Whatever the size of your business, it's time to take video seriously. Video is shared more than any other kind of online content, meaning that if you get it right, it's the most efficient way to spread your message. It's also effective: research by video marketing strategist Invodo reveals that over half of consumers feel more confident about buying a product or service after watching a video.

That means that if you're not doing video, you're missing out on sales.

The fall in the cost of the necessary equipment means that businesses of all kinds can make their own videos. An excellent recent example of video marketing is the Dollar Shave Club, which uses humour to promote its product. EuroLuxAntiques takes a more factual approach, using video to explain the world of antique collecting to potential customers.

Videos don't have to be long or complex to make an impact, as Instagram has shown with its 15-second video hosting and Twitter has proven with Vine. This format is being embraced by many of the world's largest brands including Nike and Virgin America. Often short video bursts can be highly effective and easy to share.

Businesses in the service industry can also make great use of video for their marketing. Systems such as My Web Presenters offers an effective way to place video content onto a website. Whether your business wants to showcase a new product or service, teach customers new skills, or enhance customer service, video is the ideal medium.

Lights, camera, action!

Creating video is relatively straightforward and inexpensive. Any of today's camcorders can record in high definition. Video cameras including the Flip and most of the compact digital cameras such as the Lumix range from Panasonic (including the Panasonic Lumix GF6) or Sony's CyberShot can also record video. Smartphones and tablets also have video capability. The new Nokia Lumia 1020 sports a massive 41-megapixel camera.

Tools including Jing and ScreenFlow let you can create videos that capture your computer's desktop for software demonstrations. And your business doesn't have to record its own live video: services like iStockphoto and Getty have huge stocks of video to choose from.

The next stage is editing. Low cost desktop tools are available including iMovie for the Mac and Movie Maker for Windows. It's even possible to edit your video on a tablet PC or a smartphone with apps such as Splice.

Alternatively, you could turn to an online animation service such as Wideo, GoAnimate or FlixPress. And if you need more support, Vimeo, one of the leading video hosting services, even has a school where you can learn to make professional videos now.

James Hakesley, COO of Nideo has this advice: "Keep your videos as short and professional as possible. On a landing page you want a video between one and one-and-a-half minutes that sums up the what, why and who of your business. These can be of real people or an animation explainer, [which is] becoming popular and cheaper to commission."

Video dos and don'ts
Do:
  • think about series of videos.
  • ask customers what they would find useful.
  • check viewer stats.
  • think about branding and production values.
  • take your time - don't rush, get it right.
Don't:
  • autoplay video. This can be very annoying.
  • put the boss on screen if they're not the best presenter.
  • waffle. Get to the point.
Source: Sarah Platt at Kinura

Hakesley suggests that it's a good idea to look for video concepts that can work as series, to keep viewers coming back. Sarah Platt, Managing Director at webcasting serving Kinura offers another option. "Many companies are also using webinars, which can be fairly simple to put together," she says. "You can livestream audio or video with many platforms including Google Hangouts, YouTubeLive, or Livestream.com."

The webinar approach can be a way to establish a strong reputation for expertise, Platt explain: "A regular livestream with a Q&A via a twitter hashtag can be really good for building up an audience and positioning yourself as a knowledgeable person in your field."