

It’s time to admit we’re all a little spoiled. As consumers, we’ve gotten really used to having all of our shipping whims fulfilled. Fast, free, accurately tracked in real time, you name it, you got it. And that’s great for customers, especially at this time of year when the onslaught on online shopping is about to begin, but what about for you small business owners out there? As the big shipping season approaches, you might be feeling a bit anxious, knowing that you have to compete with the giants of the marketplace and their crazy good shipping. 

But never fear: there are ways to wow your online customers with your shipping! After all, your online shipping is as big a part of your brand as anything else, whether it feels that way or not. So let’s look at how you can make your shipping work for you this holiday season and beyond.

Shipping Options for Small Business

If your small business is all about ecommerce, you’re definitely in the right field. Retail ecommerce sales totaled nearly $231.4 billion during the first quarter of 2022, representing 14.3% of retail sales in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But if you want to get your piece of that pie, the first thing you’ve got to do is find the right shipping service. So before we get to some ways you can go above and beyond with your shipping, let’s do a quick review of your options for shipping services as a small business. 

The Balance Small Business did an in-depth analysis of the best shipping companies for different purposes, and found the following:usps postal truck

  • Best Overall: United States Postal Service
  • Best for Small Packages: Sendle
  • Best for Large Packages: UPS
  • Best for International Shipping: DHL Express
  • Best for e-Commerce Business: ShipBob
  • Best for Quick Shipping: FedEx
  • Best Affordable Option: EasyPost

We suggest you check out these options and compare prices for your needs, remembering to take into account the price of shipping basics like:

  • Boxes, packaging, tape, and stickers
  • Labor for sending an item
  • Courier costs for collecting and delivering an item
  • Import/export fees when shipping internationally

Once you’ve dealt with the basics, then you can take a look at the following tips for really wowing your customers.

Wowing Your Customers with Shipping

So how can you exceed customer expectations without breaking the bank? Consider the following:

Offer free shipping

We’re sure you’ve heard this before, and maybe the idea of offering free shipping feels like a pain in the neck (or the wallet). But the reality is that free shipping is a huge motivator for customers to ditch brick-and-mortar stores and shop with you. And offering free shipping could actually mean making more money. Think about this: 60% of online shoppers have added items to their shopping carts to qualify for free shipping, and shoppers spend, on average, 30% more per order when free shipping is included at checkout.

Not sure the numbers will add up? Consider a few other ways to make free shipping more feasible, like:

  • Set a spending amount for free shipping, like $50-100, or consider an even higher one if you offer bigger ticket items
  • Offer free shipping to areas closest to your warehouses, or consider expanding your warehouse locations
  • Use a fulfillment service as an alternative to having more physical warehouse locations

Use software that lets customers know what to expect

cell phones with a package in the middle
Provide customer with tracking sot hey know what to expect.

Customers can be pretty understanding when it comes to unexpected delays and problems with shipping, especially now that we’ve experienced some serious issues with supply chains and the like. But they also like to know what to expect, and will generally be satisfied with your service if you have complete shipping transparency. In fact, you can create some very positive associations with your brand if you can keep customers updated on the status of their package, and notify them immediately of any delays (and perhaps offer something to make up for the delay). There is software out there that will allow you to do just that, which sends automated notifications based upon a delivery timeframe, and it’s well worth looking into.

Have multiple shipping options 

Customers always like options. Some will be enticed by free ground shipping, but others need to know that they can get their package quickly. That means it’s important for you to try and offer multiple shipping options, including expedited shipping. Consider this: 1 in 2 shoppers says that delivery date is important during checkout, and 28% of online shoppers have abandoned carts when they needed their items in a certain time frame and the shipping options available didn’t meet the expected timeframe. And if you have a physical store, you can also up your chances of making a sale by offering a ship-to-store option, since four in ten shoppers expect a ship-to-store option when purchasing online.

Put some extra effort into packaging

Improving customers’ perception of your brand is often about paying attention to details, and that includes packaging your product. In fact, 72% of Americans claim that product packaging influences their buying decisions. Not only that, but 30% of businesses report an increase in revenue after updating their packaging, and sellers who use premier or branded packing see 30% of their customers return to make another purchase. 

