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    The Communication Hackers Blog


February 1, 2018

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

How to Use Storytelling to Make a DIY Video Like a Marketing Pro

If you’re a small business, you’re likely feeling the pressure from the world to create more DIY video. In fact, I bet that’s why you are reading this article. Video is so hot that 2017 statistics revealed one-third of online activity is spent watching video. Whether you’re a 10-person small business or a solopreneur, you can make DIY video easily and affordably. Honestly, you can.

Because there is so much to learn about DIY video, I’ve decided to break this up into a 5-part series. After years of researching DIY video, investing in dozens of DIY video-making software programs and mobile apps, and using them in my own small business, I want to share what I have learned with you. After all, Communication Hackers is all about learning the “hacks” and sharing them with you— so you don’t have to painstakingly figure this all out on your own.

The Breakdown of This 5-Part Series

Today, as part 1 of this series, we’re going to focus on storytelling, the foundation of a good video. Every DIY video must begin with a compelling story– otherwise, why bother? Here’s what the rest of this series will contain:

  • In part 2 of this series we’ll talk about DIY video-making tips for the leading social media platforms (including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn).
  • Then in part 3 we will discuss the hottest types of DIY video that small businesses can incorporate into their online marketing strategy.
  • For part 4 I will share my favorite five DIY video tools, such as super-affordable DIY video creation software and mobile device apps.
  • Finally, we will wrap up part 5 with practical tips for making DIY video (think lighting tips, best practices for audio and music, the ins and outs of using captions, and video editing tools we use and recommend).

The First Question to Ask Yourself

As I mentioned, you need a compelling storyline. Each time you create a video you are, in essence, a storyteller. We’ve seen effective storytellers take an otherwise boring topic, yet turn it into a compelling video because they were able to expose an interesting vantage point about the topic. For example, blenders. Yes, kitchen blenders. They’re boring. However, when Blendtec came out with the “Will it blend?” marketing campaign, it soon went viral. I still can’t get my kids to shut up about Blendtec blenders destroying everything from baseballs to silly putty.

Before we create anything— whether that’s a video, article, some web copy, whatever— the first thing we must ask ourselves is, “Is this interesting, compelling, or useful?” If the answer is “no,” then I wouldn’t waste my time creating the thing from the get-go. Because, in the words of my 13-year old kid, “#NobodyCares.”  That’s right, your story isn’t much of a story if nobody cares.

What Topics Suck for DIY Video?

Not everything we find interesting is actually interesting to the outside world, particularly your customers. If you’re going to make a DIY video about a mid-level promotion of a staff member, an award, internal changes, or something similarly uninteresting, I beg you to reconsider. A good story must suck in the viewer, make them feel connected to your brand, and evoke emotion from them.

Criteria for a Compelling DIY Video

Occasionally unexpected videos go viral causing nearly every awkward teenager, exhausted mother, and jovial grandpa to views/share/like the video. Sometimes these outrageously popular videos don’t even seem to fit the mold for good cinematography. But life is weird and unexplainable, so… whatev. Thankfully, just like criteria for judging a breathtaking piece of Renaissance period art, there are criteria we can use as a guide to make a DIY video that will help you raise brand awareness and build trust with viewers.

Here are some DIY video criteria:

