How to Commission a Good Video

You know video is "must have" in your online marketing mix, but when things get busy it's tempting to cut corners. A quick online search reveals scores of discount providers competing with each other in a race to the bottom.

Example of Bad Video

Anatomy of a Flop

A flop is born when you decide that you don't have time for proper creative. "We just need a video, it doesn't have to be perfect. Can't we just hire a company to make a quick Explainer video?" 

The problems start with the script. Exhibit A's script is the same rehashed formula that 95% of Explainer videos use:

  • "Are you having trouble losing weight?" -or- "Finding a car loan is hard." 
  • Followed by, "Have you tried [insert buzzword features X, Y, and Z]?"
  • Ending with a utterly horrible call-to-action borrowed from an infomercial, "Call today. Bulk orders enjoy deep discounts." - or- "Don't wait, lose 100lbs overnight!"

Red Flags

With a cardboard script it doesn't matter if you have snazzy visuals, high-quality animation, or hire a celebrity voice - it's a flop. Ask yourself, was this written for a real person or for a "key market demographic?" Your customers don't love working with you because of trending keywords or deep-discount pricing.  

How to Avoid a Flop

Instead, craft a script that's based on your understanding of why your customers buy from you. What keeps them coming back? Write it for a real person. Think of one of your best customers by name. How do you talk to them when you want to inspire them, solve a problem, set goals, or plan for the future?

Recently we worked with Exio, a service that helps owners sell their company. The script and video we created are structured similar to the first example but the language is much more nuanced. It's framed from a business owner's perspective addressing the common pain points that owners experience when trying to divest.

Example of a Better Video

Let's look at how the language is working: 

1) It describes the problem. 
"Personal networks." When an owner tries to sell a company the first place they try selling is to a competitor. That's often a dead end.
"Cheap listings." Frustrated owners turn to free listings, hoping somehow the right buyer is going to find them.

2) It alludes to how life could be better. 
"Systematic way." An owner's deepest fear is that no knows the business like they do. We use language to comfort them. With Exio there's an established process and methodical steps to acquisition.
"Increase valuation...where multiple buyers competed to make you an offer." An owner's biggest hope is that other people will recognize the real worth of their company. Exio's goal is to make sure the world sees and appreciates that.
"Shorten time on the market." An owner's major risk is spending years trying to sell their company while it slowly dies, so we're reassuring them that Exio understands that risk and has a plan to mitigate it.

3) It confidently calls them to action. 
"We'll do the work, you pick the right fit." The phrasing is subtle, and it reassures the owner that they'll stay in control of the final decision to sell. 

Now you know a few pitfalls to watch out for, so how do you find the right video agency to help you?

Who to Hire

Find a provider that's interested in your business first, and your production needs second. If your provider jumps straight into talking about cameras, style of the visuals, production days, and the size of crew; you've got the wrong provider. They're already blindly thinking about what's in it for them, not what will help you accomplish your goals. 

Hire a video provider that you want to work with across your product / service offerings. By doing this you're committing to a longer term relationship. That partner can afford to invest time in learning about your industry, your customers and what you value. You've given them permission to come alongside you and think big picture as a trusted advisor. 

Applying these two mental frameworks when deciding who to work with is a win for everyone. At Pathfinder, we've seen clients say things like: 

"Other providers look at us as a client to bill hours, with you there's trust. You able to see from the outside where we might have weakness or room for improvement. We don't have to micro-manage, instead we can focus on expanding the company."  -Roald, Founder & CEO of Exio