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Make a promotional video production that wins customers

Table of contents

    What are promotional videos and why invest in them?

    A promotional video is the video your customers see the moment they first land on your page.

    An effective promotional video engages them by skillfully outlining your business proposition, greatly increasing your chances of hitting target and winning more customers than otherwise.

    They're not the same as social media videos who's job is to engage, or win a click to your landing page like a Facebook or Twitter ad.

    Over the next 15 minutes you’ll discover a promotional video production method that's purpose-built to win more customers, one that’ll amply repay your initial investment

    - whatever your spend level or available resources.

    You’ll learn how to use data & evidence you may not be aware of

    - ensuring you make smart decisions throughout the whole production process

    - whether producing inhouse, or outsourcing to a video company or freelancer.

    Why is video the best for b2b content?

    B2B solutions are more difficult to explain compared with B2C products.

    An effective B2B promotional video will make your sophisticated solution seem simple to the customer,

    - increasing the chances they’ll buy

    - because they’ll quickly understand why your proposition works for them.

    B2B companies need marketing video because clients expect it.

    They don’t want a lengthy read to win their initial interest.

    The B2B marketplace is rapidly becoming: No video = No business.

    Now let’s say you need an animated promotional video for your landing page?

    The alternative is some sort of filmed video, such as a testimonial footage, or a presenter-led demo

    - but animation is by far the commonest type of promotional video, as it’s usually much quicker, cheaper and easier than filming & editing footage.

    Typically an effective promotional video is 60-90 seconds long

    - but there are many exceptions where a longer video can also work well (more later)

    You can expect to spend anything from

    - $50 per month for an online production system, which will make a “me-too” video

    - to £1,000 a minute or more for professional production that clearly differentiates you

    - to the sky’s the limit if you need the ultimate in creativity.

    Why is video the best for b2b content?
    What’s the most important quality of a good promotional video?

    What’s the most important quality of a good promotional video?

    The most important quality of a good video is achieving your goals, such as hitting quarterly target.

    As a secondary benefit, a video will increase brand awareness.

    You can prove your video achieves target by measuring the results, say, a month after launch. More on this later.

    Since it'll be central to your marketing campaign, the best route to effective video is taking a systematic, data-driven approach to every stage in the production process

    - using the available data and hard evidence to support your creative decisions

    - instead of relying on intuition, personal appeal, or simply guessing, or copying others.

    You’ll quickly learn how to use critical data and evidence to back your creative decisions.

    Harnessing data and evidence gives your promo video a greater chance of achieving its goal.

    What’s the process for promotional video production?

    Here are the 9 stages of an animated promotional video production. With slight adjustment It works equally well for film.

    Mouse over the icons to see an explanation of each stage

    Mouse over the icons
    to see an explanation of each stage

    PROJECT START

    PROJECT START

    Over webcam you confirm your broad video concept, goal, audience & deadline, plus brief us on relevant customer personas, channel strategies, marketplace, competitors and any special requirements or research you may need.

    This gets us both on-message to an agreed schedule.

    SCRIPT

    SCRIPT

    Effective video starts with a script. We develop the concepts, ideas & words with you.

    The result is an engaging storyline designed to win in your marketplace.

    Typically it takes 3-5 drafts to get your script perfect so everyone in your team is 100% convinced it’s the winning message.

    ESTABLISHING VISUAL STYLE

    ESTABLISHING VISUAL STYLE

    After giving us your initial ideas you set us loose to come up with core visual approaches that match your broad concept & brand guidelines.

    You can expect written creative suggestions & ideas to get the ball rolling, helping you identify The Look of what will become the leading video in your marketplace.

    VISUAL STYLE SAMPLES

    VISUAL STYLE SAMPLES

    Typically we create 3 artwork examples for you to look at.

    We call these Style Frames.

    They’re near-finished graphic designs so you can visualize the overall look & feel of your video.

    We work together on these until they're exactly what you & your team want.

    ILLUSTRATED STORYBOARD

    ILLUSTRATED STORYBOARD

    Now you can see in exact detail every image, scene, background and caption of your video, all set against your approved script.

    Sometimes called the Book of the Movie, your visual storyboard is hours and days of artwork compiled to show every screen so you’ll know exactly what your video will look like, in advance.

