automotive

How to Shoot Inventory Videos That Sell

by Brian Cox

As published in the June issue of AutoSuccess

Car shoppers are relying on videos more than ever to help them with purchasing decisions. For car dealers, the first step in creating an effective video marketing strategy is to start with inventory videos. Stitched photo videos are a great option and deliver a better shopping experience for your customers than static photos.

However, if you really want to up your game, implement a process for full motion inventory videos. Live action videos are proven to engage more shoppers and convert more leads.

The good news is you don’t need a professional videographer or expensive equipment. You can start with a smartphone. Expect that the first few videos you shoot will be horrible. That’s okay. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s a quick primer on how to shoot professional looking inventory videos that sell.

Video Quality

First, get to know your equipment and learn how to use it. Small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to video quality. Shoot with a 16:9 (horizontal) aspect ratio and experiment with different settings. The settings we recommend are:

Frames per second: 30

Shutter speed (exposure): 1/60, 1/125, or 1/250. The lower the light conditions, the lower the shutter speed. However, lower than 1/60 and your shots may be blurry.

ISO setting: It depends on lighting. If it’s a cloudy day or you’re shooting in the shade, use a higher ISO setting. However, the higher the ISO, the more grainy your video will be. Keep the setting as low as possible and never go above 800.

Aperture: This setting affects depth of field. If you want to bring the car into focus and blur the background, use a larger aperture setting. If you want both the car and the background to be in equal focus, use a smaller aperture setting.

Audio Quality

When it comes to audio in inventory videos, there are three options:

  • Talk while shooting the video
  • Add voiceover in post production
  • Use automated voiceover

If you choose to talk while shooting the video, invest in a good quality wireless microphone with noise reduction. Often it’s easier and more professional to lay down a voiceover track in post-production. If you’re not comfortable with either of these options, try an automated voice over option. With the right application, all you have to do is shoot the video and a data-driven audio layer is automatically added to your videos.

Video/Audio Content

When deciding what to say in your videos, the most important thing to remember is this: information is important, but emotion sells! Your job is to make the car shopper want this car over any other car they’re considering.

The best way to accomplish this is to tell the viewer WHY a feature is important. For example, if a vehicle has a built-in GPS system, add a comment about how a GPS “keeps you from getting lost and keeps you on time for appointments!”

In general, it’s best to keep inventory videos between 1.5 and 2.5 minutes in length. However, there are some dealerships that produce videos from three to four minutes in length that have high completion rates. It depends on the quality and presentation of the video.

Don’t forget to include your dealership’s unique selling proposition (USP). Why should the viewer buy this car from your dealership instead of from the dealership across town?

Informational and Emotional Enhancement

An effective inventory video strategy is to have the audio focused on the vehicle’s features and benefits, as well as your dealership’s unique selling proposition. Then, use banner overlays and other visual elements to relay additional information important to the car shopper, such as:

  • MSRP data
  • Rebates and incentives
  • Mileage
  • CPO content
  • CARFAX data
  • Dealership specials

All the information listed on the VDP page should be included in the video. Be sure to integrate conversion widgets into your videos, so when viewers click on the video they’re brought to a landing page.

Don’t forget to include a call to action at the end of the video! You must tell the customer what you want them to do, and give them a reason to do it.

Visibility

Once your inventory videos are complete, the next step is distribution. The more touch points your videos are viewed on, the more leads you will get. Make sure your inventory videos are viewable on:

  • Your website’s Vehicle Display Pages (VDPs)
  • YouTube, Facebook and other social media channels
  • Third-party shopping sites such as Cars.com, Autotrader.com or eBay
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Craigslist ads (provide a URL link to a video landing page)

To get your inventory videos ranked by Google, make sure your website provider utilizes a video sitemap for your website. A video sitemap greatly increases video SEO rankings.

The ability to produce quality vehicle inventory videos is the first step in creating an effective online video marketing strategy, guaranteed to draw more customers to your website and convert them into leads. Fortunately, these days, it’s easy and fast to create and distribute powerful full-motion inventory videos designed to capture car shoppers’ attention, educate and inspire emotion.

How to Make Your Own Commercial for the “Big Game”

By Brian Cox, President and CEO, Flick Fusion

In 2019, advertisers paid over $5 million for a 30-second commercial ad spot during the Super Bowl. That kind of budget is out of reach for dealerships, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own commercial for the big game.

TV ads that run during the Super Bowl can be funny or heart-wrenching. They can be warm and sweet, or edgy and trendy. A good Super Bowl ad captures and conveys the essence of a brand in 30 seconds.

For weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, everyone wants to know which companies are advertising and what type of commercial they’ll come up with. Some commercials are leaked as teasers and even the news media contributes to the hype. Super Bowl advertisers probably get just as much public relations value out of running an ad during the game, than they do from the actual ad itself.

Why not cash in on this buzz and create your dealership’s very own “big game” commercial? All it takes is some creativity and a camera.

Of course, your commercial won’t actually run on TV during the Super Bowl. Instead, you can distribute it across every digital channel for maximum exposure. Post it on your website. Use it in email marketing and digital ad campaigns. Post it on all your social media channels. Use a shortened version as a pre-roll ad on YouTube.

Promote the heck out of it. Maybe it will go viral. Have some fun with it.

