How fashion, design and decor companies can leverage video in an effective, controlled or low-cost way

Video and video bloggers (vlogging) have become a BIG thing in the fashion industry. As shopper consumption of online video content has grown and now leads to purchases, retailers have been paying close attention to video as a new marketing tactic. At the beginning of 2017, brands aren’t asking “Should our company start to use video?” but rather, “How does our company use video?”

Why the Fashion & Design Industries are Paying Attention to Video

Did you know that consumers spend an average of five and half hours a day watching online videos? On YouTube, what’s in my bag, product reviews, and unboxing videos are the most popular video types, followed by fashion hauls and how-to/tutorial videos. Watching these types of videos leads four out of 10 people to shop online or physically visit the store mentioned in them. It’s no wonder that video is becoming all the rage! The value that video marketing delivers to brands in terms of engagement, foot traffic and revenue is a new key factor in customer behavior and spending power.

Videos are Worth Hundreds or Thousands of Dollars

In order to produce effective videos, a little creativity and care are required. A quick video search for good examples reveals that big brands such as Zappos, Amazon, Net-A-Porter, Tiffany’s, and Coach use video to actively sell apparel and accessories by deeply dimensionalizing product features and use. It’s common for big brands with big budgets to produce video at scale and quality.  In fact, Net-A-Porter has its own in-house production studio on the east end of London. I’ve been there, and it is one of the most gorgeous places I have seen (very similar to being in a Coveteur photo spread).

What that search doesn’t show are examples from small or medium size retailers or designers who are effectively using video to do the same thing as their larger brand counterparts. Why is this? Because retailers and designers in these segments don’t have the budget to consistently produce high-quality videos. But that shouldn’t be a deterrent, if video delivers results for the big brands, it can deliver results for the smaller ones as well. Cost effective production becomes the core creative challenge –– but with a little ingenuity, it can be done.

Five Creative, Cost Effective Ways to Create Videos

One of Hubspott’s most recent studies shows that 22% of small retail businesses plan to use video to drive customer purchases in the next three years. In order to compete in video marketing, you will need affordable, solution-driven tools and resources. Here are the top five assets you can use to start testing video in your marketing efforts right now.

No. 1: Use Online Video Creators & DIY Software

You can use editing apps and tools that are out there to create your own videos. If you are already using Instagram (we will cover Instagram video in another post) or Snapchat, video is easier than you think. Look into online video creation platforms such as Magisto, Promo and Kizoa. If you want to make an animated video, then Biteable may be a good resource. Also, don’t forget the awesomely easy features built into iMovie (iOS) that come preinstalled on Apple computers.

Online movie creators let you flex and test video with your customers before you outlay larger dollar amounts. Each of these platforms have different features, and while they may not fit all of your unique requirements, they each provide the ability to create three types of videos –– brand introductions, sales/promotions and collection overviews. These video formats are helpful in boosting customer interest regardless of your fashion industry segment.

No. 2: Use Instagram & Facebook Slideshows

Both Instagram and Facebook have full blown video capabilities. You can upload and feature any video you’ve produced. Even if you don’t have a video, there are functions that allow you to use current or new images to create video slideshows. Facebook recently launched a slideshow feature that allows you to combine both photos and videos into a themed mini-movie, based on one of ten themes.  All you have to do to take advantage of this Facebook feature is take five or more photos or videos within a 24 hour period. Then, the next time you post a status, Facebook will suggest that you create a Slideshow that can later be customized with music and transitions. To create slideshow videos for Instagram, you’ll want to download the Animoto mobile app to your phone and go through a similar process.

No. 3: Ask Your Photographer

Many of you already work with professional photographers to shoot high-quality images of your jewelry and accessories. As video is becoming more popular, photographers are expanding their capabilities to include video for their customers. Ask your professional if they can shoot a series of photos of key pieces or collections, that you can then use for product sales and deeper discovery. If you don’t have a dedicated photographer, you can also check Craigslist and your local college boards for local videographers looking to build their portfolios, who could prove to be a great resource!

No. 4: Ask Event Production Staff

Another little known secret is that many trade shows hire production staff to photograph and film their events. Often times, if the staff photographer or videographer is visiting your booth, if you ask, they may be willing to let you use the images or video taken, in exchange for editorial credit. They may even be open to creating something just for you, for a small fee if the editing requires additional work. Because staff photographers and videographers are highly skilled resources, it is a good idea to ask and explore any options they may offer.

No. 5: Partner with Video Influencers

For those of you that want polished lifestyle content from the get go, influencer video may be the most logical choice if the other ideas don’t spark interests. Since influencers command pretty hefty fees, especially for video, there are ways to create amazing video collaborations that won’t break the bank.

In order to leverage the benefits that influencer marketing may offer, there are two resources that are worth exploring: Revfluence and The Chrons. Both platforms are widely used in the fashion industry amongst large and small brands. The Chrons is a cost effect choice for those just dipping their toes into influencer marketing. It only costs $50-$200 per month. Revfluence lets you create video assignments from a system of over 300,000 influencers. The platform serves as an assignment service where you can invite influencers you like to do your assignment or it can give you recommendations. It then serves as a payment broker for the work and can even to track product sales.

Rate negotiation is key to being successful here. Chelsea Matthews, an influencer marketing expert and the founder of Matte Black, offers brands additional advice in the negotiation process:

With influencers, the first step is to create two-way value. All vloggers are looking for subscribers, so make sure to outline how you will promote the video on your channels (emails, social, blog, etc), and what the potential audience reach is.

Also, make sure you look for vloggers with a range of subscriber sizes. If you’re only looking in the millions, it might be a shot in the dark as they’re used to working with big budget brands, but if you find someone with a smaller, more niche audience size, you will be able to leverage more (for less) and potentially even grow with them.

Lastly, always ask them for their rates to understand the (perceived) value, and figure out how you can compensate in alternative ways. As a brand that creates product, you have a ton at your fingertips! For example, if they charge $2,500 per sponsored video, figure out how you can whittle that down ($750 in product value plus a % of all site clicks and/or sales garnered from the video).

Have Fun With It!

No matter what stage you are at with video marketing efforts, you have options! Remember, smaller brand videos may not be as polished or refined as big brand marketing (and doesn’t have to be), but it doesn’t have to be. Social users gravitate towards a wide spectrum of online quality. Experiment and test cost-effective ways to use video as another part of your marketing toolkit before you sink large amounts of money into it.

Coming Up Next: Part #2: Components of Successful Videos