Great Marketing Videos for Business from Ordinary Companies


marketing videos for business

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I want to share six marketing videos for business and look at how those businesses have used the medium. How, perhaps, they could have done better and the key takeaway that you can use in your own marketing videos.

What makes all of the videos really good is that they don’t try to overtly sell to the viewer. The businesses have understood that most people are not in buying mode when they are using social media (yes, YouTube is a social media platform, just like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and the others).

Viewers are there to be entertained or to research a topic or seek information on a future purchase. Remember, you don’t like being sold to so why do you think your potential customers are any different?

Effective videos don’t take the hard sell approach because viewers aren’t going to watch, let alone share those videos with their online friends and colleagues.

Effective videos don’t take the hard sell approach because viewers aren’t going to watch, let alone share those videos with their online friends and colleagues.

In almost all of the videos we are going to look at, the businesses have decided to market their brand through story-telling, building an emotional response in the viewer, or providing information the viewer really wants.

Although some are obviously created by professionals with big budgets, some were, or at least could be, done in-house. What’s nice about them is that the businesses present their human side, not a corporate image.

Ever since the financial crash, the anti-globalization movement has been growing and many of these videos actually reflect that attitude in one way or another.

Many people today have fallen out of love with the multinational mantra of “bigger is better”, on the contrary, their experience is that small is beautiful.

That’s why business people appearing in and doing their own videos is a wise move that is appreciated by customers. They want to make a connection with the human side of a business, not the edifice. People buy from people!

Video No. 1 – Seriously Strong Cheese

The first video is about the cheese that comes from the McLelland creamery in Stranraer, Dumfries & Galloway.

This video is beautiful in its simplicity. In just 26 seconds they tell a story about the natural origin of the cheese, which, by the way, is one of my favorites. The authenticity of the farmer talking about his experience and feelings in a field with his “girls” has a kind of romance about it that is reminiscent of the fabulous Scottish film, Local Hero.

What’s beautiful about this video is that while using emotion to work its magic on you, it avoids cliché words like “traditional”, “natural” and similar advertising BS.

The makers of the video also get you involved, rather than leaving you to be a passive viewer. Rory Christie, the dairy farmer, says his cows are, “munching grass, and if you listen carefully you can hear it”, and so you can, you listen and become an active viewer.

You are now involved and a better prospect. By the time the farmer has finished speaking you want to be there with him, listen to his girls munching Scottish grass, and try the cheese.

The key takeaway from this video

Although Seriously Strong undoubtedly had the video made by professionals, the important thing you should realize is that you could easily make a similar video yourself.

The technical challenge is relatively low; there is no camera movement, you have plenty of light outdoors (watch for shadows if too bright), record as if you are doing an interview with a supplier at their premises, and take plenty of B-roll footage (in the Seriously Strong video the b-roll shots are those of the cows).

Your main challenge will probably be capturing good quality sound so consider spending a little cash on an external microphone.

As a minimum, your kit would be a smartphone, smartphone tripod adaptor, and tripod. If you are using a camcorder or DSLR you will not need the tripod adaptor.

Video No. 2 – ModCloth Presents: NYC Street Style

In this second video, we look at how Modcloth, a fashion retailer in New York City, has used a simple interview technique in one of their videos to engage with their audience.

The sound isn’t always perfect in the video and I’ve seen better interviewers but that doesn’t matter, this is street life where the people and what they say and do is important. The technical ability of the interviewer to correctly position the microphone is secondary; we can hear enough of what’s necessary.

Now, this is not a world I inhabit, a fashionista I am not, and yet I had to watch to the end of the video. I’m a 55-year-old bloke with, as my wife frequently points out, no dress sense. Yet I found myself wanting to watch Modcloth’s editor, Rebecca Brown, talk to young women about style, makeup, and pizza. Sounds crazy!

In fact, I watched their next video as well! Perhaps it was a voyeuristic desire to see into a world that is alien to me. In fact, you could say the Modcloth video is a mini reality TV show, and we all know how popular that genre is right now. We all like looking behind the scenes and into other people’s lives, especially if they appear to be larger than life.

