It's every marketer's dream: produce a company video that goes viral or gets nominated for an Emmy Award. That's easier said than done. Often when trying to make a video a huge success, companies forget the end game is the customer, not the award. It should, at the very least, engage its target audience, while getting key messaging across and incorporating branding.
While there's no lack of articles offering how-to advice, marketing professionals still get it wrong. Here, we take a look at seven common mistakes that, if avoided, might help you shape your video into a captivating, and even inspiring, advertising tool.
1. Overlooking the importance of the script. The script, or the story, of a video is the gold. "Story?" you ask. "How can I tell a story in sixty seconds? Don't people just want to see a bunch of flashy, cartoony images?" The answer is no.
Think of what grabs you right in the beginning of a video: It's the promise that you'll be taken on an informational journey involving something you can relate to (or want to relate to) in an entertaining manner.
A big part of this can be achieved by developing the script from the core of what your product or company stands for, as opposed to stringing together buzzwords. The language should naturally unfold from the heart of the video.
Our advice: Don't write the script yourself, or at least not entirely. You're too close to the fire and too attached to your product. Give a professional writer an outline of what you're looking for and let her work her magic.
2. Overloading the video with information. Cramming ten years of your company's history into your video won't cut it. It'll likely be visually crowded and overwhelming.
Our advice: A calculated rundown of your company's history won't get people hooked. What will do that is a story about the product or idea you're presenting. So before you get down to work on your script, ask yourself what's most relevant to the core of the story I want to tell? Related: Video Marketing? What You Need to Know About YouTube Analytics
Take the complex and controversial subject of immigration. You could spend hours presenting either side of the debate. Yet, the video below manages to do that in under three minutes, by presenting engaging data without overwhelming the viewer.
Economic Impact of Immigrants from Paragon Design Group on Vimeo.
3. Making it too long. On a good day, most people's attention span for online videos is about 90 seconds. A thought out and well-paced visual story balance can get all of your points across in that time or less. Well rounded is better than longer.
Our advice: Resist the temptation to keep extending the running time. Instead try refocusing on boiling down the main elements that you want in your video. Take a look at the video below: it walks us through decades of history in just 80 seconds.
4. Choosing music that stands out too much. Music should be an accent to any video not something that takes the audience's attention away from the visuals. It should enhance the subtle emotional beats that drive the story forward and support keeping the audience engaged.
5. Making the animation too fast or slow-paced. The images seem to hang too long up against the voiceover that's relaying twice as much information. This is usually a budget issue, but better to wait until you have a bigger budget than not enough animation.
Our advice: You don't want your video to be Cars 3. You want it to be visually exciting, but you don't want to blast potential clients away with so much action that they forget what they're watching. The pacing of the animation should flow naturally with the voice over and/or the music. The video below is a good example:
HarmonyTest from Ariosa Diagnostics on Vimeo.
6. Not having a clear goal for the video in the first place. There needs to be a flow to the script that explains your company and/or what you have to offer. This seems obvious, but a lot of videos provide only disjointed company information and don't have a clear intention.
Related: How to Plan and Shoot YouTube Videos for Business
Our advice: You want to engage your audience right off the bat. Take them on a journey that shows the richness of your products and services and leaves them wanting more. If you follow our advice and avoid the steps we outlined above, your video will do just that.
7. Using an amateur voice-over actor. Voice-overs can be pricey. Depending on the length of the voice-over and the amount of re-records and language, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $450.
Sound like a lot? Contemplating having your Aunt Mary take a crack at it? Think twice. A voice-over can make or break a video.
Voice-over artists are professional actors, trained in using their voice as a tool to sell your product. They know where to "punch" a point in the script to get your viewers' attention but also where to soften up the mood to induce certain emotions, like trust. They also have state-of-the-art equipment that makes for a crisp, clear read (whereas standard computer microphones often come off staticky or muffled).
The most commonly used and most effective type of voice-over is warm and conversational but professional at the same time. The ideal balance is making your viewers feel comfortable listening, while sounding credible and reliable.
Our advice: Animators generally have their favorite sources for voice-overs, and it's best to trust their judgement. But you have a hand in it, as well. You can have the voice-over actor submit a few recordings to you after giving them direction, or you can direct them live and have them play the recordings back.
The video below gets the balance between conversational and business just right:
Media Whale Project  from Laura Dumitru on Vimeo.