Guest post by Leila Dorari
Recently, I’ve read online talk that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, with some going as far as claiming that humans of late capitalism have the attention span of a goldfish. Disregarding the fact that goldfish don’t actually have particularly short attention spans, there is some truth in the notion that individuals nowadays have something of a hard time focusing. Whether this is caused by some underlying neurological mechanism, or more likely by the wealth of content on display around us, is still up for debate. As far as content creators are concerned however, the fact remains that it is becoming more and more difficult to reach an online audience.
Video marketing content creation has taken a hit as well due to market saturation. Reportedly, more than 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which creates an extremely cutthroat environment for publishing video content.
With that much competition, marketing videos need to grab people’s attention instantly to stand a chance. They also have to maintain it long enough to get their message across. Gone are the days of sitting through commercials just to watch your favorite TV show. There is always something else to watch.
Then, it might come as a surprise to hear that, even with all the caveats above, video marketing is still worth pursuing, even for smaller businesses or organizations with limited marketing budgets. There is a lot of competition in the world of video, but as YouTube statistics show, demand is still soaring. I believe that the secret to the best video design is matching the right form with the right content. And, I’m are going to show you exactly how to do this.
The same rules and guidelines that apply to video-making in general are applicable to marketing video creation. They won’t guarantee that your content will get noticed, but they are good start. History has shown us that quality content reaches the audience it deserves.
Tighten your script. While your video doesn’t have to contain an explicit sales pitch, if you decide to include a written or spoken narrative, make sure it is concise and to the point. Remove unnecessary references, descriptions, or facts that are unrelated to the product, service, or brand you are promoting.
Show, don’t tell. This is an old film-making adage, and equally applicable to marketing video creation. Use your medium to its full capacity by presenting information visually where possible. People are better at recalling visual stimuli than words, and even verbal content is easier to remember if accompanied by engaging visuals.
Surprise them. People watch videos with certain expectations. If a video conforms to those expectations, they might remember it for a while, or they might not. However, if you end up subverting their expectations in some way, the odds of having the video stick in their memory will skyrocket. If you need proof that this works, take a moment to watch the Old Spice YouTube commercial, a great example of video marketing done right.
Leave them wanting more. Knowing what to include in your video is as important as knowing what to exclude. Leaving out specific information will engage viewers’ curiosity, prompting them to think harder about your video. They may take follow-up actions looking for the missing pieces, which you will conveniently provide through a CTA (call to action) at the end.
Keep it short. “Brevity is the soul of wit,” as Shakespeare put it. For shortening attention spans, it is best to keep your promotional videos short and to the point. Even if the video is not a stellar example of movie-making, online audiences will be more likely to give it a shot if the only price to pay is a few minutes of lost time.
We have covered some formal guidelines for making videos in general. Now, let’s examine how you can grab attention with your content.
The history of art gives us many examples of recurring themes, motifs, and phrases in disparate works. Their inclusion was often meant as a reference to elements of a common culture, which made the works in question more intelligible to audiences. The very same approach can be used when creating promotional, short, one-minute videos for customers, as well as in video production in general.
Show iconic imagery. Popular works of art have become a shorthand for expressing particular ideas. Munch’s Scream, the Red Cross sign, Apple’s logo, and many other examples evoke certain ideas and emotions in people worldwide. Using symbols such as these in marketing videos is a quick way to establish common ground with viewers by providing something immediately familiar and relatable.
Play excerpts of popular songs. Sound and music are integral parts of modern video making, so using them to their full extent is paramount for creating quality content. Using familiar tunes, excerpts of popular songs, or famous sound-effect samples will immediately catch the viewers’ attention. Even if we don’t recognize the sounds right away, our brains will remember hearing something similar before.
(Editor’s note: Be aware of copyright laws.)
Use slogans and limericks. There is a cognitive bias called the “rhyme-as-reason effect,” which states that sayings are more likely to be judged as true when written in rhyme. Just as symmetry and repetition make visuals easier to remember, rhyming can turn drab promotional copy into an instant ear-worm.
Add a dash of memes. Many of us know what memes are: those funny pictures of cats wearing stupid hats, and similar products of internet culture that have entered the mainstream, cementing their place in our collective unconscious. Using memes sparingly in your marketing videos is a shortcut for gaining instant appeal.
Who’s Attention Are We Grabbing?
You can’t randomly jettison marketing videos into the ether, hoping they will fly. They are commercial products, which means they have to reach an audience in order to provide you with a return on investment. Depending on the nature of the video, as well as the audience you are pursuing, you can employ different means of distribution.
Classical advertising. Traditionally, marketing videos were used as explicit advertisements for products, services, or brands. They were often played in blocks before movie screenings, or during regular TV programming. In the internet age, marketing videos are commonly displayed before or after YouTube videos, or in designated ad-spaces on websites.
Social media sharing. Some forms of marketing video, such as product unboxings or instructional videos, are especially suited for social media distribution. Consumers see them as a form of additional value, and social media sharing is a means to spread that value around. It is the modern-day equivalent of advertising through word of mouth.
Going viral. Viral videos are the “Holy Grail” of video marketing. They spread like the plague online, reaching untold numbers of people, either directly or through incessant sharing. Needless to say, viral videos can create a massive boost in brand awareness. Unfortunately, there is no formula that can guarantee your video will go viral, but creating something unique, memorable, and funny are good starting points.
The art of making a successful promotional video is a subtle one, and requires many considerations, including those outlined above. Grabbing viewers’ attention is harder than ever with thousands of hours of video available online, but it can be accomplished by taking the time and effort to create something people will want to watch.
Leila Dorari is an entrepreneur, freelance writer, and business-improvement enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. Currently, she is working as a consultant for 1 Minute Media, spreading the word on the benefits companies can reap from making short, impactful promo videos. In her spare time, you can usually find her hiking with her furry four-legged friend.