How to design the perfect celebrity endorsement video.

This video has a style and elegance that is rare in most promotional videos.

Do celebrity endorsement videos really help your brand? Are celebrity endorsements worth the money?

Yes and yes… but the devil is in the details.

There’s no denying the transitive power of a celebrity endorsement. We live in a celebrity culture. How else do you explain the obsessive attention lavished on celebrities in social media or the ludicrous prices on offer at auctions of celebrity flotsam and jetsam.

I suppose we’re just socially programmed to like / crave / envy / desire / revere / need / stalk / love those in our society endowed with what we perceive as special gifts.

Google “are celebrity endorsements effective?” and you’ll discover a mine field of warnings and caveats about the risks of celebrity endorsement and the questionable return on such a superficial investment.

So how then do you explain Nike’s yearly expenditure of upwards of half a billion dollars on celebrity athletes or Pepsi’s ongoing investment in celebrity pop musicians? Surely those businesses (and their accountants) must find ongoing value in these endorsements.

Which brings me to the this Johnnie Walker promotional video that landed a few years back.  This promo could be used as a case study in how to design the prototypical endorsement video. In fact, I’ll build the argument for you:

 

How to build the perfect Celebrity Endorsement Video

 

1. Chose the celebrity that best suits your brand… that you can afford. Don’t start your project with a concept because the right celebrity is often ‘bigger’ than any concept. The idea should be ‘informed’ or, at the least, ‘inspired’ by the celebrity – that’s the power and value a celebrity can bring.

If you’re a local brand then you can likely only afford local talent and the risks of choosing the wrong person is low. If you are a national or international brand then the stakes are much higher and the risk in choosing the right celebrity can be significant.

Sure, if you can wrangle George Clooney – super, he’d add luster to just about any product imaginable. He’s the archetype of ‘cool’. Anything he’s associated with will glow and hum – metaphorically speaking. But allt A-listers are not created equal and even the highest profile celebrities can end up missing the mark. Check out Brad Pit’s $7 Million endorsement for Channel or Scarlett Johnasson’s SodaStream Super Bowl ad.

 In this video. Johnnie Walker is the most widely distributed blended scotch whiskey in the world so there’s a great deal riding on who is chosen to represent this iconic brand. The choice of Giancarlo Giannini and Jude Law in this promo is inspired. Giannini is one of Italy’s national treasures and Jude Law is perfect as both foil and partner to Giannini’s old world charm.

Johnnie Walker chose very well. Both actors personify ‘sophisticated cool ‘in this ad. I’d give the casting a 10 / 10 here.

 

2. Build a story that people will want to watch. Once you’ve chosen your celebrity you then have to build a story around them – an adventure that suits their persona. I wrote previously about a promo Kahlua developed using Jeff Bridges -another A-list actor and another international alcohol brand.

Jeff Bridges reprised his iconic ‘dude’ role from ‘The Big Lebowski’ to promote one of the world’s great party drinks. In this promo a story was built around the shenanigans you might expect ‘The dude’ to get into.

Now that you have perfectly cast your actor – build a narrative around your hero that suits their character. If your doesn’t jump off the page and make you want to see the finished video, keep writing.

In this video. The title of the promo is ‘A gentleman’s wager’- which nicely summarizes the basic storyline.  The ‘bet’ is the set-up and the terms of the bet (a dance number) definitely piques your interest. How on earth is this going to play out?

It’s a very engaging video – a slow build that keeps things moving. You’re always left wanting to see what comes next. You can’t say that about most promotional videos.

The story also suits the positioning of the product. A couple of bored rich guys sipping scotch on a yacht in the Mediterranean – that’s certainly how I picture myself when I sip on my Johnnie Walker (Red). I’d give the story a 9/10 (The dance sequence was great, but I would have preferred a ‘con’ or even a car chase…) { Update: see Post Script at bottom.)

 

3. Execute really, really well.  Ya, I know… this goes without saying right? There are two ways to do this. The first is hoping that a divine combination of luck and talent coalesce in the equivalent of a ‘hit’ video (like the Will-it-Blend series or Dollar Shave Club) and the second is to hire the best talent money can buy.

Execution is never easy. You need to hire the best talent you can afford – director, actors, crew… etc. and hope that everyone involved in your video production is motivated. Given that acquiring the right talent and developing a great story are also very difficult, it’s easy to see why most branded entertainment and celebrity endorsement videos are just not that good.

In this video. Johnnie Walker hired top tier talent to execute this video. The video was directed by Jake Scott (Ridley Scott’s son) and was shot by John Mathieson who has worked as D.O.P. on movies such as Gladiator, August Rush and Robin Hood.

Production design was done by Joseph Bennett who was responsible for the look of HBO’s “Rome.” The music is really well done… and on it goes… They brought the ‘A’ team to this gig and the production team delivered.

The video has a style and elegance that is rare in most promotional videos and Law and Giannini both deliver uber-cool performances.  I’d give the execution a 10 / 10 here as well.

So there you have it.

If you’re looking for the formula to develop the perfect celebrity endorsement video it’s all rather quite simple: Find the perfect actor that best represents your brand, build a great story around that character and hire a world-class production team to deliver your video.

Good luck with that.

 

Post Script:

The good folks at Johnnie Walker commissioned a follow up video appropriately entitled: A Gentleman’s Wager II.  Running at just over 11 minutes this new video illustrates just how difficult it is to recreate the glory of a great idea, well executed.

 

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Last Video Project Failed (…and ten solutions to those problems)

You finally succeeded in convincing your management team to green-light your video project. It’s now one month post-launch and the painful truth has set in – your video was a bomb. Nobody watched it, the video never achieved what you hoped it might and now you’re stuck explaining what went wrong.

Here are ten reasons why marketing video projects fail:

 

1. YOUR VIDEO DOESN’T RESONATE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE.

The best promotional videos work on a visceral level. When executed well make you think, even better – they make you feel something. If your video is dull (i.e. a basic talking head delivery) or if you don’t use video effectively (show me, don’t tell me!) then you will quickly lose your audience. Facts and figures inform, but a good story can engage and persuade an audience.

While it may be interesting to note that your lubricant is 27% more viscous than that of your competitor, it may be more compelling to showcase the fact that your product is the one your local fire department depends on.

Translating the key benefits that you’re trying to illustrate into simple ideas and then building those ideas into a compelling visual story is part of the important work that needs to get done before a film crew shows up to start shooting. This is the hardest part of video development to get right.

How do you develop videos that resonate with an audience?

    • Start by telling a really good story. Your story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It should demonstrably overcome an important problem and you and your product should be the hero that saves the day. Everyone loves a ripping yarn!

    • Include an emotional hook. Your video should clearly illustrate how your product or service solves a specific customer problem and it should do so in an engaging fashion. There is always a personal or emotional hook that can help you deliver your message – you just need to determine what that hook is.

    • Determine what matters to existing and potential customers and make sure you include this information in your video.

    • Do a little soul searching to determine ‘why’ your business exists and look for customers who care about the same things you do. (Watch this Simon Sinek video to understand how answering the question of ‘why’ can be a very powerful way to reach an audience.)

    • Do your research. Use techniques from other marketing videos that you have seen. Watch business videos from other industries and employ some of the techniques they employ to connect with the viewer. All creative endeavours are derivative.

     

    2. NO CLEAR MESSAGE.

    “ABC Consulting is a world leader in the provisioning of leading-edge solutions and robust, mission critical systems for its global clients.”

    Uh-huh.

    Even if you have a well defined audience, a specific problem to solve and you’ve identified obvious customer benefits that your product or service delivers, you still need to communicate, in a clear and convincing manner, what it is you do and for whom. The viewer has to easily relate to your message and you should be able to understand exactly what it is you do, why you do it and how you solve their specific problem.

    Ways to avoid common messaging mistakes:

    • The video shouldn’t be about you. No one cares about you, they only care about how you can solve their problem.

    • Avoid B2N (Business to No one) If your message is so general that it applies to everyone it likely won’t resonate with anyone. Be specific. Pick one audience and deliver a single, powerful and concise message tailored to the specific needs of your audience. Don’t try to ‘save money’ by building a single video that explains how you solve multiple problems for multiple audiences.

    • Stop ‘jargon-loading.’ Seriously –  stop doing this. If you “utilize leading-edge best practices to incentivize and leverage your best-of-breed base through groundbreaking, synergistic and outside-the-box thinking” then you’re just another blow-hard business with no clue about how to communicate any real value.

    • Be succinct. “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter but I didn’t have time to write a short one”. {Mark Twain.} It’s very difficult to be succinct. Being concise seems risky. Script-by-committee is death to most video projects. In video, shorter is (almost) always better.

    • Start with the storyboard. That’s where the messaging is finalized. That’s where the approach and actions in the video are finalized. No amount of clever filming, funky editing or cool creative is going to fix bad messaging. (..although you may still win an award!)

     

    3. POORLY DEFINED OBJECTIVES.

    Why are you making this video? What’s the business objective? What specific problem are you solving? (‘Updating the website’ isn’t an objective, it’s an activity.) Who is the specific audience for this video? How is the video being delivered and promoted?

    How to define your business objectives:

    Can you easily fill in the following blanks?:

    This video will help ___{this audience}____ understand that our product or service solves ___{this problem}___ and provides ____ {these benefits)____ . We will measure the success of this video by ___{this rating mechanism}____.

    If you can’t clearly and succinctly fill in the first three blanks chances are your video will fail to achieve any measurable results. If you can’t fill in the last blank you’ll never know what was achieved.

