FROM EVERYDAY TO BUSINESS STORYTELLING
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…).
YOUR AUTHENTICITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PRODUCTION VALUE
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.
WHEN CREATING YOUR SCRIPT, KEEP TO THE POINT
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:
CONSIDER: SHOULD YOU HIRE A COPYWRITER?
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:
- 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.
- Allow enough time (and budget) for a copywriter to get to know you and your business.
- To speed up the process, hire a copywriter who either has experience writing for your niche, or is your target audience.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
FINALLY, PLAN TO KEEP YOUR CONTENT CONTINUOUS & CONSISTENT
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:
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: