Creating (and sticking to) a video strategy for your pool and spa business has become more important than ever. With people stuck at home, avoiding retail stores and spending more time watching videos online, the business with a solid plan to roll out video content will ultimately emerge with more customers.

Online video consumption continues to rise 100% year-over-year, according to a study from WyzOwl, a company that makes explainer videos for businesses. On top of that, 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service because of a video. The study goes on to indicate that 96% of people have watched an explainer/how-to video about a product. When asked how they’d like to learn about a new product, 66% of respondents said they’d prefer to watch a video compared to 18% who would prefer to read a description.

When we ask business owners about video, they all tend to respond the same way. “It’s on our list of things to do, but we just don’t have the time/equipment/staff/know-how.” The list of excuses goes on.

I understand. Many years ago, I was a video editor in Los Angeles, working with top brands around the country. That time led me to become something of a perfectionist, which, oddly enough, delayed my own video strategy. I got too hung up on the details, and lost focus on the fact that people prefer just about any video to no video at all. This realization led to a basic list of equipment that anyone can use and a few other basic pointers.

In reality, with a bit of planning and a modest investment in equipment, you can produce quality videos for your brand in just a few days.

The equipment

The first thing you need to understand is that the quality of your camera is really the third most important component to great video. Sound quality and great lighting are far more critical.

The most important factor to a good video is great audio.

Think about it. You’ve seen tons of videos online. Whether we’re talking about an instructional video or something fun, like kids doing cute things, the fastest way to get you to skip a video is with bad sound. We see countless examples of people filming in front of a waterfeature or next to a running hot tub without using proper microphones. This makes it difficult to hear the message and, ultimately, viewers just tune out.

The solution is an external directional mic, like the Rode VideoMic Pro, which is best used when you’re pointing the camera and mic directly at the speaker, or a wireless mic, like the Rode Wireless Go kit, if you need to capture sound while not looking directly at the speaker.

The second most important factor to a good video is great lighting.

If you don’t light the subject of your video, they will quickly blend into the background or fade completely, making the video difficult to watch. The human eye gravitates toward the brighter parts of the image rather than darker areas. So, if you’re filming in front of a bright window or in your store with mixed lighting sources, the quality will suffer and, once again, viewers will tune out.

To address this issue, you have two primary choices. A camera-mounted LED light panel can be purchased on Amazon for about $30. Or a slightly more robust lighting kit can be purchased for about $150 and will give you more flexibility to create great video. Typically, you would use a camera-mounted light while shooting handheld video (eg., while walking around the store or pool park). A lighting kit would be used when you’re shooting something stationary, like an interview or product video. Examples of these include the Neewer dimmable on-camera light and the Neewer LED lighting kit with stands.

Now to the camera.

If you’re just getting started, don’t spend money on a new camera.

Once you’ve solved for sound quality and lighting, any modern phone camera will be just fine for your first few months of video content. If you’re really gung-ho about getting a more “professional” camera, you really don’t need to spend more than $1,000 until you’re really cranking out the videos. A larger investment would come when you’re either making daily “live” videos or creating at least three of the more produced videos each month.

Other basic equipment you’ll need includes: a good tripod, a rig to hold your mobile phone, and plenty of batteries to keep everything running.

Who becomes the star?

Ryan Jordan of Lake Air Pool Supply in Waco, Texas starring in a company video.
Scott Reynolds/The Get Smart Group Ryan Jordan of Lake Air Pool Supply in Waco, Texas starring in a company video.

Before you begin creating your video library, you need to settle on the “star.”

Choose, at most, two people to serve as the face of your company in your videos. Your leads and customers will begin to recognize the face and background of your store and, over time, will watch more and more video and become loyal to your brand.

Many business owners are reluctant to use employees. They worry that, sometime in the future, these staffers may no longer work for the business. Don’t worry too much about this: It’s much more important to get the videos out than to worry over a future possibility.

So whom do you choose?

First and foremost, you want someone with a great personality and who is comfortable talking to a camera. We suggest asking several people within the company to “try out” for the video role. You’d be amazed at the talent hidden in your staff. Sometimes the person you’d least expect turns out to be a great on-camera personality, and you’d never find out if they didn’t have a chance. One of our favorite examples is Ryan Jordan from Lake Air Pool Supply in Waco, Texas, pictured above. Look them up on Facebook for an example of great videos.

