How video saved a lifelong learning motorcycle program

Wed, Jun 18,2014 @ 11:30 AM
by Kathryn Will |

motorcycle resized 600A fresh idea, a helmet camera and some novice video editing skills were all it took for the Charleston, South Carolina-based Trident Technical College to change the fate of its motorcycle safety programs.

Last year when South Carolina changed the way motorcycle licenses were issued - eliminating a popular license waiver program that allowed Trident to give students a waiver to test at the DMV  -  the staff at Trident Technical College’s Continuing Education program had to quickly rethink the way they marketed motorcycle safety.

Deseret Scharett, Director of Business Development at Trident Technical College Division of Continuing Education, said the program, which had previously filled up all of its classes, saw a decrease in enrollments as soon as the waiver program ended. Scharett said classes were being canceled left and right, and at its lowest point, the program saw a 50 percent cancellation rate.

“We knew we had to take a whole different approach, we couldn’t use the waiver as a reason to get people in the door,” Scharett said. “So we had to get people to come because they wanted to learn.”

So, Scharett and Skip Evans, the site coordinator for Trident’s Motorcycle Safety Program, decided they’d focus on the safety skills the courses taught students and even play to the audience of loved ones and spouses of riders. They even began encouraging people to “sign up a loved one today.”

Evans came up with the idea to showcase the classes using videos that he shot and edited himself with a helmet camera he bought.

“Skip took the bull by the horns and his effort helps us diversify,” Scharett said. “It is really nice that an instructor realized his involvement was important in marketing.”

In all, Evans created about 30 videos, some of him and his students riding the different courses on campus, for the program to use on the website, Facebook and in other marketing efforts.

One the videos and a fresh Facebook ad campaign were launched in early 2014, things started to turn around right away, Evans and Scharett said.

“A lot of times students show up and have no idea what they are going to do,” Evans said. “(The videos) kind of operate like a movie trailer.”

WIth a $300 investment in the camera and about 30-minutes of editing per video,  Evans breathed new life into the motorcycle safety program and classes started filling up again. Trident, which offers about 750 open enrollment Continuing Education courses a year, catering to 7,400 students, spent about $400 on the Facebook ad campaign that linked to the videos and saw a return on investment of 57,000 views and 829 clicks.

“I am a true believer in what we do,” said Evans, who also teaches a children’s avian program during the summer at Trident. “It’s about saving lives, and anybody that I can encourage to come take training, that is more of a driver than increased revenue.”

Since the launch of the multi-platform campaign, Trident has not had to cancel a single motorcycle safety class, Scharett said.

Evans, a retired pilot who is in his ninth year of teaching at Trident, said he enjoyed getting involved beyond just presenting the classroom materials, and that getting involved in the marketing-side of the program has inspired him in the classroom, too.

Creating 30 videos, or even one video, may seem a bit overwhelming if a marketing department hasn’t done it before, but Evans said he had no experience at all before he picked up the camera.

“It was totally new to me but it was actually fairly easy,” he said. “Anybody could do it.”

Evans used a GoPro camera and video editing software he already had on his computer. But now, most smartphones are equipped with decent cameras, too, and there are a number of free and inexpensive video editing apps available.

To see an example of the videos Evans created, visit or see him on the news at

Get started with video marketing

12 tips to shoot great video using only a smartphone (or basic video camera)

1. Invest in a tripod. Pocket versions start at less than $10.

2. Make sure the camera is horizontal. Filming vertically leaves you with two black pillars on each side of the shot.

3. Decide on the point or goal of the video before you start shooting.

4. Do a quick test-run. Don’t miss a great moment by not being prepared.

5. If you’re doing an interview, try to find someplace quiet. You don’t want to finish shooting only to find out you can’t hear the person talking.

6. If you’re filing outside, do so on an overcast day. Smaller sensors are more sensitive to light and this can cause overexposure.

7. Move your subject to the left and avoid awkward framing.

8. Overshoot and cut later.

9. If filming inside, avoid lighting your subject from behind or directly in front. Better yet, turn the lights off and take advantage of the daylight if you can.

10. Get closer. Don’t start filming from too far away. You can zoom in during the filming process, but why make things harder than they need to be?

11. Figure out where the microphone is and keep your fingers off of it.

12. Avoid smudges and wipe the lens regularly with a microfiber cloth.

Great video editing apps

Very easy to use and allows you to insert music directly from iTunes

Free for iOS

Allows you to trim, add audio tracks and compress your video

Free or $3.98 for the Pro version, Android

HD quality video with a library of Hollywood-style movie trailer templates, style themes

$4.99 for iOS

Lots of features, including the ability to record narration

Free for iOS, $2.99 for Android

Built-in stabilization and easy social media posting

Free for iOS and Android



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