From the October 2012 issue of Startups

Nothing beats video for selling products and ideas online. According to comScore, professionally produced online video increases consumer preference for a product by nearly 25 percent. The key words here are professionally produced. All too often companies post lackluster online videos with bad lighting, poor sound and monotonous delivery and then wonder why consumers run to higher-quality content. The reason is simple: Consumers connect better videos with better products.

The same goes for fundraising efforts on crowdfunding sites such as Kick-starter, WeFunder or Startup Addict. Early on, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler noted the connection between video and success. After the site had funded close to 1,000 projects, he discovered that those with videos were successful 54 percent of the time, while those without had a 39 percent success rate.

The good news is that it's not as hard to create top-notch videos for your website or promotional campaigns as you might think. With a small investment and some basic know-how, you can add a valuable tool to your sales arsenal that captures an audience and convinces them to either buy into your company or to purchase your products. Here's what you'll need. 

Related: Tips for Creating Business Videos That Customers Will Watch

Best Camera and Lens

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Image credit: Image courtesy of Canon

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II ($2,199) is an SLR camera that has become the benchmark for shooting high-quality full-HD video on the go. Pair it with a zoom lens from Canon's L series or rent a Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 lens from BorrowLenses.com ($105 for three days).

Best Memory Card

Store those memory-sucking HD video files on a 32 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash memory card ($155 on Amazon). What you're paying for here is memory and much faster download speeds than you'd get with less expensive flash cards.

Best Lighting Setups

K71 3-Light Soft Box Kit from Smith-Victor

Image credit: Image courtesy of Smith-Victor

Smith-Victor's K71 3-Light Soft Box Kit ($1,530, pictured) is the secret sauce to video with a pro-quality look. This kit comes with an essential hair light and the boom to hold it.

If you want something portable, outfit yourself with ikan's Standard Interview Kit ($2,199), which comes with four LED lights with collapsible stands and rechargeable battery packs. The whole kit packs into a utility bag that comes with the set.

 

Teleprompter

Prompter People's Flex Series iPad Teleprompter

Image credit: Image courtesy of Prompter People

Unless you're a world-class speaker, don't wing it. Polish a script and put it on an iPad, which can be used as a professional-grade teleprompter when attached to a Prompter People's Flex Series iPad Teleprompter ($899) and the company's iCue app.

Best Wireless Microphone

Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series Wireless Lavalier Mic

Image credit: Image courtesy of Sennheiser

Don't mess around with sound; go for crystal-clear audio and easy setup with the king of wireless microphones, the Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series Wireless Lavalier Mic ($630).

Best Tripod

ManfrottoMVT502AM tripod

Image credit: Image courtesy of Manfrotto

The ManfrottoMVT502AM tripod with a 701HDV Pro Fluid Video Mini Head ($350 for the set) is lightweight (just over 4 pounds) and solid as a rock. The 701HDV head makes precise adjustments incredibly easy to execute.

Pro Tips

  • Use a zoom lens and position the teleprompter 10 to 12 feet away from you. If it's too close, viewers will see your eyes moving side to side as you read.
     
  • Keep your backdrop simple, or pick a memorable yet visually calm location.
     
  • For editing, Apple's iMovie does the job. Don't have a Mac? Find someone who does and borrow it. Seriously -- it's the only way to go.