Ag Retail In The YouTube Age

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With all due respect to the British New Wave band and one-hit wonder, The Buggles, video did NOT kill the radio star. Wounded, maybe, but not dead. And while I have my CSI detective hat on, I have real evidence that video also didn’t kill the print star. Proof of that can be found inside the pages of CropLife Magazine, which remains the heart and soul of the CropLife Media Group (CLMG). Ag retail’s most important topics and issues continue to be covered each month in the printed issues of this publication, including in-depth analysis by our experienced editors and leading industry experts.

But online video HAS carved a place in today’s mainstream media. With online video consumption growing at an astonishing rate, one should look no further than YouTube, the second-most-popular search engine. I’m convinced. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to YouTube to watch a video I’ve heard about, then eight videos later I wonder where the time has gone? Or 15 videos later…or 30? Video is being used in so many ways and can be delivered anywhere your target audience is. To better understand the state of online video, consider the following statistics released from comScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world:

  • In the month of December (2009), 178 million people watched 33.2 billion videos.
  • The average viewer watches 187 videos per month in the U.S.
  • Viewers tuned into 2 billion more videos in Dec. ’09 vs. Nov ’09.
  • The number of people viewing online video jumped nearly 20% in 2009.

CLMG has joined this video frenzy. CropLifeTV, video central on CropLife.com, shows coverage of industry events, interviews with top ag retailers, product demonstrations, and more. But regardless of whether you’re an ag retailer or a media company, it’s important to think holistically about how to incorporate video into your communications strategy. Here are 10 ways you can boost your business by using online videos:

  1. Welcome video. Consider putting a “welcome” video on your Web site. What better way to engage your Web visitors the moment they arrive on your home page than with a brief welcome message. This can establish an immediate connection and quickly build trust and rapport.
  2. “Quick tips” series. By posting video tips, you’re enhancing your expert status within ag retail, and establishing yourself as the “go-to” person for your grower-customers.
  3. Training videos. Using video as a training tool engages the participants, enables new techniques and practices to be shown in a short period, and standardizes the technical information disseminated to your employees and grower-customers.
  4. New employee orientation. Either professionally produced or employee generated – video is a great way to get new employees to listen and to understand. Using a video also means that every new employee will receive the same information. The employee can be shown the video upon being hired, leaving the managers free to work.
  5. Product demonstrations. You could create a video showing your grower-customers exactly how to apply crop inputs you sell, helping them maximize their yields. This would likely make them more inclined to renew orders the following season. Provide product-related information to aid use, including how-to for complex products that require training or further help.
  6. Events. Don’t leave the ag dealership without your Flip cam – or any portable camera that you can take to events and conferences. They are a great opportunity to capture what is going on in the industry and to communicate this knowledge with your employees and grower-customers.
  7. Testimonials. Of course, customer testimonials and video case studies have huge value as external marketing tools but don’t forget to communicate these valuable stories to your employees. Use networking opportunities to tape brief customer or colleague testimonials. Video testimonials are far more powerful than text alone.
  8. Virtual tour. A virtual tour is an easy, economical way to demonstrate to your grower-customers what your ag retail facility is all about. Showcase some of your key equipment, services, and products, while at the same time giving visual evidence that you respect the environment.
  9. Take advantage of YouTube. If hosting videos on your own server is not an option, consider YouTube. Essentially one big social network, YouTube is the most searched site after Google and just as easy to use. View one of the many tutorials on YouTube to learn how to create a channel for your business, subscribe to ag-related channels, upload videos, and even embed them on your own site.
  10. Visit CropLifeTV and PrecisionAgTV. View industry interviews, product reviews, and event coverage at CropLife.com/CropLifeTV and PrecisionAg.com/video. You can also catch our ongoing State of the Industry video coverage at CropLife.com/stateoftheindustry/av.
Hopkins is Senior Online Editor for the CropLife Media Group at Meister Media Worldwide.

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