Creating Compelling Video Content

Published Jun, 4 2014
This session was presented live at a past SoundBoard event.
Content Track
1:30 pm - 2:20 pm

video contentVideo content is an increasingly important component of online marketing campaigns. Engaging video can help your business get found, communicate key ideas, and help convert leads into sales. Powerful tools are making it easier than ever to produce quality video media, yet that only increases the competition and makes it harder to differentiate yourself. So if you plan on creating your own video content, or hiring someone to help, you’ll want to keep the below advice in mind.

Create Content for the Viewer, Not Your Business

If there were official rules to creating video content, the first, second, and third rule would all be “plan from the perspective of the audience, not the presenter.” Businesses understandably think highly of their products and services, and tend to want to communicate everything all at once. The expectation is that the viewer will make sense of it all and clamor to buy.

In reality, your video has a shot at communicating a single point, with maybe a few subpoints. That’s why if you want to get your point across it’s critical to consider what’s interesting to the viewer. So if you hear yourself starting to sound like Joe Isuzu droning on about the myriad features of your product, then you might want to take a step back and reasses.

Have a Conversation to Create Authenticity

If you’re working with “real” people (i.e. non-actors), it’s important to make them feel at ease so that your footage feels authentic and credible to your audience. They might expertly handle customers all day long, but are understandably less experienced at talking to them through a camera lens.

For starters, do not let your talent prepare in advance, and don’t force them to look directly into the camera. What works for professional actors tends to make regular folks start doing a bad impression of a robot. Just have a genuine, engaging conversation about what they do, and before you know it, they’ll forget the camera is even there.

That sort of authenticity is what will resonate with your audience. It may take a 30 minute conversation to get 30 seconds of gold, but it’ll be well worth it. Keep in mind, people also mirror what they see, so make sure to bring a lot of confidence and energy to the table!

Make Your Content Memorable

There are a number of devices you can employ to increase the likelihood that your message will be remembered. Something is “catchy” if it is interesting. Rhythm and melody are interesting, and even get stored in a special part of your brain. That’s why nursery rhymes are so catchy, and why you know all the words to “Ice, Ice, Baby” but maybe not what you had for breakfast.

Humor is also a powerful tool to make your message memorable. A lot of brands fear coming across as unserious, but a little humor goes a long way to breaking down the digital barriers between business and customer. When we laugh with someone online we come to feel like we better know them. As a result, we become more receptive to hearing and internalizing messages.

Emotional and educational appeals are also effective mechanisms for fostering some catchiness, particularly if the audience is rewarded with something unexpected. This Toys for Tots video is one our favorite examples of an unexpected ending.

Regardless of which direction you go, however, don’t forget that knowing your audience and creating content for them is the most important consideration. So create something useful, with interesting information, and stay away from sales copy!

Don’t Close the Deal

Sounds counterintuitive, right? The one thing you want your video to do is help you sell. Far too often, however, the eagerness to sell makes for terrible video content. As mentioned above, it’s tempting to load in a bunch of sales copy and numerous calls-to-action (CTA). Most people who request that sort of thing know just enough to be dangerous.

Rather than try to close a sale with every video, recognize that there are multiple stages of the sales cycle, from awareness to consideration to conversion, and different types of content are appropriate for each.

That’s why it’s important to clearly understand the purpose of your content. If you’ve targeted the first stage of a sales lifecycle, “awareness,” then you are likely more interested in informing your potential customer. A hard sell would likely scare them away. From that perspective, your goal is not to necessarily close the deal, but to close that stage and drive customers to content in another life cycle stage. This all goes back to creating content for your audience. Notice a theme here?

Enhance Your Production Value with Minimal Effort

The easiest way to vastly increase the production value of your videos is typically the most overlooked: sound. Smartphones have powerful cameras but weak microphones. There are a number of relatively inexpensive options out there that will plug into your phone and make a huge difference.

If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, we recommend getting your hands on a DSLR camera and a tripod. The camera’s still shots are excellent and they produce extremely high-quality video, too. Many DSLR cameras are only around $500. If you plan to make a lot of videos, or want a polished, professional product without spending a fortune, then DSLRs are definitely the way to go.

Finally, a great deal of the professional look and feel of videos comes from the production software. We recommend grabbing a license for the Adobe Creative Suite. A monthly membership to Adobe’s cloud-based plan that includes all its top products is only $49.99/mo. As long as you’re using it, it’s well worth it.

Professional-grade products like Adobe’s can get complex fast, but within a couple hours of playing around and watching how-to videos on YouTube and Lynda, you’ll be well on your way to a basic working understanding of the software. You can then use platforms like Wistia or Vimeo to host your videos and even let you build in call-to-action buttons.

With these software skills and tips, you’ll be producing great videos before you know it. Good luck!