Many dealers don’t realize they can use the cameras built into their late-model smartphones to record YouTube-quality videos. Photo by Karlis Dambrans

Many dealers don’t realize they can use the cameras built into their late-model smartphones to record YouTube-quality videos. Photo by Karlis Dambrans

Videos have become an incredibly popular, social media-friendly, and shareworthy marketing medium. In fact, four out of five prospective customers would prefer to watch a product video than read about it, and according to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for more than 69% of all Internet traffic.

With stats like these, what is preventing you from using videos to promote your dealership in 2016? Most likely it’s your perception of good videos being too expensive, too difficult and too time-consuming to produce. It’s time to change that mindset. Here are six tips for creating successful video campaigns this year:

1. Change your Perception.

You can produce your own videos with most smartphones on the market today, or you can license them from professional car video providers. Keep in mind that, while making a video by yourself is less expensive, a provider can be a faster and sometimes more economical approach. Set your priorities based on time, money and quality and make the right decision for your needs.

If you decide to go the homemade route, be sure to shoot the most attractive parts of your store, but don’t just drift aimlessly from shot to shot. Focus on your brands, your differentiation and your value proposition. A 10-minute recording of your walk around the lot with music playing in the background is not really useful to anyone.

2. Tell a Good Story.

Videos work really well when you use them to tell compelling stories that stick. How do you know if they are sticky? Look to whether they compel people to act, either through social excitement, conversations, or shares. Start with a clear and focused sales pitch and see if you can deliver it in 100 seconds flat, highlighting key features of the car.

3. Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose.

Get extra mileage out of each video by using it across channels. For example, a hatchback video produced for your “My First Hatch” email promotion can also go into your website product page, inventory listing, YouTube and Vimeo pages. How about taking it one step further and creating a “Match the Hatch” Facebook contest, and a #spotthehatch Twitter hashtag as well?

Your story is only as good as your script! Preparing a good script, as well as ensuring that the images match the script, is very important. Something that is thrown together hastily will not be watched, nor will it lead to qualified sales leads.

4. Build the Excitement.

What is the one unique feature of most successful YouTube videos? Almost all of them will have a new and exciting angle to it. Either a new feature, or a new “twist” to existing features that make people see them in a new light. Here are two terrific examples of videos that employ these features. One video, from Kia, is the Kia 900 Luxury Sedan Walk-Around. It goes through every feature of the car, and as a result, has an impressive 3,400 views. Another video walk-around, the 2013 Porsche Cayenne diesel, has more than 275,000 views. Views drive traffic and, ultimately, customers.

Spend time to find out what’s really new and exciting about your dealership, the cars, and customer service. Then create a video around those points and share it with the world.

5. Keep Your Eye on the Ball.

A video that receives just a hundred views but sends five prospective customers to your doorstep is more valuable than one that gets a thousand views but no buyer interest. Video marketing providers can help analyze buyer mindsets and fine-tune videos for marketing results.

If you are planning to produce your own videos, ask yourself what questions customers bring up most often, what really excites them about your store and how you can provide the kind of information that will generate a sale

6. Don’t Forget the Basics.

What works in your other marketing campaigns usually works just as well with videos. Start with an exciting lead-in, a good signature tune, the value proposition and the “now-or-never” call to action.

You also need to optimize your videos for search engines. Adding the right metadata, a relevant caption and useful subtitles will help ensure that your videos are not only picked up by search engines but discovered by the right prospective customers.

Structure your videos around these basics, and you’re sure to begin seeing results from your video campaigns. Keep adjusting until you hit the benchmark of 10% to 21% lead-to-sales conversion.

There is a reason video is the fastest-growing content online. Don’t you owe it to your store to find out why?

Brian Wiklem is director of CG and video production for izmocars, a San Francisco-based digital services provider. [email protected]