Even if your musical instrument retail business is firmly rooted in brick-and-mortar retailing, you’ve likely started to dip a toe—or even jumped headfirst—into e-commerce. And there’s no time like the holiday shopping season to remind you why it’s crucial to bolster your store with an online retail component. According to predictions from research firm eMarketer, digital sales are expected to hit $94.7 billion this holiday shopping season, taking e-commerce’s share of total holiday sales past the 10-percent mark for the first time ever.

As the most wonderful time of the year wraps up and you begin to plan for 2017, it’s important to review your online marketing strategy and, specifically, to consider video marketing as part of that strategy. Not only can videos improve your search results, inspire customers to take action and help to build trust, but they can also extend to the Web the personality you work so hard to create in your store.

Of course, to get real value from video marketing, it requires more than just grabbing a camera and pressing the “on” button. You’ll want to create a strategy that engages the right viewers, creates brand awareness and inspires action. Ready to take that leap? What follows are five things to consider before you roll the camera.

1. Determine What Video Can Do For You

Video marketing should complement and support the very core of what your business is about. Do you want to sell a specific piece of gear? Do you want to be considered an expert on vintage guitars? Are you trying to promote in-store lessons? Do you need to boost your brand recognition and trust? Maybe it’s a combination of those. Understanding the goal of your videos is an important first step in creating the most impactful content for your brand. Feeling overwhelmed? Start with one or two primary goals. You can always adjust down the road.

2. Define Your Audience

When it comes to creating a video strategy, it can be tempting to dive headfirst into the fun part: shooting the video. But, if you want to inspire, educate or influence a specific audience, then you must first work to understand as much as you can about that audience. Consider demographics: your target audience’s age, gender, location and more. Figure out their interests, their passions and the things that drive them. Work to understand their lifestyle and what keeps them up at night.

As a brick-and-mortar music products retailer, you likely have an idea of your current audience based on who visits your store each day. However, it’s important to realize that, online, you have the ability to expand your reach and target potential customers far beyond your ZIP code. Identify both your current customers and new customers you’d like to acquire online, and then learn as much as you can about them. That way, you can tailor your content accordingly.

3. See What’s Out There

Once you pin down what you want to achieve and whom you want to target, the next step is to grab a bag of popcorn, find a comfortable chair and spend some time watching videos from other companies. Of course, you’ll want to size up your competition; don’t stop there, though. Dive into videos from popular companies, as well as from those you admire in unrelated market segments. Then ask yourself a few questions about each video: What did you like about the content? What didn’t you like? How did the person on camera make you feel about the company? What was different about the company’s offering? Did you feel the urge to find out more, click on another video or throw your computer out the window? The best part about this step is that, although you’re glued to your computer screen with a face full of synthetic butter, you can tell your coworkers that you’re “doing important market research”…and actually mean it!

4. Outline Your Concept

Now that you have a better understanding of your likes and dislikes, it’s time to determine the concept that will make you stand out from the crowd. If there are a few different product categories you want to hit—electric guitars, acoustic guitars and band instruments, for example—pick one or two to start. If you want to create a series of videos that follow the same theme, begin with a concept you’re confident you can sustain, producing a new video at least once or twice per month.

If you’re just starting out, consider creating videos that cover broad topics that larger audiences will be searching for and interested in. As your program matures, you can begin to narrow your content to appeal to smaller audiences. In that scenario, you might not achieve the same broad reach, but you can have a bigger impact on those who relate to the content.

Another consideration is whether you’ll go straight or strange. For example, will you show the owner talking about his favorite guitar on a white background, or will it be one of your team members on a mountaintop, shredding a metal version of Taylor Swift? Just keep in mind that, whatever you release, it should represent the personality of your store.

5. Find Yourself A Star

After you’ve determined exactly what you want to do, the last step is to find the right person (or people) to do it. Whether you choose the owner of your company or your savvy guitar tech, you can find talent for your videos in every corner of your store. Just ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will that person connect with my target audience on a personal level?
  • Is his or her personality an extension of the brand personality we want to promote?
  • Does that person come across on camera as natural, comfortable and inviting?
  • Is he or she the most qualified person to talk about the topic at hand?

If considering the above questions for a friend or a close colleague, it’s important to be as objective as possible, and perhaps to get a few additional opinions.

Videos have the ability to boost consumer confidence, increase customer engagement and influence sales, but they do require time, talent and commitment. Taking the time to ponder what you want to achieve, whom you want to reach and other considerations will allow you to shout “action!” with confidence.

Michael Lux is Director of Video Production at Reverb.com.

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