Category Archives: Video Marketing

Storytelling for Video: How to Create Authentic, Consistent and Value Driven Content [updated February 2019]


We tell stories, we invent stories, we share stories, and we make stories up. It’s how we communicate and relate to each other on a daily basis.

So, why are so many business owners petrified of telling their company’s story on video? We’re just sharing what we’re up to, right?

This is what gets in the way:

  • Overthinking the story
  • Cramming too much information and detail into ONE message
  • Getting tangled up in industry jargon
  • Talking about concepts rather than sharing stories
  • Being attached to looking good, rather than being real, like-able, and authentic
  • Packing too much content into one video
  • So, how do you remedy being stuck on telling your story on video?

    1. Be clear on what you are saying to your audience

    This is where your previous work determining your audience and your strategy come in handy – if you have a no clue what I’m talking about – read our “Video Marketing Strategy” blog post.

    At which step in the buying cycle are you addressing your audience? What do you want your audience to do when they finish watching the video?

    Your video marketing storytelling should lead to a single goal. Which is yours?

    • Are you introducing your company and your motivation for what you do?
    • Are you offering a time-sensitive special?
    • Are you explaining a new feature or product and why it is superior to your competitor’s?

    2. Create VALUE with each communication you put out there​

    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 what you sell).

    If you’re selling a product, show the product while you tell the story about why you are selling it.

    If you’re selling a service, then you are the product! People are buying working with you. Show them the product: You! And, tell them your story.

    3. 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.

    Most of my clients are service providers and when they ask me what kind of story to tell, I recommend a couple kinds:

    • The Classic: This is my passion, and this is my business
      Chances are, that you have the content for that video already. It’s what you talk about when you meet new people and introduce yourself. Here is mine:
    • Expert Tip Series
      I love this kind of video for a small business, especially if you are a service provider. If you sell a product you can even do a tip series on that product: How to take care of it, use it, and work with it. Or you can talk about something related to the product.

      For instance, I did a 22-video series for Clock Wise Productions called “Nina’s Top Tips to Survive DIY Video Marketing“. Here the first video in that series:

      I was hugely worried about coming up with content, but once I found a chapter structure for the 22 videos, it was so easy to come up with expert tips, because I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping small business owners and I’ve been doing this for a while (decades…).


    Over the years, I’ve looked at hundreds and hundreds of videos produced by fellow small business owners and “internet sensations” and what good videos have in common isn’t that they are perfectly produced, but rather that they have a sense of authenticity.

    The most successful videos display energy, personality, sincerity, and a value proposition that resonates.

    Keep in mind that even the most authentic videos will inevitably have their critics. You cannot please everyone, there will be those who are attracted to your (video) personality and those who are not.

    When digital marketing and social media giant Gary Vee speaks, some people just roll their eyes and others soak up each word. 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 Mega Vlogs fun, sometimes messy, and – although casual on the surface – very well produced. He’s real, authentic, energetic, and mesmerizing to watch.

    And 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.

     When I started with my own video marketing efforts it took me a moment to catch on. I originally produced “perfect” videos with backdrops and teleprompter and it took me a day and a nervous-breakdown to shoot two short videos.

    Then I started to shoot my own Vlog (video blog) with my iPhone, unscripted (but prepared!), casually sitting at my desk, no lights (just daylight from a window), and guess what! I got feedback, I go reactions, I got clients… Because I was authentic, myself and natural.


    Scripting is the hardest part of the video marketing journey to get right and unfortunately, it’s the part you need to nail for the rest to fall into place, especially when it comes to storytelling for video.

    I asked my friend, playwright, and corporate scriptwriter Joni Fritz (her clients include AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and USA Networks) about what she focuses on when writing for corporate video. She explained:

    “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.”

    The hardest part is finding the balance between telling a compelling story and keeping it moving. When talking to someone in person, I like to lengthen or shorten a story as needed, taking cues from my listener’s body language.

    But when it comes to video, you have no feedback loop and so it’s best to keep things short and to the point.

    When I write a script for my videos – and I RARELY write scripts – I read them out loud about 10-15 times to make sure they sound “real” even after a lot of repetition. I often cut more than half of my text out and still get the message across. 

    For my expert-tip-series I have up to three (no more!) talking points on one topic (and a narrow topic at that!) and I will shoot as many times as it takes until I say it “perfectly”. Why? It saves me headache and time in editing.

    And, consider this: On social media, or your website, no one wants to watch a video that’s longer than 90 seconds, and you need continuous content, so make what you have to share into as short as possible single pieces to give you more videos to put out there: Win-win!

    I did that with my 22-video series Nina’s Top Tips to Survive DIY Video Marketing“. Here the link again:


    We 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 has always been that there are two positions to consider filling with professionals even if you’re totally bootstrapping your video marketing efforts. One of them is a creative helper, a CD (creative director) sometimes known as a copywriter.

