Last week I spoke at the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Ministerial in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a member of the U.S. State Department delegation. The highlight of my travels is always speaking to the local entrepreneurs and learning about their business and ecosystem challenges. The issues that startups face in emerging markets seem crippling — poor technology education and penetration, major barriers to doing business such as corruption, outdated or stifling policies, and the lack of infrastructure. These startups are often focused on a problem that may have impact beyond their borders or continent.
Getting the message out, both in terms of communicating their offerings and accessing potential customers, is important for all entrepreneurs, but one startup in Miami — Raw Shorts — is giving companies around the globe an effective and efficient solution to reach the world with hyper-localized content.
Only recently did most of us become aware of the power of video, something that Internet marketers have known for years. In 2012, eMarketer reported that video was the fastest-growing category in online advertising. Over the past year, companies like Google, LinkedIn and Facebook have or will soon release platforms to support video advertising.
Antonio Otalvaro and his co-founders at Raw Shorts saw this opportunity while doing high-end video production services for clients including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, ReMax and eBay, who have large budgets to spend on this kind of outreach.
The small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) recognize the opportunity that video presents in offering a clear message with a great return on investment (ROI) but find that producing high-quality content is often too difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Yet, no other medium conveys as much in as little time and is as effective in converting customers as video.
The facts on video:
According to Forbes, 75 percent of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week. eMarketer found that 53 percent of SMBs are increasing their video marketing budget. YouTube is the second most powerful search engine, behind Google.
Video produces tremendous ROI, including:
• 30 percent higher conversion rates on websites (eMarketer);
• a 58 percent higher likelihood of a first-page rank (Forrester);
• a 76 percent increase in click-through rates when including a video link in an email (Flimp Media), and
• a 64 percent higher likelihood of customer purchase after watching a video (comScore)
So video is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have. Startups need to incorporate a video strategy into their marketing outreach, but the pricing was out of reach until recently.
Otalvaro knew that an offering could be developed putting the video production tools into the hands of the business world to create professional production quality videos. Within a few months, the company’s cloud-based builder was ready, allowing anyone who can create a PowerPoint to make a video with little additional training or direction. Otalvaro: “Our goal is to help businesses overcome the challenges of video production by offering them an easy to use, cloud-based video builder that allows them to create high production value videos with absolutely no previous experience in video production.”
Cloud-based tools like Otalvaro’s now allow businesses to affordably mass-customize their video messages for targeted audiences. In the past, it was too expensive to produce content that speaks to each group. The international clients who have been raving about Raw Shorts’ beta release hail from around the world, including India, the UK, Australia and Guatemala. While each have tried other builders on the market, they found that Raw Shorts offers better production quality, a best-in-class content library, and 3D rendering opportunities at the pricing level aimed to reach 99 percent of startups in any market.
Being able to educate entrepreneurs on new ways to reach their customers is always my goal, but finding startups that address a global need that is within everyone’s grasp is rare. I look forward to seeing how many of Miami’s startups can scale solutions like Raw Shorts has — great local penetration and traction while also empowering the ecosystems of developing nations to compete affordably and effectively.
Susan Amat is the founder of Venture Hive, which helps startups launch and grow. In 2012, she was named a Champion of Change at the White House for her work mentoring entrepreneurs. Follow her on Twitter at @susanamat.