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Marketing Yourself through Video
So you want to make a video. Whether you’re trying to fund your next project through crowdsourcing or you’re simply looking to sell potential clients on the value of your latest release, there are several things you can do to make your video more successful.
Reaching an audience through video is a drastically different process than reaching those same individuals through the written word because people interact with video differently than printed media. The biggest mistake I see people make is treating the two mediums as if they are same.
To be successful in video you need to start thinking in terms of a visual medium. These tips are designed to help you shift to that mind-set. This is by no means a conclusive list, however it should assist you in identifying the things you need to take into consideration before you begin production.
1. Start your video by telling your audience why they should watch.
Most people’s first inclination is to introduce themselves. That’s fine, however video is not like meeting someone in person. The communication is going one way. There is no compelling reason for a person to stay and get to know you and no social taboo if that person just ups and clicks away from your video if they aren’t interested in what you’re trying to tell them. Your introduction needs to be very short. You need to get to the benefit the audience will receive from watching your video within two sentences. The first two lines of any script should go something like this: “Hi my name is ____________ _______________. Today I will be [insert verb here] you about [insert noun here].” That’s it. Then launch into your pitch.
2. In a visual medium you need to have something visually interesting happening in order to keep your audience.
The easiest video to make is one in which a person sits and talks to the camera. This is called the talking head. Unfortunately, analytics show talking head videos are often the least effective. Why? Because the audience stops watching. Your video is competing for your audience’s attention with millions of other videos featuring cute cats, stupid people, and the Harlem Shake Ice Bucket Challenge viral video of the day. If you do not SHOW your audience something that visually interests or entertains them you will begin to lose viewers within TEN SECONDS. After your introduction you need to move to the most visually arresting imagery you have. If you don’t yet have anything you can show on video for your particular project, move to the most interesting information. The maximum amount of time you ever want to sit and simply talk to your audience on camera is about forty seconds, and that’s pushing it. You need to keep interspersing interesting visuals throughout your video in order to keep people from getting bored and clicking away from it.
3. Keep it short.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to find enough visuals to keep your audience watching throughout your entire video. It’s not going to be as difficult as it sounds if you keep your video short. The sweet spot for marketing and promotional videos is between thirty and ninety seconds. Making a video shorter than thirty seconds can make it difficult to get all of the necessary information in and anything over ninety seconds begins to lose viewers exponentially.
4. Don’t write a novel, write a script.
The biggest difference between print media and video that people fail to understand is that in video-land you have ONE chance to reach your audience. If they watch your video and fail to understand what you’re trying to tell them the chances that they will go back and re-watch it are very slim. You need to write clearly, concisely, and conversationally. The average television news script is written between a third and seventh grade reading level, depending on the complexity of the topic. Broadcast producers and writers are not attempting to write down to their audience, they simply understand that they have an average of twenty seconds to get the audience to understand complex stories. Extraneous information needs to be left out of their scripts, and yours. Writing your script with this in mind will also help you keep your video to the thirty to ninety second timeframe I mentioned previously. However, video timing is one of the most difficult things to learn because you need to read your script more slowly than you normally speak. The average professional newscaster reads between fourteen and seventeen words a minute to ensure the audience has time to hear and process what they are saying. While you don’t need to be that precise to convey your message, if you are struggling with a script that is too long take a stopwatch and time yourself reading at a pace that is slightly slower than your normal speaking voice. Then edit the script down accordingly.
5. Call your viewers to action frequently.
Even following all of the tips I have outlined here exactly you will inevitably lose viewers throughout the course of your video. For that reason you need to call your viewers to action frequently. A call to action is exactly what it sounds like, it’s telling the viewer what you want them to do. Listen to any radio or television commercial. There is an average of seven calls to action in a thirty second spot. While you don’t necessarily need to have that many, you need to make sure your viewer knows what you want and what they need to do and you need to repeat it often.
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