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Five Tips for Creating Videos That Build Brand and Drive Sales

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Storytelling through video has become part of the required content marketing toolkit for brands looking to create awareness in their market. Old Spice, for example, sought to refresh a sleepy brand; Jack Dorsey launched a whole new product category with Square Cash; and Red Bull created a movement with its "Gives You Wings" campaign.

The power of video to move consumers to act has played out nicely in the numbers. YouTube users watch more than 6 billion hours of video per month; that's up 50% over last year according to YouTube execs. Meanwhile, Cisco predicts that two-thirds of the world's mobile traffic will be video by 2016. So, clearly, this ship isn't sinking any time soon.

Short-format videos are in

Let's start with the short-format videos being used on platforms such as Vine and Instagram. They're hot, they're new, and users are flocking to them in droves. Some 59% of the world's top brands are now active on Instagram alone, according to Simply Measured.

What's great about these platforms is that they allow you to tell visual stories in the form of "content snacks," or bite-sized bits of engagement. Much as Twitter has done for microblogging, these platforms force short-form storytelling by limiting the length of the video clip to mere seconds. They also seem much more conducive to sharing, and they're perfect for branding.

"Brand vines are shared 4x more than other online videos," Heather Taylor, a vice-president at Ogilvy, claims. Furthermore, 40% of the most shared 15-second videos are marketing efforts, Unruly Media found in a recent study. Here are some examples:

GE's 6-Second Science

Lowe's Fix in 6

The GoPro3 Adventure Series


Regardless of form or viewing device, video is an ideal medium to engage, inform, and entertain prospective buyers and clients.

Here's what you need to know to get in on the action.

1. Understand the difference between a conversion video and a brand-building, engagement video

According to a recent Wordtracker post featuring Poo Pouri video ad director Joel Ackerman, "There are two main types of videos a business will want to make. Conversion videos are designed to drive sales, whilst engagement videos can work well to get people to subscribe to a YouTube channel."

Don't confuse the two. If what you need to do is drive sales, make sure your video strategy has that goal clearly defined. Otherwise, you could end up spending hard-earned cash on awareness videos without ringing the register.

2. Make your videos accessible

Half of executives look for more information after seeing a product or service in a video, according to Forbes. With that in mind, it's crucial that you make your videos accessible and thus sharable, so that you can get your message out in the wild.

The easiest way to do so is to create branding and sales-related videos for promotion on open discovery platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Vine. There are also a host of other opportunities where video can be very effective:

  • Product detail pages
  • Testimonials
  • Emails
  • Landing pages
  • Thank you pages
  • Support documentation

3. Tell great stories

In the words of social media wunderkind Gary Vaynerchuk, "The story is the game. What you have to understand is that storytelling is the way you build a brand. And storytelling is not dictating your story in a press release. Storytelling is a give and take."

The most compelling messages come from the questions you should be asking yourself: What is my brand's narrative? What experience am I promising? What is the human element that my product or service represents that sets it apart from every other widget on the market?

You can't persuade people to buy something they don't care about. So what is it about the product that moves them? All successful videos have that in common: the ability to tell stories that make you feel something.

4. Know your audience

Understanding the personas that gravitate to your product will let you know how far you can push the boundaries, to whom you should be targeting your message, and, most important, whom you can ignore. One of the pitfalls of mass appeal is mediocrity. If you try to speak to everyone the same way, no one will pay attention.

Learn from the following great examples:

Dove's Real Beauty Sketches

Evian's Baby & Me

Kmart's Show Your Joe

5. Be bold and make a statement

So maybe you're still on the fence. Maybe you think everything has been done with marketing videos to build brand recognition and the rest is bandwagon waste. But here are a few successful product videos that clearly push the boundaries of humor, comfort, and, depending on your perspective, taste. The takeaway is that you have to do something to be seen above the noise; just make sure it works for your brand and your audience, or you could risk alienating customers important to your bottom line.

Bad Breath Test

Diary of a Dirty Tongue

Girls Don't Poop—

Let me know what's working for you and what you think of the videos by leaving a comment below. I'll be sure to respond. Happy video marketing!

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Seth Price is vice-president at Placester, a platform for marketing real estate online. He's a marketing strategist who helps companies tell great stories to accelerate growth. He's also a passionate content creator, marketing keynote speaker, host of the Craft of Marketing podcast, and an aspiring chef.

Twitter: @sethstuff

LinkedIn: Seth Price

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  • by Chris Finnie Wed Feb 19, 2014 via web

    I'll tell you what's NOT working for me: Not being told the content I've selected is a video, and videos that start automatically.

    You see, John Chambers--CEO of Cisco--is badly dyslexic. He's said so himself many times. Dyslexics learn better by seeing and hearing things than by reading. So he's very fond of video and Cisco uses it a lot. He's also fond of it because it uses a lot of network bandwidth, and he sells network hardware.

    Then there are those of us who read easily and well. I'm in that category. I learn best by reading. I often want information I can refer to later, without having to find it in a video. Or I need more detail than you can put in a video without putting everybody to sleep. For all these reasons, I'm not particularly fond of video. It annoys me no end when video is the only choice I'm presented with. Offer me print with your video and I'm much happier.

    That said, videos I DO like are always good stories. Academic studies galore prove that--whether it's print, audio, or video--people respond to and remember stories. So I think your point there is spot on.

  • by Tam Frager Wed Feb 19, 2014 via web

    Video is great, but I agree with Chris Finnie on a couple of points.
    - When video plays automagically, it's a turn off. If I'm at work I'm likely to simply close the page, even when it's something relevant. If i'd been given a choice, I might watch, but on my timeline.
    - I always look for a transcript for a video (unless it's Vine or the equivalent), because if it has information I want, I want to be able to quickly and easily refer back to it. If there's no transcript, there's a good chance I won't bother with the video.

  • by Seth Price Wed Feb 19, 2014 via web

    Chris & Tam, I agree with you personally but see a business case for the autoplay feature the FB and others have adopted. My apologies if it created an uncomfortable experience. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

  • by Monique Thu Feb 20, 2014 via web

    One of my favorite online video marketing campaigns was Dove's reals beauty sketches. I think it was so powerful because it touched a very sensitive topic among females.

    I agree with your words on engaging the audience because video can do so much more. The trend is shifting towards that video is not only a source of entertainment anymore but also a tool to be able to learn more (as a consumer) and to directly interact with the audience (from the sales point of view) by integrating certain features into the video itself.

    What I missed is how long these videos should be (on an average) to actively engage your audience. Otherwise very relevant topic, since I am also working with video in Denmark.

  • by Seth Price Thu Feb 20, 2014 via web


    Thanks for the comment, I love the Dove real beauty series. Fantastic. While I'm no video expert, from my perspective, it's not so much about the length of the video as it is the storytelling. We will embrace longer form content if it moves us. Check out Van's LivingOffTheWall documentary series, super long form but so compelling and speaks directly to their target audience. PS, thanks Robert Rose & Joe Pulizzi for this discovery.

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