Actually, the secret to this being a fabulous video is their ability to get the right people to interview and throw in an unexpected question. Notice that Rebecca initially asked Anayo from Styleblazer.com about her thrifted jacket but then comes back with the out-of-left-field question, “if your jacket were a dance move, what would it be called?” That’s so weird even I want to hear the answer!

All of the interviewees are engaging, fun and spontaneous, making them very watchable but the editing also helps. We do not see the whole recording from each interviewee before moving on to the next person. The editor has cut out the boring bits and then chopped up the answers from each person and inter-cut them with the answers from the other interviewees, creating a patchwork of answers.

The effect makes the content appear shorter, more interesting and accelerating the pace of the video. In a sense keeping the shots a little shorter and inter-cutting with the other interviewees is similar to the fast cutting of an action sequence in a movie, it drives the story forward and makes it more exciting.

Also notice the editor has included handheld footage of New York street scenes, taxi interiors, and superimposed light leaks to help give a trendy contemporary feel, which reflects what ModCloth is about. But those street scenes also give the video and Modcloth a geographic location – undeniably New York City.

The key takeaway from this video

The Vox Pop Video is definitely one of the easiest styles of video to make, yet it can be very effective. Even if your shots are a bit wobbly and your exposure a little off, the grungy look might be ideal if you want to present your business as being modern and a little edgy.

Grab a mic, get a buddy to point the camera, grab lots of people and keep asking questions, even strange and bizarre ones. If you don’t have anyone handy to hold the camera, put your smartphone on a selfie stick.

When you get to editing the footage, keep the most interesting and funniest comments and ditch the turgid moments. Plus, if you do something stupid of daft keep it in, your viewers will love it. They will switch off if presented with the mundane, it’s the unusual or unexpected that keeps them watching.

The key to getting some really great material in a Vox Pop is not to warn your subject about your questions in advance. Even better, introduce an unrelated question that will catch your interviewee off-guard.

Without time to think they will seem spontaneous, revealing and entertaining. If the questions and answers are quite contentious you may even spark a strong reaction in your viewers and stimulate a good amount of comments and debate.

Video No. 3 – Live Beer from BrewDog

The third video is by Brewdog, a company from the northeast of Scotland whose marketing and company ethos is as refreshing as their beer.

They’re not professional presenters but they are the guys from the brewery who live and breathe their business and product.

They hate the big mega-corporations and they love making something special to share with others. They’ve even “open-sourced” their beer recipes; go to their website and you can download their recipe archive and make their beer in your own kitchen.

These guys experimented with their beer recipes for 2 years before going commercial in Fraserburgh (Scotland). Their business quickly grew and they moved the BrewDog headquarters to nearby Ellon, an Aberdeenshire town very familiar to me since I lived nearby for about ten years.

Their primary goal isn’t to become multi-billionaires, although they are well on the way to achieving it, instead, they want to share their passion. As their T-shirts say, “We bleed Craft Beer”.

They are a couple of good guys with shovel loads of passion and a love of making good beer – that’s something their customers can identify with. You do not care that they are not top-notch when it comes to video presenting, they are as authentic and honest and the product they make and sell.

That’s a lesson many business owners can learn. You don’t have to be perfect in front of the camera, you just need to show that you believe in and love your business, product or service. After all, if you do not, why should a potential customer?

Most of the video is in black and white, that, without having said it out aloud, articulates a feeling that they are reaching back to when small brewers made great real beer that is neither sterilized, homogenized nor any other kind of “-ised”. BrewDog Live Beer is real ale for modernists and their video conveys that message very well.

As their YouTube channel says, “Love hops and live the dream”, so pass me a BrewDog Live Beer.

The key takeaway from this video

This uses a technique known as a “piece-to-camera” or “Talking Head VideoOpens in a new tab.“, which is used daily on news, magazine and talk shows. Despite being called “piece-to-camera” the BrewDogs are not talking to the camera but instead talking through it to communicate directly with the viewer.

Note that I say “viewer” and not “audience”, there is an important distinction there. Video allows you to communicate one-to-one with the viewer, even though there may be hundreds, thousands or even millions in total.

