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8 Tips for Creating Effective Explainer Videos

8 Tips for Creating Effective Explainer Videos
Credit: Credit: Ditty About Summer/Shutterstock

It's no surprise that video marketing is a huge trend. Just glance through social media feeds to see evidence of video marketing's popularity and growth. It's a proven digital content format that engages customers and prospects. Plus, video marketing is easily accessible and user-friendly, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices and faster internet.

Even so, many businesses have avoided video marketing because they don't think they can afford it. In previous generations, it was expensive and time-consuming to produce a video of virtually any type.

But technological advances in video production, including easy access to sophisticated video tools and resources, have made marketing videos truly affordable, even for solo entrepreneurs. For those who don't want to go it alone, these same advances have led to the launch of many companies that specialize in creating cost-effective video content for almost any size of company.

One of the best ways to start is to create an explainer video. This type of video marketing content is designed to promote your company's products or services and how they work in less than three minutes.

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Here are eight tips to ensure your explainer video project is the best it can be.

  1. Watch videos. Get inspired by viewing explainer videos that others have created, whether in your industry or not. Watch your favorite videos multiple times to dissect essential elements. Observe elements such as topics covered, the story and how it was shared, action versus static shots, lighting, angles, single or multiple cameras, voiceovers, music, and graphics.
  2. Plan to tell a story. Explainer videos are a digital form of storytelling, and all good storytellers start with a concept. Consider showing a problem many of your customers share, and then show how your product or service solves it. You could also tell the story of how and why your company started. If your service approach or manufacturing process sets you apart in the marketplace, create a video that takes customers behind the scenes to show them how you deliver your product or service. An explainer video is also ideal for products that need to be demonstrated to be appreciated.
  3. Keep it simple. Choose one storyline per video. This is not the time to showcase your entire product line. Think elevator speech. Be concise. Share that one story in less than three minutes – one minute if you can. Refrain from using lots of props or complex sets.
  4. Create a compelling opening introduction. The entire video must create interest and excitement, and that starts with the first few seconds. As you plan your script, keep in mind that you must instantly capture and hold viewer interest. If you fail to do that, a large percentage of your video's viewers will click off in 10 seconds.
  5. Focus on the product's mission. Stay away from droll footage about the product's virtues. Instead, spend those precious minutes showing how the product benefits your customers by solving a common problem. Avoid overt sales pitches. Appeal to your customers' emotional needs and desires. Ideally, your explainer video should be an extension of your brand voice, tone and style. Don't be boring. Consider adding music to set the mood.
  6. Decide where the video will live. Since more people every year are consuming videos via mobile device, it's crucial to create a video that displays well on mobile devices. Once your video is complete, you can put it up on YouTube, embed it on your website's homepage, link to it in emails, feature it on social media, put it up on a campaign landing page, and use it within sales presentations.
  7. Invest in DIY gear. Most late-model DSLR cameras can shoot high-definition video or better, and many of the latest mobile phone models have similarly high-quality video capabilities that are suitable for creating online video content. Video editing applications, royalty-free music, and other tools and resources are easily available too. If you're using a mobile phone, you'll also need either a tripod that is specifically for mobile phones or a mobile phone head for a standard photographic tripod.
  8. Or hire professionals. It takes practice to bring your vision to life. If you're not ready to invest in a learning curve, hiring professionals is a good option – especially because video pros are more affordable than you might think. A simple Google search for "marketing video production" will turn up a long list of professionals who can help, including those who specialize in working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. Be sure to view their work samples and check their references before hiring them.
Pamela Oldham

Based in Austin, Texas, Pamela Oldham writes on technology, healthcare, business and marketing topics. In her previous life as a senior-level marketing executive and continuing as an independent consultant, she's worked with small businesses and many of the world's best known brands in IT and healthcare.