While YouTube is emerging as a marketing juggernaut for turf businesses, many are also discovering that the free videosharing service has scores of other uses — all of which are also free. Employee recruiting, client communications, product/service how-tos and dissemination of news are all increasing in popularity on YouTube, as turf businesses transform the medium into a Swiss Army Knife of business communications.
YouTube’s ease of entry and low-cost makes it hard for turf businesses to resist. Virtually anyone with basic PC skills can upload a video to YouTube — for free — in a matter of minutes.
And since YouTube’s videos are generally viewed on a relatively small viewing screen, there’s no reason for turf businesses to endure painful budgets for video production costs. In fact, the subtleties of high-end video production are generally lost on YouTube, according to Michael Miller, author of “YouTube for Business.”
Plus, turf businesses are saving significant coin using YouTube by shifting hosting responsibilities for their videos to the online video service. The rationale: Ordinarily, a turf business needs to pay bandwidth transmission charges anytime a website visitor views a video hosted on a website. But when that same video is uploaded to YouTube’s servers, businesses never pay a bandwidth transmission cost — no matter how many times that video is viewed.
All told, it’s a frothy mix of remarkable popularity, ease-of-entry and virtually nonexistent costs that have the wheels of innovation spinning at countless turf businesses as they continually find new uses for YouTube.
So far, here are the top 10 uses they’ve forged:
1. Marketing. This is without a doubt the most popular business use of YouTube and can be wildly successful. Companies with shoestring promotional budgets have become overnight stars on the service, often with zany and off-the-wall marketing pitches.
Besides using humor, turf businesses can also use the marketing side of YouTube to give video tours of their facilities. Or, they can feature video interviews with key staff to reassure current and prospective customers that they’re going to be doing business with highly professional, people-friendly staff.
Ryan’s Landscaping of Hanover Pennsylvania, for example, uses YouTube for straight marketing, as does London Lawn Turf in the United Kingdom and Chris Oser Landscape in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
2. Recruiting. Given that many turf businesses already have videos touting their businesses as inviting places to work, posting those same productions on YouTube is a no-brainer. “Don’t limit yourself to a single, long puff video,” Miller says. “Produce separate videos for individual departments, as well as to illustrate company values, employee benefits, facilities and the like.”
PrimaryITO, a job training service provider, uses YouTube to reach out to young workers considering a job in landscaping and showing how training can help grow careers and businesses. Even name-brand manufacturers such as Stihl have YouTube videos to address the impact you can make in a landscaping career.
3. Company video FAQs. Any turf business can leap well beyond the image of faceless, industry player with on-the-fly videos, which feature charming customer service people answering frequently asked questions. Sure, many businesses already have written FAQs on their websites. But there is something to be said for going the extra mile and offering the personal touch that’s inherent in the video medium.
Total Turf Landscaping in Connecticut’s Westchester County offers a number of videos covering questions commonly asked by customers, such as tree pruning basics, dealing with ticks and landscape lighting.
4. News video clips. The beauty of posting your business’ news to YouTube is that your information is not sliced, diced or in any other way whittled down to a mere shadow of its former glory. Plus, if you have a Facebook or Instagram site, you can crosspromote the two online presences by posting company news on Facebook with a link to your supporting video on YouTube.
5. Focus groups. Many sophisticated users of YouTube are also using the service as a free testing ground for commercials they plan to run on cable and broadcast TV, as well as elsewhere on the web.
Specifically, they use YouTube’s free analytical tool, YouTube Analytics, to test the marketing punch of their commercials. The tool’s metrics include the overall popularity of your video, who’s viewing your video, where those viewers are coming from on the web, and what keywords they’re using to find your video. You can use this information to tailor your videos to what works with your audience.
6. Customer communications. When an email or phone call simply doesn’t cut it, many businesses are posting videos to YouTube to connect with business partners concerning project updates, personalized descriptions of new products or services and the like. Plus, such communications can be easily made private on YouTube by selecting the “private” option under the “broadcast options.” This ensures only the viewers you select get to see the video you’ve uploaded.
7. Employee-to-employee communications. As far as Google, the parent company of YouTube, is concerned, “videomail” could be poised to become the email of this decade. In fact, Google has added “Google Video” to its Google Apps suite for businesses.
And it makes sense. Why not zip off a response to a thorny problem or challenge using video, if it’s easier to do so than in another medium? At the very least, videomail is a trend worth experimenting with and monitoring, either on YouTube or via Google Apps.
8. Product/service how-tos. These videos can, of course, serve a dual purpose for your business, offering detailed instructions for novice customers, while serving as a promotional spot for looky-lous.
Ambro’s Landscaping in Washington state has numerous walk-throughs of landscaping services they’ve performed, as does Kingdom Landscaping in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
9. Employee training. Any turf business with multiple locations across town, across the U.S. — or even across the world — can immediately see the benefit of posting training videos on YouTube and having the appropriate employees tune in.
And by using YouTube’s “private broadcast” option, your business can ensure the training videos stay internal. “Many companies find that YouTube is a fast and effective way to disseminate all kinds of employee information,” Miller says. “Done right, it gets information out there in near-real-time, with all the benefits of face-to-face communication.”
10. Savings on business travel. All the videos sent to employees and clients are also enabling many to rack up substantial savings on business travel. Granted, there are plenty of instances where true face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable. But, in many other situations, a video overture is a bull’s-eye compromise between basic email and an all-expenses paid business trip for one or more employees to multiple cities.