Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

August 5, 2011

Video Marketing Works – When Done Right

Filed under: Communication, Musings — connieterwilliger @ 2:47 pm

One of the electronic publications that I read faithfully is MediaPost’s Online Video Insider.

The latest column – Bulleted Points Miss the Point, by Jerry Bader, took me on a little trip down memory lane and at the same time gave me some very interesting facts about online video marketing.

As a video producer and scriptwriter in a former life – I spent long hours with colleagues discussing what it was we were actually supposed to be doing for the client. Guiding them to the right media for their message was what we all hoped would be the answer from the bosses. And most of the time, in most of the companies I had the pleasure to do business with – either full-time or as a free lancer – we were afforded this power.

And our job was to make sure that the client’s message was delivered to their specific audience within their budget and time frame in such a way as to achieve the desired effect.

Many times while I working full-time in the video and film department of a major defense contractor, the client would show up at our door wanting to “make a video.” And after reviewing their needs, it became clear that in fact, they might only need a PowerPoint presentation – with bullets! But that was 20 years or so ago – and making video presentations has come a long way since the days of 1″ machines and linear editing. Surely it is easy now to make a video! Or is it!?

From the article (which focuses on marketing)…

However using the right tool is only effective if you are using it correctly, and using it correctly means more than a technical understanding of what buttons to push. Video marketing starts with concept that is implemented by means of an appropriate script and delivered with an entertaining performance. Much of what we see on the Web is either off-the-cuff winging it by do-it-yourselfers who think they know what they’re doing but don’t, and mind-numbing corporate videos that go in one ear and out the other. The overall quality of business videos on the Web is appallingly bad — both amateur and professional alike  — and it’s often the result of business’s failure to understand how video communication works, an unwillingness to invest in hiring firms that do, and a penchant for being too impatient to stick to a clear, consistent brand messaging strategy.

From the first time PowerPoint appeared on the desktops of the engineers we have seen the quality of business presentations sink lower and lower. As software advances and everyone can “make a video” we will see more and more marginal messages being produced by people who know how to move a mouse, but don’t know how to communicate.

This quote from the article – actually the summation – clearly states the importance of the multimedia producer knowing how to communicate.

Listing a bunch of features as bulleted points is not communication, even if those bulleted points are presented as animated fly-ins beside a sterile spokesperson spouting platitudes. Real video communication requires context within the script and subtext within the performance in order to reach deeper into an audience’s psyche to create a meaningful, memorable message — that’s the essence of real video communication.

In my former life as a scriptwriter, I strove for that deeper understanding of the audience and their wants, needs, expectations as I found the “right” hook for the script. Now, as a voice talent and occasional on-camera actor, I use my background in scriptwriting and understanding the client and the script to find the right subtext as I deliver the words – looking for the “right” read.



1 Comment »

  1. I agree, Connie. The efficacy of corporate presentations has been declining over the years. Most of it began when the desktop computer and Microsoft PowerPoint came to be. Companies who used to pay highly skilled and talented production firms (like the one I worked for) to produce their communication needs all of a sudden decided they could save the money and produce their own material. That creates the ‘it’s good enough’ mindset; the realization that it may not look quite as nice as what they’d paid for in the past, but it will suffice. And if we can get by with eight bullets on one slide, we can get by with six bullets on all the remaining slides. Cut, cut, cut. Whittle, whittle, whittle.

    Today we have video producers/editors who know nothing about audio or even the power of words editing the final cut of corporate videos to a scratch VO track recorded by an intern who was just told to read. The editor then sends the VO talent the ‘final’ video so the talent can time each phrase barely spoken by the scratch track reader. The experienced VO talent is then forced to completely ignore the meaning, the weight of all the writer’s perfectly chosen words in the script and instead just spit them out because there’s no time to give them the weight they deserve. There’s just no time. Damn! Why?

    Corporate clients pay skilled writers to come up with exactly the right way to say what needs to be said in order to educate and motivate their national sales force about a new product, and then the video editor squeezes all the life out of those words (and the impact they should have had) by ‘slam editing’ the end of one phrase right up against the beginning of the next. Rather than creating and telling an important story (a form of effective communication), our product launch video is now homogenized into a series of ‘like-wow’ video effects interspersed with product shots and stats and a narration that races along delivering fleeting thoughts that are forgotten the second after they are heard because there is no time to absorb anything. There’s just no time. Damn! Why?

    Producers: unless you’re really backed into a corner for some unknown reason, please wait until you have an approved narration track before editing the video. If that absolutely isn’t possible, then never have anyone other than an experienced, professional voice talent record a scratch track. When interpreting scripts, professionals instinctively know where to pause or read a little more slowly. It is the nuances of speech that help convey the meaning of the words.

    The WORDS are the message. The video SUPPORTS and STRENGTHENS the message. The pacing of the video should be determined by the message. If, after a national sales or product launch meeting the sales force shows they weren’t particularly motivated by a video, how motivated will this company be to have you produce their next meeting?

    Effective communication can very easily become a wrung-out smelly dishrag in the wrong hands. And it has… repeatedly.
    But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Comment by Mike Harrison — August 13, 2011 @ 5:26 am

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