Three years ago, I saved this tweet from GaryVee into a draft blog post.
“Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.”
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) March 18, 2010
Three years. I’ve rewritten this post more times than I can count. The point is, this little 140 character tweet cuts to the core of so much that I aspire to as an animator of explainer videos. The reason is because truly outstanding storytelling can be the difference between someone leaning forward and paying attention to your video and someone just clicking away and tuning you out. Storytelling, more than ever, is what sets great companies apart from their competition. Why? Human nature. Let’s face it, everyone enjoys a good story and people don’t relate to brands; they relate to people.
A story can be an incredibly effective tool for your business. The biggest reason is because viewers are entertained as opposed to sold to. Using corporate speak is the fastest way to lose a viewer. Your story should convey a feeling that is bigger than your product or service and in a way that is like a yarn being spun between friends. If it is well written, it will “illustrate” how your product or service accomplishes a goal or solves a problem without using salesy language that would have turned them away originally.
The unexpected piques curiosity
Nothing makes people lean forward more than seeing something out of the ordinary. Whether that is George Washington taking a multiple choice test or some other preposterous scenario, make the “hook” in your story unique and people will pay attention. A viewer’s mind will naturally begin to look for answers which will get them invested in your video and how the story resolves. P.S. make sure you resolve the story.
Humanize the story
If you want to entertain, then your story ought to grab people’s attention. People WANT to laugh and they want to smile. By appealing to their emotions, that’s how you humanize your brand. Tell the story of your product or service like you’d tell a story to a friend over a beer. Not over several beers as we all know what happens to your storytelling ability once your brain has been lubricated. But you do want the viewer to feel like you understand them or like you are speaking DIRECTLY to them. How do you do that? Put ‘them’ in the video and speak to their key problems that your product or service solves. Here’s a typical story line that I use often during the script writing process:
Meet Paul. His job is made stressful because of XYZ. He discovers YOUR SERVICE HERE and gives it a try because it makes dealing with XYZ so much easier. It works fantastically and Paul is happy as a lark. Don’t YOU want to feel like Paul?
Make the viewer see themselves or their own situation in what is going on in your video. If someone clicked to watch the video, they’ve already expressed interest. Now you need to show them:
- You understand their pain points or anxieties
- You came up with a solution to solve their problems
- Explain how your product or service solves these problems
- Show that it will all be OK
Every brand, every service, every widget out there has a story to tell. You just need to know how to tell it and how to make your viewer lean in to learn more.
Twitter built its reputation and entire platform upon the credo of brevity. 140 characters, in a tweet. No more. In a time when content creation was “the more verbose, the better”, Twitter released it’s microblogging social media service. The rest is history. So what can your video learn from Twitter?
Well for one, Twitter thrives on being short. I mean really short. In a prior post I wrote about online video viewing habits - 10% of your audience clicks away after only 10 seconds and more than half click away after a minute. Getting to the point can be difficult when you are scripting a video, particularly when you are passionate about what you do. Having someone write your script for can be critically important because they are not as close to the product as you are and therefore can be ruthless in cutting to the core message.
When you are on Twitter, you don’t cram everything you have to say into one tweet. The tweet is a tease. It’s the peanut butter in your marketing mouse trap. Your introductory videos should be treated the same way. Rather than cramming everything about your product or service into one video, break up that video into snackable content that will keep your audience engaged. Make it sweet and to the point but leave them wanting more with a strong call to action built in.
Think about how Twitter treats video and their recent release of the Vine video app. Like Tweets, the brevity of videos featured on Vine is 6 seconds or less. Requiring the user to get to the point quickly and creatively.
So did this blog post get to the point in 140 characters. Unfortunately, no. That would have been awesome but I needed a few more characters to get my point across. Do any of your online marketing videos emulate Twitter?
The Harlem Shake is dead. Well…at least I hope so. For the past month or so I’ve seen a multitude of companies making their own copies of this “dance craze”. Why? Well they are easy to do. All you need is a few people willing to wear some ridiculous props and a video camera or smartphone. They are also fun to make. At least I’m assuming so, otherwise there wouldn’t be literally millions of them.
