You write a lot about movies, home video, story, etc. It’s all great, and I use it when I shoot stuff. But I need to convince my company to do better marketing videos and I’m not shooting those.

Any advice?

-Jackson D., Denver

The only thing worse than shooting awful marketing video is paying someone else to shoot awful marketing video for you.

Critical in this age of video overpopulation: A crash course in video literacy for companies. The more you know about how video really works, the less likely you are to waste money and time on something nobody is going to watch.

Here are 10 tips to run through before your company’s next foray into video marketing, whether it’s on YouTube or network TV. Good luck!

  1. Entertain or Die: Whether it’s on the web or TV, nobody watches bad video. There are too many instantly available alternatives.


  1. Never confuse what you want with what the audience wants. You may have sales goals, but they have their own needs. Their needs determine how they behave, not yours.


  1. The Entertainment Transaction: The audience pays (with time or money) the entertainment must deliver (with an experience). More on entertaining videos here.


  1. “Should it Entertain or Sell?” is a fool’s argument. It has to do both. If it doesn’t entertain, it CAN’T sell. And if it doesn’t sell at all, why bother?


  1. A Viral Video is a “hit”—and it’s as tough to make as a hit record, hit TV show, or hit movie. A strategy that depends on a single hit is no strategy at all.


  1. Video done right works. It can increase the size of your loyal audience, or increase the participation/affiliation of your existing audience. Or both.  Video that’s done wrong vanishes, taking your time and money with it.


  1. Make sure what you have to say is really a video. Video does motion and emotion well. Charts and facts are not a video, they are Powerpoint. Bad Powerpoint.


  1. “See Something, Say Something” They use it in airports to remind people to report things that are suspicious to keep us all safe. Same in marketing meetings. If your campaign strikes you as a little, um, “suckish”– speak up. It’s not going to get better by itself. And the cost of production may be high, but it’s NOTHING compared with the cost of media. Or embarrassment.


  1. Keep your video short. That trailer for a new movie—the one you hate because it shows the whole story? It’s 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. You don’t need a ten minute sales video. Two minutes will be just fine—and even then, it better be good.


  1. Welcome to the Entertainment Industry. Like it or not, your marketing video is competing with all videos for attention. Make sure your videos are worth watching.


Thanks for the question, Jackson. Do you have a question? I bet you do.  Click here to ask it!

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