Those stats should motivate you to up your packaging and packing game, and you can do that by getting creative. Consider:

  • Including a small gift, like a coupon or even a branded item
  • Adding attractive branded stickers to your packages, and other eye-catching things like colored tape and well-designed and branded shipping labels
  • Include a handwritten “thank you” note or even a short note that gets included in each package
  • Use custom-designed boxes that keep your brand in people’s minds

Work with customers on returns

Customers often expect free, no hassle returns, and that can feel like a big hassle for you – especially when customers buy multiple sizes or variations of a product so they can choose the one they like and return the others. But that just means you can exceed expectations by working with your customers on a fair return policy. Consider offering the following options:

  • Offer in-store returns if you have a physical store
  • Ship a return label with the package to reduce hassle
  • Have multiple tiers for return options, like a prepaid label for store credit or a flat-fee shipping label for a refund
  • Make sure you have very clear size guides and product descriptions to reduce the need for returns
  • Offer store credit to make things right instead of offering free returns

Things at your ecommerce business are about to get real as the busiest shipping season of the year approaches. But there’s no need to sweat it when it comes to competing with the big guys over shipping. You have options, and the advantage of being a small business is that you can really give personalized service -so don’t forget to leverage that! Add your business’s personality into your packaging, and take advantage of the best shipping services and software available to you, and you’ll be seeing your business grow this holiday season, and all year round!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Feeling the Pinch? Are There Alternatives to Layoffs?

Have times been tough at your small business? Yeah, we get it: running a business isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, especially when you have to weather a few years of crazy downturn followed by skyrocketing inflation. If you’re sweating over your books, and wondering what to do, you might be considering letting go of some of your employees – and you wouldn’t be alone. Even the big guys are turning to layoffs to make ends meet: according to SHRM, “In a survey of U.S. business executives by professional services firm PwC, 50% of respondents indicated that they were reducing their companies’ headcounts.”

But is jumping right to laying off employees the right course of action? Not necessarily. You might want to look into some alternatives to layoffs, so read on to find out your options.

The Problems with Layoffs

As a small business owner, you’re probably not super excited about the prospect of giving some of your valued employees the ax. And it might not actually be the best thing to do, anyway. Consider these potential pitfalls of layoffs. You might end up:hand with money

  • Needing to provide severance pay
  • Facing increased unemployment insurance rates
  • Dealing with lower morale among your remaining employees, which could lead to lower productivity
  • Looking at a higher turnover rate and lower productivity as your workforce shrinks and employees become more overwhelmed – in fact, research shows that letting go of just 1% of your team can significantly decrease the engagement, performance, and job satisfaction levels of your remaining staff
  • Feeling shorthanded when business picks up

Alternatives to Layoffs

So maybe layoffs aren’t the way to go for your business. If that’s what you’re thinking, you can consider the following alternatives to help you get financially back on track without having to completely jettison the people you rely on:


The word “layoff” can be very scary for employees, because although it actually implies that a business might need to bring workers back at some point, it does feel very permanent. So instead of laying off employees, consider furloughing them, which would allow you to save money without losing your employee altogether. A furlough is basically a mandatory unpaid leave of absence, but it can also mean reduced hours. An unpaid absence is obviously not ideal for employees, but at least they know they will be back when you are able to pay them again. Remember, you’ll need to research your state’s employment laws regarding any mandatory treatment of your employees’ benefits during a furlough.

Job sharing 

Job sharing lets two employees share duties in a job that normally would be filled by one full-time employee. This is a way to save money so that you can ultimately get back to a normal work schedule when things improve. There are actually government-backed work-sharing programs that allow the affected employees to collect partial unemployment benefits to help offset lost wages. This is a great way to keep valued employees around, so check to see if your state offers a program like this. 

Reduced work hours for non-exempt employees

Reducing exempt employees hours and/or restricting overtime can save your business money in hourly wages.

Non-exempt employees are only entitled to pay for hours worked, so reducing their hours and/or restricting overtime can save your business money in hourly wages. Your state might actually allow employees to collect unemployment benefits if their hours drop below a certain point. So check what your state law is, and make sure you consider the impact of reducing hours on employees if they can’t make up for the pay in other ways. 