Few Harlem Shake videos had any true viral reach. The biggest being the Miami Heat’s version which had over 41 million views at the time of this posting, even more than the original Harlem Shake that started the craze. Another Harlem Shake video that had a true viral reach was the Simpsons “Homer Shake” with 26 million views. The vast majority of other videos with millions of views were compilations or best of Harlem Shake videos. So what did both the Miami Heat’s and Simpsons Harlem Shake videos have in common? They were both professionally produced. Coincidence? Probably not.
What troubled me was seeing marketing agencies doing their own versions of the Harlem Shake, which begs the question “Are you a sheep or are you the shepherd?” This doesn’t just apply to the Harlem Shake but any sort of band wagon trend that is going on. As a marketing agency you are trusted to lead your client’s creative marketing efforts, they rely on you and your expertise. So how do you market yourself and set yourself apart from the herd of competition? By doing something everyone else is doing. Brilliant!
Trust me Harlem Shake videos look fun to make. I’d personally need a few adult beverages to loosen my limbs first, but I get it. The problem is that sort of “fun” should really be part of your HR marketing not your main brand marketing. Especially as an agency. It just makes you look lazy and aside from the internal company fun of creating one, what does it get you? A “bunch” of views on YouTube? Great. But were they “quality” views? In other words, how many were views that led to potential leads entering your sales funnel?
So when it comes to the next Harlem Shake, ‘Call Me Maybe’ Sing-A-Long or whatever the next craze is…do it for fun at your company. Have a blast. You could even share it as part of your HR messaging. It’s a great way to show your company culture and to build camaraderie from within. But please remember to avoid the pack mentality and be the shepherd. That is what truly will set you apart and get you noticed.
When I am talking to clients, I always recommend that their initial introductory video should be like a first date. When you go on a first date, people don’t want to hear all about you and everything you’ve done and what makes you so awesome. That, likely, will not get you a second date. So how do you avoid this? People want to be heard and they want to identify with what is going on in your video. So be interesting. Be Clever. Make your video fun.
You want the person you are sitting across from, or in the case of the video – the person who is viewing, to feel like you understand them. Make it an intimate conversation. No…not that kind of intimate! Your goal in the video is to make the viewer feel like you are speaking to them. How do you do that? Put ‘them’ in the video and speak to their key problems that your product or service solves. Here’s a typical story line that I use often during the script writing process:
Meet Carrie. She has this problem causing her stress. She discovers YOUR SERVICE HERE and gives it a try. It works great and now Carries is happy and care free. Don’t YOU want to feel like Carrie?
The idea is, you want the viewer to be nodding along with the video, seeing themselves in the shoes of the character onscreen. If someone has clicked to watch the video, they’ve already expressed interest. Now you need to speak to the big question they have:
What’s in it for me?
If you can’t answer this simple question to the viewer, they are gone. Not answering this simple question would be the equivalent in a first date of droning on and on about yourself only to look across the table and realize that your date left.
The other critical aspect you need to remember is to keep it short. This is an introduction not your life story. Make it brief snackable content to pique their curiosity make the end user want to take the next step to learn more. Whether that is watching other videos that take a deeper dive, testimonial videos or signing up for a demo. Those calls to action are your second date.
So what’s your sign…that your introductory or explainer video is effective?
Are you preparing to grow your potential audience on a global scale? The amazing thing about the age we live in is if your product or service is portable, you can market to the world. Have you had your animated explainer video translated into all of the languages you are looking to launch your product or service in? No? Why not?
That’s the great thing about marketing animations and explainer videos is usually there is no onscreen talent speaking in front of a camera, it’s graphics moving and reacting to the story the voice over is telling. So you can translate that video into a multitude of different languages quickly and efficiently in a few easy steps:
Step 1: Translate
The first step of translating your video is, well, to get it translated. You can have a friend do it who is fluent in the language but I recommend that you use a professional translation service. Some translation services that I recommend are Compass Languages, Gengo and Translated.net. The reason is, if you ask a French speaking Canadian friend to translate a script into Parisian French, it will be ‘French’ but might not have the same ‘message’ as if a professional translator did it. That’s because professional translators know how to keep the tone and pace the same as your original delivery and not get caught up in the details of making sure it is correct word for word. Some phrases and metaphors might not translate well, but a professional will know how to keep the intent the same but make sure that all important tone is translated the most effectively.