    VOICEOVER

    VOICEOVER

    You’re offered a choice of top quality voiceover artists, in the accent, gender & style you indicate.

    This includes 3 sample reads of your script so you can hear & compare your top choices, saying your actual words in advance.

    You then make an informed choice for the Voice of your Video.

    EDITING & ANIMATION

     EDITING & ANIMATION

    With everything now prepared & approved, you can confidently let us do the studio postproduction work, combining design, animation, voice, visual fx and music.

    Incidentally this involves using high specification i9, 128GB RAM, SSD, animation workstations for maximum editor creativity and a top professional finish, as well as speed of production.

    VIEWINGS & DELIVERY

    VIEWINGS & DELIVERY

    From 1st draft viewing & tweaks to final delivery doesn’t take long, because you’ve been central to approving all material at every stage.

    So it’s no surprise to see how good your explainer video looks.

    Your project is finally completed after delivery of different video & language versions for your different media channels & marketplaces.

    MEASURING EFFECTIVENESS

    MEASURING EFFECTIVENESS

    Your video viewings are measurable.

    We recommend using Vimeo or similar hosting that enables you to easily visualise viewing success.

    No more mountain of incomprehensible data & stats to climb.

    At each production stage let's discover how to find and use the available data or other hard marketing evidence that ensures each component of your video is effective at winning customers.

    Let’s begin at the beginning.

    Video project start

    GOAL SETTING

    Like any marketing project, you need to set goals or objectives when starting a video project.

    Clear video objectives are key to obtaining the right data to guide your video decisions

    - regardless of its length, budget or who’s making it.

    A written goal is a compass to navigate with through the ups & downs of production.

    Without a clear goal your video can quickly become part wishy-washy.

    Your goal needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

    Write down your goal first. Then you can measure video performance and effectiveness later.

    Then say your video goal aloud to yourself. Do it now. It’s good to hear it aloud.

    Example goals might be:

    - Enquiries or subscriptions to rise by 10%, or 30%, within a month of video launch.

    - Engagement levels & brand awareness to increase by, say:

    • an additional 10% of traffic viewing 3 pages or more
    • or a 10% reduction in Bounce Rate
    • or 30 seconds increased time on page

    Your goals will be unique to you. You decide.

    The above info gives you starting points to consider within the overall needs of your marketing video strategy.

    All goals should be plumbed into Google Analytics so you can measure before & after results at a glance, just like you would with a Google Ads spend.

    This is the goal data you’ll need later to demonstrate the video’s ROI value.

    Besides goals you’ll also need to consider

    • customer profiles
    • video style
    • market segments
    • competitors, etc

    Each of these will be covered as you progress through the production stages to follow.

    Project start is also when you'll need to draft a production schedule, estimating times for the various production stages.

    Video project start
    Video script

    Video script

    The video script is the spoken words your audience will hear as they watch your video.

    Sales video scripts all too easily tend to drift into a repeat of familiar sales bullet points. You don’t want this.

    Counter this tendency by thinking: The script is the engine that drives my video.

    Almost any script writing can be incredibly powerful if done well.

    For example, a low budget video can often punch above its weight and beat a less well researched high cost video.

    Let’s now explore what you’ll need to achieve this.

    Updating customer profiles or personas

    Who are you trying to appeal to?

    If you don’t write in a way that appeals to your customers, your target audience

    - helping solve their problems as they see them

    - then your script, your video engine, will underperform.

    Now’s the time to update your customer personas, before scriptwriting.

    For example, there’s a huge difference in the motives of an innovative young researcher who’s tasked with researching your business solution

    - compared with a middle-aged decision-maker who’s not eager to be a crash test dummy for a potentially disruptive application.

    You need to factor your persona data into your key points, and have a background awareness as you write.

    If you don’t, some of your audience may lose interest, which will later show on your video abandonment timeline.

    Beating competitors

    What are they saying right now?

    If you don’t know exactly what competitors are saying in their videos, it’s possible you’ll end up producing a me-too video.

    Customers spot me-too video content immediately, as they’re been looking at your competitors too.

    You need to do three things to counter this:

    1: Do a search on your keywords and look closely at competitors who also rank.

