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July 29, 2010

How to Use Video as an Effective Communication Tool

Now that just about everybody is a believer in Web video, it’s time to figure out just how to use it effectively as a marketing communication tool. Oh sure, there are a few diehard holdouts filling their sites with thousands of words of densely congealed text in a vain attempt to attract ‘Mr. GoodSearch;’ and let’s all encourage them to continue, especially our competitors, because as they stick to yesterday’s marketing tactics, we can capture market share by communicating, using techniques that actually lead to more audience engagement, more memory retention, and more sales leads.

Even if you’re still a bit unsure of the benefits Web video brings to your marketing efforts, think of the commitment Google has invested in YouTube and then you’ll know where the biggest search opportunities exist. So let’s all agree, video is where it’s at, but hold on just a second, let’s call it compelling content presentation, or more precisely, properly conceived, professionally produced, attention-to-post video that delivers a meaningful memorable message in a manner that is less advertising and more content, less pitch and more experience.

Can you do this yourself? Doubtful, but maybe, so before you run out and blow the petty cash on the latest HD video camera, proper lighting equipment, editing and motion graphic software, how to DVDs like ‘You Can Be The Next Ridley Scott’, a computer and hard drive powerful enough to handle HD file sizes and software processing, custom photography, signature music and sound effects; and before you ask your accounts payable person or spouse to shoot you in your office with a backdrop of photos featuring last year’s office picnic and the broken office chair you’ve been meaning to replace; ask yourself, is this really how to go about marketing my company? I mean maybe your
appearance is camera friendly, maybe you have the right voice that fits your message, maybe you understand body language, maybe you have acting experience, maybe you know how to write a script and maybe… well you get the idea? And we haven’t even talked about content and concept. There is a place for amateurism, it’s just not in business.

The Ad Content Challenge

The real challenge in website design is not backend technical issues, search engine optimization, or feature proliferation but rather how to turn advertising into content, and content into an experience. We know nobody likes to be sold, especially if it’s a hard sell pitch demanding instant decisions and immediate action. People are more likely to run from such a sales attack as quickly as possible, particularly on the Web where escaping is just a mouse click away.

Let’s assume for a moment that you want a professional Web presentation and not a homemade ego-satisfying customer-repellent video. Let’s also assume that you’ve hired a team that has the necessary skills to deliver the ‘right stuff.’ The next step is to provide that team with the assets they need to do the job.

Gather Your Assets

The first thing you’ll need to do is get all your resources together. Here’s a checklist of things you’ll need to supply or have created in order to get started:

1. Logos That Work

A properly designed logo is a must. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to design or at least redesign logos for clients who have been in business for years. A video campaign is all about communicating a corporate personality and that identity needs a visual tag to affirm that brand image.

Most business people realize they need a logo but they generally only think of it in one dimension, graphically. With a properly designed logo in hand, an audio logo tag can be associated with it so that your brand message is penetrating both visually and audibly. Remember your goal is to turn advertising into content and to do that you must create a memorable experience, and the whole point of using video is to communicate your message using sight, sound, and subliminal psychological persuasion.

2. Mission Statements – It’s About The Why

Mission statements are generally useless exercises in self-congratulatory bunkum. If your mission statement says your company aims to have the best products, at the lowest prices, featuring world-class customer service, then you know your mission statement is useless. When people hear those kinds of platitudes they yawn and move on. When was the last time you heard a mission statement that promises inferior crap, at inflated prices, with little or no customer service support?

Instead of a meaningless mission statement, create a ‘Why Statement’ that answers the question, why should anybody want to do business with you? I’ve already given you our version – “we turn advertising into content, and content into an experience” it’s what we do, what we are committed to, and if it’s not what you want, then you need another production team. You have to give your clients a reason why they should care about your company, why they should do business with you. It is a commitment not to be feared, but embraced. It is the message you want to deliver, the one thing your audience will remember about you that will distinguish you from your competition, and
ultimately it will be the reason they do business with you or not.

3. Six Things You Need To Know

The Why Statement provides your brand point-of-view and personality. It focuses audience attention on the key benefits you deliver. So the next thing you need to provide is the six most important things you want to say about what you do.

Why six? You need to show some discipline in your messaging in order to be effective. Limiting the number of things you say emphasizes what’s important so that it doesn’t get lost in a haze of marketing jibber-jabber, and it avoids creating information overload.

