How-to guide: get a great corporate video for your business

 

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You’re already sold on the idea that you need an explainer animation to take your business to the next level…

Besides, your website visitors have all but given up reading any text (have you noticed how fast millennials scroll through a page these days?), and you’re tired of bidding up keywords to buy Google search traffic.

Instead, you can engage potential clients with a compelling video and convert them into strong sales leads.

And you can shift your advertising battleground to video, where your competitors probably don’t even know it exists! That means cheaper advertising, and a great way to stretch your marketing budget.

“But getting a video is a serious investment”

How can you make sure you’ll get RESULTS?

You will put money behind production, and then behind marketing the video (don’t forget this 2nd part… it’s where we see most companies and their agencies #fail). So how can you make sure you’ll get RESULTS?

At Board Studios we’ve been conducting research studies to make sure you don’t waste your money on unnecessary frills.

You can easily spend 10x the budget on:

  • the most intricate whiteboard animation, or
  • the motion graphics video with the smoothest transitions, or
  • a video with a dozen actors and fast-paced action across multiple locations.

So is it worth it?

It’s NOT

Our research shows that it’s NOT. But most agencies naturally want to charge as much as possible, and work on the largest budget commercials. We get it, it’s much more exciting. But we’re firm believers in maximizing your ROI.

That’s how we get repeat business and referrals, and that’s why we don’t have to spend a dime on advertising!

4 key elements to get a great corporate video that delivers RESULTS

And boost your ROI

Objectives

First, we (or your video production agency of choice) need to spend some time to understand your business, competitive landscape, and objectives.

Messaging

Next, we craft a powerful message…

It’s not always about the most emotional storytelling that many agencies preach. It’s about syncing up with your audiences mind, entering the conversation without interrupting, and adding value while selling your unique solution.

Creative

Then, we figure out the best creative to bring your message to life and engage your target audience.

An important part of this step is to figure out the most cost-effective solution, and further boost your ROI by repurposing assets or producing multiple versions.

So with one video shoot you can get 2-3 videos: for your website, your social media, and your digital ads.

Distribution

And finally, we develop and execute a promotional plan to make sure that your message gets noticed. You can:

  • increase visitor engagement on your website, which has both SEO and SEM benefits,
  • embed it in email campaigns to increase click-throughs and conversions,
  • use video ads to lower your customer acquisition costs,
  • send it to podcasts and bloggers to ask to get interviewed, and
  • share on your social media and boost it for more promotion,

A video makes your message much more accessible, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

4 key elements to get a great corporate video

1. Objectives

2. Messaging

3. Creative

4. Distribution

First things first… how much is it going to cost me?

You won’t need to break the bank

According to our survey on which corporate videos are most effective (based on style and duration), the great news is that you won’t need to break the bank.

In fact, an expensive video doesn’t necessarily yield better results at all. Cheaper business videos achieved both better click-through rates AND lower costs per click.

Perhaps the not-as-great news is that you still need a video that’s “good enough”, meaning that you’ll probably still have to spend around $5,000 for a 1-1.5 minute video.

We wouldn’t recommend going any lower towards the truly “budget” video production houses or freelancers because of bad-looking video, missed deadlines, poor creative, and other issues that can hurt your business.

Once your promotional animation has been produced, you can then “buy” views on YouTube for about $0.15, which usually translates into a cost-per-click in the low single digits.

For example, if you want 10,000 people to watch your video every month, of whom approximately 400 will click through to your website, you’ll have to budget around $1,500 per month on advertising spend.

That’s probably still MUCH cheaper than what you’re paying on Adwords. (though there ARE exceptions… video ads won’t work for everyone)

Finding the right video production company can be tricky

Budget and style criteria

If you’ve spent some time researching corporate video and animation production companies, you probably already know that there are a lot of options out there. There are more than a handful of online directories so you’ll have no trouble finding yourself drowning in a sea of producers.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to differentiate one producer from the next in just a few seconds, so we’d recommend spending some time with a short-list that match your budget and style criteria.

Call them up a couple of times, talk to them about their strong points, see if you “click” with them. Sometimes the production company will immediately “get” your solution and what you’re trying to accomplish, and its recommendations will resonate with you.

Tip: how to go beyond the portfolio

But don’t make a decision based solely on a company’s portfolio.

