Consultants are always talking about "deliverables," a term used to describe the final product provided to their clients. Consultants understand that business people are loath to paying for mere advice even if that advice is critical to their business, but they are open to paying for something tangible like a deliverable. The so called "deliverable" is usually a nice thick report bound in one of those fancy expensive folios that may contain some useful strategies and tactics but quite often is filled with platitudes and generalities accompanied by colorful graphs and charts of equally dubious value. As a consequence, business consultants, have a generalized reputation that lies somewhere between politicians and used car salesmen.
Somewhere along the evolutionary development of the Web entrepreneur a lesson was learned, unfortunately it was the wrong one. Deliverables are good; useless unusable stock solutions, even if wrapped in a nice shiny package, are bad.
The How-To Video Strategy
How-to videos have become an essential marketing strategy for featuring product knowledge and market expertise with the goal of creating confidence in a company's ability to deliver what they promise.
Let's say you are an expert in something. It really doesn't matter what it is because there is a market for educational and instructional material for just about anything from guitar playing to poker, from makeup application to origami, from drawing lessons to app development.
Tapping Into The Knowledge Deficit
In today's fast paced environment tapping into the knowledge deficit is one of the best ways to grow your business. One common business tactic used to exploit how-to opportunities is to provide teaser videos so that people get a taste of what to expect. Anyone interested in learning anything has watched his or her share of teaser videos, but all too often these videos only lead to frustration and a quick click of the mouse onto the next website offering instructions.
I've heard many experts fret about giving away too much information without getting paid for it. After all, why would anyone pay if they can get it at no charge? And here's where the whole idea of deliverables comes in, but first let's stop thinking like a consultant and start thinking like a marketing executive. What's important is not the deliverable but rather the usefulness of the material provided. Let's call it "the take-away:" the knowledge learned that improves one's ability to perform and at the same time inspires confidence in your company's ability to provide worthwhile instruction in the chosen field.
Commercials Aren't How-to Videos
If you're an expert in a particular area you should be able to giveaway all kinds of tips and tricks that your potential clients can use without running out of ideas or instructional expertise. Providing interested site visitors with a fancy PDF report, PowerPoint slideshow, or series of less-than-helpful teaser videos all obvious attempts to merely sell the real stuff will only turn people off. Commercials should not masquerade as how-to videos.
Web business is not like brick and mortar business. On the Web you are distanced from your audience by the great digital divide that creates a natural reluctance on the part of your visitors. This remoteness is the biggest obstacle you have to overcome because it creates a natural fear of being cheated. And the best way to solve the problem is to provide something of value that demonstrates your reliability and expertise, and inspires confidence in your ability and desire to deliver what you promise.
The Four How-To Video Elements
Even if you intend to provide useful instruction to your website visitors, you can still get it wrong if you don't understand the four basic elements of giving instructions.
1. Create Expectations
Tell people what you're going to teach them. This lets them know what the video is about and what they can expect to learn. It also implies what they aren't going to learn so they won't be frustrated after watching five minutes of something they're not interested in seeing.
2. Provide Useful Instructions They Can Use
Provide appropriate instructions so that the audience can actually implement what you are teaching them. Don't leave out or skip over critical steps because of a fear of giving away too much. These teaser videos don't have to be a complete course in whatever it is you do, but they should be complete as far as the particular tip or trick you are providing.
3. Alert Them To Common Errors
The most common mistake made in providing instruction to people is not alerting them to common mistakes. Make people aware of the usual signs that what they are doing is going wrong. This will inspire confidence in your ability to teach and to deliver something that is truly useful. Nothing is more frustrating to a potential client than to think they have followed your instructions and the result is just not right.
Remind your audience what you told them in simple memorable terms so that they feel they've actually learned something that they can take-away and implement on their own.
The Bottom Line
In the final analysis, if your audience doesn't leave your website with the feeling that they are actually taking away something useful that they can use, then you've failed, and you won't ever get them to order. The bottom line: you have to give something away, if you expect to get something in return.