How to Use Video as an Effective Communication Tool
By Jerry Bader 2010
Now that just about everybody is a believer in Web video, it's time to figure out just how to use it effectively as a marketing communication tool. Oh sure, there are a few diehard holdouts filling their sites with thousands of words of densely congealed text in a vain attempt to attract 'Mr. GoodSearch;' and let's all encourage them to continue, especially our competitors, because as they stick to yesterday's marketing tactics, we can capture market share by communicating, using techniques that actually lead to more audience engagement, more memory retention, and more sales leads.
Even if you're still a bit unsure of the benefits Web video brings to your marketing efforts, think of the commitment Google has invested in YouTube and then you'll know where the biggest search opportunities exist. So let's all agree, video is where it's at, but hold on just a second, let's call it compelling content presentation, or more precisely, properly conceived, professionally produced, attention-to-post video that delivers a meaningful memorable message in a manner that is less advertising and more content, less pitch and more experience.
Can you do this yourself? Doubtful, but maybe, so before you run out and blow the petty cash on the latest HD video camera, proper lighting equipment, editing and motion graphic software, how to DVDs like 'You Can Be The Next Ridley Scott', a computer and hard drive powerful enough to handle HD file sizes and software processing, custom photography, signature music and sound effects; and before you ask your accounts payable person or spouse to shoot you in your office with a backdrop of photos featuring last year's office picnic and the broken office chair you've been meaning to replace; ask yourself, is this really how to go about marketing my company? I mean maybe your appearance is camera friendly, maybe you have the right voice that fits your message, maybe you understand body language, maybe you have acting experience, maybe you know how to write a script and maybe... well you get the idea? And we haven't even talked about content and concept. There is a place for amateurism, it's just not in business.
The Ad Content Challenge
The real challenge in website design is not backend technical issues, search engine optimization, or feature proliferation but rather how to turn advertising into content, and content into an experience. We know nobody likes to be sold, especially if it's a hard sell pitch demanding instant decisions and immediate action. People are more likely to run from such a sales attack as quickly as possible, particularly on the Web where escaping is just a mouse click away.
Let's assume for a moment that you want a professional Web presentation and not a homemade ego-satisfying customer-repellent video. Let's also assume that you've hired a team that has the necessary skills to deliver the 'right stuff.' The next step is to provide that team with the assets they need to do the job.
Gather Your Assets
The first thing you'll need to do is get all your resources together. Here's a checklist of things you'll need to supply or have created in order to get started:
1. Logos That Work
A properly designed logo is a must. I can't tell you how many times we've had to design or at least redesign logos for clients who have been in business for years. A video campaign is all about communicating a corporate personality and that identity needs a visual tag to affirm that brand image.
Most business people realize they need a logo but they generally only think of it in one dimension, graphically. With a properly designed logo in hand, an audio logo tag can be associated with it so that your brand message is penetrating both visually and audibly. Remember your goal is to turn advertising into content and to do that you must create a memorable experience, and the whole point of using video is to communicate your message using sight, sound, and subliminal psychological persuasion.
2. Mission Statements - It's About The Why
Mission statements are generally useless exercises in self-congratulatory bunkum. If your mission statement says your company aims to have the best products, at the lowest prices, featuring world-class customer service, then you know your mission statement is useless. When people hear those kinds of platitudes they yawn and move on. When was the last time you heard a mission statement that promises inferior crap, at inflated prices, with little or no customer service support?
Instead of a meaningless mission statement, create a 'Why Statement' that answers the question, why should anybody want to do business with you? I've already given you our version - "we turn advertising into content, and content into an experience" it's what we do, what we are committed to, and if it's not what you want, then you need another production team. You have to give your clients a reason why they should care about your company, why they should do business with you. It is a commitment not to be feared, but embraced. It is the message you want to deliver, the one thing your audience will remember about you that will distinguish you from your competition, and ultimately it will be the reason they do business with you or not.
3. Six Things You Need To Know
The Why Statement provides your brand point-of-view and personality. It focuses audience attention on the key benefits you deliver. So the next thing you need to provide is the six most important things you want to say about what you do.
Why six? You need to show some discipline in your messaging in order to be effective. Limiting the number of things you say emphasizes what's important so that it doesn't get lost in a haze of marketing jibber-jabber, and it avoids creating information overload.
4. Realistic Expectations
You hear and read a lot about ROI and the importance of scientifically measuring results in order to fine-tune commercial communication. Business is constantly trying to make craft into science and it's the fool's gold of advertising. Ad agency politics has always been a push-pull fight between the creative teams and the account executives. Account executives like their bulleted points, pie charts, stock images, and PowerPoint presentations. The trouble is it's all a shell game, an illusion used by rote-trained corporate sales people that lack the insight to commit to what really works, psychological persuasion. Instead, they settle for a seemingly impressive, but often deceiving set of facts and figures.
No one is suggesting that Web video presentations should be art-for-art's-sake; we've all seen visually stimulating commercials that don't seem to have any commercial point, but to ignore marketing's dirty little secret that purchase decisions are based mostly on emotion and not rational reasoning would be folly.
You're going to make mistakes. Some things will work better than others. It's all about fine-tuning your message based on your Why Statement. You need to commit to a Web video strategy that is more about delivering memorable content in service of your Why Statement than merely a series of easily dismissible sales' pitches. Web videos can engage an audience, attract attention, deliver informative, enlightening material in an entertaining, memorable manner, and that is how they should be judged.
Web Video Is Commercial Storytelling
What is the best way to illustrate why people should do business with you? On the Web there is a necessity to be bold, creative, and entertaining. It doesn't matter if you're selling legal services or leg warmers, if you don't make an impression, your audience won't listen, and if they don't listen they won't remember you, let alone why they should care.
There is a lot of emphasis today on speed, but your website is not the place to encourage it. In fact you want to do the exact opposite. You want your audience to slow down, relax, listen, and absorb what your video has to say. If your video delivers informative, entertaining content then your audience, the ones that are serious about what you do will listen and one of the best ways to get them to listen is to tell a story.
All stories, at least the ones you are going to remember, have three key elements. Think of how professional comedians construct a story: there's a setup, a twist, and a punch line. A well-constructed Web video has similar elements: a setup that presents the problem, an elaboration of difficulties, issues, conventional wisdom, or false solutions, and the 'aha' resolution. Remove any one of the elements and the presentation falls apart. If speed is your goal, buy a sports car, if marketing success is what you want, demand the three elements that make a presentation worth watching.
When It's All Said and Done
When your video production team comes back to you with a concept, ask yourself is it bold. Is it something people will remember? Does it speak to the question why should anybody want to do business with you?
One last note about deciding whether or not the concept you're presented is the right one. If your spouse, best friend, or in-laws don't understand it and are afraid some people will be offended, then you know that it's targeted, and it's probably the exact right approach to take. If you play it coy so as not to offend anyone, and if you insist that everything you do and every feature and benefit you offer be highlighted, then for sure you will fail. A production team can only be as good as you let them be.