The Business Side: How to Grow a Surveying Business with YouTube
“Our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world.” – YouTube
You might think YouTube is just for teenagers or only for vloggers (video bloggers) to do product reviews. You might think it’s for kids to show other kids how to play (seriously – one channel, in which a dad shows how his kids play with trucks, has over 900,000 subscribers!). YouTube is all of these, sure, but also so much more and it can be very powerful for businesses. So, as a surveyor or manufacturer, you need to listen up!
Become a Survey Rockstar on YouTube
A lot of surveyors and manufacturers in our industry see YouTube as a platform for talking nonsense or watching music videos. But a very small handful of them have understood the opportunity and are really getting stuck into it.
These are the people who will be the YouTube rockstars of surveying – and it’s still early enough for you to get in on the action. Plus, the survey community is a very small niche, so even though the internet is huge, there’s a real opportunity to get heard and make a difference. All you have to do is take the bull by its horns, and I’m here to help you!
So is Robert. Take a look at the YouTube channel, “Surveying with Robert.” Robert is my friend, my client, a reseller of Trimble equipment, a surveyor – and a YouTube superstar! He started his channel after he began following Peter McKinnon’s photography vlog on YouTube, along with almost 2.3 million (yes, million) other subscribers! Hashtag shocking. Robert asked himself why he couldn’t do something similar in surveying… so he did.
Video is King
In the digital world, the best way to grab people’s attention is with video; yes, even for businesses. The second best way is images, and the third is words. So if you’re only building your business using words, aren’t you missing out? The internet is crowded, so video is a great way to stand out from that crowd.
So, what’s stopping you from seizing your share of that bandwidth to promote your company and the geospatial industry? After all, according to Hubspot, 45-54 years olds spend 12 percent of their internet time on YouTube. Those aged 44 and under spend over 22 percent of their time on YouTube. And that’s just now! What will that look like in five years?
Prove it to yourself with your own research. Reach out to your audience and ask them how much video they watch each week. Then you’ll know whether there’s a “you-shaped” hole on YouTube.
Robert’s 6 BIG Tips
1 - Get the Kit Right
Robert made a smart decision and bought the same kit as his YouTube idol, Peter McKinnon:
- A Canon 80D DSLR camera that also records video (about $1,500).
- A GoPro Hero 3+
- A Rode microphone and a ‘dead cat’ fluffy wind muffler that cuts wind noise ($200)
- A GorillaPod SLR tripod for around $45
- A 64Gb SD card for about $40
- Adobe Premier, Camtasia, and Snagit software for creating and editing his videos.
In conclusion: a little money has to be spent to get the right kit!
2 - Categorize by the Buying Cycle
Robert is definitely a pioneer in the geospatial video realm. Starting out in March 2018, he had one goal: show his audience how to use his Trimble equipment! But he also had an approach in mind. “I wanted to get away from the boring and mundane, and produce something that was really catchy! So I started watching some videos to get ideas on how to create better and more interesting content! Maybe even some of that, ‘Hey, didn’t I see you on YouTube?!’”
As a surveyor, Robert is trusted by his client base, so teaching them great stuff was more important to him than anything else. “There’s nothing worse than some sales dude trying to sell you something you don’t want! I understand the ins and outs of being a surveyor, so giving my honest opinion has done me and my clients a world of good, which has built an awesome reputation for me – and for NEI, my employer.”
Robert also realized that while he couldn’t get to everyone’s office in person, he could at least get there via YouTube! And in fact, it’s led to some amazing conversations with his customer base, which has been a huge boost to Robert’s brand as a trusted source for exceptional content!
Robert has divided his YouTube channel into playlists, with his videos categorized according to where people are in the buying cycle. Which brings us to…
Think about the buyer cycle and what types (and depth) of content your audience will be interested in during each phase:
- Discovery phase: Use short, sharp videos (this is crucial!) to tease your clients into taking action. Try 30 seconds of testimonials, thought leadership, or even snippets. Catchy videos will also put your brand in front of your target audience. Lee B Landman Surveying Services has a very watchable video called, Keep calm, I’m a land surveyor, which has been seen almost 38,000 times!
- Exploring phase: Here, clients are willing to watch more in-depth content, such as 30-60 minute webinars, so there’s no need to rush your videos. But mix them up.
- Buying phase: Product demos and webinars are ideal here, and the more technical your product, the more in-depth people will go.
- Using phase: Produce in-house tutorials, how-to videos, etc. Time isn’t so important here, as your audience is thirsty for facts and how-tos… as long as you keep the videos moving and interesting.
- Ask phase: Create plenty of ‘help’ and ‘how-to’ videos. Talk to your support and post-sales teams. What are your customers’ common issues? By addressing these using videos, you’ll reduce your volume of incoming support calls, too.
- Engage phase: Keep producing lots of brand-in-face video content. Who else made the smart decision to buy your product? Who’s done great things with it? How can you inspire people to use the full range of your product’s features?
3 - Client Testimonial Videos
One of Robert’s videos, Tony from Anderson Surveying reviews the new Trimble TSC7, has had a staggering 1,403 views (as of July 23rd). It’s 6 minutes and 40 seconds long… definitely in the exploring phase!
Why does Robert do video client testimonials? Well, he knows that they are truly powerful because they’re independent. You can’t pay clients to do this kind of thing, nor should you. You can pay for advertising where you control the message, but in a testimonial, the client controls the message. And for a client to take the time to record the video, and put their own brand and reputation on the line, they must really mean it! This boosts the mercury in the ‘trust’ thermometer, and it’s way better than Robert himself telling you why you should buy his product. A great way for you, as a surveyor, to showcase your services is through projects you’ve already completed.
4 - Be Open and Honest
Share the good, the bad, and the ugly with your market. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t agree with something or don’t believe in a certain method or tool. Your insights and experience will be invaluable to other people, and people will love to hear stories and anecdotes that back up those opinions. Plus, revealing your personality, even with humor, can help to engage people and keep them coming back for more. But remember to focus on why your product is useful, or why doing something a certain way has helped your customers. Build trust in you as a brand, as well as your company and product.
5 - Be Consistent and Timely
Trickle-feed your content out to your audience. Don’t swamp them in a period of (your own) enthusiasm and then disappear for a year. And make sure you’re timely; test out certain times and see what results you get. Plus, keep it consistent and regular; for example, videos once a week.
6 - Measure
Keep an eye on your number of subscribers and viewers. Top tip: Interact with anyone who engages and communicates with you! Thank people for positive comments, watch out for questions, get involved in discussions. This will boost those numbers, and build your network online.
Once you’ve made your first video and posted it on YouTube, what do you do with it? If you want people to see it, you have to tell them it’s there. But how? Next month, I’ll talk about how YouTube, your website, and social media can all work together to build your brand and generate more business!