I recently had a prospective client describe the foundation of his marketing strategy as “developing an awesome viral video.” He said this video will “garner so much attention that it will drive enormous traffic to my website and trigger massive purchase intent for our product.” As an example, he cited the highly-publicized success story of Dollar Shave Club, asserting that the meteoric rise of their brand was due to their clever promotional video, which went viral and to date has received nearly 25 million views. However, he failed to acknowledge that Dollar Shave Club spent over $80 million on advertising in 2016 – which might also have a little bit to do with their “overnight” success. Rather than engage him in a debate on the finer points of integrated marketing strategy, I decided to agree with him. The use of video had a transformational impact for Dollar Shave Club. It helped them launch their brand story and execute their strategy to disrupt and shake up what had been a sleepy and stodgy category.
“Viral video” is a marketing buzz word that is bantered around a lot these days. Everyone wants one but they’re not exactly sure how to produce it. So, what exactly constitutes a viral video? How many views does it need to be considered viral? What ingredients does it take to “go viral”?
“A guide for creating a successful viral campaign is as effective as a tutorial on how to win the lottery.”
— Christian Haas, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Now, if we had the secret recipe for creating viral videos, we probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now! The purpose of this post is not to reveal the secrets of producing a viral video. Rather, it is to convince you of the importance of video as a vehicle to help you transform your marketing, even if your videos never go viral.
Launching a high impact brand story previously relied heavily on distribution through broad reach media, like TV, and focusing on high production value methods, materials, and stagecraft skills. These days, however, online video is king and every kid with an iPhone can go toe-to-toe with a Clio award-winning ad agency.
Looking at this through TopRight’s lens of simplicity, clarity, and alignment, here are a few tips to help you get started with video marketing.
1. Keep it Simple with Explainer Videos
One of the best approaches to get started marketing your products or services is to make an explainer video. An explainer video simply describes who you are, what your story is, and what you offer to your target customers. If you want to amp it up a bit, you can also introduce animation to help demonstrate your product or service in action. Animation gives you the freedom to show things that might not work well with live-action, such as oversaturated colors, big exaggerated movements, and, of course, the integration of symbols to help simplify complex ideas to better engage your audience without putting them to sleep! Explainer videos also share well on social media because of their entertaining and educational nature. When done right, they shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch. If your audience feels like they want to be part of your story, they will be motivated to share with others.
2. Give Your Audience a Clear Reason to Care, Watch and Engage
Your target customers have a lot of other salespeople and marketers vying for their attention. They are constantly bombarded with sales pitches, white papers, infographics, free trials – a never-ending litany of offers. Those things take time to read, and they’re rarely enjoyable. As marketers, oftentimes we are so eager to push messaging at our prospects that we fail to give them sufficient reason to care about, let alone engage with, our brand. Transformative marketers create content as if they were presenting a gift to a friend – generously giving to the audience without necessarily asking for something in return. Video is the perfect medium for delivering that kind of gift. It enables you to tell your brand story quickly and help the audience to envision themselves as part of that story — which is tough to accomplish with text alone. Further, with video, you can trigger emotion, connect with your viewers and clearly measure their interactions in ways that are impossible with written word. And of course, it always helps if you can work in a little humor. It may only be five seconds long, but this dramatic clip of a shocked chipmunk still makes us chuckle.
3. Align Audience Attention on a Specific Call-to-Action
It may be the cinematographer’s favorite transition, but for your marketing video, you should never fade-to-black. If your audience has watched to the end of a video, don’t leave them with a blank screen. Focus their attention on a specific call to action pointing to related videos, stories, research, or white papers. Fading to black is a way of insinuating closure, or an ending, and while that works great on the big screen, you never want prospective clients to think of your message as final. Instead, you want to make potential customers curious or excited about engaging with you. Make the last frame of your video something bright and vivid, with the correct branding and contact info, so that even if their attention wanes and they focus on something else, people still see contact information when they revisit their screen or browser tab. This may seem obvious, but make sure to flash your contact info, especially your URL, throughout your promotional explainer video as well as at the end. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your audience is watching your video on your website or your YouTube channel. The idea behind video marketing is social sharing, so always assume that someone has stumbled upon your brand’s video without ever having heard of you before. Present your website address a minimum of three times to help with memorization.
“Viral videos aren’t just about being funny. They’re about identity creation.”
— Ricky Van Veen, Co-Founder of CollegeHumor and Head of Global Creative Strategy for Facebook
In the end, none of these tips will help if you don’t do your homework. Make sure to look at video trends across your industry and see what is engaging people in your category. Research the viewing habits of your target audience and be sure to tailor your content to their specific needs and interests. Most importantly, keep a close eye on the analytics of your own video content so you can see what works and what doesn’t, then make better content and production plans for future videos based on your findings.
Learn more about how to harness the power of the six-second story in your video marketing to engage prospects and inspire remarkable customer experiences. Download our free book: The TopRight Guide to Transformational Marketing.