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Why You Should Give Away Your 500 Dollar Video Budget to a Stranger

budget marketing personal primetime video

Why would I suggest you take your $500 video budget and give it away to a stranger on the street?

Let's pretend for a moment. You're a fashion retailer. You choose if you are a small owner-operator store in the suburbs or a big department store in town. If I gave you $500 - it's pretend remember - and said go make a video to generate more business, what would you do?

So if you had $500 to spend on making a video for your business, how would invest it?

You could spend it on equipment. Maybe get a microphone, a tripod, a light. Enough for a DIY business video.

You could spend it on editing apps - like Camtasia, my favourite video editing app for business. You'd get a bit of change out of $500.

You could go hands-off and hire a video crew for a few hours and get some sexy in-store video that you can add to production later.

Or you could grab your smartphone, turn on the video camera, start filming, walk out onto the footpath and choose a stranger and offer to give them the $500 to spend in your store on anything they like as long as they agree to let you ask questions and video them while they shop in your store. Why? 

Personal Primetime is here

 As we shift away from the TV in our living rooms as a traditional hub of our day, digital video is fulfilling new roles in people's lives.

 TV satisfied our needs of being entertained, getting lost in other worlds and keeping up on news and cultural events. Youtube video is satisfying different needs: reflecting, connecting and learning

 Creating “personal primetimes” is what the 1.9 billion people who go to YouTube every month do. Rather than just accepting the same old diet of reality cooking and romance shows, sitcoms and police dramas, viewers are searching for content that resonates on a personal level and meets their needs in the moment.

 When people decide what content to watch, relating to their passions is 3X more important than whether it features famous actors, and 1.6X more important than whether it has high production value.

"YouTube has helped to explain the world to me on a personal level. It’s helped me fix my computer, it’s helped me understand what Brexit means, it’s helped me understand love and emotions and families, and everything in between. It’s a place that I come to learn." - Steven Bartlett CEO AT SOCIAL CHAIN GROUP


Traditional primetime meant popularity. Personal primetime means passion. 

This is so important to comprehend because you can't win the new game playing by the old rules. Thinking that spending more on bigger and shinier videos will get you a better return on investment is out of date 20th-century thinking. High quality doesn't have to mean big budget.


What sort of videos should we be making?

I found these new YouTube Rules of Engagement very insightful.

Capture Immediate Attention

It's not that out attentions spans are necessarily shorter, it that we have so much choice that we choose what we give attention to. Audio-visually rich content is becoming more important to get viewers to stop and at least consider your message.

Be truly helpful

People are watching video more and more to find specific answers. Over the past year watch time for YouTube videos on "which product to buy" has doubled. Spend time thoughtfully making useful videos (something I'm trying to do) and you'll earn long-time advocates of your brand.

Relate relate relate

Understanding what keeps your customer or client awake at night is now more important than ever. It is now understood that when people decide what content to watch, relating to their passions is 3X more important than whether it features famous actors, and 1.6X more important than whether it has high production value.

Lean into your creators

This is particularly interesting. Given that we have to compete for attention, what happens if you don't have the skills to do this? Not everyone knows how to make visually arresting and intellectually engaging videos. You will need to align yourself with a content creator who does.

Encourage action

Online video is the new window shopping. Online video is the new sales assistant. Online video is the new instruction manual. We are switching from a lean back to a lean in mindset when we are in our personal primetimes. Not encouraging your viewers to take the next step serves neither you or your viewer well.

These rules of engagement are not exclusively for YouTube. I would argue they flow directly onto LinkedIn too.

If we return to being hypothetical fashion retailers we were at the start of this article...

There's a big video trend starting.

People love to watch other people shop. It mirrors gaming videos where viewers mainly watch other people play. YouTuber Mi-Anne took a fan on a $1,000 shopping spree to one store and that video is nudging a million views.

So take your $500 and give it to a surprised stranger who you follow through your store with nothing more than your smartphone while you ask questions where we discover more about this stranger who in turn ask questions like what colour? what size? where are the change rooms? are you getting more like this? do you wear these yourself? The secret to a good shopping video is helping viewers really understand the in-store experience.

Now snap out of your pretend world and into the reality of your business life.

If you have $500, $5,000 or $50,000 to spend on video for your business needs, what are you going to spend it on?

 If there is anything I want you to take away from this article it is that you can't win the new game playing by the old rules. The new game is authentic and agile and affordable. Quality content is the order of the day but that does not have to come with a big budget. Take the Tiny Desk concert series that NPR (National Public Radio in the USA) creates for YouTube. 


The whole purpose of Get Video Smart is to bring you and your business or your organisation into the new exciting ways video is being used because the old ways are becoming less effective and will one day be in museums. Start making videos for leads instead of likes. Start using your smartphone as a tool instead of a toy.

If you feel stuck in the old ways then bring in to your organisation my one-day Get Video Smart UNSTUCK workshop to completely change your relationship with video. Want to get making videos and make them fast? My six-week Business Video Mastery program gives you the skills to make DIY business videos that connect communicate and convert.... and it's all done using this pocket-sized TV station called the smartphone.

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