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How To Make Sure Your Explainer Video Will Help You Grow

The camera’s on you, the mic is on, you’ve even got a teleprompter over the lens.  You’ve worked out every line thousands of times. It’s a winning script for a winning idea. For you, this video means a seven figure raise through kickstarter, the final piece to your big launch, or even the answer to your conversion woes. It all comes down to this moment…

Before we begin recording, let’s dig into this rather important question: is an explainer video right for you? Odds are it isn’t, and we’ll take a look at why:

There are thousands of reasons why customers/users/members ultimately don’t make the choice to buy.  Most of them are emotional.  But three big objective reasons are:

  1. The value doesn’t justify the price/return
  2. It’s not abundantly clear what is being consumed
  3. The servicing organization isn’t trustworthy yet

Is this the best deal out there, or the most I can get?

Now more than ever, value exchange is the leading driver of consumption.  As long as your product or service drives ‘some’ value, there’s a market out there for it. Largely thanks to Amazon, social proof and third party validation are now more significant than reputation or brand. So for many projects (especially those we’ve worked on) consumers aren’t diving in because it isn’t clear to them why that particular product or service is worth it’s cost to them.

Why is this the right one for me right now?

Next, and this mainly applies to the software products and services we’ve worked with, the benefits of signing up / creating an account / joining aren’t evident. It’s become so inexpensive to build amazing applications that by the time a product is ready for the public, founders, product leaders, and marketers are so buried in the feature sets they’ve been slaving over for months (even years) that it’s next to impossible to focus communications on one, simple, mega-value. You’ll see this on thousands of cloned landing pages; emphasis and check lists of feature sets instead of an answer to the simple question every potential consumer is really asking:

Is this someone I really want to buy from?

Finally, trust can be a major barrier.  There are dozens of reasons why the value might be there, the timing is right, but your not worth the risk just yet. This is just a hypothesis, but remember the self-produced car dealer ads that dominated the 90’s? Furniture chains in the north east still apply similar tactics: attaching a friendly face + good old repetition establishes familiarity.  What a great way to establish trust immediately right?

Tell me about my explainer video…

Back to the point: which one of these key objections does your explainer video address? It’s not going to help you earn trust – even if you spend more than you have and bring in celebrity talent. It’s not going to convince a customer that the timing is right: rather, self shot cell phone or webcam videos have proven remarkably effective in this department. Finally, it’s not going to shore up your prospects’ confidence in your value – the second you start talking about benefits you’re essentially an infomercial and you can bet savvy consumers are going to tune you out.

So what is a good use case then? We only recommend spending big bucks on a beautiful explainer video if you’re swinging for the fences, and launching a product aimed at changing consumers’ behavior in a significant way. A quick checklist to see if your service falls into this category. If your answer to any of these is “yes” than an explainer video might not be right for you:

  • Are more than 1,000,000 people paying for what your service does today?
  • Are there more than 3 other companies that do something quite similar to what you do?
  • Do you think an explainer video is the right way to differentiate?

Are you asking consumers to stop doing something they’re used to and adopt your product or service instead?

If adopting your service requires a significant change in consumer activity (even if the change is an improvement) then maybe an explainer video makes sense for you!

  • Think about the first iPhone. Things that are common place today were desktop-only before that kind of computing power was placed in the palm of one’s hand (nod to Palm pilot for trying to get there first – but their demise is evidence of the difficulty inherent in changing behavior).
  • You might remember Coin‘s incredible crowdfunding campaign – another example of a novel service that never took off. It’s really hard to change behavior…

But that’s not to say it can’t be done. Apple did it. They’re not the first, and won’t be the last. One of you will tackle this feat – with or without an expensive explainer video. But hopefully this helps you think about the best way to tell your story before taking that plunge.

If you are dead set on video, we recommend trying a less scripted service like the one offered by our friends at Journi. They do amazing work that’ll go a long way towards helping you establish trust, and in the worst possible case, you’ll have a ton of valuable content that makes sense just about anywhere you put it.

You belong in the spotlight, and so does your idea. Just make sure it’s the right tactic for you before taking the plunge.

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