Flick Fusion COO Tim James continues explaining Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments that Every Brand Must Own in the fifth and final installment of this series.
Flick Fusion COO Tim James continues explaining Google’s 5 Auto Shopping Moments that Every Brand Must Own in the fourth installment of this series.
When dealerships first start their video marketing programs, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Will I have to buy an expensive camera?” The answer is no. Just about everyone these days has a smartphone that can shoot HD video. When used properly, the quality of video produced can be exceptional. All it takes is practice.
Most dealers start with inventory walkaround videos and these are probably the trickiest videos to shoot, so that’s what we’ll focus on here.
First, to ensure a good high-resolution (and non-pixelated) video, adjust your camera setting to record video at 1920 x 1080 and 30 frames per second (fps), unless you plan to extract your still images for the inventory from the video. In that case you may want to utilize 60 frames per second (fps).
Next, invest in a stabilizer. Most smartphones have a pretty good stabilizer built into them today, but they will only make a good video better. This is the merchandising layer for your inventory that most shoppers are going to view, so invest in the tools that you need to provide the best experience for your shoppers that you can. Don’t fool yourself into believing you can walk around the vehicle while holding the smartphone steady in your hand. The result will be a bouncy video that will make your viewers seasick and result in low video completion rates.
A hand-held stabilizer or tripod is better than nothing, but if you want to produce the best quality video invest in a 3-axis gimbal for a couple hundred bucks. It is worth every penny! For top of the line stabilization a 4-axis gimbal is even better, but may run you a couple thousand.
Currently we recommend using a set-up that includes your smartphone, and the DJI OSMO camera/gimbal combo. This is a really cool camera that takes amazing quality video and connects wirelessly with your smartphone, so you can use your smartphone to view what the camera is recording.
You can find a DJI OSMO starter kit for around $500 and depending on how you want to accessorize it, you may spend $700 to $800. This is a small investment that will make your inventory shine! GoPro also offers some great camera/stabilizer combinations that cost less and produce very good quality videos as well.
Once you have a stabilizer, the next thing you’ll want to address is lighting. Smartphones have small lenses so adequate lighting is critical. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’re shooting outdoors, but always position the vehicle so you will not be pointing the camera into direct light, such as the sun.
When you first begin shooting walkarounds, you may want to allow extra time to shoot the entire video two or three times. With each ‘take,’ experiment with different ISO settings, which measure your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On a sunny day your ISO settings will be lower and on cloudy days your ISO settings will be higher. If you do shoot on a sunny day, avoid shooting midday because that’s when the sun casts the harshest shadows. Instead, schedule shoots for early morning or late afternoon.
For vehicle walkarounds, you want to feature shots panning the side of the vehicle, as well as the front and back so the viewer has a good sense of what the vehicle looks like from all angles. Open the doors and shoot the interior, both front and back.
Then focus on shooting the features that you will use to sell the car, such as the Infotainment system, new tires, safety features, etc. The total length of your walkaround videos can range from one to four minutes. Don’t believe experts who tell you that all videos have to be one minute or less. Though this is probably true for a bad or dull video, if the presentation is informative and entertaining, two, three or even four minutes is okay. There are plenty of dealerships that get 80 to 90 percent completion rates with videos that long, and plenty of dealerships that only get a 50 to 60 percent completion rate with their bouncy and dull one- minute videos.
If you are worried about the audio track for your videos, you can have your photographer shoot your videos and have a data driven audio track added to the video automatically. If you are adding your own audio while shooting the videos, or if you decide to shoot your walkaround videos featuring a salesperson or spokesperson giving a live presentation, invest in a good noise-cancelling microphone.
Either way you can always go back and replace the audio layer of the video if you want or need to without having to re-shoot the video. You can even personalize the audio layer of the videos for specific leads (personalized walkarounds) without having to shoot another video, saving you a LOT of time while producing an identical personalized walkaround video to one that was shot from scratch.
Finally, expect that the first few videos you create will probably suck. Don’t be discouraged! Practice makes perfect. Keep doing it and eventually things will click. Pretty soon you will find your own unique style and every walkaround video will become a mini-masterpiece.
What tips do you have for shooting professional quality video with your smartphone?
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.
Those of you with spouses have probably heard this at least once: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!” Whether at home or at work, miscommunication can cause plenty of problems.
Have you ever misinterpreted the tone of an email that a colleague wrote to you? Perhaps you thought a tersely written email meant that person was angry, but in fact, they were just rushed. Or someone joked about something in an email, but you took offense because you thought they were serious?
Miscommunication is so common that it’s one of the main reasons why some dealerships require BDC staff and salespeople to use templates for customer communications. And it’s why some CEOs are issuing video recommendations to employees, instead of email memos.
Videos allow people to see how you’re saying something, leaving little room for error in the interpretation of what you’re saying. In fact, videos are so effective at expressing personality and tone that it’s become trendy for job seekers to send video resumes to prospective employers.
Let’s face it: a public perception still exists that in general, car dealers are not humble, caring or honest. One bad experience with an overeager or aggressive salesperson is all it takes to forever sour the car-buying experience for a consumer.
