The Top 10 Ways to Produce an Effective Explainer Video

The explainer video or web video is becoming a staple of the business world. As attention spans grow shorter by the day, more and more companies recognise that the best way to engage with their clients quickly is through video.

It makes perfect sense. People are searching for your business on their phones, and thus reading a lot of text about you is far less comfortable than simply pressing play. A good explainer video needs to follow the rule of the three E’s – Educate, Entertain and Engage, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at a Top Ten of Tips to help you produce the perfect explainer video.

Tip number 1 – Keep it Brief

As mentioned before, the attention span of the average consumer showed a steady decline over the course of the last 50 years, and for the last 10 of those years, it’s plummeted through the floor! We are surrounded by thousands of hours of content for every second of our waking lives – all of it battling for just a fraction of our attention!

Shareholders and management may well be more than happy to watch a 30 minute masterpiece on the latest offering from your company, but for the man (or woman) in the street, 90 seconds really is more than enough. Better still if you can keep things to under 60 seconds. Remember, the ultimate goal of your explainer video is to engage your customers to have them click on your call to action. As busy as people are (or at least tell themselves that they are), many of us will take the time to first look at just how long a video is before we even press play. If we feel we’re about to have an entire 3 minutes of our lives taken up, we may well choose to click away before we’ve even started. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but it is true.

Tip number 2 – Tell a Story

A list of facts may well educate and explain, and after all, this is an explainer video! However, a list of facts won’t entertain or engage your viewer. Indeed, a list of facts really would not need to be in video format at all – you can just write them down and let your visitors read them, but I think we can all agree that if you were looking at doing that, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article right now.

There’s a saying (one of those annoying sayings that you read in sales books) and that’s, “Facts tell, stories sell”. Telling a story allows you to create a narrative that brings your customer closer to understanding just what it is you’re offering, and we’ll look at that even more closely in Tip 3.

One of the easiest ways to turn your facts into stories is to use the ‘Which meant that’ principle. The sales people amongst you may recognise a similar phrase when matching features to benefits – “This freezer is frost free, WHICH MEANS THAT you won’t be standing in front of it with a hairdryer every six months trying to get the ice to melt”.

Using the idea of ‘which meant that’ simply means taking the feature that you’re describing and then talking about how it benefited an actual customer. Give a small case study – a success story – because everyone loves those. Which brings me on neatly to Tip 3.

Tip number 3 – Make it about them

“Meet John…..” is the common opening phrase of many an explainer video, and with good reason. When you’re telling your story, it’s important to make it about the customer, and not about you. Don’t just tell them what you do, tell them what you can do FOR THEM.

The case study or success story method works so well because your customers will be able to identify with the character in your story. If your business solved Customer A’s problem, and then Customer B watches that video and instantly recognises that he has the same problem, what are the chances that he’s going to get in touch with your company? Pretty high.

Tip number 4 – Use a voice over

This tip really should not surprise any of you – after all, you are reading an article written by a voice over artist! However, removing the obvious self promotion for just a moment, let’s talk about why the use of a voice over is so important.

There are lots of apps or online services out there which will enable anyone to produce a simple explainer animation and put text on the screen to tell their story, and these people are entirely missing the point. The explainer video is there not so much to support the text on screen, but to actually replace it. People watch these videos because they cannot be bothered to read what your company is all about, and yet there are so many instances of videos which people are still forced to read.

Don’t confuse your explainer video with an infographic – they’re not the same thing. An infographic is informative, but is it engaging and entertaining? Unlikely. If you want people to read films, direct them to their nearest foreign film festival – otherwise, have the story told by a professional voice over.

Tip number 5 – Reflect Your Brand

A happy go lucky cartoon with a smiling character, lots of colour and banjo music may seem like the staple for many an explainer video, but if your company deals in, say, critical illness cover, it may not seem all that appropriate.

Your video needs to reflect your brand, and that means in every aspect – animation style, music choices and voice over. In the first instance, storyboarding your video and sharing your ideas with your team could prove the most effective way to stop you from making bad choices in these areas. Beyond that, your choice of voiceover artist could prove to be so much more valuable to you than that of a mere voice. He or she will understand production value, and can advise you whether or not your script needs any modification to truly reflect your brand.

Of course, many voice overs will simply read the script that you provide, because they won’t know that you’re someone who’s looking for feedback and guidance, so make sure you tell them that you are. They’re the experts, so use their expertise.

Tip Number 6 – Don’t Do It Yourself

I mentioned that there are plenty of options to help you produce your own explainer video, but the truth is that you really shouldn’t do it. Whilst yes, you will save money on production costs, the amount of time you will spend on learning how to use the software will cost you so much more in both the short, medium and long term.

Not to mention the fact that there’s a very strong possibility that your production will end up being a bit…and I’ll choose my words carefully here…rubbish.

A ‘home made’ explainer video can be spotted from miles away, and the only message that your viewer takes away from it is that here is a company that has no problem cutting corners. You simply don’t have time to become a film maker – you’re too busy growing your business, so hand the reigns over to the professionals and get back to doing what you’re good at.

Tip Number 7 – Multiple Platforms

Your videos need to be seen in more than one place, and there are so many platforms available to you. YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, your own website, your customers’ website, the list goes on.

In fact, just to return to one of those – videos on Instagram need to be under 60 seconds in length, so all the more reason to keep them brief.

The point is that you need to share, share, share your video and ensure that the descriptions contain details of how these new customers can actually do business with you.

Tip Number 8 – Update your Videos Regularly

Your business is constantly changing and growing, and so your videos need to reflect that. If you’ve launched a new service, create a video focussed exclusively on that.

Simply having one ‘blanket’ video on your site telling people how awesome you are is not really going to engage your customers. Once again, it may tell them what you do, but not what you can do for them.

If your first video was truly entertaining, then your customers are going to want to watch more. You’ve found a new way of engaging them, simply by telling them what you do. Who amongst us has not watched a video because someone else recommended it? You have the opportunity to develop an actual following, and it’s these people’s recommendations which are going to create new customers for you. If you only have one video that you made 5 years ago on your site, it’s very unlikely that too many people will keep coming back.

Tip Number 9 – Use a Memory Hook

A memory hook or slogan is a simple and effective way to keep your company in the minds of your customers. They may well forget the first 50 seconds of your video, but if they can remember a catchy slogan, then you’ve got them.

If you’re a member of a networking group, then you’ll recognise the power of memory hooks right away. Some people find them cheesy, but that’s only because they’re thinking of cheesy slogans, and there are plenty of them. If you’re struggling to come up with one, then put it out to your whole team – not just the marketing people, and gather up a selection of them. Then simply try them out. You’ll know when you’ve hit upon the most effective one because you’ll stop wanting to improve upon it. Which leads on to the last tip….

Tip Number 10 – Have a Call to Action

“We do XYZ – thanks for watching.” Doesn’t sound right does it? No – because your video must contain a call to action. There must be something that the engaged customer has to do next. Do they need to fill out a form? Send an email? Pick up the phone and call you? Come down to your showroom? Whatever it is – you must tell them what to do and when they need to do it.

So many sales people fail in their presentations because they simply don’t ask for the business at the end. Don’t make the same mistake – you’ve told the customer what you can do for them, now ask them for what they can do for you.

All of which would seem fairly ironic if I didn’t include a call to action of my own. I’m a voice over artist, writer and trainer. I’ve voiced numerous explainer videos and have helped a lot of companies create memory hooks and strap lines which they have utilised to great effect in engaging new clients. If you’d like to learn more about what I can do to help you and your business, simply complete the contact form on the right. Thank you.