 

4. YOU STARTED WITH CREATIVE.

  • “Our VP of Marketing has this really cool idea he wants to try,”

  • “I just watched this amazing video that used ‘man-in-the-street’ interviews to position the company… we should try that,”

  • “I saw the coolest animated video thingy…,” etc.

Just like graphic design is one of the last steps in the development of a website (too often it is first), ‘creative’ should be the last step in the development of your script and storyboard. Creativity should never be the ‘tail wagging the dog’.

Sure, if you have a budget to create a whack of branded entertainment, that’s a different story – but for most corporate video projects, branded entertainment is not the goal.

How to avoid starting your video project with creative:

Start your video project with a clearly defined business objective and end it by measuring whether you achieved this objective.

 

5. LOOSE, OR NO PROCESSES AT ALL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE VIDEO.

The most important part of the video production process is pre-production. Chances are that if you are either surprised or disappointed by the results of your video it’s because your planning process was either flawed or non-existent.

The purpose of the storyboard is to show everyone involved exactly what is being said and what visuals are being utilized to support those messages. You should have an excellent idea of what’s going to be in your video from reading a storyboard. Some clients will claim they are ‘visual thinkers’ and really need to see the edited video to formulate an opinion. If this is the case then you’re likely doomed to failure.

The storyboard tells you exactly what is being said and exactly what is being shown in the video. It’s up to the director and cameraman to ensure that those tasks are done in an appropriate style, but no production crew can save a bad script or storyboard.

How to ensure you start shooting properly:

  • Always create a storyboard even if it’s a simple video.

  • Always create a shot-list before your shoot that tells you exactly what shots you need, with whom and when.

  • You need to be collaborating on the storyboard and script process with the video production company. Unless your video production company has intimate knowledge of your business and the market you serve, they shouldn’t be the ones telling you what to say.

  • Share the storyboard with everyone who should see it. Asking people who should have provided input (but didn’t) for their opinion after the video is completed will likely end in tears.

 

6. BUDGET ISN’T LARGE ENOUGH.

  • “We took a couple thousand out of our cleaning budget to do this video.”

  • “Yep, that’s all we’ve got, but we still want it to look like Avatar.”

  • “My cousin Eddy said it would only cost him $500 to make the same video.”

The cost of video production has decreased dramatically over the last ten years. That said, there is little point in developing a video if you haven’t allocated a reasonable budget for the project.

Pro tip: Communicate your budget with your video production company. What’s the point in making them guess? If they guess too high, or too low, they’ll likely present on option that doesn’t fit your needs.

How to budget a video:

  • Take a look at this video production cost calculator to get an idea as to what different levels of video production should cost. Then, find a video similar to what you are thinking and talk to a few production companies about the cost of making that type of video.

 

7. YOUR VIDEO DOESN’T SUPPORT YOUR BRAND.

Too often, videos are created in isolation. Video should never be a stand-alone endeavour. Your brand is the sum total of all of the experiences people have with your company – that includes video.

Your video needs to support and complement the tone and key messages that you want associated with your brand. (Warning: Wacky viral videos often do more harm than good.)

Video production is not an isolated activity. Your video production company has to understand how you market your business and has to be willing and able to engage with your marketing department and /or the marketing agency that is helping to guide your brand.

How to ensure your video complements and supports your brand:

  • Whoever is doing your video should work with your marketing folks to ensure that they have a clear understanding of your brand – what you stand for, what value you bring to the marketplace and how you want people to feel about your company.

  • It’s incumbent on you to ensure that the video production understands your business. Show them who you are, and what you stand for and show them examples of videos you like, videos that reflect values and styles that are consistent with your brand. (Either yours or someone else’s.)

  • video production brief is a great way to start your project.

 

8. YOU USED THE WRONG TYPE OF VIDEO.

There are many different styles, structures and types of corporate video.  A thirty second pre-roll promotion video is probably too long and a one minute recruitment video is likely too short.

Hiring actors to speak to a technical audience isn’t a good idea. Putting your President on camera may (or may not be) a good idea. A talking head is often a waste of time. A detailed technical video won’t resonate with people in the awareness phase of the sales cycle but can work very well for people in the consideration phase.

What type of video you develop and what structure you use for the video is just as important as what messages you choose to employ.

How to determine the best type of video to use for your marketing promotion:

Do your research. Here are 51 different types of video you can develop to promote your business.

 

9. NO CALL TO ACTION.

What do you want people to do after they have watched your video? If you don’t know, your viewer won’t either.

Add a call to action in your video.

 

10. NO DISTRIBUTION, SEO OR PROMOTION PLAN.

Did anyone actually watch your video? Even if your video is amazing, if no one sees it you’ve wasted your money. Making a great video is just the first step.

How should I promote my video:

  • Are you optimizing a webpage or specific landing page on your website with targeted keywords to help promote the video?

  • Are you promoting the video on Facebook, on Youtube, on industry portals or other related sites where you intended audience might be lurking?

  • Have you developed an email campaign to promote the video to key audiences?

  • Do you have a process to move prospective viewers through your sales cycle once they have viewed the video?

  • Have you tested the video before widely launching it to make sure it accomplishes what you want it to?

  • Do you have any budget for changes or do you assume that you’ll get it exactly right the first time through?

  • Do you have a social media campaign, a PR campaign or some other promotional activity to build interest and awareness for the video?

  • Do you have a plan in place to measure any of the above?

The video production piece (shooting and editing) represents about one third of the total value in the video development process. Planning (building the right messages for your audience) and promotion (making sure the video is seen) are equally important.

—–

Note: This post is also found in the Top Ten Posts for this blog.

51 ways to use web video to help your business grow

As bandwidth increases and video production costs continue to decrease businesses are beginning to adopt video as a primary method of communicating with their customers and prospects. In-house or outsourced, video is quickly becoming a marketer’s media tool of choice for two reasons: video is engaging and, more importantly, video is persuasive. So if you are thinking about using video advertisement but would like some help then you might be interested in checking out this YouTube advertising agency. Here are some of the ways that businesses are using video to help improve their bottom line:

Customer Reference Videos

1. Customer Testimonials (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
The idea of having excellent customer service should be apparent within any business. Every employee should know what the customer service definition is. That’s how high companies hold this. It helps to support your customers, as well as the business. Nothing is more compelling than seeing and hearing your customer (ideally in their own environment) extol the virtues of your products and services or explaining how your company helped them to achieve their business goals. These videos usually run from fifteen second snippets to a minute and are typically combined with or used to support other marketing material.

2. Success Stories (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Similar to a customer testimonial these videos run between one and two minutes and follow an interview format where the person on screen answers questions posed by an interviewer just off-camera. These videos are usually delivered as stand-alone marketing support materials and are often grouped with other customer success stories.

3. Video Case Study (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
A video case study combines customer testimonials with more a more in-depth explanation of how your company’s products and services helped your customer be successful. These case studies usually incorporate two voices – a narrator and the voice of your customer and can run anywhere from two to five minutes. The video structure follows the same “Problem, Solution, Benefit” format found in a printed case study and usually include b-roll or other supporting text and video.

vpcc-blog-ad

4. Man-in-the-street Interviews (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
These videos are typically done to promote events and to build buzz around coming events but can also be employed to capture ‘spontaneous’ responses to targeted questions that help promote your product or service or to help differentiate the benefits of your brand compared to the real or imagined problems associated with your competitors. Consumer focused companies such as soft drink manufacturers, phone companies and fast food companies often use this video format in advertising but you are starting to see this type of video appear as a stand-alone promotion on business websites or YouTube business channels. Sometimes these videos are genuine. Sometimes they are completely staged. ‘Authenticity’ is, in some sense, becoming a style…

5. Customer Presentations. (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
If one of your customers is presenting at a conference, trade show or event or even in your offices and is talking about your products or services either directly with you or indirectly as part of a larger discussion this may be a perfect opportunity to capture the presentation of video (with permission, of course) to re-purpose on your website and intranet.

Product and Service Promotion

6. Product Presentations (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Product (or service) presentation videos are typically employed early in the buying cycle. Product or service presentations focus on benefits and talk from your customer’s perspective. They should speak clearly to how your product solves a specific business, personal or economic problem that your prospect is experiencing. They are used to help your customers and prospects differentiate between the benefits of your products and services to those of your competitors.

7. Product Demonstrations (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Product demos show how your product works and highlight the features that differentiate it from that of your competitors. Software screen captures, a 3D cut-away, or a high impact demo by a presenter are all excellent ways of showing how your product or service works. These videos are typically used to influence a prospect who is relatively far along in the sales cycle. In technology marketing these videos would be targeted at the technical approvers who need to understand how something works. In consumer marketing these would be targeted at the economic buyers of larger ticket items who may be further along the sales process.

8. Product Reviews (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
The best product reviews are trusted third party reviews. Video reviews can be found anywhere from YouTube to various business portals. To the extent they are positive and promote your brand, they should be referenced. You can also partner with trusted third parties to create product reviews for your own products.

9. Visual Stories (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Quickly rising in popularity, visual stories employ illustrations, animations and motion graphics with a voice-over to explain complex products or services in a simple and compelling manner. These are sometime referred to as ‘explainers’ and are usually between one and three minutes in length. A new version of this tool, used primarily for entertainment, are websites that offer predefined characters and backgrounds that you can both animate and add an automated voice to (sort of like building your own Second Life commercials). You will begin to see many new hosted services offering customizable cloud-based animation modeling options – some good and some quite awful.