As a dealer, how do you change this perception? You could try creating marketing slogans and post them on your website, in ads and in emails, but words by themselves don’t have much impact. Online consumers are very adept at scanning information to find out what’s important to them; which isn’t necessarily what the dealership thinks is important. We all have the ability to ignore or visually ‘tune out’ messages right before our eyes.
When a consumer watches a video, however, it’s not as easy to tune out the message. Videos offer a multimedia experience with live action, sounds and sights, so the entire message is absorbed. Retention rises too. Video viewers retain 80% of what they hear and see in videos, versus just 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see.
This is partly due to the fact that so much of our communication is non-verbal. Think about your own experiences. Have you ever had a customer service experience and were put off by the customer service rep, even though they were saying all the right things? Perhaps you believed the person wasn’t truly sincere. Or perhaps their tone started getting defensive, leaving you with the impression that they didn’t care about your problem.
When we communicate, we pick up multiple cues from facial expressions, gestures and tone. This happens largely on a sub-conscious level, but the end result–the emotion we feel–is very conscious.
If you’re looking for ways to improve customer perception and communications at your dealership, try creating the following videos.
- A value proposition video that features a dealer or other company spokesperson showing, not telling, what your dealership has to offer
- Vehicle walk around videos that generate emotion and excitement about your inventory
- Customer testimonial videos that feature real customers saying nice things about your staff; these do a lot to alleviate car shoppers’ fears about a bad experience
- Lead follow up videos from salespeople that engage car shoppers; if the salesperson comes across as likeable, these greatly increase the probability of response
- Service videos that feature service staff help to build trust and the perception of honesty
Of course, you have to make sure that your videos are conveying not just the right message, but the right tone. When you first start to create videos, ask as many people as you can for their objective and true opinions. Don’t get emotionally attached to the videos you’ve created, and don’t get defensive if the feedback from others isn’t what you want to hear. The last thing you want to do it spend time and money creating videos that turn prospective customers off.
Video communication is powerful, so use it wisely. More than two million years of evolution has equipped most humans with the ability to accurately sense insincerity, arrogance and plain old hogwash. So say what you mean, and if you don’t truly mean it, don’t say it.
By: Tim James
So you’ve decided it’s time to differentiate your dealership from the competition, and that video is the way to do it. Your next probable question is, do you produce, distribute and market the videos yourself, or outsource some, if not all of these functions?
The answer to this question is, it depends. We’ve got dealers who are successfully doing both. In my experience there are three factors to consider when making this decision.
If your decision to implement video marketing was arrived at rather reluctantly, then you should probably outsource. Motivation requires passion. It requires an understanding of the rewards that will be reaped from putting your time and effort towards this undertaking. It requires buy-in and excitement from your staff. It requires commitment.
I’ve talked to many dealers who spend time waffling over whether they should go the DIY video route. Here’s what I ask them: If not you, who? If not now, when?
Video is not a trend. Remember the music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star?” The actual song was released nearly two years before the music video debuted on MTV in 1981. Hardly anyone heard of the song, but once the video aired, the song became a huge hit. That was 35 years ago. Online marketing video is here to stay, and it’s just a matter of time before it kills the static Vehicle Details Page (VDP).
2) Internal Resources
The second factor to consider is what your internal resources are. Even if you’re highly motivated to launch a video marketing program, someone has to take responsibility. Someone has to take ownership to make sure it’s successful. Someone has to learn how to shoot videos, how to get the videos on the right touch-points and how to measure whether the program is successful or not.
The ‘pros’ of producing videos internally are that you already have staff at your disposal. With an established process, inventory videos should take less than 24 hours to upload.
In addition to inventory videos, it’s important to create value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos and service videos. Internal employees are in a better position to spontaneously capture a glowing customer testimonial video, and may have a better handle on how to sell your dealership’s unique value proposition than an outside entity.
However, when analyzing internal resources, be brutally honest. Are your current employees already struggling to keep up with what’s on their plate? If they are, adding new processes may be too much of a burden.
It’s possible to split the responsibilities between internal and external resources. If your in-house staff is currently tasked with taking inventory photos, it’s not much of a stretch to task them instead with shooting a walk around video. Photos can be easily extracted from video, so there is no need to do both. If you use a lot services company to take your photos, task them with shooting a video in addition to taking your photos.
If you decide to use internal resources, distribution and marketing are two important areas to be addressed. Who will be tasked with ensuring that your videos appear not just on your website, but distributed to as many touch points as possible; including third-party auto shopping sites and social media channels?
Who will be in charge of incorporating video into your digital ad and/or email marketing campaigns? Who will be in charge of collecting viewer data and using that data to increase the relevancy of your videos? Meaning, it’s important to ensure that the right video is shown to the right car shopper at the right time.
Another question to ask when evaluating internal resources is what the turnover rate is in your dealership. Are you confident that your Internet Manager or the staff in that department will be with your dealership for a long time? A potential pitfall of producing videos internally is that you’ll have to constantly train new staff.
