As marketers, we’re constantly reporting each campaign’s effectiveness in order to justify future budgets. Increasingly, explainer corporate videos are pointed to as a proven way to spend marketing budgets effectively. The statistics and reports indicate overwhelming success with video marketing, however, do all corporate videos automatically translate into a healthy return on investment?
Over the last several years, we’ve seen hundreds of videos produced and watched a lot of explainer videos from across the world. After many hours of watching videos and analyzing their impact, we’ve compiled a list of what contributes to poor ROI performance. The below list is not exhaustive, by any means, but the most frequent examples of failed performance.
Planning For Your Video
1. Budget too Small
Video production costs money, there’s just no way around that fact. Successful explainer videos generally have a budget of at least $2,500. Cost factors include the style of video you’re producing, the complexity of the scenes, and length of video, to name a few.
Small budgets result in copy and paste scripts, stock character designs, and limited animation. If your budget is small ($500 or less), you’re often better off using a free tool to create your own corporate videos (see our how-to) than hiring someone to create them for you.
Your video will reflect your company online for years to come, therefore, invest in the best possible video from the start.
2. Poor Distribution Plan
One of the other reasons we see videos fall short of expectations is due to a poor distribution plan.
Take the above video for example. It’s a great, concise video that really outlines Hendon Properties’ expertise. Sadly, it only has 561 views on YouTube. You won’t find the video on their homepage. Nor is it used in the About Us section. This video is only contained within the News section, featured in a single post celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary.
If you’re not going to feature your corporate videos on your homepage, at least make them easy to find. Consider replacing heavy text communications with your corporate videos. Write many blog posts featuring it, use it in your lead marketing campaign (follow-up emails), and share it across your social media channels.
3. Falling Short of a Great Concept
You’re sitting in an internal meeting, brainstorming ideas for your video and your content manager comes up with the perfect analogy. Your product redefines shoes, just like a rocket ship to the moon redefined society’s relationship to the universe. Cool concept, but can you pull it off?
If you can’t confidently say that your concept is creatable based on the project timeline, budget, and technical skills available, then quickly move it into the maybe next time column. A great idea, that is poorly executed, will suffer from failure to launch syndrome.
4. Your Concept is too Derivative
In 2010, Old Spice launched the Old Spice Man. You all know which series of commercials we’re talking about. They took that concept to the next level later that summer, inviting their twitter followers to send in questions, that would be answered by the Old Spice Man. The campaign was a huge viral success, with over 4 million views and 180 personalized videos created in response to questions.
Cisco did a direct copy of the campaign, swapping the Old Spice Man for Ted From Accounting. At the end of the day, Cisco gained under 3,000 views and created just 18 videos.
5. Copying your Competitors
Even worse than stealing a concept from someone outside of your industry, is copying your competitors. As every marketing professional knows, you should keep track of what your competitors are doing, and always try to stand out from the pack.
6. Attempt to Rush the Project
Creative thinking requires time. As this video so cleverly illustrates, a short period of time only allows for the first idea. Your business needs its video creative team to have the time to bounce ideas around, as opposed to rushing to put the first “good enough” idea together.
7. Never Finishing the Project (aka Losing Steam)
This is the saddest reason of all for failing! Producing a video takes time and commitment from your team. It is not unusual for a project to languish, waiting for approvals or a design element.
Don’t let this happen to you! Make sure to prepare internally before you start a project, with agreed upon plans for generating feedback and approvals quickly.
Video Production Issues
Mastering the Script
This video is such a good example that we’re going to use it for a number of points.
8. No Call to Action
Your video is intended as a marketing and sales tool, right? Make sure to prompt people at the end of your video with their next steps.
For instance, with this example video, instead of closing with “Remember our website” they should suggest that people visit their website to sign up for the free homebuyer course or order a free brochure on the homebuyer downpayment program. Use your video to generate leads (i.e. get contact information from the viewer) any chance you can.
9. Confusing Message
I honestly have no idea what the example video was trying to promote. It was way too long, had unnecessary plot details, and outlined too many product options. There is a tendency when creating a marketing piece to include everything and the kitchen sink. However, all this does is overwhelm your reader and result in your viewer being very confused.
Take out that red pen and eliminate everything unnecessary from your script, then focus on the key benefits for your end user. If they’re interested in your product, they’ll be willing to learn more from your other marketing materials.
10. Failure to Identify Key Product Differentiators
This is Marketing 101, but we see it all the time. What sets your product apart? If you’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing, you’re probably not going to be very successful (no matter how good your video is).
11. Script Filled with Jargon
Ahhh corporate buzzwords, aren’t they wonderful? The person watching your video isn’t a robot and I can guarantee they will not be impressed by your use of catchy jargon. We’ve written about this before, but one of the easiest ways to get people to stop watching your video is to fill your script with jargon.
12. Making too Hard of a Sale
There was only one Billy Mays, let’s keep it that way. If your video starts to look or sound like an OxiClean ad, it’s time to head back to the drawing board. These ads worked in the early 2000’s because their audience was trapped and had to watch them. Now, your audience just heads to a different website.
13. Using the Wrong Type of Humor
Humor is tricky. People will find different things funny based on a variety of factors (economic status, region they’re from, age, political views, etc.) and the last thing you want to do is alienate potential customers with your video.
If you’re incorporating humor into your video script, make sure to give a read through in front of people who are outside of your marketing department. Preferably, test the humor elements early and use people who mirror your target customers.
14. Playing it Safe
The most recent reports suggest that you have just 8 seconds to capture viewers attention. If you haven’t intrigued your viewer at least a little bit, they’re going to bounce (literally off your website).
15. Waiting too Long to Introduce the Product
See #14 and the 8 seconds rule. If people are watching your video and they don’t know what you’re trying to sell them or who you are within the first 8 – 10 seconds, there’s a problem.
Production Issues, Beyond the Script
16. Poor Production Quality – bad audio, poor framing, shaky cameras
Is the audio you’ve recorded actually intelligible? Is the poor audio quality a distraction to the intended message?
How is your shot framed and what does the environment look like? If the desk is messy, then clean it up. You want your viewers to focus on the subject speaking, not their surroundings. The surroundings should compliment the storyline, not distract from it.
Finally, no one has steady enough hands to hold a camera, use a tripod or balance your camera on a steady surface.
17. Poor Post-Production Sound Choices
As your video is edited together, you make choices on your soundtrack and add in sound effects. Choose a soundtrack that does not distract from your script and voice-over. However, when adding sound effects, don’t go overboard. Keep it simple.
18. Using Special Effects because You Can
Remember our video example from #16? Special effects should be subtle and help tell your story, as opposed to using them because they came with your editing software.
There you have it, a mostly comprehensive list of reasons corporate videos can fail!
As you start your next video project, remember to take your time and double-check your work against these tips at each stage. Before you know it, you’ll have produced corporate videos with an awesome ROI that justifies the investment you made.
What did we miss? Add your own tips in the comments.
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