4. Realistic Expectations

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

You hear and read a lot about ROI and the importance of scientifically measuring results in order to fine-tune commercial communication. Business is constantly trying to make craft into science and it’s the fool’s gold of advertising. Ad agency politics has always been a push-pull fight between the creative teams and the account executives. Account executives like their bulleted points, pie charts, stock images, and
PowerPoint presentations. The trouble is it’s all a shell game, an illusion used by rote-trained corporate sales people that lack the insight to commit to what really works, psychological persuasion. Instead, they settle for a seemingly impressive, but often deceiving set of facts and figures.

No one is suggesting that Web video presentations should be art-for-art’s-sake; we’ve all seen visually stimulating commercials that don’t seem to have any commercial point, but to ignore marketing’s dirty little secret that purchase decisions are based mostly on emotion and not rational reasoning would be folly.

You’re going to make mistakes. Some things will work better than others. It’s all about fine-tuning your message based on your Why Statement. You need to commit to a Web video strategy that is more about delivering memorable content in service of your Why Statement than merely a series of easily dismissible sales’ pitches. Web videos can engage an audience, attract attention, deliver informative, enlightening material in an entertaining, memorable manner, and that is how they should be judged.

Web Video Is Commercial Storytelling

What is the best way to illustrate why people should do business with you? On the Web there is a necessity to be bold, creative, and entertaining. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling legal services or leg warmers, if you don’t make an impression, your audience won’t listen, and if they don’t listen they won’t remember you, let alone why they should care.

There is a lot of emphasis today on speed, but your website is not the place to encourage it. In fact you want to do the exact opposite. You want your audience to slow down, relax, listen, and absorb what your video has to say. If your video delivers informative, entertaining content then your audience, the ones that are serious about what you do will listen and one of the best ways to get them to listen is to tell a story.

All stories, at least the ones you are going to remember, have three key elements. Think of how professional comedians construct a story: there’s a setup, a twist, and a punch line. A well-constructed Web video has similar elements: a setup that presents the problem, an elaboration of difficulties, issues, conventional wisdom, or false solutions, and the ‘aha’ resolution. Remove any one of the elements and the presentation falls apart. If speed is your goal, buy a sports car, if marketing success is what you want, demand the three elements that make a presentation worth watching.

When It’s All Said and Done

When your video production team comes back to you with a concept, ask yourself is it bold. Is it something people will remember? Does it speak to the question why should anybody want to do business with you?

One last note about deciding whether or not the concept you’re presented is the right one. If your spouse, best friend, or in-laws don’t understand it and are afraid some people will be offended, then you know that it’s targeted, and it’s probably the exact right approach to take. If you play it coy so as not to offend anyone, and if you insist that everything you do and every feature and benefit you offer be highlighted, then for sure you will fail. A production team can only be as good as you let them be.

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design and marketing firm that specializes in Web-video Marketing Campaigns and Video Websites. Visit,, and

13 Responses to “How to Use Video as an Effective Communication Tool

    avatar Philip says:

    I had a quick look through this article and may look through it again for the useful information you provide.

    avatar paul says:

    I’ve read a few of these ‘you must hire a pro’ articles all written unsurprisingly by production companies.

    Nice to see web journalism being so balanced!

    Web video doesn’t have to be overly produced advertising speak.

    The big arguments about spending loads on a one off video is:

    A one off perfectly lit and (over) scripted video will rarely change your businesses fortunes you need a stream of useful videos, and that would cost a fortune from a Production company. (No trouble if you a big corporation but most businesses ares mall to mid size)

    The most successful video series often quoted (as in the videos scaled their profits) are Gary Vee’s Winelibrary TV and the Blendtec Will it Blend.

    Had they say sat down at the start and asked for a budget for a Production team and crew to make them 52 x episodes they would NEVER have done it.

    Instead they began with simple camcorders, a mic and great ideas. Later they could add the polish.

    The diy approach hasn’t done bad for them ?

    avatar David says:

    Ok, first let me declare an interest. I do run a video production company, so obviously want people to go down the road espoused by Jerry for commercial reasons, but also for aesthetic reasons.
    There are talented amateurs out there, and I have seen some very good amateur productions made by people with very little equipment, and very little knowledge, just an instinctive feel for the medium.
    For every one of those, however, I have seen lots of productions that make you want to slit your wrists rather than continue watching!
    A colleague of mine once said “Everybody can read video, but not everyone can write it.”
    Paul is right that you need a number of videos, just as one advert in a magazine is a waste of money. Continuity is everything in marketing, but just as you wouldn’t ask Doris from accounts to design your full page advert in “Time” magazine, then surely the same common sense applies to video.
    Unless you really are that talented amateur (and don’t ask your friend’s opinions, ask somebody who will state the truth) then please follow Jerry’s advice.

    avatar Marilyn says:

    I’ve been reading these articles and have been wondering if spending the money to make a video was a good idea.

