Ever since the 1903 release of “The Great Train Robbery,” our culture has understood the storytelling power of a movie. A few decades later, we discovered that the combination of sight and sound creates a multilayered tool that is perfect for sharing information, touching an emotion or creating a lasting impression.

Back in the good old days, video shoots were always elaborate events, costing tens of thousands of dollars and requiring a great deal of time and resource. Today, all of that has changed. Don’t get me wrong. There are still plenty of times when a high-quality, long-form video or TV spot is the right solution for your marketing challenge. When that’s the case, don’t make the mistake of thinking you should do it on the cheap. Make the investment to do it well and it will pay huge dividends.

But there are also times, thanks to tools like YouTube, Facebook, Vine and even your own website, where something a little more simple and less “produced” is actually more appropriate. That doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t use professionals; it just means a different kind of production timeline, cost and final product.

Not only is video a potent tool for storytelling, it’s also a vital element in your search engine ranking and how easy you are to find online. Google, Bing and Yahoo all give video content a little extra boost in the search results because the format is so content rich and the traffic on videos is so high. On top of that, Google gives YouTube videos preferential treatment because Google Inc. owns YouTube, giving it extra motivation for wanting to drive traffic to videos on that site.

All in all, there are lots of reasons from both a messaging and search engine optimization perspective to use video. But that doesn’t mean just any video. The truth is, most videos produced today are self-centered and boring. You still have to remember your audience, and if anything, the expectations are higher when it comes to multimedia. Fortunately, there is a wide spectrum between a painfully boring video and a viral video that gets 5 million hits.

I know that everyone covets creating the next Mentos or “Call Me Maybe” video craze. But the reality is, you’re making these videos to attract and educate prospects, reinforce your customers’ buying decisions and generate more online traffic. What would you do if a million people suddenly filled out your “Contact Us” form?

The truth is you want to attract the right people, not a ton of people.

How could you use video? Here’s a starter list but it really is just a start. Let your creative juices flow, and you’ll be able to double this list in no time.

• Customer testimonials.

• Employee testimonials.

• Demonstrations of your products.

• Education about your expertise.

• Your team answering some of the most frequent questions.

• Quarterly message from CEO (could be for your internal team or customers).

• Tutorials (could be training for your team or for your customers).

• A behind-the-scene look at how your team works.

• A site visit.

Say it with me: “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”