Tapping Into Youtube

In a world where marketing opportunities abound, savvy business owners are always looking for new ways to promote their companies. Choosing between television, newspaper, magazine, and online marketing can be a difficult and expensive decision. If the choice calls for an Internet option that’s free, easy to use, and has the potential to reach 20 million customers each month, consider YouTube.com, one of the fastest growing online video communities.

YouTube.com is a popular platform where people upload original videos — from quirky hobbies and interests to commercial programming — for viewing, sharing, and broadcasting worldwide. Acquired by Google last October for $1.6 billion, YouTube currently shows 100 million videos per day and more than 65,000 videos are uploaded daily. The site accounts for 60% of all videos viewed online. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, YouTube has nearly 20 million unique users each month.

Few businesses are using YouTube for marketing, but the numbers are expected to grow quickly. With more companies shifting their advertising budgets from traditional TV advertising to the online video market, YouTube is an attractive promotional stage. Internet advertising revenues in the United States totaled $7.9 billion for the first six months of 2006; this was an increase of nearly 37% from the same period in 2005 according to IAB/PricewaterhouseCoopers.

John Easton, president of Eastonsweb Multimedia in Charlotte, North Carolina, believes YouTube offers a perfect opportunity for small-business owners. “With Google paying as much as they did, they will have to make [YouTube] commercially viable,” says Easton, who creates YouTube videos for clients as well as for his own business. “We will see a different audience; they will do marketing, build functionality, and get new users. It’s the perfect time.”

Once you sign up as a YouTube member, uploading and converting your videos is an easy process. All videos have a 10-minute time limit (unless you are a director). To produce high-quality videos, Easton recommends having them professionally done. Having a short-form video professionally done costs $800 to $3,000, Easton says. Although the cost of creating a professional video may seem steep, Easton considers it a bargain compared to making a video for broadcast TV, which can cost $300 per second just for the production.

For the potential YouTube user,
Easton suggests five ways to promote your wares:
Create educational videos. Using videos to educate someone on a topic is a good way to attract new customers. Instructional videos explaining how to do everything from planning your 401(k) to baking a cake will draw users in and create interest in your business.

Partner with popular YouTube publishers. Contact popular YouTube video makers and ask them to integrate your video into theirs. If they have a product that fits the demographic of your target market, it will generate awareness for your business.

Court the press. Business owners that use YouTube should inform their local newspaper or TV station about their videos as well as inform Web media and bloggers so that they can get extra coverage.

Join or start a YouTube channel. YouTube channels are small communities sharing interests in specific