Corporate Video

10. Corporate Overview (Popularity: High | Growth Potential: moderate)
These videos are the video equivalent of the ‘company brochure’ for small companies – intended to give new visitors to a website a better idea of the company. Corporate overview videos typically company history, key products, executives/owners and other top level business info. As the cost of video production continues to decrease and the popularity of video increases you will start to see these videos being replaced by multiple, more targeted video.

11. Executive Presentations (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Whether you are preparing for a quarterly update, responding to a major event in your industry or making a regularly scheduled presentation there is great value in presenting the “face” and “voice” of your leadership team to all of your constituents.

12. Staff Presentations (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Social media and other Web 2.0 trends have caused companies to reconsider how they communicate with external audiences. Your senior leadership team should not be the first and only consideration to represent your company. It is becoming more imperative to consider showcasing the people that drive the day-to-day operations of your company. Customer service representatives, technical experts and legacy workers are all valuable considerations for this new category of corporate video. Surveys show that there is more trust associated with these employees than with senior management. When you are selling to influencers in organizations (versus economic buyers or decision makers) it is especially important you represent your company with people that your customers and prospects can relate to.

13. Corporate facilities or equipment tour (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
Ten years ago corporate facility videos and equipment tours were popular. Down-sizing, off-shoring, outsourcing, a couple of recessions and a hollowing out of North America’s manufacturing base has change the priorities placed on these videos. Uniqueness is key to success here. That said, it’s really not about you and your stuff any more – it’s about how you can solve your customers problems.

14. Annual Report / Review (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
Public companies are legally obliged to create annual and quarterly reviews. As well, larger privately held companies also create their own quarterly and annual reviews. As print continues to fall out of favor video will either supplement or replace these materials.

15. Video Signature and Video Introduction (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are just starting to enter into the corporate culture even though they have been part of the social culture for years. Other social sites like web-based dating services are now commonplace. Video is becoming a key component in how you ‘sell’ yourself, in your private life… and in business. A video signature is a video (either embedded or direct link to video) that is in the signature portion of your email. Introductory videos serve the same purpose – to give people who don’t know you a better idea about who your are.

Training

16. Training (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Corporate video first gained prominence with training (service, support, sales, personal development etc.) and continues to be one of the best uses of video. Online Video is a cost effective substitute for in-class training. You can also easily integrate video into online training management tools.

17. Overnight expert videos (Sales Support) (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
If you serve a large geographic area or sell through channels then it is well worth the effort to put together short ‘overnight expert’ sales support videos that highlight the key selling points, features, benefits, objection handling and follow-up issues to consider by your direct or channel sales force.

18. Just-in-time learning (‘How-to’ Videos) (Popularity:Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Contextual training videos are becoming very popular on the web. ‘How-to’ videos, video manuals, on-site video reference, quick assembly demos, and other types of video are being used to supplement or replace traditional training. Mobile video will increase the popularity of this type of video.

Customer Support

19. Post sale support and maintenance videos (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
No one reads manuals. You can save thousands of dollars of post sale support by creating informative assembly, installation and maintenance videos for your products and services.

20. Website FAQ Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
In certain formats video can be a suitable replacement for text where an authoritative voice, support materials or other visual references are required. A list of FAQ’s answered by a company expert is an example.

21. Live, two-way video (i.e. Apple’s FaceTime or Skype)
I believe an interesting application for mobile computing and video is going to evolve around the ability to incorporate live and recorded video into the customer support process. Imagine being able to show someone the problem you are having with their product rather than trying to describe it or send them a photo. Showing someone the problem is just the beginning. Getting a step-by-step video response with someone talking you through the solution – live… that’s the holy grail of customer support. Most companies will dismiss this as too expensive. Other companies, like Apple, will integrate these types of services into their entire brand experience.

Internal Communications

22. Internal Communications (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
In larger companies few people have the time or interest to understand what other groups or functions within the company do or even why they exist. Internal videos that highlight business plans, new business activities and achievements can improve knowledge transfer and lead to more effective communications. They are also a great way to show off your local heroes. These videos can be either live or recorded and are typically used in larger more geographically dispersed companies. As employees continue to work from home these videos will become more important.

23. Event/Conference and Trade Show Communications. (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
Most companies spend a disproportionate amount of their marketing budget on attending and participating in a variety of industry events and yet only a very small percentage of employees ever benefit from these activities. Share the knowledge gained at these events by capturing the presentations, demos, interviews, commentaries etc. on video.

24. Employee orientation (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Once your new recruits are on board employee orientation videos are a great way to get new staff up to speed. Company history, structure, procedures, policies and codes of behavior can all be communicated effectively with video.

25. Health, Legal & Safety (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
The cost of dealing with health and safety related issues within organizations continues to grow. Video is one of the most effective means of minimizing these costs.

Advertising , Marketing and Promotion

26. Commercials (Popularity: High | Growth Potential: High)
While advertisers are becoming more selective in how they chose to spend their promotional dollars with broadcast television, other venues for commercials such as online video pre-roll, online sponsorships, in-game advertising, event sponsorships and in-theatre advertising are starting to take the place of broadcast / cable commercials. A proliferation of video screens cropping up on every building, device and structure will create an even more diverse set of advertising opportunities. The challenge will be to create specialized content targeted to ever- shrinking niche audiences.

27. Viral Video (Popularity: High | Growth Potential: High)
A video is viral if it is so compelling that people want to share it. (Calling a video ‘Viral’ doesn’t make it so). Viral videos have to be extremely engaging, entertaining, shocking or meaningful to be successful. Unfortunately some of the most successful viral videos have little connection (and therefore value) to any brand. Everyone references ‘Will it Blend’ but very few viral videos are remotely this successful in actually driving sales. Viral video is very difficult to do well.

28. Email Video (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Testing has shown that open rates can double if you include video in your email marketing activities. To be effective the video should be purpose-built to elicit a specific conversion activity such as requesting a demo, more info, etc. E-mail is seeing a resurgence with marketers and embedded video in emails (like gmail supports) or links to video in email is becoming very popular.

29. Infomercials (Popularity: High | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Infomercials have been around forever. While they continue to be the primary focus of web-based parody videos they have remained remarkably resilient over time. The shopping channel is, in effect, a 24 hour infomercial. If done well, Infomercials can be very effective at selling certain consumer products.

30. Content Marketing (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Huge)
This is a broad category that will become very important over the next months and years. Much of the content (video or otherwise) being created today by companies is focused on selling and focused on the brand. Focusing on solving your customers problems first and then associating your brand with those solutions will be increasingly more important and effective. (i.e. Home Depot has developed branded ‘how-to’ series that sits on their website and shows their customers how-to fix various things around the house. ) What knowledge do you have that can help your customers and prospects. People don’t go to your website to see your sales pitch. They go to see if you can solve their problem.

31. Landing pages and micro sites (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential: High)
Video is beginning to replace or supplement text and graphics as a content element on many corporate websites. Landing pages can offer a more compelling call to action with video. Some micro sites on larger web properties are self contained, purpose-built conversion machines that have the singular purpose of generating a conversion activity (sign-up for more info, attend event, order something etc.). Video is becoming an important part of the conversion process.

32. Interactive Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: High)
The promise of interactive video has been around for years but we’re just starting to see companies build in interactivity into their videos. You can build in calls to action, form fields, multiple scenarios and any number of engaging content that get people to not just passively watch your video but actually gets them to start to interact with your video. Technology will play a huge role in interactive video over the next few years. You can already see the foundations of this with YouTube allowing you to add annotations and links to videos.

33. Branded Entertainment and Sponsored Video (Popularity:Moderate | Growth Potential:Moderate)
Viral Video in many ways is just branded entertainment. There are many ways companies can benefit from having their names attached to content. In the ’50 the ‘soaps’ were a great way for P&G and other consumer companies to promote their brand. Everyday there is a new format for sponsored video being created for delivery on the web. Many will fail but some will become hugely popular. Associating your brand with the right entertainment and informational content on the web is a very interesting opportunity.

PR Support and Community Relations

34. Video Press Releases (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: High)
The standard four paragraph press release is now being supplemented with video and rich media to tell a more engaging story. Video is now being purpose-built to directly support the important company announcements. The new challenge for press releases is to change the focus from the company to the customer.

35. PR Support Materials (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)

Make it easy for networks, bloggers, news gathers and others to promote your business and also to talk about your industry. Smart companies are developing video support catalogs of company and industry related materials (b-roll, industry footage, sound bites etc) and offering them to news and business portals. The demand for video is everywhere. If a news agency (online or broadcast) is looking for stock footage to use in a story it might as well be yours. (assuming the story is positive, of course)

36. Community Relations Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
If your company is out working in the community, being good corporate citizens, helping the environment or contributing to important causes you should be capturing those efforts on video. Show the world what you are doing, don’t just talk about it.

37. Corporate Talk Show / Interviews (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Weekly newsletters require a lot of effort and the ‘open’ rate on most of these is quite low. Companies of all sizes are now starting to develop talk-show format video where a host interviews various people (either internal or external to their company) to discuss things that are important to your audience. Think of it as the long tail of interviews where very specific interviews are being delivered to very specific audiences.

38. EPK (electronic press kit) (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
While EPK’s are still being delivered on DVD, web based video and text are quickly replacing this electronic version of the press kit which became popular in the mid 90’s.

Event Video

39. Event Presentation video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Events represent a unique confluence of expertise and opportunity – often under-leveraged. Trade Shows, meeting and conferences are usually attended by your top sales people, your corporate executives, industry experts and other influential business people. If you are speaking at an event or someone is referencing your company you should be capturing this valuable content on video.

