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January 14, 2010

HyperRealism as a Motivating Factor in Web Video

If there is one thing every Web business executive can agree on, it’s that websites need to motivate people to act. That action can be to place an order, send an email, pick-up the phone, or maybe just join a mailing list, but whatever the intended response, your website must cause a reaction. It’s a case of simple cause and effect.

The issue is one of successful communication. What you say and how you say it are what motivates people to connect with your company, the solution provider. Websites, blogs, social networking, and mobile sites are merely venues for communication. All the Facebook friends, Linkedin contacts, and search engine traffic in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you have nothing interesting, memorable, and persuasive to say to them.

In our view, Web Video is the most powerful communication tool available to businesses today, but if you don’t use it properly it isn’t going to help, and the same thing applies to copy, graphics, photos, and blog posts. What you say and how you say it are the critical elements of whether or not, people respond to your website presentation.

What Needs To Be Said

Marketing consultants have for years suggested the use of Mission Statements as one way to get companies to focus their thinking and communication efforts into something meaningful. They are intended to be a kind of ‘Rosetta Stone’ for corporate communication, but instead, they have become a graveyard for innocuous platitudes and inane statements of self-congratulation. It’s too bad because the idea of a core guiding statement that defines purpose and personality is central to developing a framework for marketing communication content and delivery.

If websites are about motivating action, what do we need to communicate to our audience to achieve that objective? If Mission Statements aren’t the solution, what is? The answer is not a price proposition or a feature proposition but rather a presentation of emotional value because it is the most persuasive motivating factor you can offer. It is something that your competitors can’t copy, undercut, or even compete with.

Your Emotional Value Proposition Is Your Brand

If you ever thought branding didn’t apply to your company, well now you know better, because branding is nothing more than the implementation and communication of your company’s emotional value statement: the core guiding principle used to formulate all marketing communication efforts, including website video presentations.

In Lee Eisenberg’s book, ‘Shoptimism’ he outlines four reasons people buy things: to make themselves happy, to transform themselves, to express themselves, and to achieve a sense of permanence. Each of these reasons is based on an emotional value, which is why all the features and price-cutting in the world can’t compete with a well-established emotional return.

Presenting Value in Marketing Communication

Eisenberg’s four reasons to buy are really a variation on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that form a pyramid of need, want, and desire: the basis for everything we require and everything we crave, starting with survival and ending with self-fulfillment. Most of us have moved up the pyramid from
basic survival and procreation needs to more sophisticated desires based on belonging, identity, and self-actualization, the elements that form an Emotional Value Marketing Proposition.

Most sophisticated marketers understand the power and importance of self-actualization as an emotional trigger upon which a brand identity can be established and promoted; however a distinction must be made between the audience’s desire for individual fulfillment and a company’s objective of meeting its marketing goals.

In a Web-based business environment populated with newly minted entrepreneurs who do not distinguish themselves from their businesses, it is easy to understand why this confusion exists.

A business is a living breathing entity unto itself and should not be confused with it’s owners, managers, and employees. It may be trendy to think you are your brand, but unless you’re Tony Robbins, with his personality, performance skills, resources and ‘shtick,’ it’s best to implement a less egocentric strategy.

Where self-actualization in marketing plays out is as a basis for presenting the emotional value you offer your audience: a desirable value that motivates that audience to act, and thereby fulfill your corporate marketing goals.

An ego-based misreading of self-actualization has led to a plethora of self-promotion and do-it-yourselfism that works against business success. It’s the fulfillment of your audiences desires that management needs to be concerned with, not their own.

Perception, Reality, and Communication

Once you’ve figured out what your Emotional Value Proposition is, the next thing is to figure out how to present it, which brings us to the idea of hyperrealism, a term we use for developing effective Web-based video presentations.

Marketing communication is essentially a storytelling discipline that relies on shorthand reference and pattern recognition wrapped in the context of an idealized reality, what we call hyperrealism. In art, hyperrealism is intended to convey something deeper and more significant than what mere reality can convey, and the same principle holds true for marketing communication. Reality is messy, complex, and confused, while hyperrealism is simplified and focused, a prime directive in any effective marketing, branding, and advertising strategy. You need to simplify in order to clarify, in order to persuade.

HyperRealism As A Concept Development Principle

Every sane human being understands gangsters and serial killers are bad, yet television audiences flock to consume episodes of the ‘Sopranos’ and ‘Dexter.’ In the same way most of us know the images presented by Victoria’s Secret bear little relation to reality. These examples may be obvious, but all effective commercial presentation is stylized, not because it’s an effort to mislead, but rather because it needs to focus and clarify a
message aimed at engaging and connecting to an audience on an emotional level.

In order to connect to your audience your marketing presentation must communicate something more than the lowest price, or the latest feature, it must show the way to that idealized version that viewers have of themselves that only exists in their minds. Once you come to grips with that reality, you’re on your way to developing a successful marketing communication strategy.

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 Contact at or telephone (905) 764-1246.