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Video Marketing Best Practices: 4 Steps to Producing a Killer Product Video, Part 2

by Megan Cunningham, CEO on November 18, 2011 · 1 comment

Jambox Jawbone

How to Produce a Brand Video that Audiences will want to Discover, Watch, and Share

Earlier this month, we discussed justifying the production of a video as part of your product launch plans. And we outlined some of the key questions you’ll need to ask yourself in order to develop a strategic plan.

This week we’re going to provide tips on what comes next after you’ve overcome the obstacle of convincing your team that video is a good idea. We’ll walk through some specific examples of well-produced product videos. We’ll also get into detail on the 4 Steps to Producing a Killer Product Video…

  1. Start with the Story
  2. Develop Your Story Through Character
  3. Build Drama
  4. Collaborate with your Audience

We’ll tackle the first two steps—Story and Character—in this post, and then catch up with you in the next to parts to cover Drama and Audience.

There are a number of variables when producing a product launch video. But the goal is usually similar when it comes to the desired end result: did this “WOW” my customer? In a post-search social world, often the first question marketers ask is: “How do I make a video my customers and prospects will want to share with their peers?”

1. Start with the Story

In order to produce a high-quality video and generate the biggest impact, it’s important to realize that video is a narrative medium. In this case, the account you’re telling happens to be the story of your product. However, the core principals of storytelling still apply. The best way to begin your video is by creating a story outline.

Here are some tips to making sure your product video has a clear and compelling storyline.

Build a Narrative “Arc”

When you begin the pre-production phase of your product video, the first step is to draft a story outline. This will ensure that you have a clear beginning, middle, and end. An outline is important because it’s the first step to ensuring you include the key information, but structured in an interesting, dramatic way. It also provides you a guideline to working with your team so that you respect the intended duration of your video. A story outline also ensures that your “talking points” don’t become conflated or play out in a flat, tedious monotone, but instead evolve, dramatically.

You may not think that product videos can be dramatic or incorporate storytelling techniques that are used in other filmed media. However, many of the product videos with the most impact do just that. Let’s look at what we mean by “Narrative Arc”…

So, how does this structure apply when it comes to developing a narrative arc in a product video? Let’s look at an example.

Jambox by Jawbone

This is a very simple example, but it works because it’s succinct, moving through the segments at a web-video pace (traditionally under 2 minutes). It also does a great job of illustrating the product’s benefits as the “subtext” of the scene rather than listing them out in a more literal or expected fashion.

  • Beginning (15 seconds): guy walks up to table, puts down red plastic box on table, uses cell phone to turn it “on.
  • Middle (45 seconds): demonstrative scenes of how and where the product has usefulness as a wireless speaker and speakerphone. Clearly demonstrates the benefits, with no overbearing voiceover or text on screen.
  • End (3 seconds): guy returns to table and nonchalantly picks up box and walks away.

2. Develop Your Story Through Character

Character development—and doing that well—involves a lifetime of experience, as any writer or director can tell you. But for the purposes of product video production, it’s important to consider if you want to feature a central character.

The Jambox video is obviously structured around a character, and it works well because they have built the launch of these speakers around a “Lifestyle Marketing” strategy.

The character is “developed” through his clothes, style, attitude, and activities. He doesn’t say a thing, but you know who he is. In two minutes, you learn that he is someone who:

  • attends parties with great music and is surrounded by beautiful people
  • plays cutting edge video games on his iPad
  • watches engrossing independent films on his iPad surrounded by a cool friend, chilling out on their screened in porch
  • works in a creative environment surrounded by mustache-wearing hipsters and talking with important clients. (It’s an environment that’s so cool that the archaic corporate conference call system is replaced by this object du jour—the Jambox Jawbone.)
  • hosts dinner parties with his friends and co-workers, again listening to fantastic music that enhances the experience and adds to the beauty of his surroundings.

Each scene is linked to the next, driven by the “moments” in the day-in-a-life of a central character, and his use of the product is woven into his lifestyle. You see and hear the benefits (wireless Internet and Bluetooth, free of power cords, high sound quality) in the context of this inspirational lifestyle.

Since the settings are structured around a specific character, the video moves from one scene to the next in a compelling fashion and it seems even faster than 2 minutes—psychologically it feels like a 30-second commercial.

Constructing a protagonist and antagonist…

Option 1: Use the Talent You Have

So if you’re producing a character-driven product video, how do you find talent? One option is to use someone at your company, in your channel, or from your customer base who has a unique personality or talent as it relates to your product.

DYNOMIGHTY

Here’s a video we produced at Magnet Media in partnership with the Art Directors Club. And we were hired by YouTube to showcase this incredible story. This is a very interesting product case study because it went viral. Dynomighty company founder Terrence Kelleman started out in a way that might seem obvious, but is often over looked. So it’s worth repeating, “I try to focus on the things other people like to watch…”

His first video was not of the jewelry or people where it—but instead it was his of himself doing hand tricks with the magnets. Watch this video (below) if you haven’t seen it yet—it’s very low budget but very compelling…as evidenced by its 4 million views! The video is one of those things that’s difficult to describe, but is somehow addictive to watch…which is very similar to the product itself.

In subsequent videos, for the launch of their Desk Dots product, Terrence filmed his designer in an equally quirky video:

This is a great example of using the talent you have at your disposal, a technique that startup companies often use, but one that can be employed at any company.

Option 2: Put the Product in the Hands of an Industry Influencer

The second option (which is also very popular technique for launching a product and building an audience quickly) is to find an influential member of your target market and invite them to use the product in advance of the launch.

Canon did this very effectively with Vincent LaForet, a NY Times photojournalist and popular figure in the photo community. The goal was to feature the fact that the camera had incredibly powerful DSLR video capabilities and that it was so intuitive to use, that photographers could begin to direct videos.

Here’s his first video, Reverie:

According to LaForet, “This was the first 1080p video widely released that was shot with the Canon 5D MKII. It was viewed more than 2 million times in the first week of its release.”

One thing to note in this case is that this was a technological breakthrough moment for both the professional video and photography industry, as using DSLR cameras for video have since become a massive multi-million dollar trend.

More recently, LaForet directed a short action film, Mobius, demonstrating the C300. And more behind the scenes notes on the production of this video are available at LaForet’s blog.

In part 3, we’ll continue  with the next step, building drama.

What do you think? Do you have any other points you feel add to creating a compelling product video? Let us know in the comments below, on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Megan Cunningham - CEO/Founder of Magnet MediaMegan Cunningham is Founder and CEO of Magnet Media, an award-winning digital production company and interactive marketing agency based in New York City,

 

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