Tips For Making Videos That Are Doggone Good

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s cliché marketing advice to suggest that you “think out of the box” in order to “cut through the clutter.” Maybe so — still, it’s good advice.

Of course the trick is in the doing. How do you come up with a creative idea that sets you apart from the crowd?

I’ll answer by showing, rather than telling. Watch this video, Husky Dog Sings with iPad Better than Bieber!, which has more than 2 million views and serves to illustrate how you can break out of the pack.

Can you really learn marketing tricks from a dog?

How does this video cut through the clutter? Let’s count the ways…

1. The video falls into a favored category. Videos of pets doing a cool tricks are incredibly popular. Right from the get-go, this one plays to the crowd in the space in which it’s offered — in this case, YouTube.

2. It has a catchy keyword rich title. The video is named Husky Dog Sings with iPad Better than Bieber! This title is clever on its own, and if you parse it out, between “dog sings,” “iPad” and “Bieber” you’re picking up on a few popular keywords for web searches.

Including the words iPad and Bieber helps attract viewers who are ultimately searching for something quite different than what this video is about, yet plenty of people may click on the link in their search results just because the video sounds like it could be fun to watch. Random entertainment opportunities are one of the many aspects that make the web experience special.

3. There’s no obvious sales pitch. There’s an embedded hat-tip at the end of the video for LaDiDa, an iPhone app. The app is not by the person who made Husky Dog Sings, so this mention appears to be just a nod to the technology that helps make its concept work in the first place.

Meanwhile, there is a direct sales component here. Under the video screen (when viewed on the YouTube site) there’s a link to Mishka on iTunes. Turns out, this singing dog is named Mishka, and she has her own iTunes single.

Click on the link to video’s creator, Matt Gardea, identified on YouYube as gardea23, and you go to Mishka The Talking Husky’s YouTube channel. Here’s where you see that Mishka is a canine celebrity. Her channel has more than 84,000 subscribers. Mishka the singing husky on Twitter She’s been featured on news media throughout the world and she has a thriving Facebook page, Twitter account and line of clothing.

One channel feeds into the other and if you read the posts to Facebook or Twitter you’ll note there’s plenty of personality behind it all.

4. The tone is homegrown. Husky Dog Sings vibe is warm and welcoming. Mishka’s owners are clearly out to promote their pet, however, they go about it in a friendly down-to-earth way. Most any dog owner can relate to Matt’s friendly encouragement of Mishka as he repeatedly says “good girl” to coach the husky through her duet with the iPad.

5. This is the real deal. Social media presents a particular kind of environment where hard-sell flashy marketing falls out of favor. After all, being pushy isn’t social. You want to be real, and this video is genuine. When Mishka is doing her thing, a child and another dog briefly enter the picture. There’s no attempt to hide this extraneous action, which only adds to our amusement.

More tricks to come?

This is one cool trick. It’s warm and cozy yet also a pretty slick package.  In late December Mishka tweeted that there’s more in store:Tweet from Mishka the singing husky

Hmm, wonder what she’s got up her paws.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think? Your comments welcome.

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What Makes An Effective Corporate Video?

Posted on January 28, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a video on your website worth?

Plenty more. Or a lot less.

It depends on the video. And the website.

If you’re an individual “citizen” blogger, you may be fine with something that has a homemade look. People will often give you a pass. They’ll accept that you’re not a big operation with deep pockets to invest in high-end video.

The quality of your video reflects on your entire company

If you’re a business, people may still give you a pass. Only in a different way. They’ll think, “Gee, how unprofessional. I wonder if the rest of the company is up to snuff.” So they pass you by and head to a competitor’s site.

A slapdash video is a poor reflection of your entire company.

Interview with video pro: Melissa Shusterman, director, D4 Digital

Melissa Shusterman, director of digital video and web communications at D4 Digital, a division of the Philadelphia-based D4 Creative agency, knows how to create professional internet videos that communicate your value proposition in engaging fashion.  Formerly a producer who’s worked with MTV, VH1 and FX, she’s also noted as an innovator of episodic web video.

Melissa and I recently had a nice chat. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Use of video online is getting a lot more popular. How do you see that trend going forward?