    I once hired a company out of London called Creative Copywriter to help me with some of my writing for the website and two introduction videos.

    Although I do all my own writing when it comes to content creation (blog entries, email marketing, and workshops), I felt that the website and the marketing videos needed a copywriter for several reasons:

    • Writing short-form copy is hard and when you are selling with CTAs (call to actions) you need to be very precise in your communication.
    • I was too close to my own material to see what potential customers would understand and what would make them seek more information about my business. A fresh set of eyes, or a fresh brain was very helpful.
    • I had been putting off working on my home-page for far too long, so hiring and paying a writer was going to be my ticket to end that procrastination.

    But, with every “pro” list, come a few “cons”. To make sure your “cons” list remains super short, here a few things to look out for when hiring a copywriter:

    1. First and foremost: Writing for video is a specialty skill. Make sure you hire a writer who has experience and ask for completed video samples. If you don’t love them, don’t hire them.
    2. Allow enough time (and budget) for a copywriter to get to know you and your business.
    3. To speed up the process, hire a copywriter who either has experience writing for your niche, or is your target audience.
    4. Don’t be shy to interview several copywriters. If you go with a company over a freelancer, make sure you interview the writer who will be assigned to you before you make a commitment.
    5. Set enough of your time aside to go through what the copywriter has written and give detailed and extensive feedback. Having someone else write for you is not necessarily a time-savings. It’s an outsourcing of skill, not time.
    6. Similarly, allow enough of your time to write a full brief to make sure your writer knows where to go with his or her copy.
    7. Finally, don’t be shy to redirect a writer. They want and need your feedback to do their job well, so tell them what works and what doesn’t.
    8. Let the copy ‘marinate’ a bit. I like to sit on it for a few hours, or even a day or two to let it sink in. You might very well have some ideas or feedback that needs time to emerge.


    If you want REAL success with your video marketing, make a commitment to be consistent and publish continuously.

    Consistent content will make you part of your prospects or existing clients life – you publish reliably and consistently, and they will share your content, recommend you, and when they’re ready to buy, you will be at the top of their minds.

    Continuous content will give your prospect something to come back to and continuously learn from you. Be that reliable source with great advice, funny anecdotes, or fast tips. Be that expert voice and show them why they would absolutely want to work with you.

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

    (Note: The following video is from 2015 – do NOT spend 14 seconds on graphics upfront, go right into the meat of things – you only have 3(!!!) seconds to catch your audience’s attention).)

    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 becoming 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.

    Of course, there are many different styles of videos out there. Not all of them are “talking-heads”. You might want or need a different style video for your business.  Here a few fun examples:

    Giaco Whatever: “I make things” is his tag-line. He creates really awesome to-do videos – consistently, and it pays off: He’s super close to 500K followers!

    Channel Link:

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

    Liz Benny: DIY, super easy to reproduce. Just images, footage, music. “KAPOW” as Liz would say

    Quynh & Jeff Hunter: Super DIY, down-and-dirty but effective

    At the end of the day, storytelling is always going to be the hardest part of video marketing, and we often make our lives harder than need be.

    Follow the advice above and you’ll be well on your way to great storytelling for your business.

    To end this post, here is short video giving you my top advice when it comes to telling YOUR STORY:

    DIY Video Shooting: Feel Comfortable Behind and in Front of the Camera

    Once you’ve determined how Video Marketing fits into your overall business Strategy and determined what kind of Storytelling will best engage your target customer, it’s time to shoot your video.

    This post will run down what you need to know when it comes to creating a video for your Small Business, whether you’ll be behind or in front of the camera, or both!

    Here’s what we’ll cover:

    1. Choosing the Right Location for Your Shoot
    2. What Camera Should You Use for DIY Video
    3. Accessorizing for a Smart Phone Shoot
    4. How to Light a Talking Head Shoot
    5. A Bit More on Backgrounds
    6. What to Wear – or not Wear – on Camera
    7. Framing a Talking-Head Shoot
    8. Shooting a Talking-Head Video

    There’s a lot of information, but I’ve broken it down into these chunks so you can feel aware and prepared going into your DIY video marketing shoot.

    So let’s get started!


    Looking for and finding a good spot to shoot can make or break the “quality” look and feel you may want to portray of yourself and your company.

    Modeled after the steps that a location scout will go through on a professional video shoot, I’ve created this simplified checklist for finding your DIY video location shoot.

    I’ll go deeper into some of the steps below (background, lighting) in this guide, but if you don’t start off with a decent location then you’ll be setting yourself up for a more difficult experience than necessary.

