Creating Video for a Small Town Business

Running a small town business can be exhilarating and overwhelming. However, in the age of cell phones and the internet, small business owners are empowered to do amazing things! All they need is a little know how.

Case in Point

A friend that I used to play music with started a Fruit Stand near his home town in Central Oregon. When visiting the area, my family and I would stop in to do some shopping. We’d catch up on old times and he’d show me around his stand. It was fun to see his business and knowledge grow from year to year as he embraced this new career path.

I work in marketing, so naturally I wanted to help him out. I casually made suggestions from time to time. One day I offered to make him a video. We settled on a fair transaction and got to work!

JORDANS FRUIT STAND PROMO_45 SEC from Shane Simonsen on Vimeo.

Here are some tips on how to approach a video for your Small Town Business.

Determine Your Purpose

One of the most important things to do before embarking on any video project is to determine the reason why you are creating the video. Then determine the best way to achieve that purpose.

Are you building brand awareness or building trust within your market? Are you reaching out to new customers, or enriching the relationship with your current customers?

There are many different reasons for creating a video. If you believe a video could help your business (which it can) but are unsure how, feel free to contact me, and let’s determine a call to action for you!

Writing the Script

The first thing we did was write a script. I asked him a few questions, wrote a first draft and asked him what he thought. He offered some feedback, I made the edits and he approved.

Jordan was very happy with the script, which speaks to something that is always encouraging to me. I was able to articulate his business in a way that doesn’t come easy for him, and yet all I did was listen to a friend/client and use my craft to convey that message. What came easy for me was a blessing to him. Likewise, his craft of stocking and caring for his produce is a blessing to me when shopping for healthy and delicious food.

Choosing the Location

Choosing a location was easy. His produce stand is colorful and surrounded by fabric which naturally diffused the light in a way that Hollywood Studios often replicate. The biggest concern was the road noise, which I mitigated with proper microphone techniques and music that made the traffic noise negligible

When determining a location, it’s important to take the medium of video into consideration. You need good lighting, good sound, and an environment that translates well on camera. Having space between the subject and the background is a technique that is often overlooked, but helps a great deal.

Also important is to make sure there are no signs, imagery, or logos that will distract from the message of your video. Beyond distraction, such trademarks can get you into legal trouble down the line — and compromise the investment of your video.

Keep it Legal

One of the biggest factors when creating a video for your small town business, is to be professional when approaching matters of legal rights and privilege. This is very important regarding any faces that appear in the video, or the locations you choose to shoot in.

A huge thing to consider is use of any existing video or music. Modern technology is able to flag videos that use copyrighted materials. Professional video producers have access to royalty free music, and licensing for songs they use in their videos. When it comes to video, just remember that if you did not create it, then you do not own the copyright. There are plenty of services that offer amazing footage at reasonable rates. Sometimes it cab be as simple as contacting the creator and asking for permission.

Keeping it legal also applies to the activities you record in your video. During the Obama administration, the Department of the Interior actually banned the commercial use of photography and videography that did not possess a permit for use. Production companies were given large fines for not complying. Police departments have been known to assess citations to individuals who have videotaped themselves doing illegal activity.

This YouTuber was assessed a fine after jumping from a public landmark in Wisconsin

Make sure to have legal releases of all people whose face appear in the video, and make sure you have the right permission for using any location you choose to use. When shooting in public spaces, local government often have guidelines published on their websites. It is always a great idea to call ahead and give them a heads up. As a side benefit, it’s an opportunity to develop relationships for your small town business.

Ultimately it comes down to purpose. Is it worth risking the integrity of your brand to get the interesting shot opportunity, or use that video you don’t have permission to use?

Proper Tools for the Job

So often when you hire a professional, you are thinking of the final product. This has to do with the experience and skill of the operator, but it also has to do with the investment that person has made into their gear. Not only does the quality of the gear matter, but the operators ability to use the equipment.

Twenty years ago the cost of video production was sky high, and the quality was decent. Today most folks have access to a 4k video camera on their phones. While a professional can use such a mobile device to make quality content, the capability of such technology can be deceiving. Often the quality of a production comes down to the lenses used, the way light was modified and the way that sound was captured and used. Professional Cameras are often cheaper than the lenses used on them.

I am a supporter of empowering folks to use what they have at hand, in the best way possible. I’d rather have clients that value their time and my ability rather than clients who feel they HAVE to hire me because they are incapable. I also tend to avoid contractors who try to make a sale in this way. When it comes down to it, what matters is the connection between the vendor and the marketplace, which could happen with horrible video. As PepsiCola learned with their Kylie Jenner ad.

Dress for Success

When choosing clothing, there are some guidelines. Avoid extremely dark and extremely bright colors, especially all white or all black. Avoid tight patterns such as herringbone, or pin striping, which can confuse the camera sensor. Also avoid clothing that has logos or images. Logos can often be removed in post, which is a huge hassle. One solution on set is to cover it with another garment, crop it out of shot, or cover it with gaff tape.

With modern technology, many of the issues that these guidelines address can be mitigated. However, it is always wise to avoid any potential issues altogether. You will notice that Jordan was wearing a white t-shirt in the video. Due to the nature of the lighting, this was ok. However if we were in direct sunlight, the shirt would have been much to bright in relation to his skin tones.

A screen grab from a promo video for Jordan’s Fruit Stand.

Know The Purpose

Again we come back to purpose. When reciting the script or setting up shots, make sure the purpose of the video is at the front of your mind. Let this be the motivating factor, as you mitigate the risks of lighting, location, or sound.

Purpose also determines the professional level that you are looking for in your video. If it’s simply to announce a brand new delivery of fresh strawberries or corn from day to day, then a quick snap shot and caption with hashtags on Instagram may be enough. If it’s to announce the opening of a new location that you’ve invested a great deal of money in, then consider the wisdom of honoring that investment with a professional video of similar value.

Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me to let me know if this was helpful and if you have any suggestions for future articles. I am glad to answer any questions and get to know you and what you are doing in the world.

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