Category Archives: Video

Videos: Your essential step-by-step guide

Admit it …

You love watching crazy kitten videos. But “paws” them for a minute. Think about the power of videos and imagine how you could use them to captivate customers and prospects.

You don’t need to become an overnight YouTube sensation to get people talking about your company and what you offer. Irresistible, furry critters aren’t necessary, either. What you really need is a simple, well-planned idea and the time to execute it.

An example is this promotional video that The Simons Group just completed for Morrisey Associates, a national health care software company. The three-minute video shows how Morrisey Practitioner Performance Reporting™ (MPPR™) gives hospitals key insights about their doctors and features a customer interview that speaks volumes about the product.

Whether you’d like a video that’s similar in length and style to Morrisey’s, one that you shoot yourself using your smartphone, or your own wacky cat video, follow these essential steps for a production even Steven Spielberg would be proud of.

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5 steps to making email marketing shine with video

lights-camera-action-1168523Videos are an up-and-coming channel for presenting content to customers. According to Cisco, video is projected to make up 67 percent of all fixed Internet traffic by 2017. Studies also show that customers will stay on a website longer if it features a video. So what does that mean for you? Video is increasingly becoming a must-have on your marketing plan.

Here are some tips for adding video to email:

  1. Start with content you already have. Many companies have videos in their wheel houses, whether it’s a product demo or an overview of the company. To make the most of your resources, start small and work your way up to include a dedicated video strategy for your marketing plan.
  2. Use the word “video” in the subject line, which tends to generate more clicks.
  3. Time your video email to coordinate with where your customer is in the sales process. If your goal is to sell the costumer on a new product, send them a video touting the product features. If your customer has already made a purchase, send a video email a day or two after the items have arrived that describes how to use the item or gives tips for cleaning it.
    4. Use a call to action in your video. Depending on your video and what type of customer it’s being sent to, your call to action can be as simple as a phone number or website.
    5. Send related content. If a prospect clicks on a video in an email, direct them to your website. Provide links to related videos on your site, and as the customer watches more content, you can get a better sense of what they’re interested in.

Videos engage customers by delivering relevant content that’s easy to digest, ultimately increasing awareness and revenue. Use your videos to generate leads by linking them to your email campaigns. While it takes some equipment and technical expertise to execute videos correctly, a professional marketing team can help you shine on screen.

Have you started incorporating more videos into your marketing? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Why video marketing sells and how to use it in your business

video camera

As marketers, we engage our customers and prospects through a number of channels, including video marketing. Videos are an excellent way to promote your business because they engage people in a way that isn’t possible with static content.

What’s the market for online video? Consider these statistics:

  • Viewers spend 100 percent more time on pages that contain videos, according to MarketingSherpa.
  • Seventy-five percent of executives told Forbes they watch business-related videos every week. Of those, 65 percent visit a marketer’s website after viewing a video and 50 percent went on to make a purchase for their business.
  • Globally, online video traffic will be 79 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2018, according to Cisco.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most mileage from your video marketing:

Consider all types of video content, including these options:

  • Customer testimonials create confidence and trust in your brand
  • Tutorials and demos show how your products work and reinforce their value
  • Interviews and big announcements convey important information with impact

1. Keep it short and sweet – 30 seconds to two minutes, tops. Be sure to fill that time with engaging content. If you don’t grab their attention quickly, they’ll go back to watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

2. Stick to a budget. You can create a compelling message without expensive equipment and high-end production. Keep it polished though, because you want to leave them with a good impression of your business.

3. Plan for publishing. Posting the video on your website is a no-brainer. Think about where you’ll put it before you shoot the video because you may need to create space for it. Possible places include your home page, product pages, the “about us” section, on your blog or on a page that only has videos. You’ll probably also want to upload it to video streaming sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, and share it through social media channels.

If you’re having trouble imagining the possibilities, check out these videos for some ideas. Still stuck? Here’s another video that will get your creative juices flowing.

