Product Videos That Tell The Truth, And Nothing But
Effective, evocative product videos are vital to a brand since most brands are a collection of products that tell the story of what a brand empowers people to do. Aristotle said that you are what you do—not what you say—and, so, brands are what they make and put out into the world. Make sure your products, and how they are presented, are aligned with your brand and that they tell the truth.
Yes, product videos should be informative and show fans how to use them, but, of course, they must also be enticing. And this is done by going deeper into the “why” and leading back to the point on truth-telling made above. Well, not to get too much into the arena of self-help, but we are all in the process of becoming a better version of ourselves. And, a good product holds a noble promise to help get us there faster or more safely—or just to get us there, period.
To be enticing, a product video should typically be aspirational in tone. Yes, it can feature regular users (this is me for most brands) but advanced first adopters—who want to be leaner, stronger, faster, or safer—are probably the best choice for the same reason Tom Cruise and Amy Adams are often called upon. I do think it’s fair to rely upon the best, most demanding customers in the video presentation of a product. The take away would often be that if it’s good enough for those at the tip of the spear, it’s good enough for me. For example, a flashlight relied upon by Navy SEALs is good enough for me, the occasional camper. That’s a case I’ve made and feel it’s a fair one to make. And, sometimes for premium products, this is essential to justify the price of products that are truly heavy duty or engineered to meet special needs. If your product can truly pass that test, you’re well on your way.
I have launched at least 30 products, probably more, and I’ve named some products too, important for positioning within the marketplace and within your own product line. I don’t mention this as a boast, but just to make it clear that I understand the real world, and how fast it moves! You don’t always get months (or years) of preparation to build creative (including all-important video) for a product launch, so be sure to keep the fundamentals and a few key customer-centric (and some product-centric) questions in mind. What does a product empower your prospects to do? How will it make customers’ lives better? How will it make, just perhaps, their dreams come true? What is your products’ reason for being? Why is it better than the pack? There are more questions, but this is a decent start.
And you must aim to choose the right genre for the video, and there are practical considerations here, but we’ll leave those out for now. Documentary interviews can clearly and fully capture the utility and the passion of a product. Turn the camera on a true believer and let them create the magic. (The owner of a company can be used if they’re good on camera and believe deeply, and personally, in a product). Animation is a great way to dive into a story that is quite grand to tell—perhaps it’s a satellite-based technology like GPS (yes, I’ve helped to tell that story)—or a story occurring on a micro or biological level that just can’t be seen. Humor can certainly be employed to memorably make your case, or a dramatic, heartfelt scripted piece can honestly portray the dilemmas of people that your product (or service) resolves. All genres are on the table but be sure to choose the one that best serves your product, your customers’ reality, your budget, and your brand.
Now, if you do a good, honest job in your marketing—and these product videos will often lead the way—many prospects will soon become paying customers. That’s very good news, but it’s also a test. Once they have your product in hand, they’ll let everyone know if they are in love (you’re telling the truth) or howl with disapproval (if you’re not being completely above board on some finer points). Tell the truth. It’s the only formula for long-term success.
A few years back during a product launch where we had weeks, not months, to prepare, I decided to interview a smart, passionate product developer who had a personal stake in a product. It was our most efficient, cost-effective way to get a product video out to fans. This video was to serve as the central content for this product launch. Watch it at https://youtu.be/c1iVzVYtyTs if you'd like. It was produced from one well-conducted interview, simple b-roll (footage of the product in action), evocative music, and it was put out into the world in days for peanuts. The video told the story of this premium, masculine product that fit well within the brand and a strong product line too. (I did name this “FURY” family of high-output flashlights that are awesome to wield and aptly named.) And this video still had a unique set of traits and a good story to tell.. Well, we were able to push this video—and campaign—out to fans and get a strong response for this launch.
Sometimes you only have weeks—and small budgets—but if you know the fundamentals and ask the right questions, it can garner strong results.