When Pat Pagano, co-owner of American Remodeling Systems, in Urbandale, Iowa, was planning his company's Web site, he was looking for a way to differentiate it from those of other area remodelers.

“A lot of sites are content-heavy and say the same things,” Pagano says. “We wanted something a bit different — something not only informative but also fun to look at.” To achieve this, he decided to feature professionally produced videos on the site.

These videos include client testimonials (see screenshot, above) that differ from most you find on TV or the Web. “We wanted them to look professional,” Pagano says, “but we didn't want them to look canned.” So rather than using brief sound bites of generic praise, the testimonials feature 2-to-4-minute clips of clients describing their experience. The result: candid, detailed accounts of projects and of interactions with American Remodeling Systems staff. “If [a client] seemed nervous or wasn't very camera-friendly, we didn't mind,” Pagano says. “We wanted to capture their honesty.”

According to the company's salespeople, the videos are a useful in-person sales tool as well. “When they show the videos on a sales call, it's a great way to build credibility with the client,” Pagano says. The videos, peppered with footage of the projects being described, sometimes take place in the remodeled rooms themselves, depending on the nature of the project.

Getting clients to agree to appear in the videos has not been too difficult, Pagano says. Often he will offer a discount to a client who agrees to describe his or her experience on-camera after project completion. “We just attribute those discounts to part of our marketing costs,” he says.

In addition to testimonials, the site features before-and-after transformation videos and the company's locally aired TV commercials.

“The transformations are great because sometimes it's difficult for clients to envision the finished product,” Pagano says. The videos put clients in that new kitchen or basement and make it tangible. And the commercials promote the company's professionalism and are informative at the same time.

For more on how remodelers are using video on the Web, see “ The Value of Video.”