    So, remember to ask:

    Continue reading

    What Gives? Video Marketing in 2018

    The advantage to being late to the year-beginning trend-game is, that you get to wear the “hindsight-is-20-20” glasses and hold the “I knew it!” space.

    And, since I gave up calling video marketing trends last year in favor of talking about best practices my timing is perfect: Right after everyone else has posted their 2018 trend blog posts. So, what’s dominating trend predictions and what can we call best practices for this year?


    So, what does that mean for you?

    • Mobile First means that your content, i.e. your videos will be watched FIRST AND FOREMOST on mobile devices.
    • That means you should be creating video content that will display and play best on mobile devices.
    • With Mobile First, the best practice is to take mobile user and consummation behavior into consideration when creating your videos.
      • 90% of video content is being consumed on mobile devices: If you do produce videos, make sure they look their best on mobile!
      • Almost 50% of internet users are looking for video related to a product or service: If you’re not into video yet, you’re losing out on 50% of potential customers!
      • 75% of all video content watched on mobile is being consumed without sound: Make sure your video is still relevant if watched without sound, OR: give them a reason to turn on the sound!

    Of course, there are plenty more trends, some more obvious than others. I put the ones I found to be of interest for Video Marketing into categories for ease of navigation and ‘digestion’:

    Continue Reading

    Happy New Year from Nina and Clock Wise Productions!

    Happy New Year! May 2018 be filled with laughter, joy, love, good health, successes and all-round-awesomeness!

    The Story About Storytelling

    Storytelling is as old as language.

    We tell stories, we invent stories, we share stories, and we make stories up. Some stories are small others epic, but they all are a constant in our everyday lives.

    So, why are so many business owners petrified of corporate storytelling, especially when it comes to video marketing?

    We’re just sharing what we’re up to, right?

    This is what gets in the way:

    • Overthinking the storytelling process
    • Getting tangled up in industry jargon
    • Talking about concepts rather than telling a story
    • Being attached to looking good, rather than real, like-able, and authentic – there, I used the “a” word
    • Trying to pack too many stories into one video

    And the list goes on.

    So, how do you remedy being stuck on telling your story on video?

    If you’re selling a product, show the product while you tell the story about why you are selling it.

    If you’re selling a service, you are the product! People are buying working with you.

    Show them the product: You! And, tell them your story.

    Most of my clients are service providers and when they ask me what kind of story to tell, I recommend a couple kinds:

    There’s “The Classic”: i.e.This is my passion and this is my business. Chances are, that you have the content for that video already. It’s what you talk about when you meet new people and introduce yourself.

    Blow a sample: And a note to reader: if you have any samples of your own, I’d love to feature it here and replace the below video!

    And here a video that talks about finding content for those kinds of videos:

    I also love any kind of expert tip series, especially if you are a service provider.

    For instance, I’m just finishing up a 22-video series “Nina’s Top Tips to Survive DIY Video Marketing“.

    Here the first video in that series:

    I was hugely worried about coming up with content, but once I found a chapter structure for the 22 videos, it was so easy to come up with expert tips, because I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping small business owners.

    And, if you sell a product you can even do a tip series on that product: how to take care of it, use it, and work with it. Or you can talk about something related to the product.

    So, if your product is road biking gear, you could talk about bike maintenance tips, race training tips, and bike routes.

    No matter what kind of video you’re putting together, my advice is:

    • Keep it simple
    • Keep it short
    • Work with what you have
    • Stay clear of jargon
    • Be yourself, and
    • Have fun!

    What are your storytelling-challenges? I’d love to hear from you!

    Storytelling: Curated Link Pack

    1. How you speak to your audience is just as important as what you are saying. This brilliant blog post breaks down how Language, Tone, and Content all go into making an effective video…
    2. Do you love data and analytics? These seven successful companies do too. Plus, they all smartly use it to craft storytelling for their marketing…
    3. In video marketing, many lead with the solution and forget to set up the story. But the story is what is going to make your client connect to you and your business…
    4. Video lends itself to high impact (especially with today’s short attention spans). These videos prove you can create fantastic stories with only 6 seconds of content!…
    5. Strategic storytelling is just as important for a business’ sales team as it is for the business’ leader…

    Storytelling For Video: Finding Consistent Content

    Happy Friday the 13th… I know it doesn’t mean anything, nor do I find the combination of a random day of the week paired with an equally as random number scary.

    What is however a tad scary, is that I entered into a 30-day video challenge.

    My challengers and I are all producing a video a (business) day for the month of October and posting daily to our YouTube channels. So that’s 22 videos in 30 days.