Start by looking at a company’s portfolio to make sure that they have the capabilities to produce a great-looking video, but then take it a step further and watch the videos with a critical eye.

After a video, ask yourself if you remember the key points. At the end, were you compelled to the video’s call to action? The next day, did you remember the company’s brand?

Watch the videos with a critical eye

1. After a video, ask yourself if you remember the key points.

2. At the end, were you compelled to the video’s call to action?

3. The next day, did you remember the company’s brand?

So what’s the secret sauce for a successful business video?

The script

The secret to a successful corporate video is… the script. You’re looking for a carefully structured, relatable script that reinforces your key messages and keeps your brand top of mind, capping everything off with a direct call to action.

There are at least a few copywriting frameworks out there:

  • Star -> Story -> Solution (SSS)

The Star is the hero of the video – who we’re going to talk about. We want your ideal target client to immediately identify with that person, the situation, and surroundings.

The Story is what happens to the hero: all their pains and struggles unfold right before our eyes. The goal is to have the target viewer exclaim “that’s me!” or “that happened to me just yesterday!”

Then comes the Solution, which is how the hero manages to resolve the issue. We want to highlight the tangible benefits from the solution, which we try to humanize and make even more relatable.

This is why developing as precise a psychographic of your target client as possible is crucial.

To give you an example: it’s much more powerful to show a husband and wife at home enjoying time with their kids than simply saying “our solution will save you time”. Or how about demonstrating what the viewer could do with the money you’re going to save them?

Show them taking that trip to Europe instead of saying “we’ll save you money.”

  • Feel -> Felt -> Found (FFF)

This is a close alternative to the SSS framework, where we change the vantage point of the story-telling. We make it more personal in order to help the viewer identify not only with the ‘hero’ but also with the company offering the solution.

This video can give the company more credibility because it’s from the perspective of a fellow “sufferer”.

The sufferer may be the founder of the company presenting a solution, knows how you feel after going through the same struggles, and finally found the solution!

  • Attention -> Interest -> Desire -> Action (AIDA)

Here, we want to grab your audience’s attention with a pithy tagline or something unexpected and exciting that hints at what’s coming next.

Then comes the story-telling part of the video, which is a bit different than before. We want to convince your target viewer that we’re talking about a big problem, and we have an even bigger solution.

We don’t necessarily need the story to revolve around a ‘hero’. It’s more of a “did you know” or “what do the numbers tell us” type of convincing, and we tend to use vibrant graphics and fast transitions that sometimes look more like infographics.

After making our case for the problem – small businesses nationwide are facing financing issues, our resources are managed inefficiently, don’t get left behind on social media strategies, etc. – we then demonstrate the benefits to get the viewer to truly desire the solution.

At the end, it should be a no-brainer that the viewer absolutely needs the solution and the call-to-action should make it easy to get it.

Copywriting frameworks

Star -> Story -> Solution (SSS)

Feel -> Felt -> Found (FFF)

Attention -> Interest -> Desire -> Action (AIDA)

Avoid these mistakes in your script

Did we form a strong emotional bond with the customer?

As a business owner or manager tasked to convey your company’s key messages and present your great solution… you or people on your team may be naturally inclined to include as many of the amazing features and benefits as possible. Unfortunately, this will almost certainly work against you.

  • Don’t shove the kitchen sink into your video

You want your video to feel “light” and perhaps even a little bit entertaining. Entertainment is part of the give-and-take in a viewer-video relationship.

The viewer gives you their attention, and the video provides some entertainment. Spending the time to make your script sound witty while reinforcing your message can get your solution stuck in your viewer’s mind for much longer.

But if you force-fit “too much product” into the video (too much detail on how it works, or how it makes the world a better place), then the viewer can get tired.

The worst is if your view-rate (the percent of people who watch your video up to a point) starts dropping rapidly the longer a viewer gets in the video.

A great introduction only buys you a limited amount of time of the viewer’s attention. Don’t focus on what YOU want to tell them but on what THEY want to hear. It’s a subtle distinction that can have quite a dramatic impact on your video.

  • Don’t try to appeal to EVERYONE at the same time

A similar and very common mistake to avoid is trying to appeal to everyone. You will end up with a watered down version of your key messaging that doesn’t truly resonate with anyone.