Step 2: Voice
Now that you got the script translated your next step is to find a native speaker who can deliver your message in their language as effectively as the original. A great resource for finding that talent is Voice123. You simply post a project with your budget for the voice over and language specifics and Voice123 will notify qualified voice over artists about the project. I use them frequently to find native speakers of a language, some voice over artists can even do regional dialects within a country for even more specificity and targeting. You can ask them to do a sample read for you as well during the casting process so you can get a feel for their pace, style and delivery.
Step 3: Tweak the animation
Now that the voice over is done, you may need to move around concepts and graphics on your video timeline based on where the new voice over is. Some sentences take longer to say in one language than another so you just want to make sure that the impact of the graphics timing is in sync with what is being talked about in the voice over. Also did you incorporate any words into your video graphics? If so, make sure that your language specialist also did this translation work for you. If you haven’t started production on your video yet and are planning for this video to be distributed globally, it would be a good idea to keep the onscreen text content to a minimum as you storyboard out the visuals. That way you can keep the translated version editing process streamlined and keep the revisions needed in the graphics to a minimum.
Step 4: Distribution
Once you’ve finalized that video you also want to make sure you get it distributed correctly. So if you have multilanguage versions of your website catering to the local audience (strongly recommended) you should include the newly translated version of your explainer video. Want to put it up on YouTube? Go for it! Have the translators rewrite the title, tags and descriptions for you as well.
As an alternative to redoing the full voice over, or in addition to, you can also add multiple caption tracks to your YouTube video. Caption tracks automatically detect the viewer’s language browser setting and can deploy the transcript in their language of choice. Once you get your script translated, the process of uploading it to YouTube on your video is fairly simple. You can read the detailed caption translation process on their blog. Translating and uploading the captions also has an added SEO benefit, because the transcript becomes data that Google indexes and includes in search. So no matter where people are searching, your information will come up in their language (as long as their language is one you have translated content of that is).
How do you know you’re ready for global domination? Taking a quick look at your Google Analytics is a simple and easy way for you to see and gauge whether your audience is already expanding beyond your borders and if you need to take the next step to cater and nurture that audience by translating your content.
So what about you? Have you started translating any of your web content or videos?
Are you incorporating video into your online marketing mix in 2013? Want to know how others are leveraging online video in their marketing mix? Participating in surveys is a great way to gather this valuable data.
The Web Video Marketing Council (aka WVMC) & ReelSEO are co-sponsoring the 2013 Online Video Marketing Survey which will provide some interesting statistics and information about how survey participants will be utilizing video for this year and beyond.
The survey consists of 25 simple questions and takes only 5 minutes to complete (really just 5 minutes…I did it myself).
To receive an advance copy of the survey and report, please provide your email address at the end of the survey. All participants taking the survey who provide their email address will receive a free “participants” copy of the 2013 Video Marketing Survey & Trends Report, which will list for $199.00. This survey is underwritten by the Web Video Marketing Council and ReelSEO. Adelie Studios has no affiliation with either organization sponsoring the survey or the survey itself. We just think it’s a great opportunity to gain some insights into how other businesses are utilizing online video and to gain some valuable data into online video marketing trends. You can either click here or the “Take Survey” button below.
Or why would you create an infographic when you could create a video?
You’ve seen them. They’re everywhere. Chances are, if you have anything to do with marketing or sales, one or a million infographics have crossed your path recently. Infographics have experienced exponential growth over the past year. Why? Well people absorb data better visually and can more easily understand stats presented visually than in a paragraph of text. We live in a visual age; is it any wonder that Pinterest has rocketed to the top of social networks so quickly? It’s because it’s all visual.
Herein lies a fine line. Some data is just too unruly or isn’t organized cleanly enough and the infographic becomes confusing or misleading. People creating infographics sometimes try to cram too much information in and it just ends up making you scratch your head rather than understand the data. You may have seen one yourself recently.
Recently I saw one profiling the top cities in the country where smartphones where either lost or stolen. What is that combined graphic telling me? Do those cities have a high crime rate or just really forgetful people who live there? Another recently claimed that “14% of all moms are mommy bloggers” which seemed astoundingly high. Upon further research, they pulled the stat from a survey which defined “mommy blogger” as “any mother who had read or contributed to a blog in the last 30 days”. Writing a blog and reading a blog are very different things. The point is an infographic is supposed to break down stats so they are easy to consume and share. When you try to cram too much data or text information into any infographic it will get confusing.
