By Gord Woodward
MANY CANADIAN small-business owners
carry their most indispensable marketing tool
in their pockets.
It’s the video camera on their smartphone.
Small and easy to operate, it’s helping entrepreneurs to build their brands, and their bank
accounts, by creating their own channels on
You Tube. The videos they make, and post free
online, can cement relationships with new
and existing customers and result in hefty
sales and advertising revenue.
“It drives the business,” says Alex Ikonn,
co-founder of Luxy Hair, a Toronto-based
e-commerce retailer of hair extensions and one
of the country’s most successful You Tube businesses. “The library of videos that we created
acts like brand spokespeople that are working
24/7, 365 days a year, all around the world.”
The library consists of tutorials about all
things hair, from using extensions to creating
current styles. And it has helped drive sales
into seven figures for the firm, which has
relied heavily on its You Tube channel for
marketing since its 2010 launch. After only
three months of operation Luxy Hair was
profitable, and it soon became one of the fast-est-growing beauty brands on the Web. Its
channel has more than 263 million views and
2. 27 million subscribers.
The Camera Store, in Calgary, has also
earned a measurable return from its channel,
Peter Jeune. “We have increased foot traffic
and our market share over the last few years.”
It’s a similar story for Pancake Manor, a
Victoria, British Columbia–based producer
of children’s music videos that has drawn 75
million views. “You Tube is where our busi-
ness has come alive,” says co-founder Billy
Reid. His channel promotes CDs, DVDs and
T-shirts featuring his songs and puppets. And
the audience response translates into a full-
time living from Pancake Manor.
Like many businesses, all three You Tube
entrepreneurs count on product sales to make
the cash register ring. Unlike businesses that
don’t use You Tube, they also generate signifi-
cant income from advertising on and around
their videos. You Tube sells the ads and splits
the proceeds, with creators getting 55 per cent.
A million views a month can, by some
estimates, rake in $2,000.
Sound like easy money? It isn’t. After all,
some 300 hours of video are uploaded to
YouTube every minute, so even getting
noticed can be a problem.
But small-business owners can succeed if
they follow a few basic steps—and they don’t
need a lot of video production skill or money
to do it. Creating a free You Tube channel
takes only a few minutes online.
Before you start, ditch the natural entrepreneurial tendency to sell, sell, sell. Viewers
aren’t there to watch commercials.
“We’re trying to do a little more of a service
to the community,” says The Camera Store’s
The time commitment could be well
worth it, if you hit it big by having a video go
viral. The Camera Store channel really took
off when its “Battle at F-Stop Ridge,” showing
employees on a battlefield armed with camera
gear, generated 1. 4 million hits in three weeks.
That kind of attention is highly unusual.
But it illustrates the marketing clout of video—
clout that sits in your pocket, on a smartphone.
“Video can be a very powerful tool for
businesses of any size,” says Jennifer Kaiser of
Google Canada, which owns You Tube. She
“YouTube is where our business has come alive.
Entrepreneurs find audiences of millions
with videos on YouTube
store now stop to look around,” says Jeune.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 18
In our digital editions
Click here to watch the introductory video for The Camera Store’s
You Tube channel. (See page 7