A bachelor will have very different experiences and motivations than someone with 3 kids. You can create a customer-agnostic video that fits everyone but its efficacy will be very low.

You may present the problem and the solution in a great way but it’s a fact that these days you need to connect with your viewers on a more emotional level.

Your website won’t be able to do a great job establishing a connection, so your video is a unique opportunity to accomplish that. You should always start with: who is my ideal customer – and try to define him or her in as much detail as possible.

And you should finish with: how did we form a strong emotional bond with the customer?

Just keep in mind that appealing to everyone, or conversely trying not to exclude anyone, is a very powerful driver behind some of the least successful advertisements.

  • Don’t treat your call to action as an afterthought

The call to action may be just a few seconds at the end of the video, but it’s the culmination of the video. It’s where you’ll cash in all the trust and emotional connection that you spent 1-2 minutes building with your ideal customer.

So you want to make sure it packs a punch, or at the very least that it’s very clear and easy to execute. Close with a powerful and aspirational tagline and another visual glimpse of what you can do for them.

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The ‘how-to’: here’s what it all boils down to

The customer

After all this, script writing sounds a bit daunting, especially because it carries so much weight on its shoulders. A 1-minute video is 140-150 words, and when you stare at a blank piece of paper they can feel like thousands of words that you have to come up with all at once!

So we’ll break down the script into smaller “chunks” and make it easily digestible. Instead of getting overwhelmed by all the things that have to go into your promotional video, focus on each small section on its own.

What comes first? The customer, of course!

First, before you even start thinking about the contents of the script, it’s a good idea to sit back and spend some time imagining your ideal customers, in as much detail as possible.

How old are they, how much money do they make, what’s their level of education, where do they live, what do they do every day, what do they enjoy? Try to come up with more questions, and with each question try to segment your market more and more.

Side note: I’ve hated client avatars for so long!

..and sort of laughed at it. But…

I’ve heard this advice hundreds of times… and I always sort of laughed at it. First, because I always thought my market was broader than any finely-defined avatar. And second, because I didn’t understand the benefit from such an avatar. What would I do with all that information??

I finally have an answer for you – all those skeptics like me out there.

For a corporate video to be truly effective, you want to niche down your audience. The smallest possible audience that’s of acceptable size to justify the investment in your video and related campaigns.

And the more information you have about the audience, the easier it will be to understand their pains and goals, so you can enter the conversation already on their mind.

You don’t want a broad message that may appeal to everyone because anyone who differentiates and offers very specific value to smaller audiences will beat you.

Your messaging needs to touch an insight, a truth, something they’ve been actively thinking about. That way, you’re not interrupting… you’re one of them. And if you have a solution for such a pain point, then your message will be more than welcome.

Contrast that with banging on someone’s door in the middle of the night to ask them if they want your product. Because that’s what you’ve been doing all this time.

I finally have an answer for you:

For a corporate video to be truly effective,
you want to niche down your audience.

The smallest possible audience that’s of acceptable size
to justify the investment in your video and related campaigns.

You want proof?

An example from the course production industry

I’ve heard of a great example from the course production industry. Consider these 2 courses: Learn Social Media vs Social media to 2x your yoga instruction business.

You can get the former for $10 but you’ll pay $500-1,000 for the latter. Because if you’re a yoga instructor, you’re much more confident that it’s going to work for you.

Another benefit is that it’s much cheaper to reach yoga instructors rather than blowing your budget on a spray and pray campaign.

[end of side note]

The most important 5 seconds

Capture your target’s attention

Next, we can get started with the actual content. The first 5 seconds are absolutely critical to capture your target’s attention. This is also the time you have in a pre-roll advertisement on YouTube before a viewer can choose to “skip the ad” (the good thing with pre-roll ads and why we prefer them is that if a viewer skips your ad, you don’t have to pay anything at all). In these first 5 seconds, try to distill your message and benefit in the most direct way possible.

So, what’s your one-punch message in about 10 words? This shouldn’t be what YOU think is the greatest part of your business but rather what will resonate the most with a potential customer.

Think back to when you pitched your idea to customers in person or over the phone. Remember any part of the conversation when their eyes lit up or they started peppering you with questions and looking much more engaged than before? That can be your opener.

If you’re unsure, write down a few alternatives, or even get the rest of your organization involved and ask them for a one-line opener to the video. Then you can all discuss – this can be a very revealing and useful conversation by itself – or even test with some clients.

