When Frank Farrell was in the eighth grade, the school’s audio and visual department purchased one of the first black-and-white video recorders to hit the market and used it to transition from film to video.

Though the school mostly used the equipment to record football games, a music teacher had the idea to try something new — use it to videotape a group of students lip-synching a song. The innovative and quirky production soon spread through the student population, similar to what today would have become a viral Internet video. But the MTV-like experiment also spurred a lifelong passion for Farrell, who now has more than 30 years of experience in the industry and runs his own business, Custom Video Productions of Red Bank.

Just as Farrell’s music teacher took a great idea and turned it into a captivating video that drew the attention of the audience, Farrell has made a career out of developing brand messages for businesses and corporations looking to grab the attention of new audiences and market their products and services. And while technology may have changed, video still remains a vital marketing technique — now more than ever.

“I feel that there’s still a large number of people who don’t get or don’t embrace it, and they’re basically missing out on marketing opportunities,” says Farrell. “All walks of life have access to this tool, and it can greatly help owners advance their own businesses. They just need to be able to craft a message, place it in the right spots, and draw traffic to it.”

Farrell will present the “Secrets of Online Video Marketing” on Thursday, September 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Unique Photo in Fairfield. The event is sponsored by the Business Marketing Association of New Jersey. Farrell will provide tips about using online video to market businesses, increase visibility, build sales, and boost customer engagement.

He will cover a step-by-step approach to producing a high-impact video, provide resources to maximize the results of the video, and present facts and figures on the impact of a successful online video marketing effort.

The power of video is as strong as ever, says Farrell, especially since most mobile users have access to video recorders on numerous mobile devices. As Farrell points out, video can go a long way in portraying an image — positive and negative.

A fast food restaurant in New York City, for example, made headlines when someone captured video footage of the rat-infested establishment in the overnight hours, creating a public relations nightmare for the franchise. On the other hand, a good video can open up new opportunities for marketers to gain new clients.

Crafting the message. One of the most critical aspects of developing a video that the public — and potential clients — will see is to work hard at crafting the right message.

That’s why Farrell’s company spends a lot of time doing research prior to making the video, which includes understanding the company culture and the appropriate message the business will send to viewers.

Many times, business owners approach Farrell, tell him they want to purchase a video, and then ask immediately how much it costs. But that shouldn’t be the focus. “I say, ‘Let’s talk about crafting a message that the world is going to see,’” Farrell insists.

He believes the video should also tell a great story. “You want someone to come to your website and say, ‘Wow, that guy is really passionate about his organization.’”

Determine how you will produce the video. While it’s hard to imagine that your business will become an Internet sensation overnight with a viral video, the way you produce the product does matter.

Self-producing without any guidance, says Farrell, is similar to telling yourself you are going to repair your own car without taking it to the shop, and that can lead to a breakdown. Whether a business hires a professional to produce the video, or the company creates one in-house, the video must look professional.

“You can do it on your own, but it’s going to take much more than a flip camera or a mobile phone to craft it,” he says.

Successful videos have been produced using iPhones, but creative use of the technology in those cases helped to create an edge. “There are companies out there that specifically write an entire script and shoot it with an iPhone and fool watchers into thinking it’s a corporate-produced video.”

One option for businesses is to create a video series on a website. A chiropractor, for example, might create an episodic video once a month in which he provides a one-minute message relating to the field.

“He’s not selling his product or service, but he’s branding himself as a professional in the field,” says Farrell. This also ties back into having the vision to tell the right story. “Whether you have a professional company doing it or you do it on your own, you really have to master those skills.”

Draw traffic to the video on the company website. A good video can bring success to any organization — but only if it is seen by the intended audience. The video should be posted online, but Farrell says companies must still issue traditional press releases, release the video to the media if it is newsworthy, and also hire an expert in search engine optimization to make sure audiences can find the content when searching online.

Companies should consider hosting the video on their own websites. YouTube and other social media sites can also be useful, but there are drawbacks. “I’ve been driven away from YouTube,” he explains. Viewers “find your company and play your video, but as soon as the video ends, it comes up with all the competitors and suggests other similar videos you might like.”

Ultimately, “you want them to stay and visit and make a call to action” on your own business’ website.

Farrell, 51, grew up in Rumson. His father worked on contracts for oil companies, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. Farrell jump started his video career at Brookdale Community College. While he was a student, Bell Laboratories in Holmdel needed students for video work, and he began building his expertise.

He continued to do contract work while starting his own business, which he founded in 1978, and built the business up over the years. He also taught a number of technical seminars and started teaching and holding lectures about video production at a variety of colleges. Most of his business today comes from corporate clients and businesses looking to boost their branding.

Farrell says he learned his trade from studying with masters in the video field. He would partner with one cameraman, master his techniques, and begin working with the next. “The bottom line is just that I have a real passion for it,” he says. “Even in horrible times I still stayed focused.”

But Farrell’s passion for video is more than a hobby — he believes that video is too powerful for his corporate clients to ignore today.

“This way to communicate is not really new,” says Farrell. “Any company that wants to be successful has to embrace this technology instead of ignoring it. The ones who ignore it are the ones who are the dinosaurs who are becoming extinct. The ones who are managing and maintaining it are the ones crafting their message and getting the business and looking like leaders in their industry.”

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