By now, you likely understand how your brick-and-mortar retail store can benefit from video marketing. Videos can inspire action and increase trust in your brand. They help you add faces and personalities to your store’s online presence. They can improve your Web site’s search rankings, which literally puts you ahead of the competition when potential customers search online for nearby music retailers. But, to reap those benefits and others, you need to make an upfront investment in the right tools.
Luckily, you can create great video content for your store without spending thousands of dollars on fancy equipment. At the most basic level, here are the five things you’ll need.
1. A Camera
Although a camera might be the most obvious tool you need to begin to create videos, it can also be the most intimidating. The good news? You don’t have to shell out $40,000 for a professional camera package. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you have a perfectly capable camera sitting right next to you as you read this. Today’s smartphones have great cameras, as well as a host of hardware and software options: from simple editing apps to attachable lenses and audio hardware. Those things can help you create great videos.
Willing to upgrade? For as low as $350, you can get a quality DSLR camera from trusted brands, such as Nikon, Canon, Lumix and Olympus. In addition to creating great videos, you’ll also have the perfect tool to take photos of your inventory. Just make sure the DSLR option you’re considering has video-recording capabilities.
2. Audio Equipment
One common hurdle that can stand in the way of a great video? Bad audio. Your camera can have all the bells and whistles in the world. But, if you’re recording the audio on a built-in iPhone microphone, the poor audio will overshadow all the hard work you put into the visuals. For crisp, clean audio, consider a lavalier microphone or a handheld microphone. If you’re using a smartphone, companies like Shure and IK Multimedia make microphone solutions that plug directly into your phone. If you’re plugging into a DSLR, there are various options from RØDE, Audio-Technica and Sennheiser, among others.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to record other sources, such as a guitar amp, in addition to your subject, consider a second microphone, such as a Shure SM57, and a two-channel recorder for your DSLR, such as the TASCAM DR-60 or the Zoom H4n. Doing so will allow you to capture both sound sources separately, and then put them together during the editing process. The audio recorders can input multiple sources and output to your DSLR camera, acting as the main audio source when recording.
3. A Set
Once you’ve acquired the right recording tools, you’ll need a place to record. That could be your store’s showroom floor after hours, a back room that you’ve designated for video recording or even a room in your house. Whatever location you choose, the space should reflect the look and feel of your brand.
Many opt for a clean, simple, white background, which can be a painted white wall or a portable white backdrop. That type of background also works well for photos of your inventory, enabling you to kill two birds with one stone, in effect. If you’re looking to add a little more character to your set, consider shooting in front of a unique wall of gear in your store, or even piecing together a background with props in a dedicated room. If you’re able to designate an area where the props can remain 24/7, you’ll always be ready to roll.
One of the most overlooked elements of creating quality video is having good lighting. As consumers who view commercials, films, television shows and other media, we’re accustomed to video that is properly lit by professionals. That means that, when we watch a video that is not properly lit, we instantly notice that something isn’t quite right. Luckily, similar to a good camera, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to make your lighting look professional.
Consider starting with something as simple as a bright floor lamp. Place it in front of your subject off camera, about 45 degrees from the center of his or her face on either side. Then, add another lamp with less light—or a lamp with the same amount of light, pulled back a foot or two further than the first lamp—on the other side of the subject. To ensure that your subject stands out, reduce the overall amount of light in the background. That strategy will put just the right amount of light on your subject and create some natural shadows that you can’t achieve by simply relying on the overhead fluorescents.
Willing to upgrade? If you want more control and better quality, there are many great photo lighting kits available, which come with items like softboxes or umbrellas to diffuse the light on your subject. For as little as $70, you can get a nice, two-light kit that can also be used for inventory photos.
5. Editing Tools
Editing is a skill that can take years to master, but you don’t have to be an editing wizard to improve your videos with basic editing tools. Free software—iMovie and Editshare’s Lightworks, for example—is made for beginners, and it allows you to easily cut video and adjust audio levels. You can even use such tools to add your logo, text and music: all great ways to make your video stand out. Once you get the hang of editing, you can always get more creative down the line.
Pro tip: Want to run a soundtrack in the background of your video? If you don’t have an original piece of music to use, it’s easy to purchase royalty-free music. Sites such as AudioJungle, PremiumBeat and Pond5 are all good options, and purchasing the music royalty-free grants you the right to use it in your online video.
Michael Lux is Director of Video Production at Reverb.com.