How to use video marketing to grow your business: feat. Tony Demakis
Updated: Feb 8
Start a chat with anyone involved in digital marketing, and “video” is almost guaranteed to be a topic. It’s easy-to-consume, inexpensive to make and so simple (and fun!) to watch.
Studies show that 84% of consumers have been convinced to make a purchase after watching a video, and 81% of businesses with an explainer video on their homepage say video helped increase their sales.
It's no surprise why video marketing is so powerful, and that it’s become an important focus for so many businesses today.
So, why is it so challenging for people to get started using video?
Despite its popularity, video is also a huge point of contention. Everyone not doing video has the same objections:
…I don’t have access to any fancy video equipment!
…I simply don’t have the time to create a video!
...I don’t have anything interesting to say!
Why is video marketing important?
It’s a great way to help people learn about your company, as well as position yourself as an expert in your niche. Just by tapping the “record” button on your cell phone, you can demonstrate how your product or service can genuinely solve a problem or help people grow by teaching them something new. This isn’t about how to make flashy, short-term, viral clickbait, but to truly help you figure out what types of video make the most sense for the longevity of your business, how you can use video to create genuine connections, and tell authentic stories worthy of customer attention.
“What if instead of trying to be amazing you just focused on being useful? I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way.” ― Jay Baer, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype
There’s no better way to gain insight into why video marketing works than to speak with Tony Demakis, President of Alliance Specialities and Laser Sales, and host of the Manufacturing Alliance Podcast.
One glance at the Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales website and you’ll feel like you’re part of the team; from the big team photos to the fun, personable descriptions of everyone in the organization - it’s obvious they like to put a face on their business, and Tony helps extend this mission into their video strategy.
Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales is celebrating their 40th anniversary next month as a full service plastic injection mold maintenance and finishing company. They have also developed one the industry leading laser welding and engraving systems for the plastic injection mold industry. So you might ask, "what do they know about video?"
Tony Demakis is a genuine helper of people. I met him on a dark and quiet part of the run course when I was competing in an IRONMAN Triathlon in Arizona. He helped motivate me towards the finish when all seemed lost, so it’s no surprise to me that one of his video series is called “Motivation Mondays.” It was great to chat with him on how he’s able to capture his helpful spirit into videos that do much more than just sell, and how he makes it a thriving part of Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales’ marketing strategy.
What inspired you to get started using video?
Tony: In the mold repair and maintenance industry - people are not tech savvy when it comes to the latest and greatest in digital marketing. They are tech savvy when it comes to molds and cutting steel, but there is still an “old school” mentality when it comes to marketing. To differentiate ourselves, we started doing things right away like videos on new equipment, videos from trade shows and videos of new projects we were working on.
We are in a niche market. The smaller your market, the less competition there is in different aspects of marketing. Being “small” can be an advantage. For example, when we started doing podcasts, nobody was doing podcasts in our space. It was a very open space to get involved in and gain attention.
Social media is cheap and can be easy-to-do, so we started using it to show people a different side of plastic injection molding and manufacturing that they didn’t know existed.
We’re going to start a new video series with short, 1-3 minute videos on tooling tips. It’s a quick tip about something that’s happening in the shop - polishing a mold, laser welding, laser engraving, how to load a skid, etc. Easy things we take for granted that other people wouldn’t. We can help people with the things they are looking for.
Our videos and podcasts talk to people about why they started their businesses, what processes they use and why things work the way they do. A lot of people have the same problems, so we are able to help people grow and learn from each other. I love reaching people in a new way that isn’t just “buy something from me.”
So you don’t always talk about Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales in your videos. It’s obvious you love helping people. What stories do you use video to tell, and how do you use them to help people?
Tony: We don’t necessarily talk about “our company.” Our company is never the promotional focus of the video or podcast episode. We talk with other people about their issues, problems, successes or failures. We want to be a resource for our core customer, help them with their problems and introduce them to other people involved in the industry.
We have a weekly series called “Motivational Mondays.” I love quotes and always make notice of motivational quotes. I admit I really have little qualification to tell people about anything, but we find a quote that we like, maybe relevant to us or the industry that inspires us and we just talk about it. I like seeing people smile and be happy and successful, and if I can give somebody a little nugget of inspiration or wisdom to jump start their week - I love inserting a little joy and inspiration into the world.
One of Tony’s favorite videos is this "Motivation Monday" he did with his father.
“I was surprised he actually did the video - I think the only reason he did it is because someone else asked him. If I had asked him, he would’ve said no.” Tony loved his father’s interpretation of “don’t throw stones.” When people threw stones, he didn’t throw them back. It was with these “stones” he collected, polished, and built his empire.
Eventually I got tired of looking at myself doing these things and started digging into my network and kept grabbing people to ask them about a quote they like. They’re only a minute and a half - which means people are willing to do it. They really show a different side of people - that they actually have personalities - and you can learn things about people you typically don’t learn about in a business venue.
Christine Fuges from MoldMaking Technology Magazine shared the quote, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Not everybody is going to know that she carries that prayer in her heart - it doesn’t come up in the magazine. It was cool to have that conversation and share a little insight into who people really are.
A lot of people are self-conscious or tentative about appearing on video. You’ve appeared in dozens of videos - both on your own and interviewing others. What advice do you have for someone who might be nervous about getting started?
