Speak from the inside out
I see so many companies these days talk about how great their product is without regard for what it does for their customers. “Powerful cleaning agents!” “Super low interest rates!” “Reduces pet odors!” To be relevant in today’s socially connected world, you have to present your product, brand, or service in the context of what your audience gains from it. Otherwise, they’ll simply ignore you. You might as well pay for advertising, and pay some more.
Let me put it this way… If you were to meet someone at a party and all they did was talk about how great they think they are, you would tune out and bail. “Hey, look! They’re serving oysters.” But if they instead asked about your interests and discussed things that you cared about, you just might consider continuing the conversation. This is especially true if they offer special insight or advice about a topic you’re interested in.
So rather than thinking about your company from the inside (what your product does), think about it from the outside (what your buyer gains from it) instead. Phrases such as, “Spend less time cleaning,” “Buy the home of your dreams,” and “Love your pet again” are far more powerful than bloviating about mere features and functions.
Going on and on (and on)
Will you please just get to the point already? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to reach for the scrub bar to advance a video to the part where I will actually get something of value. Rather than publishing a six- or even a four-minute marketing video, cut it down to two. Then cut it down some more. Not only will the bulk of your long video (yes, two minutes is long) be ignored, people will snicker at how much you “don’t get it.”
People are way too busy when watching on their mobile device or PC. If your video doesn’t grab them in the first 10 seconds, you’re toast.
Our rule-of-thumb is less than 45 seconds for first impressions, less than 2 minutes for technology introductions, and less than 4 minutes for deeply technical subjects. And even those super long ones should be broken down by viewer type or subtopic.
We have a number of tricks for shrinking down scripts. The easiest one is to show one thing while the narrator discusses a related topic. The result is two concepts at once, thus shrinking that section in half. This works especially well by simply showing bullet points during related narration.
Using too many adjectives
In case you snoozed your way through English class, adjectives are words that make something sound better. Words like fast (cleaning agents), powerful (analytics), advanced (chemistry), incredible (horsepower), and so forth. You get the picture. The problem with using too many adjectives is a lot like the story about the boy who cried wolf; if you say it too many times, it begins to not sound true. With too many adjectives, people lose faith in the product’s intrinsic value. If your product really needs all those adjectives, maybe it isn’t all that good. So it’s best to try to avoid overusing adjectives. Let simple truth shine through.
Detailing product descriptions and features
Video isn’t the place to go into great detail about product features and how it works. Yes, you want to entice people with your innovation but don’t give them long lists of features, specifications, and installation requirements. Save all that stuff for web pages and printed materials. You can certainly mention game-changing technology and outright differentiation, but spend the bulk of your presentation enticing them to learn more.
Including calls to action
Now, I know this is a contentious issue but I feel strongly that calls to action don’t have a place in most marketing videos. I know what you’re saying to yourself right now, “But they’re for marketing! I want action!” The problem with calls to action in a marketing video is that the audience has just finished being either entertained or educated about something cool and, all of a sudden, they’re being sold to. They may not have even looked at the competition, have no idea if it will fit into their environment, and don’t even know how much it’s going to cost, and now you’re telling them to buy it? Personally, I bail without doing what they ask every time. I think it’s presumptuous to push the product so hard.
That being said, you’ll notice that I said “most” marketing videos. The only time I would recommend including a strong call to action is after longer videos (see item #2 above). Only then are you giving them enough information to make a reasonable assessment of it that they can think about continuing the engagement. And even then the call to action I recommend would be gentle: less “buy now” and more “go here to learn more.”