Is there a “secret” to how to make a great sales video? What makes one video successful, and the other – not? Over the past few weeks, we’ve done research to try to answer those questions. We looked at not only our work but some of our favorite sales videos done by other agencies. We noticed most, if not all, incorporated some or all of the following elements:

  1. Beautiful -Most people like watching aesthetically pleasing videos.
  2. Human -“Human” is turning into somewhat of a cliche but we’ll use it anyway. By “human” we mean being authentic, vulnerable and emotional.
  3. Doesn’t answer everything -In fact, sometimes the best sales videos raise more questions than they answer.
  4. Short and sweet -Say what you want to say in as few words and seconds as possible. This demonstrates empathy for your viewer’s busy life.
  5. The customer is the hero -Taken from the playbook of Donald Miller at Storybrand, your video should position your company as the guide, and your viewer – the hero.

While it’s impossible to truly develop a rock-solid winning “formula” or “blueprint” for successful sales videos, these are the general patterns we noticed. Not all sales videos are made the same but more often than not, the videos that really move the needle incorporate one, a few, or all of these elements. Let’s do a deeper dive into each element.

Element 1: Make videos that have beautiful images

We found ourselves spending more time with better looking videos than those that looked, “meh.” Does this mean every single one of your sales videos needs to be shot on a $100,000 camera? Nope. But it does mean that if you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, a video that looks great may help viewers stick around longer.

Another thing we noticed is that the more beautiful the video, the higher the status we gave the brand who made it. This feeds into the notion of, “the medium is the message.” Because the video was beautiful, we believed the brand must be a better performer than its competition. It’s almost like we were judging a book by its cover.

Here’s an example of a sales video that incorporates beauty as a main component. Note: we did not make this one.

 

Element 2: Your video should embrace humanity

A lot of times we forget that while we use our adult voices during the day, and use words like “disparate,” or “integrated,” we’re all human when we go home. We like watching Netflix in our jammies while eating takeout. We don’t go home and watch “corporate video” with our significant other. No. We watch stories of vulnerable characters, who make errors and show their emotions.

To err is to be human. And a lot of brands forget about this and try to overly whitewash their sales videos. We say be vulnerable, be emotional, be authentic – be human. The problem with this is these words are now all cliches and most brands think it’s solved by simply doing a mini-documentary. And then they whitewash the mini-documentary and the whole thing peters out.

Being human means meeting your audience on a basic human level, not a corporate level. It means using words that your prospect uses on a Saturday with her family, not in a 2 pm meeting. When you act more human through your sales video, you will cut through the clutter and relieve your prospect from the deluge of bland sales videos from your competitors.

Here’s an example of a sales video that embraces humanity. Note: we made this one – you can read a case study about it here.

 

Element 3: Agitate questions that your sales team can answer

Think about your favorite TV shows. I mean, your favorite ones. Not the ones you like to watch to veg out. I mean the ones you think and talk about. Shows like “Lost,” “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men,” or “The Sopranos.” It seems like these shows raise more questions than they answer every week. Sometimes, you have absolutely no idea what’s happening, yet you watch every single episode. The reason you love these shows is that there’s a mystery to solve. Not everything is spelled out. The creators are making you engage with the show. They want you to use your brain a little. We love these shows because we’re part of them.

Would you say that you need a Ph.D. in Medieval Dragon History to understand “Game of Thrones?” Do you need advertising industry expertise to love “Mad Men?” The answer to these questions is, obviously, no. No, you don’t. In fact, you like getting to learn something new and putting yourself in the shoes of a New Jersey gangster. You like trying to figure out the real meaning of the island on “Lost.”

Don’t worry about spelling everything out to your audience. In fact, you want them to have questions because guess who they’ll ask those questions to? Your salespeople!

Here is a great example of a video that raises more questions than it does supply answers. But in the end, you totally get what they’re trying to sell you. Note: we did not make this one.

 

Element 4: Short and sweet

One of my favorite episodes of “Seinfeld” is the one when George walks out of the room the second he makes everyone laugh, like a stand-up comic would. He goes out on a “high note.”

This is what you should be doing with your sales videos. When conducting our research, we found we were clicking links or navigating to product pages if the video ended on a high note. We wanted more. You should be thinking, “how short can I make this,” rather than, “how many features and benefits can we cram into 90 seconds.” Your audience is not watching your sales video with a pen and notebook in hand. They will not remember much more than, “that was an interesting video,” or “that was a boring video.” Yes, in the end, your video is meant to sell something, but don’t go too long. Just cover the significant few, not the important many.

Here’s a great example of a short and sweet sales video from Lemonade Insurance. It’s hard to believe this video is only 30 seconds! Note: we did not make this one.

 

Element 5: The customer is the hero

This idea was taught to us by Donald Miller at Storybrand. We highly recommend you take his in-person course. It will change your life.

The idea is that your company is not the hero of your sales video, your customer is. Sounds simple but so many brands talk about being “family owned,” or “in business since 1958.” No one cares. Those chest-pounding statements ignore the main reason why the prospect is watching your sales video: to solve their problem!

You should be Yoda and your prospect should be Luke. You should be Gandolph and your prospect should be Frodo. You are the guide and your customer is the hero. You are merely helping them achieve their goals.

Here is a video we made for ourselves when we used to be called, Guy Bauer Productions. Notice how it positions us as a guide and our prospect as the main character, or hero, of the story.

 

Making a blockbuster sales video

If you keep these elements in mind when working with your video agency, you’ll be on the right track to producing a high-quality, engaging and thought-provoking video. Remember to be bold, take risks and try to go where no one has gone before.

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