Tony: Just do it. You just have to do it. Here’s the thing - it sucks when you first start. You hate the way you look, you hate the way you sound, you feel like you don’t have anything to say. It is awkward to put together. It’s awkward at first to look into the phone or camera, you have to pretend like it’s not there.
Look at it this way. Everyone else sees you, talks with you, and hears you on a regular basis. But you don’t always see and hear yourself, so to you it feels new and strange. But other people are already seeing you in that way — so it is not different for them, it’s only different for you. Get over yourself and do it!
Nobody else is out there being you.
If nobody listens to it or watches it, who cares, you didn’t waste anything. If someone does like it - awesome, success!
I joke a lot at the end of our videos, “send us some feedback - unless the feedback is “STOP!” - because I’m not going to stop.
There’s a power in understanding and admitting that I’m not great. I don’t think I’m “great” and no one else should either, I’m just doing what I think is helpful for people and also kind of fun for me.
And at least if someone has something negative to say, that means they’ve seen it.
Some people have hesitations providing such an “inside look” into their business, like someone else will take their ideas.
Tony: Gordon Ramsay will tell you exactly how he makes a steak. You can’t actually do it though. I’m not worried about people “stealing our secrets” because if someone can watch a 2-minute video and be as good at what we do as we are, then they should be doing it and we shouldn’t. If they were able to replicate us using a 2-minute video, then we aren’t specialized and we are not professional.
When researching new marketing ideas, businesses are often bombarded by “cool” and “zesty” concepts like going viral. With so much marketing advice rooted in big, flashy, Coca-Cola or Apple-sized B2C concepts, what advice do you have for other B2B companies that might want to get started in video?
Tony: My opinion is that our industry is very niche. It will be very difficult to go viral, so I don’t focus on anything like that. The goal for me is 'exposure'. When you are in a smaller, niche industry, even a little exposure can make a big difference.
Try not to focus on sheer number of clicks or views on this or that individual platform. We put our videos on personal Facebook accounts, business Facebook pages, personal and business LinkedIn, Instagram and push them out on our Youtube channel.
There are lots of ways people are watching them. We’ve just started doing video recordings of our podcasts so we can break them up into smaller segments. We can push these shorter videos out to other media outlets and platforms and leverage their audience too. Exposure is the goal.
How do you measure if a video is successful or not?
Tony: It’s just like anything in marketing. You never know instantly what ad is working, what video will work or what trade show is working. You never know if it’s working to hand out a bunch of t-shirts with your logo on them.
Two years from now someone can say “I saw you guys at that trade show,” and that can become a huge customer. In marketing, you can’t be shortsighted. Too many companies say things like. “well…we ran a full page ad and got no calls - we are done with marketing.”
Maybe they don’t need you right now. Maybe they don’t have time to call right now. Maybe it wasn’t the right ad. There are so many “maybes”. My opinion is just keep doing it - and then do more of it. Social media is cheap and videos are ostensibly free if you do them yourself. You’re not wasting any money - you’re using your own personal resources and time - but you’re not giving anything up. So why not get started and do it?
No, you’re not gonna hit a home run every time - most times you’ll be lucky to get on one base or have a couple of people watch. Sometimes you strike out and it’s terrible and you hope nobody sees it - but “who cares?” People might think I’m stupid, that is totally fine, I’m good with that. Some like it, some don’t and I don’t really care. At the end of the day it will boost our SEO - it will boost our ability to be found in different areas by new and different people. Someone will see it and it will stick. Sometimes you only need the right couple of people to watch and it becomes a big success for your company.
And click here to find more information on Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales!
Need some additional inspiration on how to make a marketing video? Here’s 5 other great examples of videos you can get started on today:
Walkthrough or tour of your facility: Guzowski Research Laboratory Tour is a behind-the-scenes tour of a neuroscientist’s lab. It’s off-the-cuff, casually made, but very cool. He points out various equipment and explains what each does. You can record a tour of your facility using your phone’s standard video app.
Interview with a team member: This interview with Rebecca Miller, a quality control engineer with GE Aviation gives a nice blend of factory tour, interesting insight into the manufacturing processes, while also sharing the challenges and rewarding bright spots of being a manufacturing engineer. It’s helpful, not sales-y, and offers a behind-the-scenes perspective on the job for anyone who might be interested in pursuing this career.
Interview with the CEO: Maker Mastermind is video series where someone interviews the CEO of an entrepreneur mentorship group on a topic relevant to her target market. The “someone” just happens to be an over-caffeinated me (ha!) but the easy tech we used to pull this together is a great example. They’re live, so they are completely informal and unedited. The web platform belive.tv is extremely easy-to-use to go-live on your Facebook page, either on your own to talk about an important subject, or have a friend or co-worker interview you.
Product Tutorial: Quikflip Apparel has a few “special effects”, but is a great example of how easy it can be to show your product in action. You can also use your phone’s standard video app to show you or a charismatic co-worker of your choice demonstrating how to use your product. Free editing programs like MacOS’s default iMovie or the free Lightworks makes editing a breeze.
Show off Product Features: XLAB Gear Box Kit is a stop-motion video made by combining a series of individual photos. By taking a series of photos of a scene that changes very slightly, you can easily make a compelling video highlighting your product in action. Apps like GIF Maker make this easy-to-do.
Share your latest video in the comments, or let's chat about what's holding you back from getting started!