40. Round table Sessions (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Take the opportunity at an event to corral four to six of your best customers and other industry experts, put them in room and video tape them talking about industry trends, business issues and the future of your industry. This content will be the most valuable content you could ever capture.

41. Q&A Expert sessions. (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
There are many opportunities to take specific event participants to the side and take them through informal Q&A sessions on various topics that matter to your customers. This content is valuable lead generation content.

Other Uses of Video

42. Recruitment Videos (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Finding the best employees is the single most important function of any company and yet comparatively small amounts of time and money are allocated to this critical task. Recruitment videos that feature company employees, highlight corporate culture and promote the direction of the company can be very influential.

43. VLOG (Popularity: Moderate | Growth Potential:Moderate)
There are many levels and types of Vloggers today but for the sake of brevity I will identify two: 1. Pro Vloggers who have engaging styles, rich content and a growing list of followers who promote their vlog on their site and through various syndicated channels and 2. Regular Vloggers who have chosen, for whatever reason, to speak into a camera instead of typing on a keyboard. The problem today is that, unlike onscreen text, you can’t scan a vlog – you have to watch the whole thing to see whether it is worth your time. The other problem is that most people just aren’t that compelling on camera so there is little, to no value of a talking head – and often it’s a distraction. Of course everyone references Gary Vaynerchuck (from Wine Library TV) as the rule (rather than the exception) for video blogging in the same way that everyone references the success of Will It Blend as being what to expect when you launch your first viral video project. For individuals looking to gain notoriety from their passions vlogging can be a good option if you have a good on-camera presence and great content.

44. In Store Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: High)
Wal-Mart has its own profitable in-store TV network that makes shoppers aware of new promotions. LCD screens are ubiquitous. In store LCD’s will be networked and customizable offering you the ability to promote your own goods and services or make money by promoting other complimentary services.

45. Company Lobby / Waiting Room Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
HD video screens are popping up everywhere – why not in your lobby or reception where you can get a jump start on first impressions and also take advantage of a captive audience.

46. Mobile Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Huge)
Yep, ‘there’s an Ap for that’. Mobile video will soon be the largest video category outside of broadcast. In the short-run, mobile video will consist of hastily re-purposed video made to fit on a mobile device. It will quickly evolve into a much more specific format – i.e. five to fifteen second hyper targeted messages that are part of geo-located (‘location aware’) and micro-niched promotions. Adding mobility (true context) to video will generate many new uses and formats for video.

47. Market research, focus groups and polling (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Moderate)
Market research firms are now capturing the anecdotal feedback along with the raw statistics of their research. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video of your customer describing her likes and dislikes of your new product is priceless. Go to YouTube to see how people are describing your products and services.

48. Video White paper (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
Video white papers have evolved over the last years from basically a person reading a white paper on camera (what’s the point) to a professional delivery that is accompanied by charts, graphs and other visual references to make the presentation more valuable.

49. Video Magazine (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential: Low)
Some video production companies specialize in helping companies deliver serialized video content to their customers. Like the name implies video content is created on a regular basis (usually monthly) that customers and prospects can view through a subscription service. While it makes sense to apply tradition formats to new technology and ideas, not all ideas transfer as elegantly as others.

50. Customer UCG Campaigns (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential:Moderate)
User Generated Content Campaigns- where customers are encouraged to upload videos showing how they use your products are becoming quite popular. Contests are usually the driver but sometimes just giving customers a forum to express themselves is enough.

51. Behind the Scenes Video (Popularity: Low | Growth Potential:Low)
Personalize your brand. Open up the cultural veil and let customers and products understand who you are – a group of humans rather than a ‘brand’. Authenticity is important.

Have I left any out? Let me know.

Bonus Applications:

52. Projection Mapping. Like everything else related to video, the costs of projecting video is dropping quickly. As a result you are starting to see innovative applications of projected video. Here are some great examples: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7676-16-mind-blowing-examples-of-big-brand-projection-mapping?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

Note: This post is also found in the Top Ten Posts for this blog.

 

Note: I”ve recently pared the list down and categorized in this new blog post entitled 34 types marketing video every business should know which is published at gydes.com

The Future of Video Production – Chaos, Specialization & Real Reality

Video production used to be about fancy equipment, cool effects, big budgets and ‘creative’.
Today, effective video production is more about delivering measurable business results.

 

Back in the ‘big-iron’ days of corporate video you took some shots of the corporate headquarters, threw in a couple talking heads yammering on about the company’s mission statement and their place in the universe, added in a whack of superfluous motion graphics and $25,000 later, voila! – you had yourself a corporate video.

Fast forward to just a few short years ago when Sony introduces the EX1 camera, shooters like Phillip Bloom start telling everyone their secrets, Canon accidentally turns their DSLR’s into fantastic little video cameras and you have the makings of a revolution. Today, everyone and their aunt is a video producer and…  here we are.

 

Video Production – Where we are today

 

1. The industry is in transition. 

Let’s put one myth to bed forever. Video production is no longer a dark art mastered over decades slaving at the the feet of your local video Jedi master. Video production is just another technical and creative skill that can be learnt by anyone with a bit of ambition and imagination. My daughter was taught video editing in grade nine and she’s really good at it. My other daughter takes phenomenal photographs with her iPhone (aided by a bit of Instagram magic.) My son, who worked with me in video production with no prior training was ahead of me in many (perhaps most) aspects of video production after a year or two. I took up video production after 20 years in marketing (old dog, new tricks.) The ground beneath us continues to shift.

2. The means of production have been commoditized.

Software is (virtually) free. For $50 a month you can get every bit of new software you’ll ever need from Adobe. Hardware is quickly becoming irrelevant. Sony just introduced the FS7 (the camera the dude is holding in the picture above) which does everything you’ll ever need a camera to do (4K, low-light, slo-mo, etc.) for under $10k. The purists, tech snobs, and big budget players will always spend more on gear – good for them, but the differences in final output quality are becoming less and less obvious to the general viewing public.  (Remember those audio geeks who bought the 1/2 inch thick, gold plated, plutonium enriched speaker wire and claimed it provided a much ‘truer’ sound experience? Those same guys are now playing their iPhone tunes through a single wireless Bose speaker.) Tech (via lower prices and more convenience) changes everything.

3. Everything is trending to Free.

Chris Andersen made a bold prediction in his book ‘Free : The Future of a Radical Price” that any business with a digital trajectory (many/most businesses as it turns out…) will  have to deal with the fact that the future of many of their digital products and services will trend to free. That’s scary because it also means that commodity services will continue to be subsumed by larger companies who can afford to give stuff away. Like Google, for instance. Google makes (virtually) all of it’s money from search. Sure, we all love (/hate) Youtube and Gmail and Google+ (okay, not Google + but we all still use it because we believe doing so will please the Google) but those free services are all paid for by search. Youtube is generating billions in add revenue and still not making a profit. Google, if they chose to be evil, could literally wipe out any web-based service they cared to. The amount of free stuff online is staggering. Photos, video clips, training, software… the list goes on and the list is growing. The services you provide may not yet be ‘free’ but as Andersen pointed out, bundling services with other things that you actually get paid for is the next wave. “Ya sure, I’ll throw in video production if we get to manage your entire account.”

4. The world is shrinking. 

I’m currently working with people in India, Serbia and Kyrgyzstan on a variety of projects… because I can. You say you’re a really good shooter? So is the eager kid just out of college who’s been shooting since he was 10. You’re an amazing editor? So is a guy in Pakistan that edits for $10 per hour. You’ve got wicked experience in all aspects of video AND marketing? Yep, so does the ad agency that just added video production to their list of services to stay relevant and to keep their creative directors happy. Everyone is doing video production everywhere – and that trend is accelerating.

So that’s the ‘chaos’ part.

 

Corporate Video Production – Where we’re going, and what will matter.

 

1. The demand for video is insatiable.

Video is everywhere and the use of video by businesses is accelerating. That’s the good news. The best indication that corporate video has finally ‘arrived’ as a mainstream business activity is the fact that news articles and video production blog posts have finally stopped mentioning this months YouTube upload figures. Yep, we get it – the average person ‘watches 25 hours of video each day’ and ‘3.7 years of video footage is uploaded to Youtube every nanosecond.’ We’re finally getting over hyping the numbers to ‘prove’ that businesses should jump on board the video bandwagon. Granted, a great deal of this new video output will be total crap but the fact remains that millions of business videos around the world are being created each year… and somebody has to create these videos.

2. Specialization (adding value) is the key to future success in video production

A  buddy of mine works for a local App development company. (Like video, everyone is building Apps.) His company specializes in building Apps for Museums – big museums like the Louvre and the Guggenheim. His company is able to land marquee museum customers because of their unique knowledge of, and experience with museums – not because they are wicked App programmers. This is exactly where video production is heading. Offering generic video production services is going to continue to get more challenging because undifferentiated video production services are commodity services. “HI, I’m Bob from Bob’s Video Production, would you like some video?” just won’t move the dial. There is only one way for the price of a commodity service to go. (Down.)  The new breed of video production company will begin to specialize in specific business verticals like health care, or real estate and will develop knowledge and experiences that add value to their engagement beyond just being able to shoot and edit well. Vertical markets are one way to specialize. There are many other ways to differentiate your services. You can develop a recognizable and unique style like Sandwich Video has done, or you can specialize in a type of video like the grandaddy (if your grandfather is 29 years old…) of explainer videos – 2minuteexplainer.com has done, or you can bring in the best people to do really, really good work like the folks at Variable seem to do on every frick’en project. In every case where a video production company is growing and successful it’s not because they are great at the mechanical aspects of video production. It’s because they’ve moved beyond being technicians and they are adding unique skills, experiences, perspectives, and ideas to the video production process. Buying a new camera doesn’t change anything. Telling your client how they can use video to solve their business problems – that changes everything.

