Video in the Modern Dealership

Since its advent, video has been the main­stay of adver­tis­ing for mod­ern car deal­ers. Through tele­vi­sion, video gives deal­ers a unique, per­son­al plat­form to reach poten­tial cus­tomers, show­case their prod­ucts and give their deal­er­ships an iden­ti­ty. And while all are not “Oscar-wor­thy”, per­haps no oth­er medi­um pro­vides the imme­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion of a well-placed tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial. Still, with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of “new media” oppor­tu­ni­ties and the ever-evolv­ing dig­i­tal mar­ket­place, today’s deal­ers are forced to reeval­u­ate the role of video in the mod­ern car deal­er­ship.

For­tu­nate­ly (espe­cial­ly for those of us who make our liv­ing this way), video is more rel­e­vant than ever today and is an inte­gral part of the suc­cess in of any dealer’s over­all mar­ket­ing efforts.

Just as auto­mo­tive adver­tis­ing has evolved dra­mat­i­cal­ly over the past decade, the car buy­er has changed, as well. Bom­bard­ed with lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of adver­tis­ing impres­sions dai­ly, con­sumers are hard­er to attract and impress than ever before. While pas­sive inter­ac­tion through your web­site and social media out­lets is great for brand-build­ing, noth­ing engages the audi­ence like video. As baby boomers dimin­ish from the tar­get demo­graph­ic radar, they’re replaced by gen­er­a­tions who have been sur­round­ed by and embraced all things video, since exit­ing the womb to a baby video mon­i­tor.

Video attracts, engages, informs and enter­tains. Prospec­tive car buy­ers are 55 times more like­ly to inter­act with a video mes­sage on a web­site than with con­ven­tion­al text and images. In addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al tele­vi­sion adver­tis­ing, pro­gres­sive deal­ers incor­po­rate video into their email blasts, use video to inform con­sumers in their social media mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, attract or con­quest buy­ers in their “pre-roll” adver­tis­ing, and through­out their websites—the cul­mi­na­tion of these efforts is unpar­al­leled SEO and a rock-sol­id brand.videocamera

If your store is already using the pow­er video to its fullest, I prob­a­bly lost you after my open­ing sen­tence. If you’re still read­ing, I’ll assume this may be a “growth oppor­tu­ni­ty” for your deal­er­ship. Good news. Gone are the days of the intim­i­dat­ing racks of tape machines and edit con­soles, with switch­er con­trol pan­els that would make Scot­ty from the USS Enter­prise cow­er in fear. With a min­i­mal invest­ment (under $1,000) and a bit of guid­ance, you can cre­ate video con­tent that rep­re­sents you and your deal­er­ship in a pos­i­tive and pro­fes­sion­al light.

First, regard­less how good your smart­phone is, do not use your phone to take video. It’s great for cap­tur­ing those impromp­tu life moments but the small lens aper­ture and high­ly com­pressed for­mats result in video that is dif­fi­cult to light, soft in focus, and han­dles motion poor­ly. There are a vari­ety of DSLR cam­eras pack­ages avail­able, with ver­sa­tile lens­es, capa­ble of grab­bing high-def­i­n­i­tion video (720/1080p) with ded­i­cat­ed audio inputs in the $500-$600 range. Don’t for­get a tri­pod.

Speak­ing of audio, invest in a decent lava­lier micro­phone for your on-cam­era “tal­ent.” Since your record­ing con­di­tions may often be less than opti­mal, the mic will allow the speaker’s voice to stand out from the ambi­ent noise, with­out requir­ing that speak­er to shout, which can be per­ceived as offen­sive by the audi­ence. Price is under $100. Make sure to check com­pat­i­bil­i­ty of the audio con­nec­tor with your cam­era.

Light­ing. Per­haps the sin­gle-most over­looked com­po­nent of good video. Qual­i­ty, dim­ma­ble LED light kits are avail­able which offer porta­bil­i­ty and plen­ty of punch for most sit­u­a­tions for less than $300.

Teleprompter solu­tions are avail­able for the iPad (which are user-con­trol­lable from the iPhone) for less than $25.

Edit­ing soft­ware. The sky’s the lim­it here, but sim­ple cut-and-paste edit­ing soft­ware, like “Movie Mak­er”® for the PC or “iMovie”® for the Mac are dirt-cheap and pro­vide more than enough pow­er to per­form sim­ple tran­si­tions and titling. The intu­itive work­flow and inter­face on these apps will have you up-and-run­ning in under an hour.

I’ll explore each of these indi­vid­ual com­po­nents of good video pro­duc­tion and many oth­ers, begin­ning with “Cre­at­ing an Effec­tive Video Script” next month. If you have any ques­tions in the inter­im…

Jay Juliano, pres­i­dent of Vision Media in Fort Laud­erdale, is an Addy® award-win­ning, 25-year vet­er­an pro­duc­er of tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials and video con­tent for the Auto­mo­tive Indus­try. His inno­v­a­tive, cre­ative strate­gies con­sis­tent­ly gen­er­ate traf­fic and sales for over 600 deal­ers, includ­ing the Rick Case and Hen­drick Auto­mo­tive

This arti­cle orig­i­nal­ly appeared in Deal­er Mar­ket­ing Mag­a­zine.