Then there’s the infographic about the state of online video. There’s a lot of fantastic data in there along with the accompanying research report and it’s very well done, but when you’re talking about online video, why wouldn’t you make a video? Why not extract a lot of that text out of the infographic, script it into an entertaining voice over, and then set motion to those graphics to really tell the story and entertain the viewer?
With video you have the opportunity to entertain and really capture the audience experience. With an infographic that data is just a static image, interpreted by the viewer however they choose to read it. With video, or an explainer video, you can truly visualize a message by adding motion effects to the graphics, music and a voice over providing a more entertaining delivery of information. You can also explain complicated data more efficiently with the help of moving visuals and audio to tell the story simultaneously.
A slyly humorous infographic about sex and hygiene made the rounds on all the social channels a few months ago. But what if the creators had created a video version complete with some “applicable” music and a very cheekily delivered voice over? What potential viral reach could it have achieved?
So do I think there is a place for infographics? Yes. They are a fun way to visually convey very simple, top-level facts and figures. However designers and marketers creating them need to remember it is a one-dimensional static image. Don’t make it something it isn’t by trying to cram too much text and graphics into the design. If you truly want to make the data easy to understand, fun and easily shareable; then you need graphics combined with movement and audio to completely tell your story in an entertaining and more effective way. If that is your goal, then an explainer video is the way to go.
Maybe while searching the internet (perhaps how you found this post) you’ve come across the term “explainer video” and wondered “what the heck is that?” One of the most famous one’s you are probably familiar with is the one created for Dropbox by Common Craft which is pretty much the only visual you see on their home page. This simple video on a targeted landing page helped launch Dropbox from a very cool little file sharing startup to the company they are today with over 50 million customers and a roughly 4 billion dollar valuation.
I’m not exactly sure where the term originated but the gist is that Explainer videos ‘explain’ what you do quickly and easily so anyone can understand it. It’s kind of like CliffsNotes for your business – a short and concise version of exactly what your company does.
So why are explainer videos growing in popularity? Well one reason is because learning through audio/visual methods is more conducive to how the human brain is wired to retain information because you can naturally retain more information when more than one of your senses is engaged. So if the viewer watches a video with both audio and visuals they are far more likely to remember that than just a text description. In fact, in a recent survey by Forbes of C-level business executives indicated that 59% said they would rather watch an online video than read text covering the same information on a website.
Another reason explainer videos are popular is they greatly increase conversions. According to Internet Retailer, 52% of consumers say that watching an explainer product video made them more confident in their online purchase decisions and 66% of consumers will watch the video two or more times. If you can help the consumer understand what you do faster, you can get them to take the next step that much quicker. It’s that snackable content the people are looking for to help them make more informed decisions.
The easiest way to think of an explainer video is this is your elevator pitch to simply define your product or service and what makes it great. The idea of the ”elevator pitch” is that you should be able to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or less than two minutes. What is great about explainer videos is no human is capable of delivering the perfect pitch so everyone can understand it consistently. It’s impossible. Sometimes you’re tired and lacking energy sometimes you’ve delivered it one hundred times in a row to no avail and it’s that one hundred and first delivery that needs to be perfect. Maybe you aren’t properly caffeinated? Maybe you are over caffeinated? An explainer video helps you to deliver that elevator pitch in a consistent way every time. Whether the person is watching the video at three o’clock in the morning or in the middle of a busy day, an explainer video makes sure that your message is conveyed clearly and the next step or call to action you want the viewer to take next is built right in.
So if you don’t have an explainer video, we can help you out. If you do, what kind of success are you having with it converting your visitors?
I get asked what the ideal length for a video is quite a bit. In fact I’ve blogged about it once or twice in the past. The answer, I’ve decided, is how well does your audience know you? This is where a content strategy as part of your marketing funnel comes in. I use the term “marketing funnel” but the term is really a misnomer. A funnel implies that everything goes in and proceeds to the bottom. When it comes to marketing and your online content, a better analogy is really a snowstorm. Some of the snow lands in your backyard, some blows into your neighbors yards. Snowflakes are like website visitors – the key is if they drift anywhere near your yard, make sure that the vast majority land there and ultimately become customers. That’s hopefully the end goal anyway. That being said a funnel is a much easier thing to illustrate for the purposes of video content so I’ll just stick with it. Just keep in mind that
Top of the funnel
If you want to make sure that the maximum amount of people view your videos, your video needs to be short. Very short, two minutes at the absolute most while somewhere in the neighborhood of sixty to ninety seconds is ideal. It’s an introduction – short, witty and to the point. It’s an elevator pitch. You really want to design this content so it piques the viewers curiosity and gets them to the next step of your re-marketing to them – whether that is to sign up for a free trial, subscribe or whatever the call to action is for your video. People who are just browsing to look for a solution to their problem, will not be willing to invest a lot of time. Make sure that your target message really sticks to one important point per video.
