by Nick Gromicko, CMI®
“Once a new technology rolls over you,
if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”
-- Stewart Brand
Inspectors who are marketing-savvy should maintain their websites by occasionally adding consumer-targeted videos. As technology becomes cheaper and more dummy-proof, it’s easy for an inspector to shoot a short video of himself at an inspection job and upload it to his website. Such a video might give consumers some basic home maintenance tips. Short videos on your website can serve several purposes.
Videos can show your prospective clients:
- what you look like, as well as a flavor of your personality;
- an indication of how you conduct yourself on the inspection;
- that you’re knowledgeable about inspections, even if it’s a brief video (which it should be);
- that you’re busy with work and not sitting around waiting for the phone to ring;
- that you’re comfortable with technology; and
- that you’re confident engaging your prospective clients by putting yourself out there on the Internet.
Consumers will naturally feel more comfortable with an inspector they can see in action before hiring him/her, which is actually a rare opportunity for inspectors who normally don't meet their clients until after they're hired.
Think of your video as an audition that you’re offering your website visitors. At the very least, it’s a visual advertisement, which consumers are used to watching for the products and services they want to buy. All things being equal—including licensing, experience, reporting style, and overall pricing—the inspector who offers a video showing himself in action on the job will surge ahead of the competition. Creating familiarity ahead of your actual appointment is something that will stick in your prospective clients’ minds. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Some Do’s and Don’ts for Website Videos
- Write a basic script beforehand so that you have a general idea of what you want to say during your commercial. The more comfortable you are with the material, the better it will sound when recorded.
- Appear in your own videos. Unless you look like a serial killer, you should be the star of your own website videos.
- Rehearse. If you have a camcorder (or even a cell phone with video capabilities), take some time to practice being on camera. When the camera turns on, even a confident inspector can lose his or her composure and come off as uncomfortable, unsure and maybe even unqualified. We typically look and sound different when recorded, and getting comfortable with those differences before your shoot will translate to a better commercial. If you don’t have a camcorder, practicing in front of a mirror is helpful.
- If you’re shooting in a studio, wear crisp-looking attire, which translates well on camera. Consider having your clothes professionally dry-cleaned and pressed. You want to look as professional as possible.
- If you’re a man, considering getting a haircut a few days before the shoot, and shave as late as possible before shooting (you might even want to consider bringing your razor to the shoot and shaving there).
- Dress appropriately for the image you want to present to your viewers.
- Do vocal warm-ups beforehand. As silly as it may feel, it will help loosen your vocal cords and encourage you to relax. Having a confident and commanding voice can really help you connect with your commercial’s viewers. It doesn’t need to be much: clear your throat, open and close your mouth a few times, and maybe try a few tongue twisters that you remember from your childhood. What’s most important is that you prepare yourself to speak clearly and confidently.
- Introduce yourself on camera. Don’t assume the viewer knows who you are.
- Introduce everyone else appearing in the video with you. This is simply demonstrating common courtesy and respect for your crew and colleagues.
- Make eye contact with your viewers by looking into the camera lens. This will show that you're engaged and ready to demonstrate your prowess as an inspector. Try not to look down between sentences, and if you rely on a script, use it only as a prompt, rather than read from it, which can convey shyness and a lack of confidence.
- Smile! Remember, your clients want to feel that they can trust you and be comfortable asking you questions about their inspection. If you appear relaxed, comfortable and happy, your potential clients will be relaxed, comfortable and happy while watching your commercial, which will give you a head-start after they hire you.
- Engage in some inspection activity. Your video should show you doing something.
- Mention your website address throughout the video.
- End your video with a brief sales pitch, such as “Be sure to contact ABC Inspections if you’re thinking about buying a new home.”
- Provide your business name, logo and contact information, including your service area, as a superimposed image before your video ends. In case it gets uploaded to other sites, such as YouTube, your contact information should be a part of the video that cannot be edited out.
- Think about your script from a search engine optimization standpoint. According to Google, their new audio indexing system uses speech recognition technology to transform speech into text and then ranks videos by spoken keyword relevance, YouTube metadata, and freshness.
- Copyright your video using your business name, the copyright symbol and the year. Again, if you superimpose your copyright notation at the bottom of the last few frames of video, it will be difficult to edit out.
- Catalog multiple videos on your website using titles and brief descriptions that will be of interest to consumers so that they can find them easily, both while they’re searching the Internet and searching your site.
- Take advantage of social networking sites. Do you have a Twitter account or Facebook page? Be sure to post a link to your latest videos there to drive traffic to your website.
- If you decide to shoot your video indoors, don’t wear green. You may want to use a green screen to superimpose a different background in your video. If you’re wearing clothes that are similar to the color of a green screen, it will be hard for your or your editor to remove the screen without also removing part of your body. You should also avoid wearing stripes (particularly tight ones), bright red, or all white or all black, as these generally look bad or visually distort in the video. Also, avoid using an all-black background, as this tends to darken the overall look of the video.
- Don’t make your video a straight-ahead sales pitch. You should be (mostly) providing a service rather than annoying your website visitors with an infomercial. While this approach has some limited value, it will be far more interesting for your visitors to watch you in consumer-targeted videos rather than commercials, and they will be less likely to be put off and click off.
- Don’t stand in front of the camera reading a script word for word. This is boring video. You should be engaged in an activity and speaking at a natural pace. Pretend that the camera is a person who’s accompanying you on part of the inspection.
- Don’t act lethargic. Be confident in your stance to reflect your confidence in your inspecting abilities. The camera will tend to cloak subtle movements and weak posture. You’ll have to go a little bit over-the-top for things to look right on film. Be sure to stand tall with your shoulders back. Plant both feet solidly on the ground, and avoid rocking from side to side. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, try holding a tool or device that you normally use during an inspection (such as a clipboard, PDA, or flashlight), or stand with your hands behind your back (similar to the military parade rest position). Don’t lean on anything. Be expressive in your movements when they’re intentional, and avoid nervous movements, such as tapping your feet, rocking, or fussing with a prop.
- Don’t make off-color jokes or engage in horseplay during your spot. You don’t want to have such moments preserved for time immemorial on the Web. Remember who you’re creating your videos for and how you want your inspection business represented.
- Don’t go crazy with post-production. Loud or fast music, and special effects and quick or flashy edits will do more to distract the viewer than add something worth watching.
- Don’t make your video longer than two or three minutes. Keep the topic brief.
- Don’t post your videos in multiple locations. They belong on your website, but you may want to consider having them hosted on YouTube where they're more likely to show up in video searches. Remember that Google owns YouTube, so you'll have a greater chance of having your video found by consumers who will search the Web for an inspector in your service area. Make your videos public videos, and describe and tag them appropriately using keywords that will maximize SEO hits for your business. If you use Twitter, Facebook or some other social networking tool, post a link for the video so that you drive traffic to your website—that’s your ultimate goal.
In the end, the most important thing is to be yourself. These tips should help you prepare, but if you over-think things, you might start second-guessing every word and every movement you make on camera. Before your shoot, take a moment to remind yourself that you’re a great InterNACHI
inspector and that people ought to hire you. Take a deep breath, smile, and say, “Take one.”