  1. Opens with a Strong Hook. The hook (the first 5 seconds of the video) literally suck your viewers in and compel them to keep watching. (More on this in the next section of this article because I really feel like this is the #1 most important criteria [criterion??] for making a DIY video that people will actually watch in its entirety.)
  2. It’s Brief. Appropriate length varies some depending on the use and which platform it will be hosted on, but typically a video to promote your brand and gain trust from your “tribe” should be less than 2 minutes. Pretty short, ay? In fact, 60% of online viewers will stop watching a video after 2 minutes. Hubspot has got a 3-minute read here providing specifics for the ideal length of a video for each of the major social media platforms. It’s a bit scary that our attention spans really aren’t much greater than that of a goldfish. In part 2 of this article series, I’ll go into tons more detail about what works for each of the leading social media platforms, far beyond just length specificity. So stay tuned!
  3. It Uses a Full Story Arc. What’s a story arc? Have you ever watched a movie and at the end you were like: “What’s the point?” Yeah, me too. I hate those. Since the dawn of time, man has craved stories. And many intellectuals claim that every story follows one of the six basic story types (plots). Rather than get into the weeds of historic literature (I have an English background and could really geek out on this topic), let’s think about storytelling in general. The story arc is the progression of either events (or emotions) from the hook, to the climax, to the ending. In a bit more detail, a good story requires an emotional hook, rising action (like conflict), a climax (where the tension is highest), a falling resolution (where the solution to the conflict is employed), followed by a resolution (the triumph at the end).

How to Craft an Engaging Video Story Hook

I could tell you that there are dozens, no hundreds, of hooks you can use to start a video. But that would no doubt be overwhelming and might make you hate me. Instead, what if I told you that we’ve got two hooks that we use all the time for Communication Hackers videos. These are our go-to hooks. Like a pair of tried-and-true aces up our sleeves.

Try These Two DIY Video Story Hooks

  • You’ve got this problem, I’ve got the solution. This might sound obvious, but it’s actually a great way to begin a video. Think about how often you yourself visit YouTube. You’ve broken something (perhaps it’s a 404 website error, or a broken do-dad around the house)— so you visit Dr. YouTube and begin typing “How to…” You’ve got a problem, and you’re desperately seeking a solution. A good video will suck your viewers in because they can identify with it. Perhaps they can identify with the frustration you’re highlighting. Starting with a problem and quickly letting your audience know that this video is gonna provide the solution is perhaps the #1 way to score an audience. Here’s a “problem —> solution”  example video by Mailchimp, where the problem isn’t explicitly stated, but rather implied. In this 30-second video, Mailchimp identifies with people who run online businesses who struggle to get it all done with “just one brain.” Between doing ads, sending emails, and communicating with customers, the video explains that the struggle is real. However, Mailchimp’s video here provides the solution— their Mailchimp marketing automation platform.
  • Imagine a world where… Everybody likes make-believe. But what is even better is true magic in the making. Sometimes your product or service isn’t addressing a gaping problem at all. Sometimes your product or service is visionary or your customers don’t even know they need it yet. Want a concrete example? Here’s the ultimate “image a world where” storyline: Apple’s unveiling of the first iPhone. You see, people weren’t sitting around with a problem on their hands waiting for someone to develop a solution. We already had laptops. We already had cellular phones. Our needs were met. But then along comes Apple with this visionary product that suddenly had nearly every American (okay, nearly every person with a pulse on planet Earth) lined up for hours prepared to trade their first-born for this device. Apple introduced the first iPhone with an “imagine if” scenario. The scenario came across as: Imagine a world where you can have the power and functionality of a computer in a device so small that literally fits in your hand….introducing the iPhone. Not only was the product great, the marketing of the product was great too! If you’re selling a good or service that you know people need even though they might already seem content, this hook might be your best choice.

DIY video

Here’s the Bottom Line

Behind every successful marketing video, storytelling has been strategically crafted and weaved into the fabric of the viewer experience. Although not always obvious or blatantly stated in the video’s dialogue, I find that most videos follow one of these two hooks I shared above. The first connects to peoples’ fears and frustrations, while the second example evokes excitement and imagination. Both are timeless emotions that can form a solid foundation for a compelling DIY video. As I’ll explain in part 3 of this series, there are dozens of different types of DIY video that small businesses can use to tell their stories so be sure to read that one when it comes out. Sure, you’ll have to decide for each video what style would be most appropriate (such as explainer video, how-to video, whiteboard animation, or perhaps a testimonial video), but before considering the style of video, I suggest you first consider your story and then craft a hook that will appeal to your viewers.