    My business is VERY small thusfar and just starting to take off. Profits haven’t even started yet! Anyone have any suggestions for a very ‘new comer’ to the video approach?

    avatar Shirley Bass says:

    Good ideas. I know that video is the big thing at the moment. To me, giving your viewers the quality content that they are searching for is where it’s at.

    avatar Jerry Bader says:

    With regard to Paul’s comments, I took a look at the two video series mentioned (Winelibrary and Blendtec) and I think that most professionals would agree that these were not DIY efforts despite the homemade vibe they intentionally exhibit. These videos certainly appear to be professionally produced although they appear to star company personnel.

    I know that many Web entrepreneurs have fallen in love with the idea of Self-Branding and love to see themselves on screen doing what they do, and sometimes it works but most often it doesn’t. I won’t repeat all the reasons why this approach can be a mistake as I have repeated them numerous times in previous articles.

    The great thing about the Web is that it is the democratization of marketing. It allows small and medium-sized businesses to compete with multinationals on a level presentation playing field. Most companies cannot afford TV commercials at an average of $10,000 per second but most successful smaller companies should be able to afford $1,000 a finished minute for Web video from boutique production firms like us.

    Paul does raise a good point regarding one-off videos, like most one-off advertising efforts of any media type, they don’t work, which is why we offer campaign pricing for a series of multiple videos.

    The real issue regarding video production is not the technical production side. I’m sure anyone can find a local amateur or semi-pro with good equipment and technical skills that is able to take nice images and work cheap. That is not the issue. What people have to come to grips with is how do you use verbal and non verbal video communication techniques to deliver a memorable marketing message, establish and enhance a brand, change people’s perceptions, and convenience them to respond.

    The future of the Web is video and if companies want to continue to compete they are going to have to come to the realization that the Web is a communication platform and effective video starts with concept, script, performance, and mnemonic memory enhancements. If you don’t understand these things then you should find someone who does.

    Jerry Bader
    (905) 764-1246

    Visit Our Sites

    Full disclosure — I’m a video professional also. I agree that a talented amateur can do very well using video on a website and in marketing. And if you’re truly talented (and not like the people on American Idol whose family and friends told them they can sing), and you have the time to craft your own video messages, then go for it.

    For most people, though, having both the time and the talent to script, shoot, edit, optimize and upload a video isn’t in the cards. That’s when it’s time to follow the steps in Jerry’s excellent article and hire a pro.

    Professional video doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be, but most pros will work with you to figure out what will best serve your needs within your budget. I’ve been focusing on doing short internet videos for local businesses at a price-point most companies can handle, even for multiple videos — and David’s right in his comment: a series of videos will work much better for you than one stand-alone.

    I too am a long time video professional, but that’s not my strong suit. Anyone can buy the equipment with a sizable credit card. The equipment does not make you good. It’s my background in marketing and advertising that is most valuable here…How to craft the visual message, as Jerry points out, is not something just anyone can do… No matter how much money you throw at it. Indeed, that’s how I market my company…”First and foremost, we’re marketing people…who do video well”. That puts me way over my competitors.

    avatar seo copywriter says:

    Video certainly works and with current indications video search will outstrip traditional search by 2014, who’s got time to waste thinking about it?
    I’ve been using an online ad toolkit site with great results. You can find it here:

    avatar Ilene says:

    I’d like to see more articles on strategies for organizations that are not trying to sell a product. At my organization, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, we are trying to get out certain messages and educate the public.

    You can see our video efforts at:

    I guess I’ll just have to get started on video. I’ve been putting it off for some time due to lack of time and maybe not being totaly convincced but I shall have to start now.

    avatar Mike Urlich says:

    A problem with video that everybody seems to have overlooked is having a fast enough broadband connection to handle video presentations, there is nothing worse than a stop, start presentation… is there a way to overcome this?

    Still practicing at improving!

    I totally confess – I am a complete amateur but I won’t always be. Thanks Jerry, I got what I came for: a setup, a twist, and a punchline. I’m on my way to the top, see you there.

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