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The Power of Storytelling Through Video

Tips from behind the camera to elevate your brand/company/product

Once Upon a Time…

We are built to tell stories. When we tell stories, we are sharing background, facts and experiences that inherently help the listener become closer and more connected to the message. When told properly, a story can help someone relate to and empathize with your situation; when we see someone’s story of joy and happiness, hardship or triumph, we experience those same emotions ourselves.

Storytelling can also be good for business. All the elements, relatable content and emotion of a good story can be leveraged by brands and companies seeking to connect with their customers. Finding and then telling your story to your customers, be it for a product, overall company brand or specific campaign, can be a foundation for your marketing efforts, helping customers relate better to your brand or service and build a bond that is deeper than any tagline or print ad alone. Telling your story could be just the (authentic) bump your marketing strategy needs.

Tour Video For Kennay Farms Distilling. View the case study here.

Discovering Your Story

You’ll notice I haven’t typed the word “video” yet. That’s because we HAVE to start with the story before the cameras can roll; your video needs a foundation. That sounds like an obvious point, but too often using video becomes the “how,” and we lose track of the “why”. Video can have more moving parts than most of the mediums in our marketing quiver, so we need to find the story FIRST, and then if video is a good way to tell it…let’s roll.

So, what is your story? It’s not an easy question, I know. We help clients with this process all the time, and the truth is: there is always a story. It usually only takes a couple conversations with our clients about their goals, products, services and background, and we find the story hiding right there, uncovered by a few well-crafted questions.

The cynic in me has to address the question of – is every video we make a storytelling type of video? The truth is, sometimes the storytelling isn’t as obvious, but they are all stories, in their own way. You are right that there are times when a client just needs a jazzy recap of the financials for the year that will fit in their PowerPoint or even a product demonstration. Even here we can find a way to bring in elements of storytelling to create a better connection to your audience. Whether it is a catchy intro or making use of transitional elements, there is always a hero and a climax – and oftentimes a twist. This is all part of the art of good storytelling – and we can help you find that in even the most seemingly mundane of circumstances.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

With the inherent complexities that a video project can bring, some agencies like to present a package or a templated approach to make onboarding easier for their clients. Typically, this approach ends up belly-flopping.

The reason for this failure is because a final product with a templated and packaged video, end up being just that…a templated video. Your product or service gets placed into a formula that wasn’t built to help your unique product and position stand out. Your message may be constrained to the elements of the template, and the tough questions are never asked to discover unique perspectives and nuances of your story. Instead your message gets put into a generic bundle that is built to streamline the process, and you end up missing opportunities to tell your story in the most impactful and authentic way possible.

For example, could your story be better told with a top-down, how-to style video or an animated motion graphics piece? Should it be an on-site interview style where your customers sing your praises to the masses? Or, is this is a brand-new product or service that viewers need to be shown how to bring into their workflow? In that case, a demonstration video might be the answer. Maybe the perfect solution is a hybrid of multiple approaches. Your story is unique, and the approach to telling it should be as well. Remember, your story, not the approach, should always be the driver of the video.

Grain Processing Corporation – PURE-DENT® B730 – Honey.

Leave Space for Your Story to Breathe

The pauses in life help us to step back and take it all in. The same goes for a well-told story. Sure, you agree with me now, but once the video process starts you will be tempted to add in a few more points from the sales side and a few more that really drive home the sustainability angle. Before you know it, your video has left the viewer with a blur of information with nothing standing out and no real take-aways. You failed to give the viewer the opportunity to breathe.

Resist the urge to make the video a conveyor for every message anyone could ever want about your subject. Just like any good messaging strategy, you need to keep it simple and concise. Overloading the video destroys the arc of the story experience and doesn’t let the most important messages resonate with the viewer. Instead they are left with a dizzying amount of information, and a slim chance they will remember anything at all.

The Medium is the Message

The medium is the message. That is, the form of the message determines how it is perceived. This point isn’t new, but it is a very valuable phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. And it has never been truer than when it comes to video storytelling. Yes, video is a very flexible medium capable of sending the viewer on a memorable journey with different techniques and camera angles. I mean…we can make cameras fly now! Isn’t the future great! But that doesn’t mean that a video can do everything all the time for everyone. This holds true for a lot of stories that can be weighed down by statistics and analysis. Often, those stories as a whole are better told on a landing page or a brochure. A different version of that story, one that hits the viewer with more emotion would be a better option for a memorable video.

We may need to massage your message to better fit the video medium. Think of it this way, have you ever seen a movie for a book you have read? The movie is always different in some way, some form – for better or worse. Turning a brochure into a video isn’t as straightforward as it sounds and may not be the most efficient and effective tool. If someone tells you it is, then they are missing out on what the video medium can (and should) do.

Know Your End Goal

Videos are able to play a lot of roles in your marketing plans, from lead actors to supporting roles. With some edit tweaks, maybe a call-to-action change or adding some graphics, a video can slightly change its story to fit another purpose, including being edited down for social media. Different departments within your organization may find value in your video and want a piece for their own purpose; that is the power of a well told (video) story, and a good way to maximize ROI.

However, trying to make one video fit many roles will ultimately take away from your original message and goal. If your sales video is also meant to be a tour video and an educational onboarding video for new employees, then you are missing opportunities in each of those pieces and segmenting the message too much.

Strawberry Series video for Tree Top. View the case study here.

End Strong

Just like this blog, we need to end the story at some point, and ending strong is the best way to leave the viewers that stuck around with a memorable payoff. While the end is the usual and rightful home for call-to-actions and URLs, let’s remember that every great story has a solid ending. Let’s leave something memorable or inspirational for the end to make it all stick for the viewer.

That memorable element can be a sales incentive or a beautiful drone shot – the possibilities are endless (as long as it is part of the initial strategy). But to fade off quietly with an inconsequential ending is missing a great opportunity to stick in the minds of your viewers and remain memorable. Especially if the ending provides a feel-good moment that leaves us with a smile and that warm feeling.

Now that you know a thing or two about good video storytelling, are you ready to take your marketing to the next level? Let’s sit down, pull up a chair and start weaving this story of yours into a great video where everyone lives happily ever after.

Want to begin telling your story? Let’s talk.