    2: Make a list and browse each one.

    3: Note down their key video messages.

    You’ll now have a picture of your marketplace from a video perspective.

    Use this competitor data to discover gaps in what they’re saying

    - or discover who’s using the poor or outdated language

    - or otherwise failing in some way.

    This marketing data will also enable you to spot video content opportunities you mightn’t have noticed otherwise.

    Taken together, it’ll motivate you to find something fresh & exciting to say, that’s different in the eyes of customers.

    Satisfying customer intent

    What questions are customers asking on arrival at your landing page?

    If you don’t know the questions they’re asking, then how can you provide them with the most effective answers?

    Guessing at a few keyword search terms dragged from your Google Console won’t reveal much.

    The customer questions data you need is found in a User Intent Report.

    It gives you a detailed list of the actual questions customers are asking when they arrive at your landing pages. It’s free, and so worth considering.

    If your video script doesn’t cover the important questions being asked, you’ll leave elements of doubt in customers’ minds.

    Market segments, verticals & customer types

    Which market segment is the video aimed at?

    Is it a high-level overview?

    Is it dedicated to a specific vertical market?

    For example, if you’ve one or more vertical market pages on your website

    - this suggests you may need a separate video for each of your major revenue-generating verticals.

    - otherwise you’ll end up writing something thin and unappealing for your specialist customers.

    This applies equally to the different areas of your B2B solution. You need to explain each part clearly.

    For example, a line manager may be interested in quite different benefits to a sales manager, even if buying the same overall solution.

    The answer is to make a version of your original video, customised to each management area or market segment.

    Use existing marketing data to help you decide what you need.

    1: Check the web traffic to your different vertical market pages, or solution areas.

    2: Decide which pages your main revenue-generating customers look at. Ditto for the different management disciplines.

    3: Supply multiple videos as different versions to satisfy all major customers and vertical markets. Help them on their buying journey.

    More video versions may cost more, but they’ll deliver more, so quantify your ROI first.

    Video length & storylines

    How long should a promo video be?

    You need to know this to write your script.

    Current video marketing wisdom suggests 60-90 seconds runtime, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.

    You can reckon 60-90 seconds is between 130 and 200 words, allowing for a spoken word speed of 130 words per minute for a promo.

    Short videos are popular because they’re cheaper and quicker to make, and less demanding of the customer’s time

    - while also reducing the risk of part-abandonment, compared to a longer, more corporate video.

    Nonetheless, data also suggests that a longer video runtime can perform well.

    It’s well known that B2B buyers will spend 3-5 minutes watching if the topic is one they’re particularly interested in.

    It can be worth the extra cost if it delivers.

    Take a second look at your competitor video data, and assess accordingly.

    Examples of longer storylines include:

    - the customer journey from start to finish - a journey from the start of the sales funnel to the end. It has a sense of completeness that real buyers will appreciate. It denotes market leadership and understanding.

    - the challenges a customer faces. This storyline shows how each component of your solution overcomes a challenge. Tell the story from a customer perspective, so they win at every stage. A video like this gives them free rein to imagine using your solution.

    - tell user case stories. Show three user cases as a single storyline. Corporate video stories like these build confidence and trust, while explaining the feature benefits in both breadth and detail. Your credibility will rise.

    If you make the story interesting & personal for customers they’ll watch. This is the essence of good corporate video production.

    A practical task you can do to assess this opportunity is to

    - quickly sketch 3 ideas or outlines for your video

    - ranging from a short feature benefit production

    - to a longer engaging story.

    Consider these options before you decide on your final runtime and approach.

    It may be worth your time & effort investment to make a longer video. But it may not.

    Look at the marketplace evidence then decide.

    Establishing visual style

    What’s your video going to look like?

    Many b2b video-makers get fixated early on with the look of a video they’ve seen on YouTube and want one like it.

    YouTube is fine for generating ideas

    - but you also need to step back and examine the evidence too

    - before plunging into a major creative decision based mostly on intuition and personal appeal.

    For example, here are 9 different video styles & types you can adapt to your promo video.

    THE WINNING VISUAL STYLE

    What’s the video style that’ll win for your company?

    How do you find it?

    There’s a method.

    Start by looking at competitors first, so at least you don’t end up copying one of them by accident.