Middle of the funnel
Subscribers, customers and people familiar with your brand will spend longer with your content once they know you, particularly if they feel that your product or service could be the answer to their needs. Here are videos usually two to ten minutes that could include in-depth product or service tutorials, company culture videos, longer case study testimonial videos, etc. Anything that really does a deeper dive into what your product or service does and how it helps with more specific details. For instance we created a top of the funnel video for a cloud based app-testing service and then developed ten more middle of the funnel videos speaking to specific functions like how cloud based testing works, desktop app testing, mobile app testing, etc. This type of video content should be designed for people who have shown an interest in your product but are looking to get more information about how it can help their specific set of needs.
Bottom of the funnel
This is where your customers and brand advocates are. If they have gotten to this stage, then they are very familiar with your products or services and find the content you are producing valuable. This is a captive audience who have no problem sitting through a ten minute or longer webinars or in depth tutorial videos. Here is where you can provide value added content by interviewing industry experts or hosting webinars on specialty aspects of your industry. This content doesn’t specifically promote your product or service but is usually educational content around the industry your product or service assists. For instance HubSpot provides an all-in-one marketing software solution and their bottom of the funnel content includes a wealth of online marketing webinars and longer form content including a weekly marketing update podcast. They also frequently include top of the funnel videos on landing pages specifically designed for this longer form content. Why? Well, when those “snowflakes” are “drifting” out there, you can’t always control where they are going to land first.
Back to that snowflake…
So once a snowflake or “lead” drifts near your backyard you need to nurture it to keep it there. What is that snowflake looking for? A constantly cold temperature? Other snow flakes to mingle with? No dogs sniffing around to make them yellow? Alright, I’m done with the snowstorm metaphor for now, but you get the picture. The idea is you want more snackable content on landing pages of your website to attract more quality leads, provide more in depth content for those who are familiar with your brand but are not at a purchasing stage yet and longer more in depth video and offerings to your keep your customer base engaged.
Are you employing these tactics with your video marketing? I’d love for you to share any ideas or success stories you’ve had.
In a previous post we took a look at how to get started creating your business video. Before you ever get there, you need to define your message. One of the most difficult steps in beginning any animation project is defining that message and keeping the video focused. Here are some process stages that you need to do to lay the groundwork for your animated marketing video or any marketing video for that matter.
Video Messaging: Less is more
Keep your message as targeted as possible, you really want to focus on one simple aspect to convey as clearly as possible in the video. We run into this all the time as our clients are passionate about what they do and easily can fall into the trap of trying to cram too much into one video. If you try to put everything into one video what usually ends up happening is the viewer get’s overwhelmed and will stop watching. Studies show that, in introductory marketing videos you lose about half your audience after one minute. Instead of putting it all into one video, use shorter, snackable video content to drive the viewer to view other value propositions your product or service offers.
Storyboard: Putting visuals to the words
A storyboard will help you to define your imagery and get your core message conveyed as effectively as possible. Usually in the storyboard process we realize that we could trim more from the scripting to shorten the video’s overall length. In the script writing process, we use a text description of the visuals for the storyboard. Then once the script and basic visuals of the storyboard are set, we create what’s called an animatic which is basically a storyboard utilizing a recorded voice over track and very basic, quickly drawn visuals. The animatic is critical to allow our clients to get a good feel for how the video will visually flow. Here’s an example of an initial animatic we created for a recent animation project for MyVR:
As you can see it’s very basic, quickly sketched out visuals with arrows to denote movement. And here is the final finished product below:
You can see by watching both the animatic and finished video that there were some elements that stayed relatively consistent to the original animatic and others things that needed to be changed completely to tell their story more effectively. While culling down your message to one key focus can be one of the most difficult steps in the video production process, it’s also the most critical to the video’s success. At least I think so, what do you think?