Melissa: YouTube is the fastest growing audience online. And its audience is far beyond the under-21 age group… Yet YouTube is filled with crap. There’s a lot of nonsense. You’re seeing a dog sit, or a baby cry, or a person rant. It’s amazing because people watch it. The power of receiving your information through someone’s mouth, or moving pictures, is incredible.

Why is that?

Melissa: Because we are human and we like to feel like we are spoken to directly and that we’re connecting with someone’s body language. Their eyes. Their opinion. It almost feels like a conversation, even in a video that doesn’t have a person looking right at you. Take that guy who talks about wine but screams at you. He’s a prime example. Why would people want to listen to that? Because instead of reading a PDF about the top four wines with a picture of a wine bottle, which is highly impersonal; you suddenly got to connect with a person who is as passionate about wine as you are.

Many businesses don’t see the need for video. They have a website and they think that’s enough. How do you convince them otherwise?

Melissa: Well, one of our clients, a media company… I told them, “I just Googled your company and looked you up on YouTube, and … there was something that came up with someone cursing with your company name associated with it. It looks like you’re not thinking about that world. But other people are posting about you in that world. So do you want your company to be perceived like that? Because maybe you’re not Googling or YouTubing, but millions of other people are.

So they say… “We already have plenty of video. Why don’t we take the video we have now and stick that up on the web?” Well, that’s for broadcast. We need to film things specifically for internet use.

With certain clients you advocate the use webisodes; a series of short episodic videos. How does the impact of that differ from a TV commercial?

Melissa: With a commercial you have the constraints of 15, 30 or 60 seconds. It’s a more traditional medium to convey a very specific message. When you have webisodes, it’s organic. It can be a continual message that can be woven into something that’s entertaining and informative.

When you watch a commercial it’s an assault at you. They’re great and some are highly entertaining, but they’re very quick. Sometimes you don’t even really know what you are seeing.

When you have a personality, or a character, or a storyline, that’s in two-minute increments for 10 days; or a lifetime; you are getting to know the brand better, You are getting the added value of a longer format and the information that can unfold.

Companies often go with a “talking head” approach on their homepage. Do you think that can still be effective?

Melissa: In the past you would have a talking head and it was about two inches wide and one inch tall.  The players are much broader today. So now maybe it’s taking up a third of the homepage and it’s taking away some the space you used to have for your messages. So instead of having the CEO speak, that video should encompass your messages.

The CEO could tell the messages. What’s the difference with what you’re referring to?

Melissa: Graphic pictures, voiceover and music can convey a compelling message and it can guide people further into your website. Video messaging is now multi-layered and engaging… I can talk about this for hours but the simple thing is, people Google your company. They land on your page. Do they understand what you do, or do they go to the competition?

It’s one of the components of integrated media that’s going to be essential for being current. People do not read. People watch… If it’s people’s first impression of your company, the message doesn’t have to be long. But there should be entertainment value and it needs to be authentic… Pick a genre that fits your company. Possibly documentary style. Or like a sitcom. Whatever fits your clientele.

Are there any common mistakes that you can identify with corporate videos?

Not being up-to-date. You’ve got to stay current. It’s like wearing a bad pair of jeans. When you’re current it shows you’re investing in the future and you’re moving forward as a company. So it’s not something that you just do once.

Anything else?

Things that are too long. People are busy. Keep it short. Even if it’s got humor, because after someone laughs they’re ready to move on.

It’s always about the consumer or the potential consumer. It’s not necessarily about the company. That’s true of all good marketing.

What if a company says they’ll just repurpose commercials? They’re short. What would you tell them?

Melissa: Don’t repackage what you do for broadcast for the internet. People are savvy. The minute they know it’s a commercial you’ve made a mistake. You’ve turned them off… You have a captive audience. If someone is sitting at their computer it’s different than watching TV where they may be on the phone. Walking around. Feeding the kids. Doing sit-ups.  They’re half listening. When someone opens up something and it’s speaking directly to them and you haven’t captured the audience, shame on you.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of Melissa’s thoughts on what makes for an effective corporate video? Comments welcome.

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