Video has become an increasingly important tool for online marketing over the past several years, but it’s definitely exploded during the past 12 months.
No longer can exhibitors or event organizers avoid creating videos to communicate online with attendees before and after the show. And while the bar may have been set somewhat low before, now those videos are expected to be much higher quality. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune creating a slick Hollywood-style production to share on your social media channels, but you do need to make sure you have good lighting and clear audio.
So I have great news for you: There are some pretty amazing tools available at incredibly reasonable price points. (Yes, even sometimes for free!) I’ve been creating and editing my own videos using a variety of tools for years, so I’d like to take you behind the scenes and share some of my favorite tech tools.
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Filming Equipment & Tools
Long gone are the days of needing a fancy video camera. Now most everyone has a decent-quality recording tool in their smartphone. Plus there’s no shortage of good DSLR cameras that record to a memory card which you can then upload to your computer for editing and sharing.
But you don’t want to simply point and shoot. So here are some of the tools I count on to improve even the most basic filming.
- Neewer softbox light kit
This is a great set if you’re just getting started and don’t want to spend a lot for lights. It comes with two 24” softboxes on adjustable stands to fill your scene with soft, flattering light. Plus it comes with a handy carrying case. The included bulbs are oversized CFLs, so I don’t know how hard it might be to replace them (I’m still using the originals), but you can probably use other bulbs with the proper base. (est. $70 retail)
- UBeesize ring light
Want to look better on all those video calls and livestreams? This ring light comes with a tripod and holder so you can snap in your phone. The light is adjustable from warm to bright white, with 11 brightness levels. There’s even a remote device so you can control your phone without having to reach up and press the button.
- Ulanzi smartphone video rig
If you need to film with your phone on the move, this is one of the best $20 investments you could ever make! It looks kind of like a license plate holder – simply snap your phone in the center, then hold the side handles as you point your camera at whatever you need to film. It’s easy to get a steady shot, plus there are slots on top of the frame for you to add a light and/or microphone. And if you don’t need to move around, it also mounts on top of a tripod.
There’s no question that this non-glamorous tool is perhaps one of the most important. You need a sturdy tripod that you can depend on, and over the years I’ve learned that Manfrotto makes some of the best. I recommend a full-size adjustable one (they have a variety to choose from), plus the PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod, which also works as a handheld grip. (about $25)
- Movo Dual Lavalier Mic System
If you need to do interview videos with two people, this handy dual-mic set plugs into your smartphone or computer. (The second mic is detachable if you’re going solo.) There’s also a plug for headphones so you can monitor the audio on the go. It even includes mini foam windscreens for the mics. (est. $40 retail)
Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone
One of the best tech upgrade decisions I ever made was to get this mic for my podcasting. But of course I don’t just use it for podcasting … it stays plugged into my computer all the time, and I use it for all my video calls or livestreams. It may not be the least-expensive mic out there, but the sound quality is amazing. While it comes with a mini tabletop stand, I recommend investing in an adjustable boom arm, shock mount, and pop filter. (just over $200 for the works)
Video Creation Software
There are so many options for creating great videos! Choosing the right one depends based on what you’re wanting to accomplish, and what the purpose of your video is. Here are some of my personal favorites, along with a few that come highly recommended by the video pros I turn to for advice.
If you’ve ever joined us for Virtual Lunch on Tuesdays, you’ve seen this one in action. I love being able to basically have my own TV studio, with lower thirds, overlays and backgrounds. I can switch who’s on camera, broadcast to more than one platform (this depends on the plan you choose), and bring up viewer comments for audience involvement. You could start with the free plan, but I bet you’ll quickly transition to one of the monthly or annual subscriptions so you have access to all the options!
Want to make a video out of a blog post or some other written content? Lumen5 uses AI technology to access video clips to bring your text to life. They have paid plans, but if you don’t need to create a lot of this kind of video, you can probably accomplish what you want with the free plan.
This is one of my new favorite tools! You can easily create a personal video message to share via e-mail or social media message. Use it to send a personalized follow-up after the show, and make a truly memorable impression on attendees. Or share a teaser before the show, personally inviting people to visit your booth (whether in-person or online). You can even invite people to reply to you with their own video message!
- Warm Welcome
This one works like SendSpark, so you can create video greetings for your clients and prospects. One bonus feature here is a video business card widget you can embed on your website, with links for viewers to reply to you via video, audio or text. (Note: While I haven’t personally used this one, it does come highly recommended by other people I trust.)
And right now, there’s a lifetime deal available that allows you to send unlimited custom videos each month!(Not sure when this deal ends.)
You’ve probably seen videos created in Loom – especially if you’ve ever watched a software tutorial online. You can record your screen and/or webcam, then tweak your video before sharing. If you only need to create a limited number of short (less than 5 minute) videos, they have a free plan. Otherwise, you’ll need a monthly subscription. (Note: I haven’t personally used this tool, but know a lot of people who do.)
What if you could embed incentives into videos to reward your viewers? This clever app does just that by letting you overlay coupons or perks to reward people for engaging with your video. You can even ask them questions about the video. And all of that lead data is stored in your campaign dashboard, so you can download a CSV report later. (I can think of all kinds of possibilities for both pre- and post-show marketing!) While I haven’t yet purchased this tool, it’s definitely on my radar –
especially since this one’s also available on a limited-time lifetime deal on AppSumo.
Video Editing & Storage
Whether you’re filming with your phone or a traditional camera, you may need to do a little editing before publishing and sharing that video. While you may have some basic-level tools that come with your computer (like iMovie), those don’t always have all the features you need.
But that doesn’t mean you have to go all-in with high-dollar editing tools either. I’ve got you covered here too!
I discovered this full-featured video editor several years ago, and it just keeps getting better. Best of all … they have a great free version! Now don’t be intimidated by all the filmmaker and gamer examples on their website – you don’t have to use all the special effects and transitions they make available to you. But just in case you want to take your editing up a notch (or 10!), those features are there waiting. (Note that some effects do require you to purchase an add-on pack, but most of those are minimal cost.)
Need a way to create transcripts or subtitles for your videos? This app can do automatic transcription using AI in a matter of minutes, or you have the option to have a pro create it with a 24 hour turnaround. If you’ve seen the transcripts on Trade Show Insights, you’ve seen what it can do. (Note: Alan & I do a bit of clean-up, but the basic transcript is auto-generated, saving tons of time.) Auto transcripts start at only 20 cents per minute, and the pro option is $1.95 per minute.
Wish there were an alternative to YouTube, Wistia and Vimeo for video storage? I was really excited when I discovered this app! You can upload videos and tailor the player to match your branding, create custom thumbnails, and embed your videos most anywhere. And best of all? Goodbye, unrelated ads! Plus their platform is designed to maximize the quality and speed of playback. And right now they’re offering 60 GB of storage space for a low one-time fee (instead of a monthly subscription).
Now that you know all my video-making secrets, there are no more excuses for bad online videos!
Once you’ve created some new videos using these tools, please come back and share a link to them in the comments. Can’t wait to see your new look!
NOTE: Updated 7.26.21