3. All the world’s a screen. 

Apple’s big idea – the one that changed the trajectory of their company was the re-imagination of the cell phone from a stupidly complex mechanical input device (loads of buttons) to a sheet of glass (a virtual device.) The interface options are infinite with a screen. Today we spend a growing portion of our lives staring at screens. Desktop computer screens, mobile phone screens, tablet screens, television screens, promotional display screens. Our interface to the digital world is through a sheet of glass and we are all becoming digital… and video is the digital rockstar.

4.  ‘Real Reality’ (experiential video) and the coming tsunami of un-staged video. 

Most marketing video today is fake (staged). Even the video that is supposed to be real – testimonial video – is staged to some degree. Most people watching corporate videos understand this. Marketing is the art of positioning (faking) stuff to sound and look real and important. All of us who work in this industry live on that continuum. We simply decide how much ‘fake’ we and our audiences can stomach. Un-staged (or ‘slightly  staged’) is becoming more relevant because it seems less fake. Most successful viral videos today look real even if we all know how much behind-the-scenes planning went into creating all of that reality. The next wave is going to be Real Reality – video that is genuine and spontaneous and not stage-managed. Where is this video going to come from? Everywhere. We all now carry really impressive video cameras in our pockets and we’re all getting quite good at using them. The flood of experiential video is going to change the corporate video production landscape and it’s going to change the style of corporate video even more. Winning with fake is going to get tougher and tougher. Entertainment will be the exception here, but as we begin to see real reactions to products and services it’s going to be tougher and tougher to show people how they should ‘really’ feel about your product. Wearable tech like Google Glass (even though everyone’s first reaction to seeing those things are ‘WHOA, DUDE!!!! are you filming me right now????’ – which isn’t a good thing…) will make it easier and easier for us to lifestream our entire existence. If your product sucks, there’s going to be no place to hide any more and no amount of PR is going to fix real (and shared) perceptions. And for those futurists out there.. the bionic eye is already here. Very soon we’ll be capturing everything we do. And we’ll be sharing it. Nowhere for businesses to hide anymore.

5. More efficient video production processes

Back in the day (say…. a couple years ago…) if you wanted to get help on a project you’d either call somebody over to your cubical or give someone you know a call and try to explain your dilemma. Today there are so many online resources like training tips (I.e. Google: How do I extrude a 3d shape in After effects) or Royalty-free video clips (the prices are dropping and the quality is increasing very fast – why go out and shoot a reference clip of a city if you can download a great aerial shot for $100 or $10 or $1 or for free – remember that everything trends to free online…) and collaborative tools (either integrated tools like Adobe anywhere or AVID Everywhere or Autodesk 360 or stand-alone tools like WispterRemark, and Vidmaker ) that allow video producers to be more efficient in their jobs.

6. We’re entering the Post-hardware Era of video production

Remember when it used to matter which desktop publishing platform you were on, or which photo editing software you used, or what coding platform you developed on? No one cares any more. Really, no one cares. Same thing is happening now with video. I wrote a post about this a while back and it’s interesting to see the old guard still griping about ‘kids with camera’s.’  The hardware you had owned used to define your position in the video production industry. Today you can do great stuff with just about any camera out there and if you’re missing a special bit of functionality wait a couple months and some company will be dumping that into their newest model release. How you solve your customer’s business problems is what matters today. Having expensive video equipment doesn’t make you a good video producer any more than having an expensive pen makes you a good writer.

 

Some near-term video production trends

1. Video continues to go in-house.
Businesses will continue to create their own video because they can and because, for certain types of video projects, it makes sense to do so.  Businesses will also experiment and waste valuable time and resources on more complex video projects that they will ultimately out-source but, like a petulant toddler, they’ll have to make these mistakes and suffer through the pain in order to learn.

 2. Better integration of video with marketing 
Video continues to be a bit of a stand-alone activity for many businesses. This will change. Video has to be integrated with all other marketing activities. As an example video has to be properly optimized for SEO, video always benefits from building a strong landing page presence to support the video and video needs to part of a larger distribution process. Putting your video up on your website and on YouTube isn’t enough any more.

3. Metrics
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you don’t know how people are reacting to your video (open rates, completion rates, where people drop-off, call-to-action completions, etc.) you can’t tell if your video is having an impact. There are many online services / platforms to assist you with both video hosting and tracking such as vzaar.com, wistia.com, and brightcove.com.

4. Shorter continues to be better for business video
There is no correct length for a corporate video. Your video should only be as long as you need to make your point and not a second longer. There will always be exceptions and with certain business uses of video such as training and post-sale support it makes sense to produce longer videos. But, all things considered, shorter is better. Mobile is beginning to overtake desktop as the primary venue for watching online videos. Attention spans continue to shrink, particularly when people are using mobile devices.

5. Pre-production is where all the value is today in video
If you don’t have the right message and the right concept and the most appropriate style all decided beforehand in the form of a final storyboard that everyone understands and agrees to then your’e wasting your time with video. Having some video up on your website used to be a goal in and of itself. If you don’t start your video project by first identifying the specific business goals that your video needs to accomplish then you’re waisting your time with video. No amount of shooting and editing and creative is going to save a video that is not on message or delivering a specific business outcome.

6. Personalization and mass-customization.
We’re still a few years away from technology allowing us to easily mass-customize the delivery of video, but there is no question that personalization and the creation of focussed, targeted content is the future of video. Broadcast viewing (programming that makes you watch stuff on some-one else’s schedule) is being replaced by personalized, mobile viewing. That means a video targeted to a mass audience is going to have less and less value. Context, where you are and what you are doing is going to require videos that are created and delivered to meet the needs of a very specific audience, wherever and whenever they are.

And there you have it. Please feel free to share your ideas and comments below on this topic below.

 

 

 

Top ten things you never want to hear from your video production company.

Sorry, you just said what…?

Video production continues to play a larger role in the corporate marketing mix. This growth brings with it complexity, experimentation and a host of issues that many corporate clients may not be aware of.

Here are the top ten things you never want to hear your video production company say:

1. “We don’t have general liability or errors and omissions insurance.” 
What could possibly go wrong, right? Quite a lot, as it turns out. One of the film crew drives runs over your boss, someone forgets to get a permission form signed, your production company uses licensed material that nobody has a license for… etc. Chances are things won’t go wrong, but if they do you had better be working with a company that is well insured. Standard insurance coverage today for a video production company is $2,000,000 for errors and omissions and general liability.

2. “We do a little bit of everything actually – websites, PR, SEO, Graphic Design, Print, Advertising… oh ya, and video too.”
“We dabble in a bunch of stuff” should never engender confidence. The market will always support a range of generalists and specialists that service the same business audience. That said, a good rule of thumb is that if the number of services offered by a company is greater than the number of employees you might want to consider getting a second quote.

3. “Ya… we don’t really understand the web, or social media, or marketing .” 
The vast majority of corporate video today is being delivered either exclusively or predominantly on the web. Creating video for the web is not the same as creating video for broadcast, or for theatrical release, or for presentations at an event. Viewing behaviours, priorities and attention spans are significantly different online. You have to consider delivery platforms, hosting options,  interactivity,  conversion techniques, social media sharing of your video and many other factors that are unique to the web. If your video production company doesn’t understand delivery, then someone on your marketing team or ad agency better have this covered.

4. “We do corporate video to pay the bills – we’re primarily entertainment focussed.”
Very few people pursue a career in video production because they want to help businesses sell more products or services (marketing and sales stuff). Film or television is usually the goal. Doing corporate work is often just what pays the bills. While there are a number of great companies that do both very well, unless your video production company is working under the direction of an ad agency or marketing firm, or they specialize in marketing video you shouldn’t be surprised if your video turns out to be wonderfully irrelevant.

5. “We’re not really focussing on business results “per se”, but… we really think this video could win an award.”
Creative work is wonderful if it serves a business objective. If it doesn’t, then you’ve wasted your money. Very few industry awards consider business results in their selection criteria – which is unfortunate because business results are the only thing that matter.

6. “There will be lots of different folks working on your video project.”
You just met the president of the company and his senior team – they all seemed pretty sharp. Are they all going to be working on your project? Every service-based organization operates with some form of distributed work model. It’s up to you as a client to ensure you get the best talent in the company working directly on your video project. If you’re not sure, ask… up front.

7. “No, we don’t start with a script or a storyboard, we prefer the project has room to ‘breath’ and evolve as we go.”
If you don’t know exactly what you are shooting and why, you’ll likely end up wasting your time and money with video. A script tells you what key messages have to be communicated in your video. Even if your shooting a testimonial video project you’re still looking for specific messages rather than random musings. If you don’t have a storyboard, how do you know what to shoot and what should be communicated?

8. “We can always take money out of pre-production if you need to keep the price down.”
This is like saying ‘we can take money out of the design and architecture phase of building your home.’ Pre-production is where all the value in your video is created. This is the last place you ever want to cut corners.

9. “OK, sure we’ll shoot that, whatever you want… it’s your video.”
The best video production projects are collaborations between client and producer. Both sides should have ideas and both sides should have opinions. You won’t always agree on every point but your video production company should have a lot of experience and that experience should add value to your project.

