Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Selling the Sizzle With Video: Part 1

Selling the sizzle.
Even in times like these, video engagement is still marketing’s hottest tool. Here are eight ways to engage viewer interest and maximize your investment.

For marketers, the latest Google “this” or the newest YouTube “that” seem to offer a new sales-generating magic bullet every week. Yet according to Advertising Age (February 23, 2009) there is “a growing body of evidence which suggests not only that TV advertising still works, but that it may be working better than ever.”

This points out a marketing maxim that hasn't changed in the last half century of advertising.

If engagement with your audience is important, the most effective communications approach is still the combination of sight, sound, intellect and emotion.

Even champions of the online industry are struck by the interactive world’s inability to fully engage consumers. Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, recently said, “We need a creative renaissance in interactive advertising... Whatever form it takes, great creative… engages the consumers’ intellect and emotions in ways that create bonds between consumers and advertisers…”

The word's getting around. Forward-thinking marketers are creating their own web “newscasts.” Individually personalizing online-delivered videos by recipient’s name. Capturing and sharing the glowing recommendations of their clients. Introducing their company’s unique brand at prospect meetings. Consolidating training programs. Saying “Welcome” to thousands of new employees, one online meeting at a time. Re-purposing existing video so it’s exactly the right message for their website.

Obviously, not every great idea is great for your situation. But here are a few thought-starters, guidelines and ways to make sure your next video hits all the right notes to engage your audiences, one person at a time.

Engage viewer interest.
At its heart, video that works tells a story. Viewers want you to touch their hearts, tickle their funny bone, engage their interest visually, aurally, intellectually and emotionally. Videos that work well employ the following guidelines instinctively.

1. Get real.
Studies still confirm that most of us buy with our heart, not our head. So it’s important for your video to establish a personal connection with the viewer. Hint – utilizing real people is a good start.

2. Tell a story.
Nothing entertains and engages like a well-told tale. Try telling yours by imagining first and foremost what your viewer would like to hear, not what you’d like to sell them.

3. Use video’s emotional power.
Ever wonder why “How did that make you feel?” is often the first question a TV reporter asks? It’s simple. Video is by far the most powerful medium for conveying emotion. For marketers, that equals engagement, and that means sales.

4. Entertain.
Each of the many elements that comprise your video will be critical to its success. Your choice of actors, company spokespersons, testimonials, voiceover, music, pacing, length and “tone” can all support your video’s goal and brand – or compromise it. Choose carefully.

5. Leave humor to the professionals.
There are limited ways a joke can be told well – endless ways to tell one badly. Because our industry serves so many with substantial disposable income, treat your audience as you would face-to-face. Respectfully.

6. Write to the picture, not your sales plan.
TV news covers thousands of fires and natural disasters every year, but budget debacles rarely. Why? Fires and natural disasters make for a more dramatic visual story. Build your script from the visuals up.

7. Sell first, educate later.
“Say one thing and say it well” has long been an axiom for success in advertising. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Stay focused on the single message you want them to remember.

8. Assume that your mother cares – but no one else does.
There’s a battle for your audience’s attention every minute. Creating your video is the first step in getting it seen. Pay attention to how you plan to promote and distribute it as another key factor in its success.

In my next post, I'll discuss how to maximize your online investment with video. Talk to you then!

Gerry Hanlon is a Producer and President of CustomCorporateVideos.com, a video production company specializing in maximizing video quality on a limited budget.

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