Have you ever had a good idea, maybe a great idea, only to find that someone else already did it? Frustrating. You want to be a success—who doesn't?—it's why you do what you do, why you put-up with what you put-up with. But it all gets so frustrating.

As much as you'd like to believe otherwise, there just aren't any secret methods, special potions, or motivational DVDs that are going to make you a success in 30 days. But there are things you can do that will help.

Sure working hard helps, but working smart is even better. So how do you work smart?

Well, you can start with presenting your core marketing message to your targeted audience in a way that engages the spirit, informs the intellect, and embeds your message in the mind.

And if you want to be cutting edge, the way to do it is with audio and video.

What a Difference a Difference Makes

Anybody who has ever tried to raise money for a project from a bank or contacted an ad agency for help has heard the question, "What makes your company different?"

If you don't have a different product, different process, or different way of doing or presenting what you do, you are never going to raise a cent or make an impact on the market. Yet most companies blindly continue to follow the market leader... and wonder why they never attain the level of success they hope to achieve.

If you want to be a success, you have to reinvent your company as something unique, so when the time comes to present your redefined vision to the world you will actually have something to say—something worth listening to.

Lateral Thinking, the Creative Laxative

Once you've decided to develop a video marketing message that focuses on what makes you different, you will want to know where to begin.

This is a creative process that can be scary to business executives trained in left-brain, linear thinking. Learning to think creatively is hard, and for most people it goes against everything they have learned.

Creative thinking has been called "thinking outside the box," right-brain thinking, or simply thinking differently.

Author Edward De Bono calls it Lateral Thinking. De Bono argues that linear thinking stifles imagination because it's satisfied with arriving at the first seemingly acceptable solution rather than looking for innovative alternatives:

"In ordinary traditional thinking we have developed no methods for going beyond the adequate. As soon as something is satisfactory our thinking must stop."

Where You Begin Is Where You End

One method of jump-starting the creative process is to think backward: You begin at the end, because where you're going will inform how you get there.

Create Your Memory Tag or Slogan

A well-thought-out slogan or tagline focuses attention on the critical point of differentiation, the thing that establishes your brand identity. A good slogan serves as a memory device, a positioning tool that implants itself in your audience's mind and stays there.

No matter how many times the advertising agencies convince the Pooh-Bahs at Coca-Cola to change their slogan, Coke will forever be "The Real Thing," and Pepsi will be "The Choice of a New Generation," at least to my generation.

These were excellent examples of how to focus on a single element and establish a differentiating identity between competing products that for the most part are just about the same. Then, of course, you have 7-Up with "The Uncola" slogan that was the best of the bunch, but was unfortunately dumped for some probably lame reason.

Each of these soft drink slogans established market turf for its company, and each helped differentiate the product while establishing identity in the audience's mind; and at no time is anything said about cost, quality, or any of the other conventional selling points that small companies are so fond of touting.

Develop Your Story

A well-designed video commercial takes your audience through the three stages of storytelling:

  1. The Setup with inciting incident
  2. The Crisis with problem escalation
  3. The Resolution with viewer satisfaction

Your slogan or tag is the punch line that highlights your resolution; it's what you want your audience to remember; it's your marketing message destination; and it's where you want to end. Now all you have to do is work backward, to the beginning.

This method of development helps you avoid saying too much: yes, there are many things you want to say, most of which are valid, some of which are relevant, but few of which are applicable to the delivery of an effective Web video presentation.

The more you say to an audience, the less they hear. Stick to a simple story that leads to a resolution based on your memorable punch line, or what TV screenwriters call "the button."

Invent Your Hook

Once you have your basic commercial storyline with a beginning, middle, and end, you need to make sure you have a hook: the thing that's going to pique audience curiosity and make them stick around long enough to view the entire presentation.

The hook should center on the "inciting incident:" the motivating situation that propels your onscreen representative to find a solution to the problem at hand that ultimately leads to the resolution represented in your "button" or punch line.

The Geico Caveman is a great example of a hook that demands attention and draws the audience into the series of mini dramas that constitute this award winning ad campaign; and it's all based on an incredibly simple, yet brilliant, tag: "So Easy A Caveman Could Do It."

You don't need expensive special effects or exotic locations; all you need is an imagination and a message that can be delivered with a memorable one-line "button."

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Jerry Bader is senior partner in MRPwebmedia (www.mrpwebmedia.com), a website-design firm that specializes in Web audio and video. Contact him via info@mrpwebmedia.com or (905) 764-1246.