Do you watch videos from other businesses? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

3 top marketing trends for 2015


We may be looking forward to evolving for the new year, but we’re not the only ones. Marketing is evolving, too, and many new trends are on the horizon. After keeping tabs on the latest predictions for 2015, I’d like to share three trends industry experts agree will be hot:

  1. Video will become more popular than ever. According to DigitalSherpa, “75 percent of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week.” That makes sense when you think about the fact that video helps your customers and prospects understand your products better through demonstrations and that your customers can relate to you on a more human level by seeing some of your personality.
  2. Mobile-responsive design will be king in marketing. Smart Insights predicts that Google will penalize companies that don’t have mobile-friendly websites.
  3. Sales pitches will evolve. Companies are steering away from cold calls and are helping their sales associates become subject matter experts. Lead generators must learn how their company’s solutions align with various budgets and business challenges and focus on solving customers’ challenges.

Have you read about any other trends for next year? Let us know in the comments below.

All right, people: Let’s talk turkey

It’s the end of November already, which means that Chicagoans are nearly ready for hibernation. Before we settle into our assorted layers of winter weatherproofing, however, we’ll warm Thanksgiving, turkey, talk turkeyourselves with the gratitude, love and tradition that come with our annual turkey feast.

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection; a time for us to look at our lives and appreciate all that we have. It can be a challenge for many companies, including ours, to take a step back at this time of year. Rush projects need to be complete by year’s end. Holiday gatherings double as launch parties. Budgets threaten to expire and the days feel increasingly shorter.

That’s why we at The Simons Group make an effort to keep a balance of creativity, convention and chaos throughout the holiday season. In all this year-end craziness, striking that balance allows us to be grateful for our looming deadlines and long hours. It means we’ve spent another year doing what we love to do.

As always, we’d like to take this time to show our appreciation for our clients, co-workers, family and friends. All of you help to keep our projects successful, and we truly wouldn’t be the same without you.

Whatever your plans are for this Thanksgiving, we hope you have time to step back from the daily grind and acknowledge the good things in your work, home and community.

Our favorite way to show our appreciation during our busiest time of year is to work on projects that involve the whole office. From brainstorming to production, each one of us has a hand in the holiday cards we send out. So, while you’re waiting patiently for the feast to begin, watch this free full episode of “TSG: Holiday Files” to find out what our turkey is up to this year.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at The Simons Group!


Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from all of us to you! Check out our Halloween video below. It’s cute…err..I mean..scary! BOO!

Behind the scenes: Making our Fourth of July video


First day setup

Normally, when we produce a video, our audience only gets to experience the finished product. For this blog post, however, I’m going to give you a sneak peek at what went into creating our Fourth of July video. If you haven’t seen the video yet, click here (it’s pretty fun, if I do say so myself.)

The video is roughly one minute long, but it took about 12 hours to finish it. That comes out to about 12 minutes for each second of video. This time includes equipment setup and teardown; grocery shopping; shot setup; multiple takes; making a cake; and audio and video editing.

I recorded the video in my kitchen over three days. It got a little cramped. And hot.


Lighting from rear, top and a reflector to keep the scene brightly lit

The concept behind the video was to show the making of a birthday cake for America. Because I made a three-layer cake, I was going to have multiple takes of the cake-making process, giving me an excellent resource for footage. The final video combined footage from each cake layer shoot.

One of the challenging aspects of the project was getting the overhead shot above the mixing bowl. I drilled a hole through the center post on my tripod and slipped it over one of the light stands. This allowed me to get the camera high enough over the counter to get the right angle, and I could stand behind it while filming the mixing process. Because the tripod was acting like a boom arm, the weight of the camera was pulling the tripod down – think construction crane – so I used a bag of powdered sugar (the frosting on the cake) as a counterweight. Sometimes, you need to use a little engineering and tricks to get the shot you want.

Camera mounted on lighting stand

Camera mounted on lighting stand

That’s just a little glimpse into the production side of the video. If you have any similar experiences, leave us a comment below!

A huge, delicious mess

A huge, delicious mess

The Director of Photography (DP) on set

The Director of Photography (DP) on set

Take your business viral with your own YouTube channel

Filming YouTube VideoSetting up a YouTube channel for your company is a lot easier than you think.