As a business you communicate and sell to individuals and you should take that on board when making your own videos. It will help you build a relationship with your viewer, for them to like you and ultimately to become a customer.

When I started in broadcasting I was taught to try and have a conversation with the listener on the other side of the microphone or the viewer behind the camera. If necessary, I was to imagine I was talking to my Mum or best friend.

That advice is just as appropriate for anyone making their own business videos today. Do not sound as if you are reading a script, instead make it sound like you are having a conversation with your viewer. Essentially you need to sound sincere, and as George Burns once joked, “sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Video No. 4 – How to Inspect a Used Car for Purchase

The fourth video I want to share is a simple How-To video by ChrisFix, a solo filmmaker.

This is an unpretentious no fills video but ChrisFix has understood what his audience wants, namely content, and proceeds to give it to them. He wastes no time with a fancy logo reveal at the start, that’s for narcissists and a mark of vanity! Instead, Chris tells us straightaway what he is going to cover in the video and goes straight ahead and delivers on the promise.

That is important to note because not getting into the “meat” of the subject matter is the main reason why videos lose viewers. Chris leaves his logo reveal until the end, where he uses it intelligently as a branding device and a means to transition to his end slate.

In creating the video ChrisFix uses a hand-held camera while he walks around the used car showing the features any buyer should look for. With his free hand, he points out issues on the car’s bodywork, helping to visually underline his vocal commentary.

At no point do we actually see ChrisFix but that is a common feature of many How-To videos. The detail or process is what matters to the viewer, the presenter is secondary and only there to provide an explanatory commentary.

Chris has understood that YouTube is a social platform and encourages the viewer to watch his related videos, including the “test drive” part of his used car buyers guide.

In addition, he encourages the viewer to click the thumbs up button, leave their own tips in the comments, which can be a great source of ideas for further videos, and subscribe to his channel (almost 1.2 million have).

But Chris has another trick up his sleeve to engage with the viewer, he has produced the useful ChrisFix Checklist for used car buyers, and made it available as a download.

Unfortunately, he misses a trick here, he could have used it as a lead magnet in building an email list. If only half of those 1.2 million subscribers had joined his list he would have had a truly awesome list for marketing purposes.

The key takeaway from this video

Forget what the experts tell you, length does NOT matter. Concentrate on your content. Many marketing gurus will tell you that your video has to be 60sec or under. In my opinion that is complete rubbish.

That 60sec figure has been arrived at by averaging the way people have watched millions of business videos. But hold on, it does not take account of the quantity and quality of the content in the video. In terms of content, you don’t want to make an average video.

Your aim is to make a fantastic video! And anyway, long-form film/video seems to be working pretty well for Hollywood and the TV networks! Furthermore, YouTube actually tells us that they reward watch-time.

In other words, they want your viewers to keep watching for longer. The important thing is to provide the content your viewers want if you do they will watch. The only meaningful result from the number crunching is that there must be a lot of badly made business videos out there.

That is great news for you. If other businesses are doing video badly that is an opportunity for you. Use their failing to your advantage and keep your videos content rich.

The ChrisFix video is about 10 minutes long, a sin in the eyes of many video marketing-gurus. But here 10 minutes is the right length. The truth is that the correct length for your video is… however long it needs to be.

If you need 10 minutes to explain the subject properly then 10 minutes is the correct length. But if you can do it in 30sec then that is the perfect length. Strip out anything that is unnecessary and keep what your viewers want or need.

The important thing demonstrated by ChrisFix is that the viewer wants useful content more than brilliantly executed videography. If you doubt me, let the figures do the talking.

The ChrisFix used car buying video got more than 800,000 views in 7 months and 17,500 thumbs up. His “How to Restore Headlights” video has had over 7.5 million views in under two years. In total, the ChrisFix channel has attracted over 160 million views since 2008.

There are broadcasters who would kill for figures like those. But you only get them when you build your videos on a firm foundation of content.

Video No. 5 – DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades Are F***ing Great

The fifth video amongst these marketing videos for business is a well-made promotional video featuring the co-founder of the company, Mike Dubin. The video targets male viewers who are fed up with expensive razors that they need to go out to buy. The video is very funny; you just love it and the idea of the club.