10. “Do you want this thing to go viral?”
That’s sort of like asking ‘do you want us to write a hit record for you? Viral isn’t just a lucky outcome – it’s part of a specific plan that is built in from the very beginning of your project. If you goal is for your video to be shared by thousands (or millions) of people then you had better build something into your video that you know people are going to want to share. (And then you need to spend a whack of money promoting it…)

 

 

Video Production Cost Calculator

Client: “How much will my corporate video cost?”
Production Company: “It depends…”

 

A few years back we created a blog that tried to answer the question: What does it cost to make a video? The feedback we received was that, while helpful, it would be even better if there was a tool to help people understand the total cost of putting a corporate video together… something like a video production cost calculator.  So we built one.

 

 

This tool is intended to provide a cost range (not a specific price) for a video produced at three different levels of production: Low-Cost, Mid-Range and High-End. Pick a production range that suits your budget… and start calculating. There is also a ‘save as PDF’ function that allows you to save your choices to either print as a document or save as a PDF.

If we missed something, if you discover some rather egregious errors or assumptions or if you’d just like to say thanks, let us know.

 

 

Does great marketing create great companies?

Or is it the other way around? Do great companies all do great marketing?

 

 

Marketing, at its highest level, is the practice of making people feel a certain way about your brand.

Great products are never enough. Promoting features and benefits is never enough. Nike, Apple, Coke – the great ones, the companies that continue to flourish over time all have at least one thing in common – they all do great marketing. Not ‘good’ marketing – that level of marketing is achieved by a relatively small number of companies on a regular basis – I mean ‘great’ marketing. Consistently great marketing is more to the point. IKEA is one of those companies.

Does Nike excel because they build a vastly superior running shoe? Has Coke maintained its market leadership for over a century because its unique flavour of sugar water is vastly superior to that of its competitors? Of course not.

There are thousands of companies with great products who employ great people and yet most of these companies will quickly come and go. Some may linger, ebbing and flowing along the tides of a fickle market, but eventually they’ll either fade into obscurity or be absorbed by a larger, even averager (it should be a word) company. These companies will never elevate themselves beyond the intrinsic value that the features and benefits of their products or services offer.

Their marketing will never make them aspirational brands.

How do great companies achieve great success with marketing? They create marketing that relates to you on an emotional level. They show you (not just tell you…) how to feel about their company. That’s it. That’s the secret. It’s that easy… and it’s also that difficult.

Detractors will continue rail against the “Apple Fanboys” and “Nike zealots” and yet what company wouldn’t want a legion of rabid supporters out there talking up their brand and eagerly awaiting the next product announcement. ‘Fanboys’ are the holy grail of marketing.

What makes IKEA even more interesting as a company is that they are not a premium brand in a premium category.

Ikea sells decent quality furniture at a low price that you put together yourself… and yet, somehow… they are one of the most recognized brands in the world. The video above is testament to their continued excellence in promoting their brand and showing you how you should feel about the company.

This is what great marketing achieves at its highest level.

Why this video works

This video works because it makes you think and it makes you feel. Most video promotions do neither.

1. This video tells a great story

IKEA is clean and spare, it’s both vast and simple at the same time and IKEA is, or has been, part of your everyday life. Those are the attributes that IKEA wants you to associate with their brand. Especially the last one. The vast majority of the first world population (excluding the most privileged, of course) have at one time owned and haphazardly constructed some IKEA furniture. The purpose of this video is to remind you of that – that IKEA has been right there with you through the ongoing adventure that is your life. For most of us that evokes very powerful and positive feelings. Time seems to melt away the hardships endured and turn them into something slightly more romantic. That’s the story this video is telling.

2. Editing style.

For the first third of the video I wasn’t sure where the promo was going. The editing style didn’t immediately tell me the whole story. The juxtaposition of the ‘real memories’ and ‘imagined memories’ was confusing. (I’m not a quick study…). It took a while for the ‘oh… I get it’ moment to arrive. That said, making you think isn’t a bad thing. They could have set up the video in a more formulaic fashion: real/imagined, real/imagined, in a match-posed style from the get-go, but sometimes it’s more fun if you have to use your brain a little.

3. Great videos always have great music.

The purpose of music in a video is to set the tone and pace of the video, to pull you through the story and ultimately to tell you how to feel. The choice of music here is inspired.  The music sets a beautiful and nostalgic tone that reminds the listener that ultimately,  it’s all about ‘you and me’.  The music even has its own backstory – it was a lost demo track by an unknown group called Penny and the Quarters that was discovered in a record executives files 40 years after it was recorded.

 

IKEA doesn’t do a lot of promos that scream 50% OFF THIS WEEK ONLY!!! They don’t lie about the price of their furniture (like the majority of the furniture industry does:  WAS $3,250, NOW !1,999!!!,), instead they just remind you that they are there, and that they’ll be around tomorrow when the vast majority of their competitors will be gone.

The correlation between great companies and great marketing remains very high.

 

{Exceptions}

Like all things that involve business and the vagaries of human emotions, there are always exceptions to the ‘great marketing = great brand success’ rule. Microsoft and Samsung are two companies that jump to mind. Neither has ever done anything approaching ‘great’ and yet both companies have built an enduring brand presence with a broad global appeal around good products and sometimes good, but never great, marketing.

 

Corporate Video: Only One Thing Matters…

 

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.

 

Video Pre-Production Planning Check-list – 13 Steps to a Successful Project

“Have we thought everything through before we start ” is likely the best business advice you will ever receive.

Too many video production projects start part way through the production process – with a ‘cool idea’, little thought as to which key messages will resonate with your audience or no plan for actually delivering the video to your intended audience.

If you haven’t taken the time to properly plan out your production, it will likely fail. By ‘fail’ I mean fail to achieve a measurable business objective.

There are many different types of videos that you can create to promote your product or business and there are many factors and costs that go into the production of a video.

This post was created as a tool for planning a video production as well as to give the reader an appreciation for the many elements and tasks associated with the creation, development and delivery of a corporate video.

Your specific video project won’t necessarily require each of the steps described below. Some projects (i.e. recording an expert talking-head for training purposes) can be quite straightforward and only require a few of these steps.

That said, the success of your video project will largely be determined by the time and effort you put into properly planning your project.

If you don’t have both the front-end and the back-end of your video project worked out in advance, no amount of shooting or editing expertise will save your project (although your video may still may look really good.)

 

PRE-PRODUCTION PLANNING CHECK-LIST

The challenge with the Pre-Production phase of video is that while it’s the most important phase of video production it’s also the hardest part of video production to cost-justify. It’s relatively easy to cost-out crew, equipment and editing time, but how much is an idea worth? How much is experience worth? (Quite a lot, as it turns out.) And who really wants to pay for ‘planning?’ If you want your video project to succeed consider the following critical tasks that go into the pre-production phase of video production:

 

1. BEGIN BY CLEARLY DEFINING YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.

What do you want to accomplish with your video?

  • To raise awareness?
  • To drive traffic to a landing page?
  • To motivate your customers to buy your product or service?
  • To influence key decision-makers in your industry?
  • To showcase your company as being environmentally conscious?
  • To clearly differentiate you from your competitors?
  • To save money on travel costs for training or sales?
  • To educate a new target audience on important issues affecting your industry?
  • To drive prospects to the booth at the next trade show you will be attending?
  • To attract the best candidates to apply for jobs at your company?
    (Pro tip: You can only pick one.)

If you can’t clearly articulate the business objective of your video then you’re wasting your time and money. ‘Having a video up on your website’ or ‘keeping up with your competitors’ are not business objectives. Determining a business objective allows you to focus on outcomes.  Lack of clear focus is the principle reason why business videos fail.

Answer this question: What do you want to happen when people finish watching your video?

2. DEFINE (AND THEN NARROW) YOUR AUDIENCE.

Marketing is the process of communicating the value of your product or service to a specific audience. Unless you are Google or the Catholic Church {merger rumours are unfounded…} you should have a very narrowly defined audience that clearly benefits from your product or service.

You have to know exactly who your customers and prospects are and you have to differentiate your message for that specific audience. This step requires a combination of research, soul searching, experience and pain. The narrower the focus the greater the chance of success because the more likely you are to deliver a message that your audience will actually care about.

What is the demographic and psychographic make-up of your target audience? What are the needs, preferences and biases of this audience? Of greatest importance, does this audience share a specific problem that you can uniquely help them with?

Answer this question: What does your unique audience care about and how does your product or service relate to their specific concerns?

3. SHARE YOUR BUDGET.

This topic invariably elicits a ‘chicken and egg’ discussion. How can you determine a budget before you come up with a concept or approach for the video.” Conversely, why would you even bother considering creative ideas without the benefit of knowing a reasonable budget range? Does it make sense to require your production company to guess / assume a budget range?

“OK!, Check out this idea… imagine… a thousand multi-coloured Toy Poodles… all chasing J-Lo, against traffic, through Time Square at rush-hour…” (If I ever see this commercial I want a credit btw.)

If there are no budget parameters then it’s impossible for a video production company to understand the scope of your project.

You might have to do some research if you have no prior experience with video production budgets, but at the end of the day you, or someone you report to, definitely has a budget for your video project. Every business has a budget. Every project has a budget.

‘Hiding’ your video production budget is not going to help you get a deal on your video anymore than hiding your budget from your realtor is going to help you get a better deal on a home. If you are unfamiliar with video production costs you can start here as a reference point.

Do this to move forward quickly:  Find a video similar to what you are thinking about and ask potential video production companies ‘what would a video like this cost to make?’ Then you’ll have an understanding of reasonable budget ranges.

