The time of the online business video has come. I’m not talking about those videos on YouTube showing guys in white coats shoving Mentos tablets into bottles of Diet Coke with pyrotechnical results, or one I saw yesterday of a cute bunny chewing the end off of an envelope, acting as a live letter opener.

No, as fun and amusing as those videos are, I’m talking about videos that businesses get produced for them, that explain what the business does or show their products or services and sell them. These are usually 5-10 minute videos, placed in strategic places on the company’s web site and uploaded to online video sharing sites.

Why are videos so important for business web sites at this time? Several reasons. One is your web visitor’s short attention span. Think of the way YOU browse when you’re looking for a specific product or service. You look up something on a search engine, then visit a couple sites. But when you arrive at one of the sites, you only give that site a short time to convince you that they have what you want or explain what they do.

Well the visitor to your web site is the same way. He will only stay at your site a very short time before he either decides you have what he wants, or he leaves and goes to one of your competitors. That time is usually measured in seconds.

If you can engage his attention in a fast, high-impact, compelling, visual way, with a well-produced business video, then you’re way ahead of the pack.

Second, videos and multimedia are part and parcel of the new Web 2.0, i.e. the new way that business is conducted on the web. Today, static text content, PLUS images, video, audio clips, animations and blogs give a true multimedia experience for the visitor.

Third, your web visitor has been raised on TV and movies. While we could debate whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, he will find it easier to sit and watch your video than to read the same content in text on your web site. Research shows that people prefer to watch a video over reading about your company.

And finally, if there are several web sites that a consumer is considering, and yours has a video and the others do not, chances are that your company will get the business.

It’s important to place your video prominently on the site. Don’t hide it way inside the site. The video is like an introduction, so it has to go near the beginning of the whole browsing cycle.

Once you have a video production, it’s also important to put it up on video sharing sites, such as YouTube, Google Video, and others. That way people will find your video on the video sharing site and then come to your web site. Most of these sharing sites do not allow you to display a hotlinked URL for your site on the video page, so it is smart to show your phone number and URL for 15-30 seconds at the end of the video.