GUEST: Charles Alexander, Director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center and yourcharlesalexander.com
With or without a pandemic, today’s world runs on video.
But that camera in your pocket doesn’t make you Fellini.
How can you close more leads with videos people actually want to watch?
He explained the secrets to cutting through all the noise on social media and getting your content seen by the people who matter.
- Why video beats written content every time
- How to get your content noticed
- Why storytelling is so important
- Why you need to come out swinging in video content
Video beats written content
Around 6 years ago, Charles started doing some freelance writing and content creation.
Originally, he was just doing some small newsletters for CPAs and banks. When Charles was pitching to one of these early CPAs, he wanted to do proper anchor pricing. He offered the CPA tiered pricing, with 3 different models from which to choose.
And the CPA chose the most expensive — which was also the one which included video.
Charles was a little worried. Up until this point, he’d only really created shoddy Windows Movie Maker clips. But he took the written content and turned it into a 5-minute video. It wasn’t very good.
But it was still beating all of the written content he’d created.
With this success over his written content, Charles wondered what would happen if he actually made a good video.
Now he’s carved out a successful niche in 90-second explainer videos.
These days, this shouldn’t be too surprising. 80% of online content is video and that cuts across almost every demographic — not just those dang millennials.
People would rather consume video content. But with so much video content out there, you need to make sure you stand out if you want to get noticed.
“Explainer videos cut through all the clutter we put into our brains all day.”
Cutting through the clutter
It’s not just the sheer volume of content out there, it’s also the way we consume it. We’ve all developed a social-media attention disorder from mindlessly scrolling through our feeds.
Which is why 90 seconds is the perfect length for an explainer. Any less and your message seems to lack substance — any more and it looks like a chore.
If your video is over 2 minutes long, people will spend the same amount of time debating whether it is worth watching.
There are other ways you can stand out, too.
Charles works with animation frequently, which is less common for explainer videos.
While Charles prefers the energy of animation, it’s the uniqueness is what makes such a powerful tool.
Think about how many times you’ve seen talking-heads explaining something in your social media feed today. Everybody is doing it.
If you want people to watch your videos, you need to stand out.
“If you don’t do anything else, be different. Have a niche and hang your hat on it.”
But you also need to provide value. And you do this with stories.
Nail your storytelling
Stories are what make us human.
Early hominids weren’t smearing berries on their cave walls to show each other data on the projected growth rate of the mastodon herds in Q4.
No, Grog wanted paintings telling compelling stories about the thrill of the hunt, complete with heroes and villains and everything familiar to us in stories today. Except, well...mastodons. Turns out, Q4 was pretty rough.
You need to provide a story if you want to capture the attention of other humans. But you also need to tell a compelling story. Preferably one that makes sense.
You can look to Joseph Campbell for the hero’s journey if you want, but Charles’ preferred example is Star Wars. Companies fail at storytelling because they don’t understand the Star Wars story.
Most companies have is they want to cast themselves as Luke Skywalker. They want to be the hero, but they’re not. Your client gets to be Luke.
Your goal with your content should be to guide your client, to train them from the beginning of the story. You help them achieve their heroic potential.
Put simply, you’re Yoda.
Put your best foot forward and, please, don’t just wing it.
If you are going to create content, don’t wing it. You’ll fall into that trap of creating every annoying YouTube video out there.
You know, the ones you won’t watch?
They have a very high ratio of “likes” and “ums” to actual words, lots of jump-cuts and they always start with a talking head (sometimes waving a hand) saying “Hi guys, I, um, like, have some stuff I’m, um, super excited to talk about today…”
Which brings us to the next point. You need to start strong.
“With video, come out of the gate swinging with a quick and strong point.”
Nobody is going to watch your video if you don’t immediately grab them. So grab them.
And you don’t need to do it just on social.
In the digital era, most people still find your company through referrals and word of mouth. The only change is, when they do, the first thing they do is look you up online.
If you have a boring website, whatever enthusiasm they had just dissipated. Animated or otherwise, creative explainers are a lot more engaging than the typical website copy.
Videos can also be sent in emails, maybe as a follow up to an initial connection or a considerate sequel to one they’ve already watched. It might not close them right out of the gate, but it can definitely move you toward that goal faster.
Would you prefer a boring wall of text or a useful video in your inbox?
I know what Grog would say.
This blogpost includes highlights of our podcast interview with Charles Alexander, at yourcharlesalexander.com.