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How Video Can Reduce Expenses and Improve ROI

Video solves problems. It seems too good to be true, but it is one of the best problem solvers there is.

What’s my proof? Everyone knows the top search engine in the world is Google. But do you know the second most used search engine? YouTube. And we’re not just talking about cat videos. When people want to know how to do something, one of the first places they turn is to video for a demonstration, because if a picture tells a thousand words, then video is 1,800,000 words per minute. That’s a pretty good rate of return on someone’s time.

YouTube logogoogle logo

One of my first jobs in the video industry was working for a small market cable station in the early 1980s. At lunch I hung around the installers and they were complaining about the number of useless calls they made each day that could have been solved by the customer if they had just a little bit of knowledge. I asked what the top three problems were that they encountered that were in that category and they explained how to solve them. Then I made a 60 second TV commercial that showed how to fix those three problems. The spots ran whenever we didn’t have paid commercials on all of the major cable networks. They ran so often that our customers almost had them memorized. And when their cable went out, they remembered the three solutions that were in the video, so before they even called for customer support, they tried solving it themselves, knowing it would be faster. Well, a miracle happened. Before the commercials were made and aired, our service backlog was almost four days out. After the commercials had been running for three months, our service backlog dropped to under four hours. You can imagine the customer satisfaction! And the amount saved in manpower, vehicle miles, customer support call time and customer churn were incredible.

TV Remote

Another job I did early in my career was a video for a well-known national brand that was changing their healthcare insurance for their employees. My job was to pitch the change as beneficial to the employees even though, in reality, it was a cost saving measure by the company. The videos had the exact effect that the company had hoped: employees felt that the program was benefiting them instead of hurting them. It was all about messaging.

Another example from a recent client job was a training video that promoted a company’s customers to make better use of their website to do their ordering instead of calling in their orders on the phone. The phoned orders were much more expensive for the company and they wanted to reduce the number of calls and increase the number of orders on the website. The video explained all of the additional benefits of placing orders on the web. That provided an incentive to the customer. The video also showed the ease and speed of ordering on the web, providing the customer with an easy entry into the desired behavior. The video increased web ordering substantially. The benefit to the company was a substantial reduction in incorrect orders, lowered customer service costs, improved tracking of orders, and improved customer satisfaction.

Customer Service Rep

These three examples should be an inspiration for business leaders – and video producers – to find the pain points in an organization and see if they can be addressed by video. What are the problems your business – or your client’s business – is having? Could that problem be addressed, at least partially, by a video? Maybe people need to know that the CEO hears their problems and values their input. Maybe a specific behavior can be modified that saves the company money, like safety training to reduce the costs of accidents and time lost to injury and damage to equipment. Maybe customer service calls could be reduced significantly if the three top complaints that the customer service department normally took calls on were addressed in a short, simple video on the main webpage. Maybe the sales department is having problems selling a great product. A video could be aimed at the customers themselves, telling a compelling story about the product or it could be produced to help the sales staff better understand the main selling points, to improve their sales pitches. Problems with customer loyalty? Make a video showing the benefits of your product that some customers might not consider when jumping to the competition. Many customers underutilize a product or fail to understand all of its benefits even though they are customers. If the sales staff is having a hard time convincing customers to buy a complicated service or product, perhaps a series of training videos on line would help them show potential customers that help is readily available.

ROI Calculator

But for any business, it’s all about three little letters: ROI. Return on investment is critical. So how do you know if you’re achieving it with a video? Define the problem first. Then have the manager or department that “owns” that problem provide you with their own honest, conservative estimate of what the problem costs them. If the problem could be fixed, even partway, what would it be worth? Many times these problems have significant costs associated with them – hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions. Most video budgets are far below that. So it should be easy to come up with a price for a project that is able to deliver a significant return on investment. One of the keys to running a successful in-house video department - or in winning new and returning business for a video production company – is to change the traditional view of the video project as a cost that is incurred to the correct view that the video project is an investment that will generate a return. To do this, you need the department to calculate the cost of the issue that the video is meant to solve up front. If we could cut customer service calls by 25% what would it be worth? If we could cut product returns by 20% what would that be worth? If we could close 15% more sales, what would that mean to the bottom line? If we reduced incorrect orders by 10% what would the savings be? If you can get answers to those questions, you’ll have videos that are seen as having a high ROI instead of a high cost. And that is a recipe for success.

More articles by Steve Hullfish

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