Testing your video opener

It’s not easy to test with your video, but…

What if a different video opener has a dramatic impact on results?

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to test with your video, but we’re big proponents of testing and we’ve developed a process to do that here at Board Studios.

As long as we know upfront that you’re considering 2-3 alternatives, we can produce the different versions, and we can even help you test them cost-effectively on YouTube.

What’s their ‘problem’?

The next 15-20 seconds

After your compelling opener, you have bought yourself another 15-20 seconds to motivate your video viewers, get them interested, and form a connection with them.

In these 15-20 seconds you want to communicate to the viewers that you ‘know them’ (even more powerful, that you are or have been in their shoes).

Think about the moment of the day when your viewers feel the pain point that you’re addressing most acutely. Is it in the morning that they don’t feel energized? Is it that they feel stressed about specific challenges during their day? Are they at work wishing they could complete a task much faster? Are they frustrated because they can’t find parking? You get the idea…

In the first 5 seconds, the viewer went from un-interested to “this could be me”, and in the next 15-20 seconds to “this IS me, let’s hear some more”.

There IS a solution

This is the point when the “sale” is made

No matter how helpless the viewer felt in the “problem” portion of the script, the clouds suddenly will part and it will all get better with your solution.
Introduce it with a very succinct summary: what is it exactly?

And then proceed to provide details. You have bought yourself another 10 seconds to convince the viewers that you can solve their problems.

In many ways, this is the point when the “sale” is made. Does your solution sound authentic, powerful, relevant? Does it convince the viewer that it will deliver as promised?

A common mistake here is to use industry jargon and try to fit more than you have to, which complicates the message and confuses the viewer. Beware: confusion at any point will likely lead to the viewer clicking away!

Try to explain your offering to a 5-year old. Don’t worry about dumbing it down and insulting your viewer because, during an advertisement, our attention and focus are pretty close to those of a 5-yar old.

You don’t know what distractions they’re dealing with, and these 10 seconds can go by awfully fast. Of course, you want to take into account the sophistication of your target viewer, but kick it down a notch to be on the safe side.

This is the point when the “sale” is made.

Does your solution sound authentic, powerful, relevant?

The rule of three

We all grew up with the ‘rule of three’

We all grew up with the ‘rule of three’: the 3 little pigs, the 3 musketeers… it’s how we’re instructed to structure an argument at school. It’s a way to communicate complex ideas effectively and convincingly. Four arguments or examples feels like too much, and two just aren’t enough.

Once you present your solution, you can throw the final three punches: the key benefits of your solution. Here’s what you need, and here’s what you’re going to get from it.

What does the viewer’s problem boil down to? Think of how you’re saving them time or money, providing them with superior quality, help them shine and rise faster within their organization.

It may be helpful to talk to a few customers and hear their stories. What was the ‘before’ and what is the ‘after’ of your solution – meaning, how did you impact their lives? Who knows, you may discover another benefit you hadn’t even thought of, something that resonates with your customers at a deeper level.

Last – but most definitely not least – the ‘call to action’

Add the direct action you want the viewer to take

We’re almost there… but it’s not the time to cut corners. All this hard work, the build-up of emotional connection, credibility, and trust have to be channeled somehow. That’s where your CTA comes in. It’s perfectly acceptable to close with something like “visit our website to learn more” or “fill out our form”, but you may be missing the tip-off point. How about, “find out how you can electrify your meetings by filling out our form below.”

The CTA is a great opportunity to summarize your entire video. Don’t assume that simply because the viewer followed through, they were 100% focused and it all made perfect sense. Add an aspirational tagline and then the direct action you want the viewer to take.

Parting thoughts

Producing your company’s animation is a journey

This has been a lot to take in… and there’s more that we didn’t cover extensively, such as the role of humor and many more tips that come with experience.

Producing your company’s animation is a journey, and it can be intimidating, especially for first-timers. But it doesn’t have to be.

Your team at Board Studios is dedicated to making sure that we take the burden off you completely, turning this journey into a walk in the park (note: clichés can be tricky, but sometimes they evoke powerful visuals and convey the right message).

Hopefully this was a helpful guide to get your started and give you the confidence to go through the process. We appreciate your time for making it this far, and we’re here to help you with your next video project.