Explainer Videos

Ok, so there's 10 things you MUST do to make your explainer video work. Or is there 15 things you must NEVER do? I can't recall. Maybe if we'd made a video about it, it would have been 12 TIMES MORE MEMORABLE.

There's a great deal to be said for simplicity and subtlety. Most great products are really simple, or their simplicity belies their complexity, but even with those ones, the problem they solve is a simple one. Or it is that once this product comes along and everybody says, 'Oh God, I can't believe that really complicated thing was actually so easy after all.'

Or if it's not, then at least the problem it chooses to solve and the way in which it chooses to address it - and us - is such that it seems like a really simple process to understand and for us to rationalise in terms of our own experience. That is to say, the simplicity of the problem is that we all share in it so to love the solution becomes a foregone conclusion.

By isolating the narrative from the complexity of both problem and solution we're able to focus the very limited attention of our target audience on a simplistic but powerful concept creating relevance, intrigue and consent. And hopefully some positive feelings along the way. Are you still paying attention?

Good. So you want an explainer video for your website? There's no doubt that the research based evidence points to an uplift in sales and enquiries when you use video to support a product online. It also suggests that ranking on Google improves. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the uplift? We're not going to dwell on that point though. We make great videos, not promises we can't keep.

We recommend using what we characterise as an Explainer Video for three things - a product, a service or an idea. We ask it of all our customers and it's no different with Explainer Videos - who's the audience, where will it be seen and what's the ideal outcome?

Explainer Videos have a particular look. They tend to be animated and a little quirky with a welcoming, assuring voice-over. Your video needs to sound and look assured. After all, we want to build confidence in the product as the solution to the problem we've identified. There's obviously an established narrative and we find a lot of our clients want to stay within familiar territory.

They often come to us with firm ideas in mind and example videos which they feel operate as a benchmark. We understand why - if something's proven to work why mess with it? However, there's a lot to be said for differentiating yourself from the competition and you're not going to do that by mimicking them. That's where a strong creative comes in. We put in a whole lot of forethought and energy into the scripting and storyboarding. It's expensive to get animation wrong. Paper and pencils, on the other hand, are relatively cheap.
We also find that it can be a really useful process for our clients to strip back their products to the bare minimum and question the efficacy of some of the more long-winded bits of business speak. We all get hung up on this stuff, particularly when talking amongst our professional peers but it's healthy to get back to basics. You've got 60 seconds and less than 100 words is a great way of achieving that.

How much should you be spending? When I go to a website I like to come away with a price. If I don't I won't bother following it up. I know their tricks.

Imagine my frustration then at not being able to give you a price right now. Not only does it annoy me on a personal level, I'm also worried that you might press the back button immediately. And then click the Google Ad again and again to teach us an expensive lesson we won't forget. 'Those sneaky bastards brought me here with a video production prices search term! I'll show those slippery little...'

There are some sites out there that will give you a price for a video composite of bad artwork and generic shots. We suggest you keep the clipart out. There's all sorts of reasons you might choose this approach - a sense of control, not having to deal with human beings, budgetary constraints - but we think you're going to get an at best mediocre product.

This being the internet there are companies out there trying to make money from ideas you hadn't even thought of. And some trying to make money from ideas that you had thought of but had immediately disregarded because you thought they'd never work. And everyone of them obsessed with that same scalable idea. It's just another word for same old same old. I'm not so sure why we're all hung up on it. Where's the uniqueness and the excitement of the new?

There are other companies that will give you an attractive headline price normally prefixed by that blanket cover-all of a multitude of sins 'From' word. We even saw a company based not far from us with links to other people's work on their site saying 'the sort of thing we can do for you From Just £££!'

Anyway, all we will say is that none of the videos in the column on the right hand side cost less than £4000. Yours might work out a little less, it might work out a great deal more. We won't know until you give us a call and tell us what the plan is.

Some practical considerations...

It's good to approach the creative and animation spend with an open mind to future developments. Say you have a suite of three products. It may be sensible to create one overarching intro video and then three separate videos dedicated to each particular solution.

If you're going to use a lot of graphics or kinetic typography, it might be worth thinking about the potential ramifications for different language versions in the future. Again, if you're going to use only voice-over and images, it might be worth asking yourself if the video will ever need to stand out at a noisy conference - or do you just want to deal with all of that by getting translations and captions done?

Coming back to the idea of what constitutes success for this video, it's a great idea to have a clear and loud call to action. It might just be in the voiceover, it might be an end graphic with a roll over linking to a free trial offer. Whatever it is, you need to be measuring it and tracking ROI. Video really works but don't just take our word for it.

Lower down the budgetary scale, a lot of explainer videos have scary, digital voiceovers and low quality screengrabs. A lot of the latter tend to be concentrated around IT products, where some marketing teams have no qualitative faculties and assume that neither do their potential customers. If you're not going to use a production company then please invest a couple of hundred pounds in a good microphone and record the voiceover in the airing cupboard. And someone's nephew must know how to export to something other than windows media player at 4x3...

Some Explainer Video Examples
Best of the Best
Some really smooth animation and screengrabs help this home page explainer video zoom right along.
Laid back voiceover and a quirky tune. Talk about making complicated things seem simple.
The Local Data Company
A nice mix of specially shot location work and graphic overlays.
Good For Enterprise
Longer and much more complex ideas to get across. So we used a presenter and some simple graphics.
SDG Sales Enablement
This was commissioned for a series of European sales connferences. It was translated into four different languages.

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