The Scoop - An Animation Studio's Blog
The 5 OGs of Video Marketing
Online video marketing is booming in 2021. From Tiktoks and Instagram stories through to new gen explainer videos and interactive pieces, it’s hard for an animation studio to keep up to speed, never mind a business looking to take its first steps in video marketing.
At Hocus Pocus Studio, we’re lucky enough to work on a huge range of categories of these marketing videos, so here’s our take on the traditional big pillars of the video marketing world. Because we’re self-professed experts, and dead clever, we’re going to also list these as they relate to a buyer journey. And because you’re also dead clever, you’ll understand exactly what we’ve done.
01 Explainer Videos
‘Hey Marketeers – 2005 called and it wants its explainer video back!’
OK it’s true that the basic explainer video format is pretty tired now. Much beloved of the tech startup, this highly customizable 2d format launched a million new businesses selling you stuff you don’t really understand. The rigid format (problem – solution – cta) lends itelf to a demystification of the product and service.
Explainer videos sit early on in the buyer journey, focused as they are on awareness / engagement. In this role they worked well for years and launched a million questionable IPOs.
In recent times though the format has become very generic, from the cutesy character animation to the jaunty voiceover, and it ends up feeling like you’re always being sold the same blockchain-cloud-SAAS thingy anyway.
But there’s a new kid in town – a much richer graphical universe, more complex storytelling, more compelling and engaging. But a bit like the way Model T Ford and a Model S Tesla are both called a car, so we’re stuck with the term ‘explainer.’
The new gen super-explainers are a potent mix of 2d, 3d and sometimes cel animation. They have a richer, cinematic feel and bigger impact. There’s a lot more craft involved, certainly not something you can get made on the cheap by a PowerPoint operator in Uzbekistan.
02 Thought Leadership Videos
Another awful term! Just like being rich or a tory, you should never, ever, refer to yourself as a ‘thought leader’. You’ll lose all respect, get fired and have to rebrand yourself a life coach. Being a thought leader is something you earn, something someone else refers to you as.
Charlatans and mountebanks look away, because where you can trick people into believing you with a ripping explainer, you’ll have to work a lot harder with a simple film like this. Thought leadership videos are about honesty, simplicity and clarity of thought. There’s a degree of education, altruism and a pinch of humility needed – this isn’t the time for expensive video production techniques.
In terms of production, things couldn’t be simpler. Ted talks are the best example of a pared down set, a live audience, minimal speaker support. This is early journey, top of the funnel content: high level overviews from industry experts. Highly shareable, simple and inexpensive to produce. All you need is a speaker with gravitas, insight and panache.
03 Brand Videos
Everyone’s been banging on about customer-centric marketing, talking about your customers rather than yourself. It makes perfect sense but doesn’t speak to the emotive and occasionally irrational relationship punters display in relation to particular brands and businesses.
What we call a brand video now probably would have been a TV commercial once upon a time. The huge FMCG monoliths that slugged it out on our dumb tellies knew all about building brands and pushing them along their journey to part with their hard-leveraged cash.
This has always tended to be big, expensive stuff. The opposite of the thought leadership videos in fact. Historically the domain of the global banks, airlines, booze brands: big agency creatives and budgets the size of Indonesia’s GDP.
Of course the democratization of video production techniques has filtered through to the humbler brand video maker. A good brand video should always feel big, somehow, unlike an explainer. Probably one of the best brand videos in this category, a real OG, is the dollar shave club, which you’ve seen already but here it is again:
04 Product Videos
In nerdy marketing speak the product video sits securely inside the ‘consideration’ phase of the buyer journey. So your prospect is working out whether to buy your window grommet panels or someone else’s.
The product video should be a light-touch, in messaging terms. This isn’t the time to start shouting about your brand values or the cute character you just designed. Take a step back and let the product speak for itself. Of course the production standards always need to be reflective of your category and brand – so if you’re selling expensive merch, don’t expect to film it on your phone and bung on youtube.
Product videos work best when broken down into bitesize pieces. If you can make these pieces interactive, so the prospect is guiding their own journey, so much the better. Take a product video for a new phone as an example. A great way to break this down would be to have a video about the camera, a video about the memory, one about the battery etc. They could all be short and accessible by a simple interface, making the customer guide his own journey around the product itself.
05 Testimonial Videos
So powerful, but so hard to get right. The main problem you’re facing here is that when your client says something nice about you, you don’t just happen to have a film crew and a tasteful urban backdrop standing by.
Depending on the complexity of your product or service, and how nerdy you are in definition of your buyer personas, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a one-buyer fits all testimonial. So this is probably something you’re going to need to make multiple episodes of.
Once upon a time we made some testimonial films for an eye hospital. Different films for different procedures. All in their own words – essential – nicely shot (given the premium nature of the product), but authentic, honest and very useful.
Big Voice, Little Voice
This much we’ve learned as an animation studio: Big companies want to appear small, small companies want to appear big. Small is cute, trustworthy, hand-rendered, authentic. All the values you don’t normally associate with a business you’re looking to buy electricity or insurance from. Nowhere is this clearer than in the style of voiceover chosen. As big business looks to reassure, comfort and ultimately make us part with our cash, it does so through the unthreatening regional tones of plump dinner ladies offering another spoon of custard.
‘Here at WE GAS we know we’re all in these difficult times together’ whispered like your kind Auntie pressing a shiny fifty pence piece into your palm, no mention of the bewildering tariffs that lie beneath.
It cuts both ways of course. New businesses know they’re on a sticky wicket in terms of trust and credibility, so need to sound established and dependable. So whilst the titans of tech might be able to get their kid or neighbour’s dog to do a VO, if you’re looking to market a new credit card, you’re going to want to appear a lot more like the person who did an MBA after College.
Of course everything in cyclical so eventually we’ll be back to having Ben Elton barking to us about buying a car again. But for now, ass the world licks it wounds from pandemics and crazy politics, we’ll be listening to the soothing tones of Diane Morgan for some time yet.