The other logical choice is the business owner or manager. To be blunt, this is rarely the best person. They are usually too busy with day-to-day operations and, you guessed it, become another hindrance to maintaining a consistent video strategy. If they insist, make sure they understand the commitment and — even more important — will be compelling for consumers to watch.

Document. Don’t produce.

The No. 1 excuse we hear from pool and spa businesses is that they don’t have time. In fact, you don’t even have to interrupt the regular course of your day to engage customers.

Here’s the thing: What might seem boring and mundane to you is fascinating to your customer base. For example, a truck arriving with new hot tubs means you’re getting up from your desk, firing up the forklift and spending the next couple of hours unloading. Again and again and again. Boring, right? Not to your customers!

This is where the concept of “Document. Don’t produce” comes from. When the truck shows up, grab your phone and turn on Facebook Live. Talk to your audience and tell them what is about to happen. Show them the truck arriving. Jump into the forklift together. Give them a few teasers about the amazing hot tubs you’re about to unload. That’s it! The video can be 30 to 60 seconds long and does nothing more than document a portion of your day. You might spend an additional minute or two setting up the phone for Facebook Live but, other than that, you’re not losing any additional time.

Other ideas include showing new inventory, turning on your pool park, or performing a sample water test. For new inventory, go over the high-level facts and features of the products you’re bringing into the store. Comment on color options, any sales you have coming up, etc. Give people a reason to come into your store to see all the new things. People want to see this stuff and will even begin to mention it when they come into your store.

Facebook Live vs. YouTube

Your next consideration is where to stream or host your videos online. While there are many options, the two best are Facebook Live and YouTube.

Ten years ago, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce a live, HD-quality video and stream it online in real time. Today, thanks to Facebook Live, everyone has a video studio in their pocket that can stream to the whole world for free. Use Facebook for those “documentation” videos mentioned above.

On the other hand, when you get to planning more complex pieces such as how-to or maintenance videos, you’ll want to edit them before putting them online. When you do, set up a YouTube channel and begin to build out your library. Once a video is on YouTube, you can embed it on your website and anyone with an internet connection can watch it (again, for free).

The schedule

At a minimum, commit to doing two Facebook Live videos each week. While this sounds like an enormous commitment, remember that you’re just documenting the things that are already happening in your store. Is there a sale starting? Are you barbecuing hot dogs on the sidewalk? Open up your phone and go live.

The most important thing is consistency. When you do two videos each week, not only will your customers begin to expect it from you, but you’ll get better in the process. After a few months, you may look back at your first videos and cringe — don’t worry, it happens to everyone.

For more in-depth videos, make a Top Five list of topics you want to cover. Many people get stuck trying to figure out topics. To start, just go with what people ask you everyday (even if it seems boring). These might include changing filters in a hot tub, proper water testing procedures or how to run the pool heater. Roughly outline the topics and then plan a day to go shoot the videos. You can film these right in your store or on location — just make sure to give yourself enough time to capture all the footage you need. I highly recommend hiring a video editor to polish these in-depth videos to really make your brand stand out. Check out or to find an editor.

Plan on producing two of these more complex videos per month until you get comfortable with the process. They should be no more than 5 minutes long and cover a single topic. Any more than five minutes and you risk people tuning out before the Call to Action or invitation to your store. When choosing a single topic, try to stay very focused. A few sample topics would include:

● How to change the filter on your hot tub. (Don’t get into water chemistry, pumps, switches, etc. Keep it focused.)

● Connecting your automatic pool vacuum. (Steer clear of valve settings, which can quickly devolve into a much longer video. Say something like “make sure the valves are set per your operation manual.”)

Once you have a few under your belt, the process will get easier and easier, and the quality will only improve with time.

Become a resource

We firmly believe the business that is the most resourceful to their leads and customers ultimately becomes the most successful over time.

Think about your growing library in terms of an employee who can teach and talk to your customers 24/7. While the initial investment in time can certainly seem daunting, the payoff over the long run is massive.

Finally, it’s much harder to catch up to a competitor who is executing a consistent video strategy. Be the leader in your market by making the commitment to regular production. If you do, you’ll end up with a larger clientele, fewer customer-service issues and you’ll be an amazing resource to your community for years to come.