According to a National Retail Federation Study, 73% of Super Bowl viewers see the ads as entertainment. That’s the power of video. If you make your own “big game” commercial, everyone will want to see it. Just make sure that your ad is actually entertaining.

Here are a few tips on what makes a great commercial.

Tell a Story. Most Super Bowl ads don’t try to advertise a sale or special. The most successful ads tell a story that’s designed to elicit an emotion from the viewer. Buying a car can be an emotional experience, so try tapping into your customers’ experience, whether that’s happy, sentimental or exasperated.

Keep it Simple. What’s your brand’s unique value proposition? Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Use simple concepts and headlines. Don’t let complexity get in the way of your message. An effective ad conveys one message that is clear to the audience.

Brand Recall. Sometimes companies do such a great job at being cute or funny, that the viewers love the commercial but they don’t recall the brand. What’s the point of that? To be effective, an ad needs to accurately reflect your brand identity, and viewers should remember the brand.

Originality. If your ad looks like everyone else’s ads, it won’t be memorable. Spend some time coming up with a truly unique concept. Think outside the box. Even if your ad falls short of being award-worthy, your viewers will give you an “A” for effort.

Tap into a Trend. The auto industry is changing. Peruse news headlines and think about what people are talking about: autonomous vehicles, advanced vehicle technology, ride-sharing, electric vehicles and buying cars from vending machines. Try to leverage these trends in your ads, whether it’s poking fun or promoting interactions with an actual human.

Don’t Use Trademarked Terms. The terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” are trademarked by the NFL, so they can’t be used to promote your business in an ad, or the NFL will send a cease and desist letter. Use terms like “Big Game” or incorporate a football theme without mentioning any specifics. Also avoid using names of specific teams and players.

Be Honest. Most of all, make sure that your dealership delivers on your ad’s promise.

Once your ad is produced, it’s time to kick back, grab some wings and watch as the number of video views goes up and up. And don’t forget to enjoy the game!

5 Pre-Production Steps for Better Videos

by Tim James, COO, Flick Fusion

Videos are consumers’ favorite type of content to see from a brand, as evidenced by the fact that 87% of marketing professionals use videos as a marketing tool. But creating a quality video requires more than just picking up a camera and shooting footage. Before you begin shooting your videos, it’s important to go through a pre-production checklist that will ensure that you get the most out of your time and investment.

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind.

What is the purpose of this video? If you’re creating a vehicle inventory video, think about the end goal. If you’re thinking “my goal is to sell the car,” that’s stating things a little too simply.

Of course you want to convert that video viewer into a customer, but not just a one-time sales customer. Your goal is to create a lifetime, loyal customer who will bring the car in for service. What’s the best way to do this?

Even in something as simple as a vehicle inventory video, you want to lay a foundation that will establish your dealership as a trusted expert and build an emotional connection with the consumer. By the end of the video, the customer should not only love the car, they should like the dealership brand.

Step 2: Who is the target audience?

Before you shoot video, understand who your most profitable customers are. This data exists in your DMS and/or CRM. Filter customers by number of visits and money spent at your dealership. Then look at the demographics and create an ideal “persona.”

What zip codes do they live in? What age groups spend the most with your dealership? What is their income level? Are they white collar or blue collar? Which groups are they affiliated with? What problems do they have?

It’s important to identify audience characteristics so you know what videos will appeal to them. Demographics can help you set the tone for your videos; whether they should be professional, humorous or heartfelt.

Step 3: Determine where the video will be displayed.

If you’re going to produce a video, be sure to maximize your investment by leveraging it across all your marketing touchpoints, including your website VDPs, 3rd-party auto shopping sites, Facebook, Google ad campaigns, email and text campaigns and more.

Also make certain that you can capture your viewers’ data, which enables you to personalize the content of the video for every viewer. This provides your customers with the most relevant experience and provides you with maximum conversion. Make sure your video host can provide you real-time notifications when your videos are being viewed by existing customers or leads.

Step 4. Identify your call to action

What is the next step that you want the consumer to take after watching your video? If it’s an inventory video, you might think the next step is to submit a lead or make a phone call. But many people who view inventory videos are still in the early stages of the car shopping process and trying to narrow down which vehicle is right for them.

If a customer is still in this phase, it would be helpful for them to view make/model test drive videos. So, a better call to action might be to encourage the viewer to watch more videos on your site. This is why it’s important that your video host is able to serve up relevant video content based on a customer’s browsing behavior.

Once a car shopper has narrowed down a make and model, the next phase of the shopping cycle is to decide where to purchase the vehicle. After your test drive videos, a good call to action might be to encourage viewers to watch your dealership’s value proposition and customer testimonial videos.

Step 5: What is the Vision?

Last but not least, this is where you plan the actual shots. Plan to shoot a lot of footage that you can use in future video projects.

Video can be re-purposed in dozens of ways for marketing and social media purposes. I recommend planning shots of the vehicles, your facility, service department, sales department and employees. Professional videographers often shoot hours of footage for a 5-minute video. You don’t have to go overboard, but you should plan to shoot dozens of 15-second clips and catalogue them so you can refer back to them easily.

These pre-production steps are an essential part of the video production process and will help you create videos that resonate with your target audience.

[Video] Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments – Part 1: Which Car Is Best

In this series of video blogs, Flick Fusion COO Tim James shares Google’s 5 auto shopping moments that every dealership should know and how to take advantage of those moments to lead customers to your dealership.