So how do you most effectively reduce hours, while keeping things running? Consider separating your employees into three tiers: critical, essential, and those who are not as essential and subject to the biggest cuts. You can then divide up hours among them as necessary.

Pay cuts

Sure, no one wants to hear that they’re going to be making less money for doing the same amount of work, but if it’s the only way to keep your business going, it might be the best option. The secret to doing pay cuts right? Honest communication, and implementing the cuts in a uniform way, across the board, so everyone feels like they’re in it together. According to Jill Chapman, senior performance consultant at Insperity, a professional employer organization (PEO), “For [pay cuts] to be effective, there must be an agreed-upon, uniform cut percentage across the board. Though this will hurt in the short term, it is definitely a more stable alternative for both the employee and employer.”

Cuts in benefits or perks

You can also consider cutting things other than pay, like benefits and perks. You can look at reducing any extras you’re providing, including:

  • Free food (Remembering, though, that free food is listed as a highly desirable perk!)
  • Employer-branded swag
  • Travel expenses
  • Switching from attending events to videoconferencing 
  • Lowering or eliminating a 401(k) match


If you have a larger business with multiple departments, consider temporarily moving an employee in a department that has been affected by a downturn to a department that is in greater need.

Voluntary paid time off

Furloughs are mandatory unpaid leaves of absence, but you also have the option of offering your employees some voluntary unpaid time off. If you know that there is an employee who wants to do some extended traveling, go back to school, or work on a personal project, you can suggest that now would be a great time to do that, and then return to their position when your business is in better shape. Unfortunately, your employee won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits if they take this option, so make sure they’ll be able to do it without going under.

Think about the composition of your workforce

To be proactive, and hopefully avoid layoffs in the future, consider employing a mix of contract workers and full-time employees. This will allow you to stay flexible and adjust quickly to market changes.

Cut operational costs

Finally, don’t forget that there are ways to cut costs at your business that don’t include losing employees. Ask yourself:laptop screen

  • Will more remote work help you decrease office utility expenses?
  • What business travel can you limit?
  • What marketing and sales expenses can you cut back on?
  • What recurring costs can you limit?
  • Do you pay for any monthly services and/or tools that aren’t used frequently or that you can go without?
  • Can you consolidate any services and/or tools?

We know that none of the above ways to deal with financial pressure at your business is exactly ideal, but we also know that the last thing you want to do is lose your valued employees. And that’s not just because it could be bad for your bottom line: you care about your employees and want the best for them. 

So if it comes down to making the tough choices, the most important thing is that you encourage open communication throughout your business, and be honest with your employees about what your business is going through. Together, you and your team can work towards finding solutions that work for everyone, while avoiding the layoffs that can be so detrimental to your organization. And hopefully, before you know it, you’ll be back in the black and celebrating with your employees! We want to hear from you: have you had to consider layoffs? Were you able to find viable alternatives?

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Lights, Camera, Marketing: The Most Popular Types of Video Marketing and How You Can Make Them Work for You

How’s your online marketing game these days? Are you blogging, sharing, commenting, liking? How about pointing and shooting? Well, if you’re not making videos as part of your content marketing strategy, you could be missing out. While text content is still a great thing to produce, you can really round out your marketing and engage customers in a whole new way with visual content. So if you’re thinking about breaking into video marketing, how should you start, what kinds of videos should you consider, and what are some things to think about when creating high quality video content? 

The Why and How of Video Marketing

Getting started with video marketing can feel a bit daunting, and might seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But it’s not! Consider this: according to former Facebook, Google, and SpaceX executive Dex Torricke-Barton, “More than 80% of traffic online is video traffic, as the content people want has changed from text to images to videos and now live streams.” Not only that, but 80% of viewers remember what they watch, with half of them taking action afterward. And 90% of users say product videos are helpful in making purchasing decisions.