4. DEVELOP YOUR KEY MESSAGES.

{This will likely cause ‘creative anxiety’ for some marketers, but we’re still not getting ‘creative’ yet…}

By ‘message’ I mean what are the ideas, themes or topics that you need to communicate. Ideally, you’ve settled on one key message but if you have a broader purpose in mind for your video then you may want to include two or three key messages. What are the things that you need to tell your audience that will resonate with them and what do you expect them to understand AND to remember after they have watched your video.

The more messages you include in your video the less likely it is that your audience will understand and remember any of them.

This activity serves as the underpinning for all marketing – not just video. You need to know the unique value proposition that your product or service provides to the market. Everything in marketing starts here. If you don’t nail this step, then you’re creating a video that will have little relevance or permanence.

Answer this question: What specific problem am I trying to solve, how does my product or service uniquely address this problem and how do I effectively communicate (show and ‘prove’) my unique solution to that problem?

5. DEVELOP A CREATIVE BRIEF

A creative brief for video production is necessary in two specific instances:

  1. When a business is tendering a video production project to a number of production houses and they want to give everyone participating enough information to quote on, or:
  2. When you are working on a video project with a team and you need to communicate all of the key points and context to that team when you begin brainstorming ideas for your video.

We’ll focus on #2 for the purpose of this post. Not everyone on your creative and marketing teams have the benefit of speaking with the client so if you want to involve a number of people in coming up with concepts / ideas for your project you’ll need to create a summary (‘brief’), that includes all of the necessary background information for them to participate effectively.

Choosing people for this exercise with a cross-section of interests and backgrounds can be very useful. While there is no ‘correct’ number of people to use in a brainstorming activity generally groups of 3 – 7 are ideal. After 7 people you tend to have too many people with not enough opportunity to contribute.

Preparing for brainstorming:  Have the team helping you with the creative concepts read through the brief the night before before you begin your brainstorming exercise. There are plenty of studies that indicate your subconscious mind works wonders on its own if given the chance.

6. CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT – WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA.

{Finally…we’re getting creative!}

Often (especially for broadcast commercials) video projects begin as concepts in search of a purpose. (“Imagine a video with these amazing roller-blading babies in diapers, someone’s gonna want it!!!)

I suppose that if your idea is epic enough then you can tag a logo on to just about any cool concept and realize some benefit, but the execution of most clever-for-clever’s-sake ideas rarely realize the giddy expectations imagined at conception.

So, back to earth… the vast majority of video production concepts are driven by a combination of both practical and creative imperatives. The ‘concept’ or ‘idea’ can be as simple as ‘let’s move the CEO out from behind his big desk and show him actually talking to customers, or it can be as complex and grand as your imagination and budget allow.

Either way, this is where the value is really created. No one might remember who’s idea it was to invite all your brand enthusiasts to a one day event and film them talking about your product but that may be the’ big idea’ responsible for tripling subscription rates on your website.

Even though this is potentially where a significant portion of the value in a video is created, it’s very difficult to charge for ideas, so this exercise typically get wrapped up in execution costs.

There are many ways to brainstorm ideas, whichever method is right for you it’s best if you have someone leading / facilitating this process.

Get Creative:  Choose your team, appoint a leader, pick a concept development process that best suits your group… and get creative.

7. TREATMENT

A ‘treatment’ is an outline of your creative approach. A treatment is typically a one page document that summarizes the general idea, the style and the actions you plan on incorporating into your marketing video.

The reason you might choose to start with a treatment summary first is because it’s better to get approval at this stage before you dive into the storyboard and flesh out the exact details of your video.

Treatments are presented when novel concepts or ideas are being considered and there is some risk that the client may first need to approve the ‘idea’ before you proceed with flushing out the details in a formal storyboard.

The risk in starting with a treatment is that you may need a detailed storyboard to ‘sell’ the concept in the treatment to the client. The risk in not starting with the treatment is that you might waste your time diving into the details of a concept the customer is not going to approve.

Ultimately, it will depend on your relationship with the client to know whether a treatment document is required first.

The treatment will also recommend a suggested length and distribution plan for the video.

To employ a stepped approval process:  Creating a treatment document can help you to present a top-level creative concept idea to a client before you dive into the details of the script and storyboard.

8. STORYBOARD. 

A storyboard is your blueprint for the marketing video you are creating. The storyboard flushes out your concept or idea and considers the following:

  • Do you use voice-over to support what is being shown?;
  • Do you use animation anywhere; do you employ actors, if so which ones and how?;
  • Do you use specific music to set a tone or maintain a pace?;
  • What locations do you shoot at?;
  • What are are the specific sounds bites we need to hear and who delivers them, etc?
  • Who should be on-camera?
  • Should we support what is being heard on-screen with on-screen text anywhere?
  • How do we manage transitions between shots and scenes? etc.

This is the step where you determine the flow, the length (more on this step below) and the structure of your video. The storyboard is the physical manifestation of the treatment. It breaks down the video into three key components:
1. Script / Narration – what is being said, by whom, on-screen or as voice-over.
2. What is being shown on screen – where is the action taking place and who or what is in each scene.
3. What other elements (logos, text, animations, cgi, etc. music track, sound effects etc.) are needed to support what is being said and shown. Even if you don’t plan on developing a detailed storyboard (as a rule, you should…) it’s still a very valuable exercise to write down the basic structure of your video.

Creating a storyboard allows you to think through the video in a logical fashion and share this vision with others. It’s also a tremendously valuable tool for accountability. You can’t ask your production company when the video is finished why something wasn’t included during shooting if it wasn’t included in the storyboard. A well written storyboard holds everyone (client and production house) involved accountable.

You may also want to create illustrated cells/panels to visually represent how you envision key scenes being shot. While this is only done on higher budget productions it does help everyone involved (including the person directing the video) to share a common vision for the production.

Answer these question: Who has to be in the video? What do they need to say. What shots, graphics and animations need to be created to support what is in the video? Where is the filming taking place? These are the elements that go into a storyboard.

9. PLANNED DISTRIBUTION.

While promotion and distribution are beyond the scope of this post it’s important to understand, before you finalize your production and post-production plans, how you plan on distributing your video. Knowing where, how and why people will be watching your video will help you determine the optimum structure for your video.

A broadcast audience is very different from an audience on a professional business portal and different again from someone viewing social media on a mobile device. There is little value in creating a video if you don’t have a plan for getting people to view it.

Putting your video ‘up on your website’ may, or may not, move the dial. Similarly, ‘putting it up on Youtube & Facebook’ has little value unless there is an associated plan on promoting that video.

If the video production company you are talking to doesn’t ask about proposed distribution channels then I’d suggest getting a second opinion.

Answer this question: How are you going to get people to watch your video? The answer to this question will effect how you construct your video.

10. LENGTH OF VIDEO.

While video length has to be sorted out in the storyboard phase it’s important to remind business owners and marketers that the ongoing reduction in viewer attention spans continues to necessarily shorten the length of business videos.

How long should my video be??? Shorter is better, but shorter is often harder.

Shorter seems riskier because you have to leave things out and narrow down your message to a very few key ideas. That’s difficult to do.

‘Shorter’ is a guideline, not a rule, however. Where the viewer is on the sales cycle plays a significant role in their viewing preferences. If you’re creating a product demo, a training video or something else for someone who is much further along the sales cycle, then these audiences will likely need more information to help them make a decision.

The desired length of your video depends on the motivation of your viewer. A good rule of thumb for promotional videos (targeting the ‘awareness’ or’ interest’ phases of the sales cycle) is between 60 and 90 seconds in length. Your video should be succinct and it needs to include targeted, relevant information. Oh ya… and it better be really engaging.

Answer this question:  How long does your video need to be to make your point?

11. APPROVALS.

Who needs to be involved in the approval process.

This is an important question that should be considered up front. Any organization bigger than a sole proprietor is subject to the political whims of colleagues and bosses.

Nobody really cares about the new web page you just put up. Everyone will care about your new video, however.

This is where a storyboard can be a lifesaver. The worst possible scenario is that someone suddenly cares about your video production after the production and post-production is complete.

There’s nothing worse than hearing someone say (after the video is completed) ‘well, I don’t think I would have said that…”

This becomes much more important in large organizations. If you don’t circulate a storyboard and production schedule to the folks involved in approving/blessing your video you may be in for a shock when they tell you that you’ve left something out or you have not represented the material the way they would have liked.

Every business video ever made has, prior to release, first been sent to at least one senior person in the organization accompanied by the question ‘what do you think?’ Good luck with that.

Answer this question:   Who needs to approve the storyboard AND then the finished video and should they get inserted into the approval process?

12. PRE-PRODUCTION MEETINGS.

The size and scope of your video project will determine how many meetings and how many people are involved in the video production process.

On large conceptual projects we sometimes hold facilitated story planning meetings with a range of people associated with the project to ensure we’re getting all relevant perspectives on the project.

This process has proved invaluable in uncovering stories and reference that no one else would have known about or would have considered.

On smaller projects a simple video production brief may be enough to estimate and start the planning process – especially where a good client/supplier relationship already exists. The better the collaboration, the better the outcome.

Answer this question:   Who’s input/perspective would really be of value in the planning process?

13. SCHEDULING AND PRODUCTION PLANNING.

Video shoots, even small ones, are logistically challenging. There are a tremendous number of moving parts in video production and as a result there are a tremendous number of things that can go wrong (something will…) Pre-production planning will minimize the risks associated with your next video project.

