Thinking about testing out video as a marketing tool? First thing: Don’t look on Facebook for tone pieces! Social platforms have become inundated with hustle-bro-talking-manically-into-a-cheap-camera videos lately, but that’s not because they are effective — it’s because they’re basically free to produce and the script formats have been ripped directly from 1980s multi-level marketing motivational tapes.
So if you feel like adding video to the mix, look beyond the direct-to-camera sales pitch and start researching the many other video formats out there.
Here are six video storytelling formats to test out:
1. The customer testimonial
Take the most important content format in the business development toolbox, and bring it to video. You can imagine how powerful these are when done right. Some companies take a straightforward low-budget approach, with the customer telling their story direct to the camera. Others go full on short documentary style. If the story and the sincerity is there, the impact will be there — no matter what budget the production.
Note, a lot of companies are nervous about asking a client to participate in one of these. Don’t be. Most loyal customers are not only fine to participate in these, they actually see value in it… because they, too, need content for their site and social channels. If you’re footing the production bill, it’s a win-win.
Who’s doing it well? Enterprise software giant SAP could get the biggest businesses in the world to recommend them — they did, after all, get PayPal. But instead, the B2B tech company seeks out impactful stories from humanitarian orgs, green startups and community-based programs to showcase its stated purpose: “Help the world run better and improve people’s lives.”
2. The employee culture video
The biggest mistake companies make on this is only filming their executives. You’ve got a pool of talent to choose from and should look for the big personalities and fun, spontaneous moments. Those might come from your sales team, but can just as easily be the staff who are engaging with your customers or working on the factory floor.
Look for people who have a long history with your company; or if you’re too new to have longtime staffers, look for people who were intentional about coming to work for you. If you’re not doing an executive interview, you can get casual and fun with these videos… and often win more views as well as more positive customer sentiment.
Who’s doing it well? Salesforce’s founder is well known to be inspired by Hawaii’s “Ohana” culture— think family, community, welcome home. Curious how he’s integrated island philosophy into one of San Francisco’s towering tech success stories? The #SalesforceOhana Culture video will tell you all about it.
3. The explainer video
For many types of products, especially in the tech space, having one of these is essential. It can be very difficult to get right, and of all the video formats to go big on budget, this would be the one as far as we’re concerned. Not because you’ll need to find an amazing shoot location, or hire a well-known host, or bring in four cameras necessarily — but because you need to find the best way of showing exactly what your product or service does.
And if your product is cloud-based, cyber or not visually engaging, you may need to use a lot of motion graphics and visual representations. There won’t be a lot of text, but what there is needs to be very simple yet sharp, explaining complex technical processes in such a way that people can understand while only paying 50 percent attention.
Who does this well? Well, actually, we just launched a new explainer video for ClearVoice. Check it out and let us know what you think!
4. The demo video
Though this term is somewhat interchangeable with “explainer video,” I think of it more for consumer products — and it is typically oh-so-much easier and cheaper to execute. Whether your product is appliances or mosaic tiles or food ingredients or a consumer tech device, the key thing you have to show is, “Here’s someone using our product/service to do a thing/make a thing and enrich their lives.”
Hands-and-pans food videos, mixology videos, DIY craft videos, and UGC videos on how to beat video game levels are all examples of demo videos. Some get hundreds of views and some get millions, and honestly, production value is not nearly as important as that blend of education and WOW factor.
Who’s doing it well: Facebook’s latest series of commercials promoting the Portal device really nail this format. If you can resist Neil Patrick Harris wishing his mom a Happy Mother’s Day, then more power to you… but have you seen the latest one with all the A-list Muppets? Kermie!
5. The promo video
This is a highlights reel or trailer for your business: it should be energetic and jam-packed with good info on what your business has to offer. If you’ve got strong video testimonials from clients, or employee culture videos that you’re super proud of, you can drop in a few of the very best seconds from each. Use fast cuts and grabby soundbites to engage viewers and get them curious about your company.
As you work on this video, keep in mind that you need to strike a balance between hard selling and relationship selling. People are inundated on social these days with people trying to sell the same product (thanks, retargeting and algorithms). While your product may be impressive, people are still much more likely to remember you if your video made them feel good.
Who’s doing it well: To announce the public unveiling of a $690 million transformation, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas went all-out with the glossiest, most FOMO-inspiring promo video in the genre. It could easily be a music video or the trailer to a heist video starring Cardi B. And it perfectly shows the kind of fantasy-aspirational experience that people of a certain demographic want from Vegas.
6. The behind-the-scenes video
This is a really good format to use up lots of random clips and outtakes and informal moments captured while your video team was waiting to roll camera on the scripted part of another project. Typically you get good BTS footage at events and on the set of other kinds of video shoots.
Who’s doing it well: Red Bull does action videos better than just about any company on earth, but letting their Aston Martin racers take viewers behind the scenes at Red Bull brings a new level of intimacy that fans engage with hugely. You can see it all over the comment section after checking out Christian Horner’s Red Bull Racing Garage Tour.