If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video might be priceless.

What it is

A video—embedded on a company website, e-mailed to clients or prospects, or posted on YouTube—can be a dynamic way to convey your expertise. Uses range from introducing your services and brand, to educating clients and prospects.

Why you need it

“The power of video is sight, sound, motion and emotion,” says Jeff Bradshaw, president and CEO of Zoom, a Calgary-based video production company.

Also, it gives clients a sense you’re talking to them between meetings.

How it helps

Videos give people an immediate impression, says Winnipeg video producer Glen Kirby. They not only put a face to your business, they can also spur web traffic and click-through rates on e-mails. Having videos online can also enhance your site’s online visibility and search results because Google indexes them separately. Uploading videos to indexed video-sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo improves search engine optimization.

How much

Before using video, consider the impact on your budget and schedule. Be sure to get quotes on the amount of pre-production planning required; filming location; cost for scripting; number and type of professionals; equipment required; and any post-production graphics.

There’s no set formula, including cost per minute of video. A simple two-minute “who we are” video for a company website—one location, one person on camera, no elaborate production—could run about $2,600 (two producers quoted $2,000 for this job, one $3,000, one $3,500).

Use a professional for jobs that are the video equivalent of a corporate brochure. However, hiring a pro for smaller endeavours may not suit your budget. With the quality of today’s consumer equipment, it’s possible to shoot your own videos. You’ll still need support, and some video firms can train you on camera work, lighting, sound, framing, and editing. Bradshaw charges $3,000 to $4,000 for that service, which usually runs 4-to-5 days.

Good to know

According to research firm Visible Measures, 20% of people click away from a video within 10 seconds and 33% within 30. So dive right into the subject (see “Content DOs and DON’Ts”).

If you encode your video with Flash (like those found on YouTube), it can be embedded in any HTML web page. But if your video will be viewed primarily on Apple hardware (including mobile devices), use the HTML5 format.

Who can help

Video firms can shoot and produce your content, or provide training so you can do it yourself.

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.