The purpose of a corporate video is to sell a product, service or an idea.
Anyone can create a video today just like anyone can write an ad or design a brochure. Knowing how to craft a video that communicates an important message that resonates with your target audience – that’s what’s valuable and that’s what businesses should be paying for when they engage a video production company. Are you getting full value for your investment in corporate video?
A bad video is more than just a waste of time and money, it can have a negative effect on your brand. If you didn’t take the time, or spend the money, or you simply didn’t know the difference between good and bad video then you’re hurting your business. Even if the rest of your marketing activity is decent, the weakest link in your marketing is usually the one that causes customers to flee.
A decent video will be ignored by most and quickly forgotten. It may not necessarily cause you brand harm, but the time and money that went into creating the video will have been wasted.
Most businesses create average videos just like most business produce average products and services. The illusory superiority bias will have us believing that our corporate video is ‘pretty good’ just like we all deeply believe that we are smarter, better looking, and more generous that the average person.
Most corporate videos don’t stand out in any meaningful way. They are often derivative and they tend to look and feel like everything else out on the market. Average videos still get watched and some can even communicate important ideas but they are unlikely to move the dial to any significant degree.
Creating great looking videos is often the goal for video production companies. Why? Because ‘great looking’ is easier to identify than ‘results oriented’, and the truth is that many producers are more aesthetically inclined and are not necessarily driven by business outcomes. Some producers aspire to entertainment and do corporate work to pay the bills and many assume that a great looking video is an end, in and of itself. It isn’t.
Sure, your video should look great – but looking great is usually not the purpose of your corporate video. Great looking video can certainly help sell a product or service but only if the format and message resonate with the audience. In image-priority business sectors such as luxury goods or fashion, great looking videos are table stakes – that’s just where you start, not where you finish.
Many video production companies set out to create award winning videos. The problem is that most video awards have no connection to whether the video helped to sell a product or service. Some awards don’t even consider what message was actually communicated in the video. Often the chief criteria is the creative merit of the video – as chosen by a panel of creative people. Awards are great for the image and ego of the video production company but they are often meaningless to the business that is paying for the video to be produced. Awards might drive attention and traffic to a video but that traffic may or may not be your target audience.
The goal for your corporate video should be to sell your product, service or idea. The most effective videos are the ones that sell both ideas and products – like the ‘Will it Blend‘ series of videos or like the original “Dollar Shave Club‘ video. In both of these videos the execution of the video was top notch – they made you want to keep watching, but the real value was that they were actually selling the merits of the products they were promoting.
Depending where your customer is on the buying cycle the purpose of your video might just be awareness – which represents the purpose of 90% of television commercials: to sell an idea about your product (/service) so that the viewer connects on some emotional level with the commercial and forms an opinion about the brand because of the commercial. If the viewer doesn’t connect with the commercial or if the connection to the brand is tenuous then the ‘idea’ of that video is lost… and so is your investment.
While television commercials still command the largest budgets, the vast majority of corporate videos today are delivered on the web – on client websites or through a social media channel. The majority of these different types of business videos are targeted at customers further along the buying cycle who are either in ‘search’ or ‘decision making’ modes.
What about content marketing, how does that fit into the ‘selling first’ paradigm? Make no mistake, when you launch a content marketing initiative you are selling. You are selling the idea that your company is knowledgable about a specific topic and that you are willing and eager to share your knowledge and expertise. The better you are at selling that idea, the more value your brand has to customers and prospects.
So please, get creative, win awards, make beautiful and entertaining videos but don’t forget that if your video isn’t effectively selling a product service or an idea… you’re wasting your money.