January 16, 2018

3 Good Reasons to Rejoice About the Latest Facebook Announcement

Don’t fret about the latest Facebook announcement. Rejoice instead.

Facebook made a big announcement last week that set the marketing world on edge.

For those of you who missed it, the point of this announcement was that Facebook will be making a major change to its algorithm to favor personal interactions and news, over publisher content.

Facebook’s announcement is great for users. Just as an experiment, right after we read the announcement we counted how many posts by marketers were interpersed into our personal feed. The number, roughly 1 in 6, was becoming a serious distraction. Add to that the fact that most of these posts were more about selling a product than sharing interesting content, and “serious distractio”n was starting to become “annoying distraction.”

What does this all mean for your business though?

Reactions have run the spectrum from “oh no” (reflected in Facebook’s share price) or serious concern, to “ho hum.”

Here’s why I think you should rejoice instead. Read More

October 8, 2017

4 Ways a Customer Persona Saves you Time and Money

A good customer persona saves you time and money. Here’s how.

Want to save time and money with your digital marketing? One of the best ways is to take the time to build a detailed customer persona.

A customer persona (also known as a “customer avatar” – popularized by such blockbuster movies as “Avatar”) is a detailed profile of your ideal customer. We’re not just talking about their demographics either. A useful customer persona goes as far as to include how your customers think – something known as “psychographics.”

How does having a good customer persona save you time and money? Here are four ways:

1. A customer persona reduces your competition.

Want to actually reduce the number of other businesses you compete against? A detailed customer persona will do that.

Imagine you’re in the fitness business. If you didn’t have a customer persona, you’d have to spend precious time and money on marketing to compete against everyone in the fitness business. That’s over 34 thousand fitness centers (in the US) not to mention the thousands of online competitors.

If, instead, you had a detailed, and precise customer persona, you’d cut down that field significantly. For example, if your customer persona is a middle-aged professional who works sitting down in an office most of the day, eats too much fast-food, strives for longevity so he can enjoy life with his kids and wife, and makes $95,000 a year, you could create a business around this persona’s specific needs and significantly reduce your competition.

Use a customer persona to reduce your competition.

2. A customer persona helps you attract attention.

Relevance is the best way to get attention. A detailed customer persona helps you be relevant.

Want an example of how this works?

Imagine you are a person who’s into luxury SUVs. That’s what you’ve driven for years, you feel like your job and station in life demands this kind of a vehicle, and you think this is the best kind of vehicle for your family.

You’re scrolling through Facebook and two sponsored ads pop up in your stream. The first one is just for “used cars” at a local, nondescript dealership. The second one is for luxury used cars from a dealership that focuses on Cadillacs, Audis, and BMWs. Which one will get your attention? In fact, will you even notice the first ad at all?

The same goes for your marketing. The more you know about your ideal customer, the more you can target them with relevant content and ads that will actually get their attention.

The quicker you can get your customers’ attention, the more money and time you will save.

3. A customer persona helps you earn trust.

Trust is huge for anyone with a business. Not only is it the most important component of first impressions, but it is also a determining factor in building customer loyalty.

Here’s the problem. If you’re selling something, you’re already at a disadvantage. One recent marketing study found that people trust salespeople even less than lawyers!! That’s not good. Anything that can help you build trust will help you strengthen your brand and ultimately build customer loyalty.

Getting to know your customers really, really well is one of THE best ways to build trust.

We all like and trust people who take the time to get to know us and want the best for us (like our mothers, for example). You want to be that person to your customers.

Consider what this article in Inc.com had to say about building customer trust. Four of the nine suggestions (numbers 2,3,5, and 7) all either revolve around getting to know your customers well, or are only possible if you do know them well.

Get to know your customers really well (get to know what they want, dream about and fear better than they do) and they will trust you more.

