Recognized genius Homer Simpson once queried, “The Internet? Is that still around?” Of course it is, and applications you can use to reach out to potential prospects are evolving about as fast as ace roofers can pop down shingles. And while it's still vital to have a presentable Web site, it won't be long before today's standard site is merely run of the mill. Right now, the marketing state of the art for the Web is smart use of streaming video.
Stop and Look About a year ago Troy Marshall, president of Marshall Roofing in Lorton, Va., adapted streaming video for his company's site. Click on a bar from a menu and you'll see Marshall explaining his products, his people, and his processes. In addition, his employees introduce themselves. (See it at www.marshallroofing.com.) “Our original goal in adding video to our Web site,” Marshall says, “was to introduce our company over the Internet in a personal way and to create a good feeling about the company.” It worked: “Internet leads went from non-existent to increasing exponentially.”
John Chalmers, marketing manager at Residential Specialists in Albany, N.Y., shares a similar experience resulting from the use of streaming video on his company's site, which answers questions about financing, installation, and other issues. Lead quantity and quality are up. (See www.sidingwindows.com.) “We've experienced a giant difference in qualified leads,” Chalmers says. “We're closing about 85% of the jobs, and their credit is good. Compare that to 50% closings in other media.” Chalmers says streaming video separates his company from others and makes prospective customers feel more comfortable about calling because they know much more about the company upfront.
Potential Drawbacks There are drawbacks to streaming video, but most can be avoided by managing the design process closely and choosing a Web designer and production company whose work you like. The first key to successful video is making it easy to use. Clicking through tabs and windows only makes it frustrating, and people will move on to another site. The second drawback is that developing good video costs a chunk of change. (On the other hand, many companies with videos or DVDs in their presentation materials do not yet have streaming video on their Web sites.) Another point is that streaming video is not dial-up friendly. Dial-up, however, is disappearing as the cost for high-speed services comes down.
Chalmers says Residential Specialists is already preparing to upgrade its site. The company shoots some of its video, in addition to using video furnished by the local television station and manufacturers. Marshall's video, on the other hand, is all original. “It has made us money,” Chalmers says. And, Marshall will continue to answer the phone to hear more and more customers say: “I just watched your video …”