    I’ve survived videos one through 10 so far and have made some discoveries for myself. Notably:

    • Routine makes things easier (duh)
    • Organizing upfront pays off later (double duh)
    • Plans to re-invent the wheel (i.e. the video style) every week NOT going to happen if the task is 22 videos in 30 days and not winning a beauty contest.
    • Finding video content is the easiest part
    • If you’re sloppy with ANY step of shooting, organzing files, editing, rendering, and uploading to YouTube you’ll pay for it dearly during the following step(s)

    Here a link to video #8: Storytelling, Finding Content. Find out how super easy it is to get to content consistently!

    And, since you’re at it, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

    I have another challenge going with my nephew as to who will have more subscribers by the end of the year. And although, currently ahead of the curve, I don’t trust those digital natives. One viral video and I’m toast!

    Video Tech Specs:

    All videos are shot on my iPhone 7 with a Sennheiser clip-on microphone, edited on Adobe Premiere. The graphics are produced in Adobe Photoshop and then imported into Premiere.

    Opening a New World for High School Students in the Bronx [Case Study]

    You know that awesome feeling when you teach something and it totally lands? Yeah, like your dog finally sits without getting a treat each time you tell him to, or a swimmer finally puts a stroke together that you’ve been showing her for a while, or a student has that awesome “aha” moment.

    That’s how I felt when I watched this video:

    I had taught a class at a Bronx high school for an EDsnaps summer program run by Susanne Cappendijk, and her daughter Lisanne, listened to my class and then went off and made this video; from scratch. I love every frame of it. Continue reading

    An Introduction to Video Marketing Strategy

    A few years ago, as I started focusing on video marketing for small business, it all seemed crystal clear to me. There were only five stages of video marketing:

    1. Development
    2. Creative
    3. Pre-Production
    4. Production
    5. Post Production

    As you can see, these five steps did not include strategy, distribution, or analytics! The above categories were what I knew as a filmmaker. I have come to realize, that what I knew about back then was video PRODUCTION, not video MARKETING.

    The moment we talk about video marketing, versus video production, we also need to talk about strategy, distribution, and analytics.

    Continue reading

    What You Need to Know About Social Media Distribution When Planning Your Videos

    Video Marketing Life-Cycle

    Video marketing strategy really starts with the end of the video marketing cycle: Figuring out where you will distribute your videos. 

    If your videos live in Social Media that strategy might change rapidly as social media usage, rules, and are constantly in flux.

    To learn about the current top trends and tips, view the video below.

    Hosting Video for Small Business – What I Learned the Hard Way

    A few weeks ago I was at a two-day conference about all things business video, hosted by Wistia (a video hosting platform). I got home with a notebook and head filled with new ideas.

    The best part (other than the awesome parties), was to meet so many fellow video marketers and like-minded people, and to realize that I’m not the only nut running around teaching and coaching small businesses on how to create video marketing fitted for their needs!

    But: Back on topic.

    One big take-away from the conference also fed right into a pain point of mine: Replacing videos, but keeping the same URL/link intact.

    The day before I left for the conference, I had to take down two videos from YouTube – where I host all my videos. A client asked me to take them down, despite having a signed agreement (and he had a good reason), and I felt obliged to do so. He had switched job and the videos caused turmoil with his new bosses.

    The ramifications were awkward to say the least. Broken links mean SEO penalties and – far worse – potential clients with “oops – this video no longer exists” links.

    Not good.

    You see, YouTube doesn’t allow for a video replacement under the same URL, or embed-code.

    And, this wasn’t a new problem.

    I had faced this issue before in a different scenario: A few weeks after writing a guest blog, I created better versions of the explainer videos that I had originally, quickly thrown together.

    But, it turns out the host of the guest blog didn’t have the manpower to embed the newer versions.

    Had I used a full-featured hosting-service like Vimeo or Wistia, I could have switched out the videos in both scenarios, without having to inconvenience anybody, or creating broken links.

    I host my videos on YouTube because it’s such a powerful search engine – and it’s free and easy to use. Turns out these are not good enough reasons if you are using your videos for business.

    I will continue to host videos on YouTube, but solely as a social media platform.

    For hosting my business’ videos that get embedded on my website or get sent to clients, I will start using a “proper” hosting platform. Vimeo and Wistia are the two most relevant choices:

    What I’m looking for is:

    1. The option to exchange video while keeping the URL and embed-code
    2. Awesome analytics
    3. Serious privacy settings
    4. Great integration features into third-party platforms
    5. A growing, active and customer-support centric culture

    My choice is Wistia.

    Some might prefer Vimeo which is less expensive, but I have had issues with Vimeo videos not playing on my website, especially on mobile phones.

    Here is a good article that looks at pros and cons of using YouTube vs. Vimeo vs. Wista if you want to dig deeper.

    And, herewith a few links to other blog posts I wrote on the topic of “Hosting Video for Small Business”: