Category Archives: Storytelling

5 Things to Focus on When Storytelling for Video

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Scripting is the hardest part of the video marketing journey to get right and unfortunately the part you need to nail for the rest to fall into place. The rest being: Shooting, editing, distribution, and the desired outcome, like customer awareness, engagement, or conversion.

I’ve written a lot about storytelling in general and what to look out for when crafting your message, but today I want to focus on Storytelling for video.

I asked my friend, playwright, and corporate scriptwriter Joni Fritz about what she focuses on when writing for corporate video over rather than writing for print, a speech, or (her passion) a play:

“Print and video are definitely two different animals.  I find when I’m writing narration for video, my sentences are shorter and more dramatic. I get to the point faster. I read everything aloud to make sure it flows off my tongue easily. Print can be easier and free-flowing. Longer sentences with more description. With video, I’m always trying to make things sharp and concise.”

I find the hardest part of writing for video to be finding the balance between telling a compelling story and keeping it moving. I like to embellish and when I’m talking to someone in person I can lengthen or shorten a story as needed, taking cues from my listener’s body language.

With video, you’re hoping for that captive audience hanging off your every word, but you have no feedback loop.

I tend to err on the side of super short, then again, I also edit my own pieces and after the umpteenth time looking at and hearing the same thing I just want to cut it all…

Over the past year, I’ve looked a hundreds and hundreds of videos produced by fellow small business owners and “internet sensations” and what the good videos have in common isn’t that they are perfectly produced, but rather a sense of authenticity. That is, they display energy, personality, sincerity, and a value proposition that resonates.

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When you go for personality there will be those who are attracted by your (video) personality, and those who will not.

But those in your audience who like you will really connect with you and your story and that’s what creates awareness, engagement, and ultimately converts them to customers.

The worst choice is, to play it safe and consequently be bland and then no-one really cares. At that point, why bother with video?

I hear, that when Gary Vee speaks, some people just roll their eyes and others soak up every word he utters.

He has a distinct style. Take it or leave it, but he is himself and he gives valuable information with each piece of communication he puts out. He has a huge following. Why? He puts out great value with each piece of communication AND he’s got a personality to boot.

Then there’s the incomparable Casey Neistat, filmmaker and YouTube sensation. Casey’s Vlog often exposes injustices, his videos are, fun, messy, and – although casual on the surface – very well produced. He’s real, authentic, energetic, and mesmerizing to watch.

But, not everybody has a bubbly personality. Some quieter voices, like Roberto Blake will appeal to a different set of viewers and maybe at a different scale, but they are still out there and getting traction. I like that Roberto offers reliable, and solid advice on all things digital creation. He has a consistent, quiet but engaging way of roping you into his world. And his channel is growing by the day.

Bottom line: Find YOUR voice, be friendly, and don’t forget to smile!

So, since we’re at it – keep these 5 points in mind when planning and writing your video copy:

  1. Create VALUE with each communication you put out there
  1. Even if your video isn’t “teaching” something, make sure your video has depth and resonance. Give your viewers a chance to connect with you and what you stand for (or sell)
  1. Be clear who your audience is: Storytelling should lead to a single goal; which is yours?
    • Are you introducing yourself and your motivation for what you do?
    • Are you offering a special and talking about why the time to act is now?
    • Are you explaining a new feature or product and why it is superior?
  1. Plan to your strengths – I have a writer friend Michael Katz, who insists on doing screen-recordings and voice-over. That’s his thing. I think he would look great on-camera, but he’s chosen that style because it plays to his strengths and admittedly, he does have a great voice.

For me, I’m a talker and I don’t mind being in front of the camera: And I produce my own footage without help, so I stick to talking-head videos and simple graphics (for now).

  1. I’ll never stop reminding you: Keep it short!

Watch Nina’s VLOG on the topic

And, here some inspiration beyond talking head videos:

  • Upgrade to 1st class documented by Casey Neistat: https://youtu.be/84WIaK3bl_s – Hysterical: And don’t be fooled – it’s expertly shot and edited

  • Liz Benny: https://youtu.be/KdDmamHTd9Y – DIY, super easy to reproduce. Just images, footage, music (although way too loud), graphics: “KAPOW” as Liz would say:

CURATED LINK PACK:

  1. For good content to resonate, it needs to have depth, value and specificity and be supported by the right social media platform. Gary Vee asks: “What’s going on in the world you’re trying to be a part of? How can you insert yourself into the conversation?” https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/one-piece-of-content-can-change-your-life/
  2. Writer, director, and master storyteller Andrew Stanton of Pixar Studios (Toy Story, WALL-E) examines in his TED talk the power of a great story. Listen to it and be inspired: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_stanton_the_clues_to_a_great_story/transcript?language=en
  3. Wistia makes a case for psychological tactics to catch and keep your audiences eye. It also includes useful examples of brands using those tactics: https://wistia.com/blog/using-psychology-for-video
  4. This Moz blog post is one of the best I’ve read so far on storytelling – no matter if the author focuses on web copy: It applies to video too: | Storytelling 301: Site Content as Story https://moz.com/blog/storytelling-site-content

Video Content Within Context, or Why Sleeping with A Helmet Doesn’t Make Sense

We all understand the words on the page, but sometimes SHOWING drives a message home. Here a modest example:

For more words on Video Content and Context read our previous blog: Why It is Completely Irrelevant Which is More Important: Content or Context [updated with Curated Link Pack]

I’m also — for the first time — adding production facts: What I shot with, how long it took me, what it cost me…

Video Production Facts for Above Video:

  • Total Investment Summary: 4 hours, plus a few hours “content think” time, and $0
  • Camera: Shot on an iPhone 6 in selfie mode (lesser quality lens)
  • Audio: “Chair lift” scene: in-phone microphone. “Indoor” scene: Sennheiser mic (~ $200 Amazon)
  • Mount: “Chair lift” = handheld. “Indoor”: Joby mini tripod
  • Total shoot time: ~ 30 mins: Chair lift scene 3 mins (fingers froze ;-)). Indoor scene about 30 mins with prep and shoot.
  • Edit Software: Adobe Premiere CC
  • Graphics: Adobe Photoshop CC (templates I created beforehand)
  • Total edit & finishing time: 2 hours
  • Total upload & distribution time: 1.5 hours upload to YouTube, tagging, transcription, captioning, posting, distributing

Why It Is Completely Irrelevant Which is More Important: Content or Context [updated with Curated Link Pack]

Bill Gates famously quoted “Content is King” in 1996. Since, the quote has been altered so many times it’s hard to keep up: “Content is King and Context is God”, or “Content is King, and Context is Queen”, etc. The world has changed. In what relationship are content and context today?

Maybe it’s the Swiss in me (we love consensus so much so we have seven ministers run the country), but I think there is no need for a “one over the other” in terms of importance. Neither content nor context survives without the other. Content and context are equally as important.

Think of video marketing as a strategic board game where context drives content, and content excels within proper context.

The most amazing content goes “poof” within the wrong context, and all the context in the world can’t save bad content. Period.

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Continuous & Consistent Content: Three Companies Who Get it Done!

In continuing with our blog: The Three Must Have “C’s” Without Which no Video Marketing Campaign Will be Successfulwe set out to see who does continuous and consistent video marketing content well.

Herewith our three top choices (and we’d love to hear from you with more examples!):

Combs & Company, Insurance Broker:

Susan Combs, CEO of Combs & Company, has an extensive video library; from CEO interviews, to white board explainers, and meeting coverage.

What’s interesting is, that she has all her video series bulk-produced. This not only saves time and money, it also gives the videos a look-, tone-, and content continuity that speaks to the commitment she has made to being a likable expert in her field.

It’s sets her apart from her competition, opens doors far beyond pulling in additional leads. Have a look at her different video series and you’ll get the picture.

