Six steps to introducing your salon on film

Grab that bowl of popcorn and settle down on the sofa for this week’s episode of “The Great Wedding Gown Search.” Brides do a great deal of research before making that gown purchase, and a bridal store website – typically accessed via mobile device - is one place where they look for information that’s important to them. Therefore a great tool for convincing brides that your salon is the place to shop is a video tour posted prominently on your site.Reading about your store and scanning a few photos can tell a bridal shopper a great deal about your brand. Taking a virtual tour of your store goes a step farther, however. A video that travels through the store can highlight your customer service as well as your product selection. It’s more personal and can draw the bride into your world, helping to convince her to visit your brick-and-mortar store.

Here are six tips for creating an effective video tour:

Review your brand message. What does your mission statement say about your store? What can you showcase in the video that reinforces your brand? For example, if you want brides to feel at home in your salon, feature areas that look warm and welcoming. If your claim to fame is a unique designer boutique in the corner, a lingering look in this space is well worth the effort.

Prepare for production. Before shooting a video tour, send an unbiased party on a reconnaissance mission around your store. It may sound obvious, but you want to make a positive impression on shoppers and that won’t happen if the floors need cleaning and the windows don’t sparkle.

So straighten your racks and freshen those displays! It’s also a good idea to check out the lighting and replace faulty fixtures. Keep in mind that while soft lighting is wonderful it may be difficult to capture well on video.

Keep it short and simple. Before creating a feature-length extravaganza, consider how much time bridal visitors are actually going to spend on your website. If they click on Video Tour, it’s typically with a purpose. They may be curious about the general appearance of your shop, or they may be looking for specific information. Either way, your video tour shouldn’t be longer than two minutes. Sixty seconds is even better.

Be human. Be real. Brides may opt not to visit a store if it seems intimidating. So it’s a good idea to add a human element to your video, even if it’s only a background shot of a consultant chatting with a bride or pulling dresses from the rack. Showcasing real people involved in the appointment can assuage any fears the viewer might have about how she’ll be treated in your shop. Brides do want to get an impression of who you are before they put you on the must-visit list.

Get some professional help. With the technology now built into today’s mobile devices it’s possible to record a high-quality video on a smartphone. While this approach is fine, it’s crucial that your video not appear amateurish. The two most important tips: make sure the recording device is held stable and be certain the videographer knows exactly what angles to film.

If you aren’t confident about your skills, consider partnering with a professional. Someone who is up-and-coming in the business might be willing to work for a lower rate or even in exchange for exposure through referrals to brides or participating in a bridal show.

Do a test shoot. This doesn’t have to be a full-on production. Rather video a sample “scene” to see how your store and staff are photographing. One of the great things about digital is that it can be shot, downloaded and stored, then you can try another version. If you’re working from a script or shot sheet - and you should - remember that you don’t have to use every second of video that you shoot. You can delete shots that don’t work and replace them with images that better tell the story.

Finally, avoid recording video during regular store hours. It’s better to recreate a day at the store than run the risk of ruining the shopping experience for your brides. While it may be the secret dream of some brides to star in a reality series, others see it as an invasion of their privacy during an already stressful time. You’re better off staging the happy scenes you want to showcase. This approach allows your real brides to shop stress-free while giving you complete control over the message you showcase potential customers.

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