Some things to consider before the folks with cameras arrive:

Location Scouting – Where are you going to shoot and what challenges do you have at that location? Are there lighting, audio or other logistical problems that you will have to solve. A pre-production location visit and discussion with on-site maintenance or security is often necessary.
Permits – Do you require permits for shooting, sign-off /waivers for people in the video, special insurance, parking access for the crew and equipment, drones, etc.
Crew – Who is on your production crew? Camera, Audio, Lights, Director, Production Assistants, Grip for special equipment, Teleprompter operator? When is shooting scheduled to start and how much time is required for everyone to set-up and tear-down?
Equipment – What type and how many cameras do you need. What do you have as back-up if something goes wrong? Do you have all of the right lights, lenses, audio equipment, jibs, sliders, reflectors, tools, power, etc. necessary? Do you need special equipment or props or products for the shoot.
Talent or Presenters – Who is on-camera? Are they prepared to be on-camera? Have they rehearsed their lines or will they be using a Teleprompter. When should they arrive? What should they be wearing? Do they want / require hair and makeup? Are they on a tight schedule? (The answer here is almost always ‘yes’….) is casting voice or on-camera talent required?
Weather – Are you shooting outdoors. What happens if it rains/snows/hurricanes? Do you have an alternate shoot date?
Schedule– – Does your storyboard include a shotlist and schedule that lets everyone know when to arrive and how long each scene or shot is going to take?

If you consider all of the above steps and take the time to properly plan you will have a much higher likelihood of success on your next video production.

9 Things to Consider Before You Shoot a Testimonial Video

No one really trusts you or what you have to say about your own company. Why would they? But prospective clients will listen to other people’s opinions about your company. If they know and trust that person – so much the better. Even if they don’t, they are more likely to believe a stranger (or better yet, a bunch of strangers) talking about you rather than you talking about you. That’s why testimonial videos are so powerful.

So is any testimonial video a good one? Not necessarily. It has to accomplish three important things:
1. It has be / feel authentic.  ‘Be’ is always better, but ‘feel’ is the next best thing. (We’re talking about marketing here….)
2. It has to be interesting. A talking head is still a talking head no matter what they are saying. Plan on having something interesting going on in the video. (Showing a customer using your product or service is a great place to start.)
3. It has to deliver a message which is relevant and that resonates.  Hearing a customer say “ABC Inc. provided great service…” is not particularly insightful. Hearing specifics about what ABC Inc. did and how it made the customer feel – that’s more likely to move the dial.

And finally… let’s get one argument out of the way up front. The point and the goal of testimonial video is getting authentic feedback from a customer that helps promote your brand. There will ALWAYS be some degree of inauthenticity to this process. Picking the ‘right’ customer is the first step. Editing what they say is another. So is picking the right take. Asking leading questions is another. As is ‘coaching’…  and on it goes.

Showing up with a camera asking 5 questions and hoping for the best is not a good strategy and will likely be a waste of time.

 

Before you begin your next testimonial video here are nine things that you should consider:

 

1. Have you scheduled a pre-shoot meeting with the interviewee?  The best investment of time you can make is to schedule a pre-shoot meeting with the interviewee before the shoot to take them through what they can expect in the interview and what you might expect from them.

One of the reasons this doesn’t happen is cost – often your client won’t want to pay for the additional time to prepare for the shoot – which is unfortunate because this is arguably the most valuable investment of time when shooting a testimonial video. You get to know your interviewee, you get them familiar (and therefore comfortable) with you and the filming process, you get to do a site inspection prior to shooting and you get to find out the type of things that they may or may not want to say when you start shooting. All of this gives you time to plan and prepare for the shoot.

2. What is the overall style of the video? Is your video simply a talking head of someone sitting on their living room couch or behind their office desk or is it a video that incorporates footage of your customer actually using your product or service? Budget will dictate how much effort you put into your video but it doesn’t require much more effort to shoot the person you are interviewing actually doing something.

Planning is usually the problem here. Unless your talking head is truly engaging (most are not) you should at least consider using two cameras for multiple angles (which makes the video easier to watch and helps you cut between sound bites.) You should also consider getting your interviewee physically doing something to use as b-roll to make the video more engaging.

3. Who is speaking and who is on camera? This is an important decision to make upfront. Having a non-speaking spouse (as an example) or non-speaking business colleagues in a video takes away from the dynamic feel of the presentation. If multiple people are speaking and contributing relatively equally – that’s great. But if you have a person in the shot who isn’t speaking, that person will take the energy/attention away from the speaker.Two people are distracting unless their interaction is interesting and complimentary.

Perhaps the single biggest challenge is the speaker themselves. Are they articulate, and more important, are they comfortable in front of a camera? If your answer is ‘no’ to these first two points then they had better be good at taking direction otherwise it’s going to be painful. I remember hearing comments about a testimonial video I had shot saying that my client was so lucky to have such a good speaker to represent them.  I wish the viewers could have been there during the shoot… direction and editing can cover up a world of hurt.

 4. What do you want the speaker to say? This is the single most important thing to consider. You don’t just show up with a camera, ask some questions and hope for the best. Before you approach your customer for an endorsement you have to know exactly what you want to hear them say and you have to know that they are receptive to saying it otherwise you may end up wasting everyone’s time.

Just because you ask a question doesn’t mean you are going to get the answer you want. Even if you get the answer you want it may not be delivered in a suitable manner (i.e. a distracted ‘Ya… they showed up on time” versus an enthusiastic “Those guys were here exactly when they said would be.”).

The answers are what matter – not the questions! Arriving equipped to an interview with the right questions is only half the battle. You also need to be equipped with the knowledge of the exact sound bites that you need to hear otherwise you might end up staring blankly at your editing screen wondering what to do with all the useless footage you just shot. The questions don’t matter – it’s the answers you care about. Who’s responsibility is it to make sure the sound bites are exactly what you need?

5. How do you plan on structuring your soundbites? Let’s assume you get exactly what you wanted from your customer – great delivery and great content. Do you lead with a power statement that nicely concludes what you are going to see in the video or do you just start with the answer to the first question? What you place first is critical in video today. Online viewers today have attention spans similar to that of a house fly. You need to ensure that the message you deliver at the beginning of the video makes people think – ‘that’s interesting, tell me more.”

I’ve watched too many testimonial videos that start with 30 seconds or more of preamble: “Well now… Bob from ABC Inc. gave me a call on Tuesday… no, it was Wednesday…  ’cause that’s when me and Earl go bowling, anyway, Bob gives me a call and asks me how my bowling game is doing – funny thing about that is… ”

6. How are the testimonial videos being presented? Are you doing one testimonial video or do you plan on doing a series of them. Like resume references, it’s not terribly difficult to get at least one person to say something nice about you. The more voices that support your message the better.

If you are planning more than one testimonial video you should try to structure the videos so there is repetition on key brand elements and there is also new information in each video. If the videos are identical people won’t watch more than two because they will expect that they are all the same. If you are planning a series of testimonial videos you should label them clearly so that people can select the videos that relate to their specific concerns. (I.e “Bob Smith from Acme explains how ABC Inc saved him $4000 in research costs.”)

7. What is the graphic and titling structure? How do you start your video.  I just watched a really well produced testimonial video that had 35 seconds of introductory branding and text. I wonder if anyone other than me made it through that intro.

Do you start with shots of your interviewee, b-roll shots of your interviewee or do you begin with corporate branding and titling? Getting to the message as quickly as possible is critical.

Do you include on-screen text anywhere in the video to support what is being said in the video? Using on-screen text in your video helps to reinforce a message BUT it may also make the video look more like a corporate/promotional video rather than a testimonial video. (I.E. Having the word ‘Lifesaver’ come up on-screen as someone uses that word to describe your service is probably too much.)

8. Do you include other support material in the video? As an example, if you are doing a renovation (house, car, person… etc) testimonial video, do you include a ‘before’ shot. Do you illustrate what the ‘problem’ that was solved by your company? It’s always better to show, rather than tell the viewer what the ‘problem’ was – that’s the whole reason to use video. Do you shoot b-roll to support the benefit of your product or service? (The answer is ‘Yes’). B-roll can include anything relating to the content being discussed.

9. What shooting style do you use in your interview? Is the interviewee sitting down or standing up? Are they in and around the product or service that you delivered for them? (I.e. The most typical interview shot you see is someone sitting on a coach against the wall or someone sitting at a desk. Both are visually quite dull. It’s much easier to light and frame a shot if you can get move them and have them looking engaged – people often look ‘trapped’ sitting behind a desk or in the corner of a room on a chair.

This definitely takes more planning and cooperation from your interviewee but if you show up at someone’s office and capture a talking head interview with your iPhone it’s going to look like you showed up at someone’s office and captured a talking head interview with your iPhone.

9+. Do you choreograph your b-roll.?  Yes. Assuming that you want to make your testimonial video interesting to watch you are going to have to get people doing something that shows them engaged with your product or service. Remember, a testimonial video isn’t about you, it’s about the affect your product or service had on that person.

Wherever possible you should try to demonstrate the use and benefit of your product or service which could mean purposefully getting the interviewee to do something more than standing in front of your camera. The chance of them doing something spontaneous that looks good on camera is low so you are going to have to tell them what you want them to do.

An argument can be made that choreographing anything is disingenuous and takes away from the authenticity of the piece. While true, you have to balance this with the need to convey important information and get people to watch the video.

 

Considering all of these questions should help you begin to frame and deliver an effective testimonial video.

 

Note: For those creating Testimonial Videos in the US here is a link to the 2009 FTC Guidelines governing Endorsements and Testimonials. (Thanks to Gavin Bryan-Tansley for providing this reference.)

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