The 6 rules you need to know to create a great business video

When it comes to creating business videos, Kurtis Thomas, manager of video marketing at OpenText says it’s important to distance yourself from what he calls a “field of dreams” scenario, because “if you build it, people might not necessarily come.”

During a ClickZ webinar, sponsored by OpenText Hightail,  he added that there are also more important things to consider. “Hoping people find your content once online is one thing, but if they do, will they find it useful, relevant or empowering? Will they remember it or take action?”

Before creating any business video, Thomas said he likes to go over six basic rules with his internal clients:

1. Forget the word “viral” – “’Viral’ is one of the most commonly used words around online video, and it can be dread-inducing,” he said. “It speaks to a misconception around the power of video and what your videos can really accomplish when you create them.” He suggests instead focusing on your organization’s real and tangible goals. “What should the video accomplish? Is it meant to help close a sale? Then 1 million views aren’t as important as one view from the right person. … A view count may mean something went viral, but it may not translate to the needs of your business.”

2. Ask if your video has friends – Thomas said that he is often asked to create a video as a checkbox on someone’s list. “And once it’s live, that’s where engagement stops. It doesn’t have friends. …. Video is a social creature and survives best in your broader marketing ecosystem.” He advises to consider if the video can be paired with a product launch, event, campaign, social media push or other marketing efforts—otherwise, it might be best to wait. “Waiting 6 months to a year before you create that asset could mean it’s going to be more relevant, it’s going to make a bigger splash and it isn’t going to fizzle away in the backwoods of your website, which is important.”

3. Remember Robin Dunbar – Once you know the goal of your video and what it will tie to, Thomas said it’s important to ask yourself if it will connect with your audience, their goals and their ideals—which he likes to think of in terms of something called Dunbar’s Number.

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar estimated that any one person can maintain stable relationships with only up to 150 people—and Thomas said the same can hold true when it comes to video content. “We only have the time to make meaningful connections with the content that matters most to us, especially considering how much content we’re being flooded with every day.” He added, “If you can think about what stories matter most to people, and curate that message to those people you want to speak to , your content will have a better chance of resonating with them and that will trickle up through the script, up through the content you produce, and up through the visuals, so you can make a better video overall.”

4. Have a conversation – “The term ‘storytelling’ might sound simple enough, but if you break “storytelling” into its two parts, a story is only as good as the way it’s told,” he said. “We’ve all watched movies or had conversations we just wished would end. We want to give these stories their due, but they’re just not clicking with us. We don’t want our video content to do this.”

He said it’s important to “let your video prove that as a marketer you’re the best at having conversations” and that you’re considering what people want or need to hear. “While you may think you have the best video and product in the world, that won’t have value if it doesn’t resonate with the person watching it at the other end.” He suggests looking at demographics, where the targeted audience works in the business, their problems or the solutions they need—and then create a video where every piece speaks to that. “Every video effort has the power to feel like you you’ve been actively listening to them, just by the way you talk to them.”

5. Stick to the basics – He also advised to “keep things simple, even primary.” As you’re focusing on your story and your telling, think about not just your content, but also the way you’re putting it together and structuring it. “It seems almost too obvious to say that a good video, or story, is made up of three parts: a beginning, middle, and end. But what does that mean for your video?” He said that in working for a company that sells products, he thinks of it more as problem/solution/value. “Whether you’re making a customer success video, a demo, an ad for a new product, or an interview with an executive, try to break apart the content you want to share into these three stages. It will make your story naturally easier to follow, easier to remember and leave things at a memorable place.”

6. Pay attention to the stats – While Thomas said it’s great to have a library of content to circulate, he adds that it’s also important to look at how that content has been performing, using the analytics that are available to you—such as retention. “If viewers are dropping off in the first 30 seconds of a minute and thirty second video, think of what might be happening in those first 30 seconds that would cause a disconnect. Is it clunky language? Have you proven business value? Done something memorable?” He added, “There is no one recipe for success, but evolving your videos and content based on analytics is the only way to ensure you’re hitting the mark.”

Thomas added, “Try to avoid the field of dreams scenario and really ask: Will someone find your content; will they find it useful, relevant or empowering; and will they remember it or will it inspire them to take action?” Addressing those questions, he said, will mean “you’ll not only save a lot of time, money and resources, but your content will become more powerful once it’s live and have a greater impact.”

For more insights from the webinar, please read “5 best practices for video stories that matter.”

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