3) Dealership Volume
Last but not least, volume is another factor to consider. How many units does your dealership move per month? The greater inventory turnover there is, the greater time investment involved and the greater commitment there must be to the video marketing process.
The good news is, a successful video marketing program will increase your overall sales volume, but for some dealers this can present its own challenges. Kia of Puyallup in Washington saw a nine percent uptick in sales after implementing a video marketing program. How many more units can you handle moving per month?
Now, is everything as clear as mud? Good! The fact is, only you can decide what’s best for your dealership. It’s easy to get excited about the idea of video marketing and want to do it yourself. But it’s important to be able to objectively analyze your motivation level, internal resources and overall volume.
I’ve seen too many instances where dealership salespeople will produce a few videos, upload them to YouTube and don’t see any increase in leads or sales. The dealer points to these paltry efforts and claims that videos don’t work.
Well, of course that level of effort doesn’t work! Producing a few videos is nowhere near the same thing as having a comprehensive video marketing program. It’s like deciding that you want to go into space so you build a shuttle in your backyard. Without an actual space program, with testing, logistics, a launch pad and experts to tell you when and where to go, you’re not likely to get very far.
Outsourcing some (or all) of your video process may involve investing a little more in your merchandising budget than you currently spend, but the end results will be well worth the investment.
No matter which direction you choose to go, the important thing is that you start now — Not next week or even tomorrow. You can start slowly if you need to, but you must start in order to find the process that works best for you and your dealership. The end will justify the means.
by Tim James
Technology has drastically changed the way businesses and auto dealers operate. Hey, think about it. It was not too far in the distant past that we did just about everything via fax machine. Leads came in, financing was secured and, well, just about everything was via fax.
Consider this… there was once a time when radio and newspaper were the dominant media for disseminating messages to consumers. Potential customers read the newspaper every day and listened to the radio as a primary form of entertainment.
Then along came this revolutionary device known as television. At first, it was expensive and limited to the more affluent classes. However, it very quickly grew into almost 100% of households. Then along came TV commercials. Many car dealers asked themselves, “Why do we need to advertise on television? How is that going to sell more cars?”
However, they soon saw the results and eventually came around. Television continues to be a major player in most dealerships’ marketing budgets. Radio focuses on listening, newspaper focuses on reading, while television combines the two, making for a much more impactful message.
Then along came the Internet and these curious things named “websites” popped up. Consumers were fascinated and dial-up connections became AOL’s claim to fame. Remember those discs which used to be packaged in every magazine, arriving in your mailbox every other day?
The Internet continued to advance. Businesses started buying domain names and setting up websites. And dealers asked, “Why do we need a website? How is that going to help me sell more cars?”
Fast forward to today and every dealer has a website, whether they want one or not, courtesy of the manufacturers.
Now let’s visit mobile phones. Remember when phones were in big suitcase looking things? They were that way because they had to be. Slowly, as technology advanced, they became the brick phones, then consumer demand kept making them smaller… and smaller.
However, as bandwidth increased, and streaming video became popular, all of a sudden Samsung came out with a phone that was… BIGGER! Why? What changed the trend away from smaller and towards bigger? Video. Video is easier and more entertaining to watch on a bigger screen. And other manufacturers followed suit.
Of course, we cannot talk about cell phones without talking about the providers. It wasn’t that long ago when just about every provider had an unlimited data plan. Slowly but surely, as data usage by consumers increased, those unlimited plans were eliminated.
But, you have to ask yourself, “What event precipitated the disappearance of those plans?”
The answer is simple. Data usage spiked. The reason it spiked is simple… video. With only 1 GB of data, you could visit 3,000 webpages, receive 1.5 million WhatsApp messages, upload 4,000 photos, send or receive 10,000 emails, watch 310 minutes of YouTube videos or listen to 160 songs.
Once video became the most popular media, data usage spiked, as it takes up a lot of bandwidth. Rather than clog up their networks, cell providers opted to eliminate unlimited plans and, in some cases, throttle speeds for heavy users.
But now the trend has reversed… again. Cell providers know that mobile users are streaming video. Cell companies with smaller market shares began to differentiate themselves from their larger competitors by, once again, offering unlimited data plans. Slowly, the other smaller carriers fell in line until the largest, Verizon, finally began offering unlimited data on February 13th.
The point is that consumers want… and crave… video content. Technology has reversed itself from small to large, cell phone providers have reversed themselves from eliminating unlimited data to embracing it. All because the media of choice for today’s consumer is video.
Let me state that here again — the media of choice for today’s consumer is video. So, if you are still asking yourself, “Why do I need video? How is that going to sell me more cars?” Well, that’s like just a few short years ago when dealers were asking, “Do I need a website? How is a website going to sell me more cars?”
Technology is not going to slow down and wait for us just because we aren’t ready to embrace it. Video IS already the most powerful online marketing strategy for those businesses that have already embraced it. As with any new technology, there are “Leaders,” and there are “Laggers.” Which side of history do you want to be on?