Three Keys to Making Great Explainer Videos
You need to explain an issue, product or service to an audience through video. Where do you start? Begin with these three keys.
- Know Your Target Audience
When creating branded content, you naturally want to start with “what”. What work does our nonprofit do? What benefits does our association offer? What product or service does our company provide? But starting with WHY is better. Asking Why We Do What We Do inevitably leads you to the people who benefit. Who are they? Why do they need what you offer? What impact are you making in their lives? My team and I guide clients to talk about “why” when we start developing a creative brief for any video. One of the very best “Why” videos I’ve ever seen is the Girl Effect. Just over a decade old, with more than 2.5 million views, this video is still making its point of Why girls matter (and by extension, why the work of www.girleffect.org is needed. Also note there is plenty of “data” presented, but all through clever motion graphics and a powerful cello score, with no boring voiceover. In fact, no narrator at all!
- Know the Viewing Environment
In years past, my production company’s videos for clients would often be shown on giant displays at large live events, and only later online. Today, snippets of our videos might be played on social platforms while extended play versions are screened at hybrid events, where they are viewed simultaneously by a live audience on a large screen and a remote audience on mobile devices, iPads, or desktops. And those virtual audiences might be listening on earbuds, headphones, or computer speakers. How we approach each project—from the visual design to the audio planning—must take into account these multiple viewing and audio environments. Audio is particularly important to both engage the audience and ensure that the video can be understood well, even in a less than optimal viewing environment. This Pew Trusts Mobile Banking explainer is a great example of audio that connects the viewer to the content without overwhelming it, and motion graphics that also tell the story, so that it works on screens and sound systems both large and small.
- What Action Should Viewers Take?
Companies want you to click and buy. Nonprofits want you to get involved or write a check (or both). These goals require the right kind of crafting of the story and message, because causing behavior change is no easy task. As video creatives, we spend time in pre-production getting to understand what makes viewers care and take action, so we can choose among strategies to prompt action. The four most common ways to promote action are: FOMO (fear of missing out), Freebie (creating indebtedness), Authority (trusted brand), Validation (testimonials of community members or influencers). In this #GALSNGEAR sizzle reel, we are using Authority of several trusted industry brands, Validation with soundbite testimonials, and a dash of FOMO to drive prospective #GALSNGEAR participants to the website (where they can sign up to get involved).
Whatever your explainer content, starting with Audience, Environment, and Action will help you craft a message, a creative plan, and a technical plan that delivers impact.
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