First, get set up on YouTube – this way you’re ready to go as soon as your first video is complete.  If you don’t already have one, create an account with Google. YouTube is a subsidiary of Google, which allows you to manage your YouTube channel, Google+ profile and other Google services from one account.

Log in to YouTube using your Google account. You can then click on your profile and select “My Channel.”  You’ll have the option to create a channel under a business name, product or brand. It’s a good idea to include your company’s name in the channel title, as most people will search for you specifically instead of using general keywords. For example, our YouTube channel is simply “The Simons Group.”

Once you’ve finished creating your YouTube channel, you can customize it. From the “My Channel” page, you can add your logo and a header image called “channel art.” Click on the “About” tab to add a channel description, link to your website or links to other pages and channels. You only need to fill out what applies to your company or product, but having a well-developed profile could encourage other users to subscribe to your channel.

Now, it’s time for your videos. If you don’t already have videos to upload, it’s time to start filming. Whether they’re about your products and services, or of your staff talking about their experiences with the company, you need to decide what types of videos you’re going to include – and who is going to watch them.

For example, if you’re a manufacturer, your video should represent your capabilities and may include footage of your factory or equipment. If you’re an investment firm, you can include testimonials or videos that explain options for retirement planning. Be sure your video is no more than two to three minutes long because no one will watch a longer segment. If you can keep it to less than two minutes, that’s even better.

After uploading your videos to your channel on the “Videos” tab, you’ll need to let people know you have new content available. Add a link on your website, email signature, e-blasts, newsletter, blog and other marketing materials. Your sales staff can also send links to prospects or clients.

Creating quality videos that appeal to your audience can be difficult without the proper equipment and an experienced team. You can either invest your time and resources in cameras, equipment and editing or look at investing in an established professional to assist you with your video production.

What type of videos do you upload to your YouTube channel? Let us know in the comments below.

B2B Web video: The missing link to closing sales?

video cameraThe marketing revolution is not being televised – it’s streaming on desktops, laptops and tablets across the United States.

From media companies to consumer brands, change is well afoot in terms of how to reach a desired audience. Websites, traditional print products, mobile technology and social media all remain effective, popular marketing tools in these spaces. But they’re increasingly sharing space with a new kid on the block: Web videos.

In February alone, nearly 180 million Americans watched 33 billion videos online at home and at work, according to comScore data out last month. More than one-third of these videos were on Google sites like, while about 560 million were on Facebook.

The vast majority of these staggering usage rates undoubtedly are viral music videos or clips of popular television shows, but big consumer brands also appear to be choosing the emerging tactic. In March, a CopyPress survey of global consumer marketing leaders showed that Web videos were No. 2 when it came to ROI, beating out white papers, sales collateral and infographics.

Could B2B firms be next? Perhaps – if sales teams have anything to do with it.

In January,, a trade publication for marketing executives, published survey results suggesting that B2B firms increasingly are looking to online videos and webinars to help their sales teams close deals.

Similar to B2C survey data, the poll showed that online video was at the front of the pack when it comes to ROI. Meanwhile, the B2B survey showed that Web videos produced more high-quality sales leads than traditional marketing tactics like tool kits, surveys and e-books.

Of the survey’s more than 150 participants, about 20 percent said the sales leads generated from Web videos were “high quality,” while another more than 45 percent said Web video-generated sales leads were “medium quality.”

Similarly, the survey showed other online video content also produces hot prospects for B2B sales. More than 30 percent of the poll’s participants said webinars produced the best leads, while more than 20 percent said video demos do.

Is your B2B firm using Web videos successfully? What are the results? Let us know in the comments below.

Creating a perfect holiday video (with crispy skin)

About a month ago here at TSG headquarters, a random event led me to do a weird late-1800s street vendor voice. For whatever reason (probably our collective weirdness), the voice stuck around and we decided we needed to find a use for it.

A couple of weeks later, we were all thinking about what we were going to do for our Thanksgiving e-blast. The group decided that we needed to include that particular voice and we started throwing around ideas. That idea evolved into giving good advice for the holidays — but with absolutely terrible methods illustrating each step.

We knew that in order to do what we wanted, we would definitely need to make a video.

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