4. A customer persona helps you avoid wasted conversations.

Consider this scenario. You’ve just given a keynote at your local chamber of commerce to promote your brand and you feel pretty good about it. A few people come up to talk to you which you think is a good sign. One particular person asks you lots of questions and you end up talking for 20 minutes. When she gets ready to leave, she tells you that she is the Executive Director of a local nonprofit and is really interested in your consulting services.

Only one problem. You don’t provide services to nonprofits.

If only you’d been more specific in your message.

If only you’d had a specific and definitive customer persona.

Just like that brand-building keynote, if you develop a good customer persona you’ll attract less attention from people who have no interest in buying from you and attract more from those who do.

A customer persona will help you avoid wasted conversations – online and offline. That will save you time and money.

Ready to build your own customer persona?

What do you think? Do you use a customer persona in your marketing? Would you like to market directly to people who are interested in your business and avoid wasting time with those who aren’t?

Every digital marketing plan needs a great customer persona.

Watch for our upcoming blog posts where we will talk about exactly what a customer persona should include, and how you get that info.

In the meantime, check us out on our Instagram page where we share daily digital marketing hacks, tips, and wisdom!



September 12, 2017

The truth about Instagram marketing. 3 simple reasons you need it.

The Instagram marketing train is leaving the station. Are you onboard?

Everyone is talking about Instagram. But, isn’t it just for teenagers? Can Instagram marketing be used for your products and services? Does this simple, picture and video-driven platform really work?

Yes! You can and should be using Instagram marketing to promote your business.

In fact, you can’t afford to do without it.

It’s time to stop talking and start doing. Get the jump on your competition and get your business on Instagram before your competition does!

Still not convinced?

Here are the top 3 reasons you should add Instagram to your B2C or B2B digital marketing strategy.

Reason #1 It’s The Fastest Growing Social Media Platform

As of April 2017, Instagram has more than 700 million monthly users—and counting!

Six out of every 10 adults are on Instagram, and 77.6 million Instagram users are from the US.

So, while Facebook and Twitter may be popular, you simply can’t afford to ignore Instagram for much longer.

In fact, a recent study shows that while Instagram is seeing meteoric growth, Facebook is holding steady, and Twitter is actually losing users!

Reason #2 The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Even with its rapid acceleration, very few businesses are using Instagram. Remember, only 77.6 million people in the US use Instagram. That means lots of room for growth.

This is good for you because early adopters get rewarded.

Between 2016 and 2017 the number of users placing Instagram on a monthly basis grew from 200,000 to over 1 million. So, as you can see, things are really picking up!

Start using Instagram today, before your competition catches wind.

Can you imagine being one of the first businesses to really capitalize on Twitter in the early 2000s or Facebook in its initial growth years?

Now you can do that with Instagram.

Reason #3 Engaging Visuals

People love pictures and stories. Instagram delivers both.

And not to worry because you don’t have to be a whiz with photoshop. Instagram’s built-in filters and photo editing tools are easy and intuitive. After just a few posts you’ll have the hang of it.

Since you may not yet be familiar with Instagram, you can also post 3 to 60-second videos on Instagram.

In fact, when videos were introduced to the social platform—over 5 million videos were uploaded in the first 24 hours. Statistically, these videos generate 2 times the engagement of photos posted to your current social platforms.

While many other platforms are still mostly words, Instagram delivers what people crave: a clean, simple interface, and beautiful images.

Instagram Marketing: You Don’t Want To Get Left Behind

Want to get a leg up on your competition and build an Instagram presence for your business the right way? Sign up for our FREE Instagram for Business training workshop. We debuted the workshop last week to the Washington Center for Women in Business and they loved it. So we will be offering some live classes in Tri-Cities, WA and will make it available as a webinar by October. Wanna get in on the action? Just sign up for the pre-launch list and you’ll be the first to know when it is available!

Get on the Instagram train. It’s leaving the train station now, and we don’t want you to get left behind. You don’t wanna get left behind.