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How To Create A ‘How To’ Video

How To Create A ‘How To’ Video

Put the words “how to” next to almost any word or term in a search engine and you’ll likely see the same kinds of results — including the kind you’re most likely to click on. There will probably be a blog post or two, for example, that outline how to do something in deep detail. You might also see

Put the words “how to” next to almost any word or term in a search engine and you’ll likely see the same kinds of results — including the kind you’re most likely to click on.

There will probably be a blog post or two, for example, that outline how to do something in deep detail. You might also see a longer piece of content, like a guide or eBook, that is even more comprehensive in its explanations. Then, if they weren’t already in the top search results, you’ll see the links to videos. There are usually more than one of them to choose from.

At this point, the typical thinking process goes like this:

  • “Which of these how-to videos looks like it covers exactly what I need?”
  • “Which of them seem to be produced by the most credible source?”
  • “Which one is the shortest?”

It’s not just you. It’s human nature to want to learn a specific skill or task as quickly as possible from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

This is the kind of content your customers are probably looking for when they have questions about your products or services.

Sure, they might come to look for them on your website and browse through product pages to find them. They might also turn to sources like YouTube or Google to see who else might have a how-to video that’s even easier to find. You’re far better off if they are looking at how-to videos you’ve produced, of course.

If they’re an existing customer, having a how-to video that lets them get more value out of your products will enhance the relationship you already have. If they’re not your customer yet, on the other hand, discovering your how-to video in their quest for answers could be a great way to entice them to give your products and services a try.

You don’t need a degree in filmmaking to pull one of these videos off. Some can be shot on a smartphone. Just make sure your audio is clear and that you include all of the following:

1. Be clear on the goal

People will only watch a how-to video if they feel it will get them from A to B, so make sure you’re on the same page in terms of what “B” is.

A how-to-video called “How To Ride A Bike” may seem specific enough, but think about your customer. There’s a big difference between “How To Ride A Bike For Beginners” and “How To Ride A Bike When You’re Recovering From An Injury.”

Keeping the viewer’s unique context top of mind will help your video get found through search engines if you incorporate it into your title (which you should).

You can also help customers choose your how-to video over competitors by zeroing in on other variables, such as time. For example, “How To Ride A Bike In Less Than An Hour” will probably do better than “How To Ride A Bike: A 10-Week Series.”

2. Anticipate the obstacles

If the task or skill was easy and intuitive to pick up, customers wouldn’t need the video. That’s why you want to brainstorm all the ways they might make mistakes and go wrong, and then script your video to ensure they avoid those pitfalls.

You’ll want to weave these common missteps in the journey you most likely expect the customer to take. Instead of listing all the do’s and don’ts up front, in other words, mention them in sequence so that your viewers can follow along with you in performing a task if they want.

In some cases the obstacles you point out may require more information or detail. If so, offer links to more in-depth assets like eBooks or blog posts in the video description area and make mention of it in the video itself.

3. Let them navigate instead of passively watching

There might be plenty of customers who will want and need to sit through the entire video to get a good grasp of what they came to learn.

Others may have clicked because they wanted to answer a more specific question or solve a particular problem they’ve encountered mid-way through the process of using a product.

The description area of your video can be helpful here, too. You can create what almost looks like a table of contents, except instead of pages you’ll include the time codes where you discuss specific steps in the video.

Even if your video is short, this can be a helpful way to prevent them from jumping back and forth through the clip.

4. Break it into a playlist

There are always going to be some areas where a “how to” simply can’t be as short as you would like. That might mean creating a series of videos rather than trying to film one epic clip.

You could create a short video for each step in a process, for instance. These could be assembled into a playlist for those who want to go through them all, but more than likely people with a self-service mentality will pick and choose the areas where they need the most help.

Having playlists that are not only available on public sites like YouTube but on your own resource library can go a long way towards demonstrating your commitment to your customer’s success.

5. Make it easy to find more

Your how-to video shouldn’t be treated as an island unto itself. It should be part of a more defined marketing and service strategy that meets your customers wherever they are.

End the video with a call-out to any professional services you may offer to guide customers in a more hands-on way. If you host virtual or in-person events, this is a good time to mention those as well.

Many companies, particularly tech firms, have independent user groups. If that’s true of your firm, include links on how to join them.

When they’re done well, your videos won’t just answer the “how to” question. They’ll also answer the “why” question — why your viewers should become a customer, or remain one.

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