In the last two articles, I’ve talked about audio and video as a form of online ‘Flair’. But what is ‘Flair’? Simply put… it’s a touch of professionalism added to your media that sets your website apart and makes your competitors look like amateurs.
I can’t think of a single ‘Flair’ tool that’s become more prevalent in Internet Marketing than the use of audio and video to boost conversion and stick rates. Last month we learned that you don’t need a ‘Guru’ budget to achieve professional media Flair. But what do you need? In fact, it’s usually the simplest but often-overlooked things that have the most devastating effect on the quality of video and audio production.
My research into Flair shows that people commonly come up with one of seven excuses to explain the lack of audio or video use or to justify the poor quality of their recordings. Some of these are understandable but all of them are easily solvable with a little effort and creativity. Any of the following sound familiar?
- “I don’t have a Mac so all my videos are rubbish”
- “I don’t own any fancy video production or capturing software”
- “I never sound good because my computer microphone is rubbish”
- “Good cameras are way too expensive”
- “The ‘Gurus’ have recording studios and I don’t”
- “I’ve a strong accent so people don’t understand me.”
- “I have a face for radio so my videos look terrible!”
1. “I don’t have a Mac so all my videos are rubbish”
It’s no secret that I’m a Mac man. Like they say, once you go Mac you don’t ever go back. However, the notion that you can’t create amazing-looking videos on a Windows-based PC or laptop is just not true. As a matter of fact, Vista and Win7 both come with Windows Movie Maker built in.
WMM is very simple to use and you may not even realize that you already have it on your computer. It allows you to create a movie out of assorted clips, images and text that you can easily edit together in a timeline. You can add or delete segments, insert transitions and images. It even enables you to overlay music or narration onto your video. Once you’re happy with the production you can render and export the project as a movie file and upload it to your website for people to view.
The Mac alternative for WMM would be I-Movie, and yes, it does boast a few extra bells and whistles. For example, it has a pretty exhaustive library of audio clips, music and sound effects as well as some nifty layering and text overlay features. Plus, it lets you publish directly to YouTube. Apart from this, it works the same as WMM: you import your video clips and images, then crop, clip, copy, paste and stream to your heart’s content. Again once you’re satisfied with it, simply export it for viewing on to your website.
2. “I don’t own any fancy video production or capturing software”
You may need a couple of new applications to create your final masterpiece. It depends what you’re trying to do. Most of what you need is available online – free or practically free. Try for example, Techsmith’s product Jing, which enables you to create 5-minute screen-capture recordings for free. Jing is a pretty cool alternative to the more elaborate Camtasia Studio Suite. It allows you to save the screen capture to your desktop and then import it into WMM or I-Movie for further editing and splicing. An open source alternative is Camstudio.org, which you can download free at www.Camstudio.org.
A Google search for ‘free video editing software’ will turn up thousands of results. Most of these will offer 30-day trials so that you play around with them before you shell out. Steer clear of those open source video editors who will plaster a watermark advertisement all over your final production. This is distracting and cheapens the quality of your video.
3. “I never sound good because my computer microphone is rubbish”
You have a point here. Audio quality is very important whether you’re delivering a video narration or a straight-up MP3. Most computer microphones leave a lot to be desired on playback because they are inherently over-sensitive.
I would advise you to invest in a Lavalier microphone. Lavalier mics are specifically designed for live narration applications and cancel out most unwanted noise. You don’t need an expensive wireless one; a wired, battery-powered version from Ebay for as little as a tenner will give you far better sound quality than a computer mic.
Regardless of the mic you choose, always remember to keep it in a fixed location while you’re recording so that it doesn’t pick up motion noises. Also, if you’re not happy with the sound you’re getting, try importing your recording into Audacity – another free program that you can download. Use the equalization features to tweak the sound quality and edit out unwanted noises.
4. “Good cameras are way too expensive”
True, professional cameras can be expensive and with lower priced ones you usually have to compromise on one or two elements of production quality. If you’re really trying to get ‘Pro Flair’ don’t use a built-in computer camera or webcam. You’re better off going with a USB Flip by Mino or a Vado by Creative. These are very fairly priced on Amazon or Ebay.
Unfortunately, the downside is that they have no mic input for your Lavalier so you will have to be very careful to reduce ambient environment noises. The next step up from a USB camera would be a digital camcorder with a microphone input. These tend to cost a bit more but the overall production quality of the video and audio is well worth it.
One final tip on cameras. It doesn’t matter how much you spend: if you don’t put your camera on a tripod, your video will look amateurish. Whether it’s a small desktop tripod or a floor-standing version, stability is a crucial factor in recording quality.
5. “The ‘Gurus’ have recording studios and I don’t”
You don’t need a professional studio to produce a quality video or audio recording and that’s a fact. Flair often comes down to good old-fashioned planning, practice and preparation. Be mindful of lighting and use multiple house lamps to cancel out shadows. Be creative with household items like throws, rugs, blankets and cushions as sound dampeners to remove unwanted reverb. A creative and detailed approach is more than a match for a professional studio environment.
6. “I’ve a strong accent so people don’t understand me”
The general rule in sales presentations is to “Appeal To The Masses”. In order to accomplish that, you need to sound as clear and comprehensible as possible. If you feel your accent is preventing you from making sales then consider outsourcing the narration to a professional by using pre-recorded clips from VoxFlair.com or ordering a custom audio. Another option would be to use sub captions in your video or text slides. This way the viewer can follow you by reading along.
7. “I have a face for radio so my videos look terrible!”
If for any reason you’d prefer not to appear on camera, the quickest and easiest alternative is to create a PowerPoint slideshow and just narrate over it. Many marketers do this and then add a photo of themselves to the slideshow so the viewer can at least put a face to the voice. Alternatively you can also outsource this on-screen work to a trained actor/actress. A Google search should throw up some live presenter service providers.
So no excuses left standing; just a final piece of advice. Don’t skimp on the planning and preparation. Write it down first, not just the script but the entire process. Try sketching out a storyboard, flow chart or process map. It can keep you focused and give you an early heads-up on any potential challenges.
I hope that with all the information and resources I’ve given you in this series of articles, you’re well on your way to creating some professional media Flair! You can find step-by-step guidance and practical tips for producing your video and audio at www.VoxFlair.com.
By Omar Martin
This article was originally featured in Mike Filsaime’s print newsletter, “MDC Monthly.” You can get a free trial copy shipped to your door by clicking here.
Check out Omar Martin’s WordPress tutorials at http://www.wordpressarsenal.com. Omar Martin’s sales portfolio includes many ofthe Fortune 500 corporations as well as professional sports teams and restaurant chains. Regardless of product, venue, or industry Omar has proven that people love to buy, but hate to be sold. Learn more about Omar at http://www.omar-martin.com.