JacksonFuller Real Estate:

Matt Fuller of JacksonFuller Real Estate and his residential real-estate team of five started blogging in 2006 and video was always on their radar but never used consistently until last fall. But then they went all out. Check out their Vimeo channel.

They produce the videos themselves and they quickly found out that “keep it simple” is the key ingredient. I’m amazed they figured out the green screen over editing!

They have a good mix of funny, light, and seriously informative content, and it’s consistent!

Boutique Accounting Services:

Richard Greco, founder and owner of Boutique Accounting Service does a great job with his videos. I love the clean, white background and the simple but elegant graphics. I’m still not a fan of side-angle shooting for a second camera, but it makes it easier to edit content.

I just wish I could a) embed his videos here and b) he had not announced (scroll all the way down on the link given below) all these other videos to come in 2016… It’s 2017, dude. I hope he continues.

Who do YOU KNOW who does video marketing well? We are looking to interview (for a quick 15 minutes) companies that are engaging in video marketing regularly to help us develop and fine-tune our video marketing services for small businesses. Any help is much appreciated.

Explainer Video: Curated Link Picks

Happy Summer! The dog days of summer are the perfect time to keep your video marketing knowledge growing. Below some interesting links to peruse: Some to learn “how to”, and some to see “how not to”…

  • Explainer videos have become essential teaching tools for products and services, learn why with Why You Need An Explainer Video for Your Business.

    Note: Ignore the animation reference for explainer videos: Cheap platform based animation models look, well, cheap… Focus instead on content and shooting it live. (And if you MUST have animated: go with a pro who will cut you a deal. I can help you find the right one).

  • Need some inspiration for the kind of Explainer Video you do NOT want to make? Check out Explainer Videos – The Best of the Best. I’m not being cynical: These videos are visually not appealing, slow moving, and formulaic. You can do better.

  • Now that you’re inspired, figure out what you want to say with 5 Steps to Scripting Great Microlearning Videos.

  • Need some inspiration how you want your Explainer Video to look like? Check out the websites of these 10 top companies in the US: 10 Best Explainer Video Production Firms, August 2016. Here direct links to videos (and still, I’m not a fan of animation…)
    1. http://bigdropinc.com/services/animated-videos/
    2. https://www.socialfix.com/project-attributes/video/ – my second fave
    3. http://simplestoryvideos.com/portfolio/ – my favorite

Sold on creating an Explainer Video but want help figuring out how to use your own tools to make one? Contact us at 212-343-3099 or info@clockwiseproductions.com, so we can talk about how we can guide you to the fastest video marketing success for your business.

Some Thoughts on Hiring a Copywriter for Video Content

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe all write – most of us actually quite a lot, between emails, newsletters, content creation, text messages, and social media posts.

As we search for our business’ stories and best ways to share them, I wanted to call attention to the mechanism of actually WRITING down those stories. My advice throughout has been (and still is), that there are two positions to consider filling with professionals even if you’re totally bootstrapping your video marketing efforts: From a creative perspective a writer (also called CD: creative director, or copywriter), and from a technical point of view, an editor (who, incidentally also is a copy-editor, fining the story in the footage you shot. Continue reading

How to Light a “Talking-Head” Shoot

I’ve been playing around with different lighting scenarios at my home office, mostly with available light, but also with a “home depot” DIY light kit I put together. This a screen shot of what an order for 2 lights would look like. The bulbs are “daylight” to complement a window. If you had no window you would be looking for “warmer” light bulbs, so-call tungsten lighting.  Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.37.41 PM

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How Does Your Future Video Engage with Your Audience?

5stagesofcustomerengagement

Most times I look at a corporate video, I’m not exactly sure where to put it in terms of customer journey. Why?

Well, as always the answer is multi-faceted. For one, video is a storytelling tool and has an emotional impact, and both storytelling and emotions are not exact sciences. Also, most videos lack a clear call to action. Sometimes that’s ok and other times it’s a missed opportunity. Continue reading