Those are pretty powerful statistics, and they might convince you to get started with video marketing. So what are the first things you need to think about when planning your video content? First of all, remember that consumers want content that’s immersive on a visual level and tells a compelling story. What they don’t want is a sales pitch! That means to create effective videos, you should:people under magnifying glass

  • Start with your customers – Don’t start by thinking too big, and aiming to reach those millions of people watching millions of hours of video content every day. Focus on your existing customers, what they want to know, and what you can impart to them. Don’t worry about your numbers at first, worry about who is watching, and about building a community you can engage with (and don’t forget to do so regularly).
  • Get the tone right – Consumers can smell a sales pitch from a mile away, and if you get your approach wrong, you could lose 20% of your viewers in 10 seconds. Yikes! But taking an educational approach can help; in fact, customers are up to 85% more likely to buy your item after watching an educational or “explainer” video about it.
  • Be creative – You need to engage your audience, and videos featuring talking heads just ain’t going to do it. Tell a story, use humor, add animation, try a longer format that immerses the viewer, or a super short punchy video that sticks with them. Just make sure that you keep in mind your customers’ wants and needs, and entertain them while addressing those wants and needs.
  • Keep it short – There is a time and a place for longer videos, but in general it’s best to keep your videos to 2 minutes or less. Like we said, a fifth of viewers click away from videos within the first 10 seconds, so you don’t want to make them feel like they have to make a big time commitment to get your message. And studies show that 2 minute videos tend to get the most engagement.
  • Stay focused – If you’re doing shorter videos, it’s usually best to stick with one or two messages so you don’t overwhelm your viewers. If you want to make multiple points, make multiple videos, and link them – you could end up getting customers hooked on each installment!

Types of Marketing Videos

So we know that video marketing is a powerful tool, and we’ve looked at what you need to think about when getting started with your videos, but what are some of the specific types of effective videos you can make? 

Product videos

Want to show off a new product? Video is a great way for you to “show and tell” for your customers. You’ll have the opportunity to simplify anything that seems complicated about your product, while building enthusiasm, and highlighting the benefits of your item. For these types of videos, you should create a sense of how your product can make the customer’s life better, and inspire them by showing how your product fits into their lifestyle (or an aspirational lifestyle).

Explainer animation videos

Need to explain something complex or new about your business, product, or service? An explainer animation video is a creative and engaging way to educate viewers, and this type of video means that you can create locations, characters, and props that would be difficult in the real world. With animation, you can break down complex ideas in a fun way, and much more quickly, so you don’t lose your audience.

Website videos video on computer screen

What better way to get people to spend more time on your website, engaging with your content than by embedding videos on it? And you know that the longer customers spend on your website, the more likely you are to get conversions! Consider using videos embedded in your website to give customers an immersive glimpse of your products that they would normally only get by visiting a store, or an engaging video that invites your customers to explore your services. 

How-to videos

There are a whole lot of people out there on YouTube looking for videos on how to do whatever it is they’re trying to do. You can become a thought leader in your industry, or customers’ go-to person for a certain topic if you create fun and easy to follow instructional videos. You can also highlight how your product, service, or business can be of even further help.

Testimonial videos

Sometimes the best way to convince new customers to get on board is by showing them how satisfied your existing customers are. Testimonial videos from happy customers can highlight what they like best about your business, and will often feel more authentic, since they come from a third-party. After all, around 90% of customers say they trust testimonials just as much as personal recommendations! Add to that the powerful and engaging video format, and you’ve got a winning formula.

Tips for Creating Quality Videos

One last thing before we leave you to planning and creating your marketing videos: a few tips on how to make them look and feel more professional. After all, a crappy video is probably not going to do you all that many favors when it comes to bringing in customers. So, as you create your videos, consider the following:

  • Sound quality – It might sound funny, but viewers are more likely to forgive bad video quality than bad sound quality, so use a good microphone and run a basic noise-removal filter on your recording.
  • Lighting – Paying attention to lighting will make even a low-quality camera produce a better video, so look into either an inexpensive lighting kit, or just stick some desk or ring lamps behind you to get the effect you’re looking for.scissors and wand next to video clip
  • Editing – Instead of filming in one long shot, use the jump-cut method, which means your video will be made up of dozens (or hundreds) of short little clips pieced together to make a whole. This will keep the video moving along, and keep viewers more engaged.

We would say that video marketing is the future, but that future is already here. More and more customers want to see video content, so the quicker you get in the video marketing game, the better! With a little bit of thought, and a little time and effort, you could even make an engaging video on your phone that ends up bringing in more customers than any other content strategy you’ve tried. So get your director’s hat on and get shooting – and let us know how it goes!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling