A recent search of the internet told me that when watching a video people absorb 95% of the intended message. I also learned that 84% of people who watched an explainer video made a purchasing decision afterward. I even discovered that videos in ad campaigns increased sales by 34%. So while 64% of all statistics may be made up, I tend to believe the numbers I saw based upon personal experience.
It’s clear, video content gets results. But simply setting up a camera and capturing some audio and video won’t guarantee you get the results you’re seeking. You need to have an outcome in mind and let that desired outcome carry you through the production process.
When you set out to create a video the best place to start is to decide what outcome you are trying to achieve. A defined purpose for your video will translate into a clear message for your audience. A clear message in turn leads to the action you want your audience to take and action equals results.
Defined Purpose > Clear Message > Specific Call-to-Action > Desired Outcome
So let’s say it together… “Lights, camera, ACTION!”
(Sorry, cheesy, I know. I’m a dad. What do you want from me?)
We want all of our videos to get results, right?
More sales…a more equipped staff...a jovial audience ready to hear from a keynote speaker…a well-informed customer base who understands the changes coming to the services you provide. You get the picture. Video content can serve a number of purposes.
It’s helpful to categorize these outcomes to give our videos a very clear purpose from the earliest stages of planning through to their premier.
Here are the four outcomes your video content can accomplish for your audience:
Everyone loves a riveting story, a good laugh, or a particularly skillful, artistic expression. These are some of the things that entertain us and videos can do a great job of delivering those outcomes.
As a business, when your goal is to entertain your audience you aren’t so much looking for them to take specific action as much as you are looking to forge a bond between them and yourself. Think of the countless YouTubers who have made a living off of simply entertaining an audience. They have built up a brand based on their ability to make their audience feel good. The more people you share a positive emotion with, the more your audience, and ultimately, your brand grows.
Examples of videos in a business setting that entertain: A JibJab-style video of the C-suite as dancing elves at your office Christmas party; An employee attempting a silly stunt to promote a product launch
In some cases you need to impart new skills or understanding to your audience. Perhaps your workforce needs to adopt a new process to help increase efficiency or your distributors need to learn how to price your new product line to streamline the order fulfillment process. Maybe your customers need to know how to operate your product to minimize the number of support calls you receive or you want to attract new customers by offering your industry insights or tips on performing your craft.
Educating your audience elevates you and your brand and positions you as knowledgeable and trustworthy. Educating your audience also helps them to feel empowered and supported which are emotions we all want to experience.
Examples of educational videos: A live seminar about a new process captured on video to share with new hires; a how-to video linked from a QR code on your product packaging
Often the goal is simply to let your audience know some new information. This could be a transition in your company ownership or leadership structure, changes to your product line or services menu, or details about an upcoming event.
The goal of this kind of message is for your audience to feel included. (No one likes to be in the dark about something in which they have a vested interest.) But ultimately you want your audience to take some sort of action, whether direct or indirect. Direct…buy the new product or sign up for the event. Indirect…feel reassured about the direction of the company and share those positive thoughts with others.
Examples of informational videos: An internal video sent to employees about important upcoming events and milestones; A message about changes to a service agreement with existing customers
A stirring message or particularly compelling testimony can tug at people’s heartstrings and open up them up to be receptive to a meaningful call to action. Whether you want your video to drive donations, enlist volunteer help, or encourage your workforce to go the extra mile, the key is to strike the right tone.
Hope and optimism go a long way in an inspirational video. Desperation and dread can turn an audience off quickly, but in the right instances may be appropriate. The key is to find the right balance.
Also noteworthy is the importance of the visuals. Inspirational videos rely just as much if not more so on the visuals than the words being used. If the goal is to elicit an emotion it will take both sight and sound to do it.
Examples of inspirational videos: An internal training video designed to compel new hires to show empathy towards company guests like this video from Chick-Fil-A.
Think of these categories of video content as colors on your palette. You could mix two or maybe three of these colors together to get a beautiful new color. But let’s face it, none of us are Bob Ross. If we go mixing Phthalo Green, Alizarin Crimson, and Yellow Ochre all willy nilly on our palette it’s gonna come out looking like something else appealing than Van Dyke Brown, to say the least.
It can be done however. Here are some examples of brands that effectively blended outcomes into a single video.
Entertaining + Educational – Squatty Potty
Informative + Inspiring – Operation Christmas Child
A talented video producer, but maybe even more so, experienced on-camera talent can help you achieve more than one outcome effectively. But it requires a good bit of planning, scripting, possibly rehearsal, and maybe even casting of professional talent to do it. This is starting to sound costly and time-consuming, isn’t it? In some cases, all this effort is what the message calls for, but often you can communicate your message clearly by leaning into just one of the categories.
The key is to know your limitations and to set out to accomplish just one – two at most – of the stated outcomes.
Maybe you have some production equipment and a quiet room. When your CEO asks for a quick announcement video about an impactful retirement within your company – inform – you know you can produce a quality video with a clear message. But when she wants to include a parody of a funny moment from this summer’s company picnic – entertain – and now you fear the message getting lost. It’s time to seek some assistance or coach your CEO towards a more manageable production to ensure the desired outcome.
Remember, the key is clarity. Don’t try to do too much.
Bob Ross spent countless years honing his craft before taking to public television to whip up 30-minute masterpieces. Don’t rush into mixing colors if you don’t need to.
Determine the purpose of your video, define the message you want to convey, consider the action you want your audience to take, then, and only then, should you set out to produce your video. The result will be an outcome that supports your mission and goals.
If you’ve got a message you’re eager to share, let us know. We love telling stories across various media, but especially through visual media like video. Check out some of our recent video work and give us a shout if you’re ready to get started.