A ‘Short’ Course on Crafting a Video Strategy

The Power of Video to Draw People in

The popular D.C. Shorts Film Festival just concluded here in Washington, and watching the various films only reiterated the power of video—at any length—to draw you in. Arlin Godwin who produced “The Man in 813,” which won the outstanding local film, told us that he didn’t have the money for actors or fancy sets. So he showed glimpses of things in his apartment and set dramatic words to them. Not as easy as it sounds but quite powerful. Check out a glimpse here; it’s funny to have a 37-second trailer for a 3-minute film, but that’s the time-sensitive world we live in.

My colleague Julie came across an excellent primer, so to speak, this morning for getting started with video. It’s a short post from a Northern California company called Digital Accomplice. They represent a large publishing company called Hanley Wood. That was a coincidence because I wrote about Hanley Wood on Tuesday as one of the first companies to use Narrative Science—the start-up at Northwestern University that has written a software program that writes articles for you.

At the request of Hanley Wood, Digital Accomplice produced a short video for Sherwin Williams about paint and redecorating. Like “The Man in 813,” it’s simple but forceful: attractive and fast-moving shots of the interior of a house, background music, a charming central figure and sharp camera work. These things do cost money, of course. But it still should be a goal and there are ways to save.

We recently featured SIPA member Dale Debber at Providence Publication who put his interns on the project. They came up with an amazing video to support Dale’s webinar programs. Another member, Kiplinger, posts a daily video on their homepage, today’s being about deep discounts on 2011 model cars. And Motley Fool has their co-founder, Tom Gardner, promoting a special investing opportunity today in a video. Those last two are done simply, mostly with a talking head delivering the deals.

The Digital Accomplice post might be underestimating things a bit when it says that the “process was simple.” But it does make it sound less intimidating at least. “First, find someone interesting doing something interesting with your product and make an interesting video about it! The video production cost is actually very cost effective when you look at the engagement level that brand content offers. For equipment, we used 2 DSLR [Digital single-lens reflex] cameras and high-quality microphone. By using 2 cameras, we got 2 angles to edit with, making it far more engaging. We also made sure to get lots of angles of what we were discussing, in this case, the redecorated space. Not the most complicated video ever, but I think it’s a great way to grab people’s attention and get them excited about paint, imagine that!”

The post continues: “Web video gets people emotionally engaged, they are more likely to want to share, comment and in a way, it makes your product and company more real.” It gives three take-aways for making a video:
– Identify what about your product or service gets people emotionally engaged, excited, passionate;
– Try and find someone doing something interesting with your product. Your audience is busy too; make em’ care!
– Find a talented and experienced video production company that has the skills to find the right way to tell your story for your budget.

Another short film in the D.C. festival, titled “She Was the One,” works beautifully and sadly as a tribute to a woman—from her boyfriend—who was killed in the World Trade Center attacks. Again, it’s just three minutes. Animation allows the viewer to smile a bit as the film puts an engaging life behind what was just another name. What’s great about short films or video is that they can be just one idea…and then you’re done.

We will be following up with more on this subject so stay tuned.


Video will certainly be one of the subjects on the table at
SIPA’s upcoming Fall Publishers Roundtable
Wednesday, Oct. 5 (in less than 2 weeks!) at the
McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York.
With more than 20 publishers in attendance
(and the doors closed), you will be getting
information that you cannot get anywhere else.
So sign up now before the 35 spots fill!
Or call SIPA at 703.992.9339 for more information.

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