    You’ve already gathered competitor data when planning your content. Now it’s time to expand it.

    1: Look at each video on:

    - your big competitor websites

    - your up-and-coming, most exciting, newer competitor websites.

    2: Screen capture each competitor landing page showing a video. Capture the video area.

    3: Make a paste-up board where you copy each capture, so you can see all your competitor videos side by side.

    This is called a Competitor Paste-up.

    It’s your raw data.

    You now need to analyse your paste-up. Here’s how:

    1: Look at competitor videos

    You’ll see a mix of competitor styles, some good, some bad. Some may be animation, some film.

    Quickly categorise their videos into basic types.

    Here are some example video styles that are commonly seen:

    1: “Hi .... this is Bob - and Bob’s got a problem”. Comment: Bob is everywhere!

    2: Cheap animated characters that barely move. Comment: Prone to abandonment.

    3: Whiteboard. Comment: Interesting to watch but not so good to learn from.

    4: Story-led animated characters. Comment: Great with the right story.

    5: A filmed product video demo, interview or testimonials. Comment: Filming proof positive for unbelievers!

    6: High end quality videos. Comment: Full of brand personality. But can you afford one?

    There’s plenty more, but this is a working start.

    You’ll probably be able to group them into 3 main types, ie, excellent, poor and maybe.

    2: Determine a competitive style

    You need to decide the style of your video, so it stands out and customers will plainly see you as different. This is the overriding challenge at this stage.

    You're also considering your brand's personality when you do this.

    Sometimes the visual differences may only need be small, but sometimes you’ll want something completely different.

    For example, if everyone’s looking angular then go for a rounded look. Or if everyone else looks slightly complicated or mixed, then go simple & clean.

    Think carefully about your customers and your brand.

    Sometimes this means making a promotional film, perhaps using stock footage, rather than an animation. Or even a 3D animation.

    3: Check your budget is realistic

    Money is obviously a key factor when picking the most effective video style.

    It’s no use wishing for the moon if you’ve only got local bus fare.

    But even with a dirt cheap in-house production, you can always find ways to visually differentiate.

    And when backed up by a clearly differentiated scripted message, you’re starting to get somewhere.

    This is what happens when you look at the data, the evidence, and take a systematic approach.

    The outcome is future clients seeing you as different, not as another “me-too effort”.

    Your video will be measurably more effective for it.

    Establishing visual style
    Visual style samples

    Visual style samples

    Video professionals produce sample artwork for you, so you can settle on the look of your video first.

    These samples are called Style Frames.

    They help you visualise your video style before committing to the rigours of a full-blown storyboard.

    If you’re producing inhouse at least make a couple of style frames. Don't ignore it.

    Compare style frames to your paste-up competitor screen captures.

    Ask yourself if you stand out enough.

    If not, fix it. Do something different.

    The illustrated storyboard

    Every animated promo video needs a visual storyboard, evidence your video is fully thought-through, and will work as motion graphics.

    Here’s an example of a visual storyboard using Boords storyboarding software.

    Whether you use Boords or maybe a powerpoint instead, you can see how each relevant phrase or sentence of the script has an image associated with it.

    Working this way enables you to measure exactly where your video:

    - is looking thin or weak, such as having an image last too long on screen for the amount of words it has to visually support, or otherwise having too little happening to maintain interest.

    - looks cluttered, eg, too many overlong captions, over wordy.

    - needs supporting captions to highlight key points, the opposite of over wordy.

    With an illustrated storyboard you’ll be able to identify potential mistakes and fix them before they happen.

     

    Using a marketing video production company means you’ll have a designer doing all the above for you.

    If it’s an in-house production you may have an internal graphic designer to help out.

    If it's just you storyboarding with an online video production system, you'll be able to use their inline system.

    In any event, always develop a storyboard and measure it as described above.

    Then your video won't have any Dead Spots.

    Dead Spots are the places where viewers commonly abandon,

    eg, uninteresting points in your video timeline you didn't discover until too late, when checking your viewing data after launch.

    If you're filming you'll need similar detailed planning for each scene and segment.

    The illustrated storyboard
    Voiceover, music & sound effects

    Voiceover, music & sound effects

    USING EVIDENCE TO PICK A VOICEOVER ARTIST

    Your choice of voice artist is critical to your project. Here’s how to do it:

    First: Examine your customer profiles, specifically their demographics

    Consider how the voice should reflect your audience population.

    - What’s their accent?

    - Is there any significant gender split?

    - Are you telling your video story at high tempo? Or is it more relaxed and relatable?

    - Also consider foreign language versions.

    Look at your customer persona / audience data and assess accordingly.

    Next: Go to The Voice Realm or similar online voice casting agency. They give free auditions.

    If you submit the first paragraph of your script, with your voice style instructions, they’ll circulate it for auditions

    Inside 24 hours, you’ll receive maybe 30 replies with voiceovers speaking your actual words.

    You’ll quickly whittle this list down to 3 or 4 good voiceover candidates.

    Pick one. Get your colleagues involved too.

    This is all free. You only pay after you’ve chosen the preferred voice of your video.

    MUSIC & SOUND EFFECTS

    As with voice artists, get playlists first and select systematically.

    It’s about your audience not your personal taste.

    Editing & animation

    What’s best practice for dealing with an animator or editor?

    Whether it’s you animating & editing, or a paid professional, there are certain things to look out for.

    So once the first draft of an animation is ready to view, at least do these 3 checks:

    Check 1: The 2 second rule

    If a scene continues or goes on for more than 2 or 2.5 seconds without some useful (not useless) movement, the magic spell of your video gets lost. Your animated credible illusion will suddenly vanish in the eyes of the audience.

    You need allow time to check every scene of your video closely, and review the scenes where nothing useful happens onscreen for more than 2.5 seconds.

    Check 2: Leave learning gaps

    If your production is running at high tempo, as many promotional videos often are, you need to check there's a small pause after each key message, giving your audience a chance to absorb the information.

    A small pause matches the way people speak naturally, usually for a second, but sometimes more.

    When making an important point don’t rush it out of nervousness. High speed editing isn't a solution to conceal poor quality. This is b2c whimsical audience territory.

    Check for learning pauses and ensure your content is gets remembered, not glossed over.

    Check 3: Get zoom levels right

    Sometimes an animation zooms in too close, or is seen too far away.

    You’re looking for a natural smooth flow in information absorption, not a jumpy pop music video.

    Carrying out the above checks ensures your video aligns with how the hearts and minds of your audience function.

    Editing & animation
    How much does a promotional video production cost?

    How much does a promotional video production cost?

    So how much does a promo video cost?

    It depends on:

    - the style of the video. Some styles obviously cost more than others.

    - how long it is. Shorter is cheaper.

    If you’re a technology developer you may also want to learn about software demo cost.

    Should you create your own video content or use a video marketing service?

    Creating your own content means using an animated video maker and possibly getting some help from your inhouse media department, if you have one.

    Alternatively you can outsource to a professional video production company, or freelancer.

    Whichever route you choose it’ll take time & effort from you.

    And even hiring professional video production services is no guarantee that all the guiding principles in this article will be followed.

    Professionals can be as likely to ignore data & hard evidence and follow their own inspiration, personal tastes & experience just like everyone else. Don't assume "they'll know".

    Making a video is hard work and can take weeks or months.

    It's a lot easier using a video production company, than doing it all yourself.

    A freelancer can lighten the load and add extra skills or imagination, like aerial footage from a drone, but they’ll need your detailed guidance all the way if you’re to get a video that measurably wins, and not simply “another well-made video”.

    Look closely at what you stand to gain, your ROI, your quarterly targets.

    Consider any additional spend against what you'll gain, if & when your defined target is achieved.

    More than anything, this will help you decide whether you think it’s worth hiring a video agency or not.

    Should you create your own video content or use a video marketing service?
    Make a promotional video production that wins customers
    Summary

    Every stage in your promo video production can be supported by data or hard evidence, ensuring you make the right decisions, and not get carried away with personal tastes or long-held "truths".

    You already use a data-driven approach for advertising and mailouts.

    You can increase your chances of a video achieving its goals by harnessing readily available data & evidence.

    It needs an extra layer of diligence, but it delivers greater certainty of winning more customers

    - a formula you can duplicate for all future videos.

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