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Monday, 5 May 2014

How video story-telling boosts accountancy practices

In evolutionary terms, TV and smartphones haven't been around very long. But story-telling, music and dancing have been around for millennia - so long -  that our brains are "hard-wired" by evolution to respond and remember them.

Story-telling in particular is the mode where people take in messages rather than directly participating. Out of these story forms, there come some particularly successful story formats and characters - the archetypes.
We use these tools a lot every time we need to add interest to a conversation on or offline. When the small talk is dying, it's quickly revived with a story prompt: "Did you see that story about....".
It's also our favourite device in writing interesting case studies, where the problem is described as mountainous and our client rides in as the hero who saves the day.

That's why we are particularly looking forward to the next free webinar on video from The Profitable Firm. It features Chris Payne on how to make compelling video.

He'll cover:

    - Adding a splash of "Disney magic"
    - Making stories compelling
    - Using the the hero journey format
    - Testimonials in story form

If you don't want prospective clients to just think about you, along with all the others on their shortlist, why not discover how to compel them to act?

Register now for the free webinar on compelling video for your accountancy practice on Tuesday 13th May. at

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.


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Nuts and bolts of video marketing online for accountants webinar

The second free webinar on training accountants to use video to attract clients was run by #TheProfitableFirm with Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR and David Calder on May 1st.  Billed as "the nuts and bolts of video marketing",  we showed participants how video marketing fitted into The Profitable Firm's marketing ladder to create success for accounting practices and some of the equipment to make that a reality. The highlights from that webinar are noted below.

We were joined by an audience on both sides of the Atlantic, showing them how to extend their partners' reach well past the normal limits of personal contacts and networking to the "always on" 24/7/365 online world.

The next free video is with Chris Payne who is showing how to create compelling video, covering:

    - How to add "Disney magic"
    - Creating compelling stories
    - Testimonials
    - The hero's journey model

Sign up for this free webinar on the 13th May to get the inside scoop on producing compelling video for your firm.

Join us on Tuesday 13th May, register at:

Meanwhile, here's some highlights from the Nuts and Bolts webinar.

Sector expertise expands practice reach:

Penny emphasised the way video allows accountants to cross normal local boundaries by demonstrating their expertise in specialist sectors on video, to attract more profitable business. Who wants a general accountant, when they can have one that has lots of experience with e.g. the construction industry (if you happen to be a builder)? Everyone believes their own individual sector is unique - after all: jobs often depends on experience in a sector. So an accountant explaining how lots of their clients in a specific sector are benefiting from a particular tax break (or other benefit) will look a lot more attractive to someone in that sector who stands to gain from that break. They will also want to use that accountant to get an edge over their rivals.

Personal attraction before the first meeting!

There was interest in the way video saves sales time by self-selecting the clients that want to work with you and closing off the ones that don't. That's because video shows enough personality clues to allow people to form immediate "first impressions", attracting well disposed clients to a firm, and saving lots of time on new business enquiries that would fall flat at the first meeting.

The final clincher is personal chemistry. No-one wants to work with someone for very long if they don't get on with them. That crucial personal chemistry is often an involuntary reaction which can be totally unrelated to anything you say or do. For example, it could be down to past experiences (positive or negative) with people that resemble you.

The important thing is to get that decisive personal  element out of the way early on to avoid unnecessary sales effort. The end result is less time wasted and better disposed potential clients that develop into better client relationships and more frequent referrals: a virtuous circle that can accelerate your business.

And all the time, your partners are out there attracting well-disposed people 24/7/365 online - without any extra wages or overtime!

The nuts 'n' bolts of online video marketing

Our first webinar at the beginning of April emphasised the benefits: particularly boosting authority on Google to influence search performance: Forrester Research now reckon one well made video is equivalent to posting 1.8m words of text (that's the whole of Shakespeare's works and the Bible, plus 200k words!).

David got down to equipment basics with an overview of equipment to cover a range of video options.

He pointed out that many accountants may already own an option better than most video camcorders if they have a good DSLR camera with a video option. The light hitting the sensor through the comparatively large lens on a DSLR will capture much more detail than the standard tiny size of lens with a plastic cover fitted in a smartphone, even if the smartphone has a more powerful sensor. He has trialled the current basic level Nikon DSLR (around £350 when we bought it from Costco) which has a separate audio input socket - essential for capturing acceptable sound quality - something that is sadly missing from most readily available camcorders. Many domestic camcorders have woefully inadequate microphones built into the sides if the camera, which happily record all but the sound in front of them! That's one of the reasons why "Digital Video for Dummies says, "The quality of the audio recorded with your camcorder's mic never exceeds "adequate."

Research shows that viewers will tolerate acceptable, but not great picture quality, if the sound is good quality and informative.

How to never be at a loss for words on video

David came up with some handy tips to hide the camera behind invisible prompts (you can see them, but the camera can't) using a teleprompter that works with a smartphone app to ensure that you doesn't miss out a key point. The teleprompter also hides the camera lens which can inhibit people.

He did acknowledge that a smartphone on a tripod could be an effective way to collect spontaneous video: maybe a video testimonial from a very happy client? It's certainly easier to carry around, but it needs stabilising. He demonstrated a neat smartphone holder that fits onto a tripod, available online for around £13. The tripod or some other means of stabilising the recording device is crucial to creating watch-able video for a professional firm.

David outlined how to set up a permanent video recording station to capture video easily and allow people to gain confidence in speaking to the camera.

DIY video vs Outsourcing? 

There's a good case for using both: a recording station for recording comment or news, speaking direct to the camera, or capturing testimonials (as long as the quality of both picture and audio is very good and the client approves the final video).

He explained why some video is best outsourced: including anything that involves complex audio capture and tricky indoor lighting will be better with professional input, such as seminars, for example.  They may require several very expensive radio microphones as the camera needs to be behind the audience to avoid blocking their view - so the camera is too far away to capture the sound even with a separate directional microphone.

Indoor events usually also need supplemental lighting to avoid window light turning the speakers into silhouettes. Plus standard room lighting is often mixed source and will show up on camera with an orange or blue tint. More powerful lighting is needed to overcome the existing lighting in this case.

Longer events like seminars also need several cameras positioned to capture detail from different focal lengths and angles to provide enough footage to cover voice-over links and provide visual variety. Footage and audio from several sources needs an experienced editor to create a satisfying record of the event.

Shooting outdoors or in premises open to the public is fraught with potential snags, to the extent that professionals need to be competent at performing health and safety risk assessment sheets. We know of professionals who have had very serious life-changing accidents due to the intense concentration needed down the camera lens to record quality footage. This means it's all too easy to become momentarily oblivious to the general surroundings. Many serious photographers may have already experienced this phenomenon, but it's prolonged by the ongoing nature of video footage. It's good practice to wear high vis vests and have a minder watch the camera operator's back (and sound operator if applicable) at all times during filming.

In all filming situations, there are added risks from equipment lying about, cables trailing, and various electrics, tripods and stands to trip over. Any contractor who appears not to understand risk assessment may be an expensive liability and all contractors should be able to prove they have substantial public liability insurance.

We went into a lot more detail on equipment and lighting but the above are the highlights of the one-hour session. We'll be going into even more detail in the associated video course.

Looking forward to the upcoming compelling content webinar!

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK.


PHPR TV Channel on YouTube:


PHPR Ltd on LinkedIn

Follow PennyHaywood on Twitter

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