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Gauging The ROI For Online Video

Just because online video is new or cool or sexy or hot, doesn't mean it's a good use of scarce time and resources to promote your business, expand your client base, sell products and services, or instill customer loyalty. But that doesn't mean it's not either.

Just because online video is new or cool or sexy or hot, doesn't mean it's a good use of scarce time and resources to promote your business, expand your client base, sell products and services, or instill customer loyalty. But that doesn't mean it's not either.This thought came to me while scanning a read a press release with the subject line: "Bidet Invention Eases Bathroom Woes." Normally, that's a quick delete, but the YouTube video link showed up in the preview pane and the my thought was "Can you sell bidets on YouTube?" Nevada-based physician Warren Smith, the inventor of the Biffy Bidet thinks so. If the maxim, that there's a buyer for everything on eBay holds, then adding video to the equation is a no brainer. But how does online video pencil for smaller businesses?

If Google's having trouble monetizing YouTube, building a case for smaller business video ROI looks daunting, at least without plunking down bucks for analytics -- which is where the soft ROI of anecdotal evidence comes into play.

For entrepreneurs and start-ups there's an obvious path to ROI: the elevator pitch channels from the likes of and TechCrunch. You have an idea, you want funding, you post your pitch, you reach more potential investors than you would racking up frequent flyer miles.

A2 LTD pitch

ZeroFootprint pitch

For politicians and groups seeking to promote a particular agenda, video can be an outlet to expand reach (check out Obama's traffic numbers) and it's cheaper to run a PSA (public service message) on YouTube than cable TV. Particularly around a hot issue, this could have clear ROI for a smaller organization.

Barack Obama's Father's Day speech

Breakaway from Cancer Public Service Announcement

For companies that rely on repeat business, there are opportunities to connect with customers by educating and positioning businesses as trusted resources. Tough to measure, but a customer-centric perspective works for many businesses offline, why not online.

"How to Adjust a Front Derailleur" from Santa Fe Mountain Sports

"Cutting a Diver's Hose" from Scuba

The template for video advertising remains -- in many ways -- television. And the combination of sound images and text is tough to beat for building a brand. There's scores of examples, but Nike does it at least as well as anyone our there (if not better).

Nike: My Better is Better

But not every business has an ad agency and a stable of superstar athletes to use as talent -- Most of Fortune 500 has trouble generating creative that slick. But, slick isn't the whole game. Take for example, Katie Couric, she of the $15 million annual salary and nightly national newscast. She's got her own YouTube channel and she's building a brand (the runs counter to her turns at the CBS anchor desk) sans glitzy production.

Katie Does Larry King Live!

A name more familiar to smaller business, John Jantsch uses video on his own Duct Tape Marketing site to provide glimpses of his workshops and public speaking. He's extending his brand without a big production budget.

John Jantsch in action

And beyond branding, there's the outright sales pitch approach. The formula is simple: here's the product, here's what it does, here's why it's great, buy it now. The ROI here is simple, if you sell more after producing a video, it was worth your time. However, the rate of return likely depends more upon the product, the quality of pitch, and the distribution than the format. A great salesperson, succeeds online and offline (the low-quality TV ads that run during the local news and in the afternoon prove my point). If you've got the product, it's worth a try. For an example, let's turn to the product that started this recursive post in the first place.

Dr. Warren Smith and the Biffy Bidet

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