Mike, the CEO, presents the video himself with deadpan delivery and marvelous slapstick humor. The video has obviously been scripted and directed extremely well, with a professional hand behind it. Mike Dubin does not hesitate to take the p**s out of himself and poke fun at his rivals. It’s entertaining and connects with the company’s target market.

The video also doesn’t waste time and gets to the point very quickly. In the opening few lines, Mike tells you all you need to know and why you should buy the product.

He says, “Hi, I’m Mike, founder of dollarshaveclub.com. What is dollarshaveclub.com? Well, for a dollar a month we send high-quality razors right to your door. Yeah, a dollar. Are the blades any good? No… They’re f***ing great”.

Yes, the video connected with men, and within six hours their website had sold out. The video playing a large part in that outcome.

When this video went live on YouTube in March 2014 (8 months after the company launched) it went viral. By the end of the year, 50,000 users were referring a friend every month. The video helped the company to make an emotional connection with its male audience and build their trust.

Customers have become unpaid evangelists for the company’s products. They are Loyalists and Champions, as Mike Dubin calls them. They go out of their way to promote the product they have emotionally bought into.

Four years after the video’s release it has had over 23 million views and generated tens of thousands of comments. Finally, it helped deliver the best news ever for the four-and-a-half-year-old company. In July 2016 Unilever bought the business for, wait for it, $1 Billion!

The key takeaway from this video

Setting aside Mike’s comic timing and delivery, this video shows that often the best person to appear is the owner. The company was their idea, they planted the seed and they are passionate about it.

That passion will shine through when you engage with your viewer. Don’t be stuffy, be natural and avoid sterile business speak. I recently filmed a CEO and asked him to try and connect with the viewer by smiling. He responded by saying, “I don’t do smiles. I’m the boss”. You can imagine how the video turned out.

A word of warning though. Although using humor is a great way to engage with your viewer, be careful. What you think is funny may not be what your viewer considers funny. Good comedy can be hard to do really well.

If your script or your ability to carry it off isn’t up to scratch forget it. Consider leaving the comedy to an out-takes section at the end of your video. Those bloopers will appear natural and funny.

Video No. 6 – The Power of Words

In the sixth video, we look at a video from Andrea Gardner’s Purple Feather, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

As Purple Feather say on their website, they created ‘The Power of Words’ video to showcase their respect for language. It is a homage to ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ by Alonso Alvarez Barreda, which won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2008.

In turn, ‘The Power of Words’, Purple Feather’s English version made in 2010, also won an award. It went on to be viewed over 25 million times on YouTube.

Although this post is about ‘The Power of Words’ I would encourage you to watch the original Mexican/USA film. The fact that it is in Spanish does not matter. You will understand the message that “a stroke of the pen can transform your world”. You can view Barreda’s ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ by clicking this linkOpens in a new tab..

Now back to Purple Feather’s video. If you don’t have an emotional response to “The Power of Words” check that you still have a heart. The manipulation of your emotions is important and allows the filmmakers to magnify the impact of their message.

The video illustrates that by changing the words you use you can turbocharge your message. However, it is ironic that Purple Feather use the power of visual story-telling and emotive music to make that point.

The makers demonstrate a good understanding of visual communication. They contrast the man’s life with the lives of those around him to build the viewers empathy with him. Even his physical placement on the pavement below everyone else helps to build our sympathy for his situation.

Another point worth noting is that Barreda’s short film was around five and a half minutes. Meanwhile, ‘The Power of Words’ is less than half that length. The brevity seems to intensify the emotional impact of the video, along with the music and the color grading. These days people will not hang around for longer than they need to. Get to the point as quickly as possible.

The video tugs at your heartstrings. Just as you are reaching for the Kleenex, in comes the clever twist at the end. As a copywriter/producer I’ll admit to saying, “now why didn’t I think of that!”

The key takeaway from this video

Perhaps the key takeaway would be to use emotion to influence your viewer in these marketing videos for business. Although manipulating your viewer’s emotions can be beneficial it is not what I think is important here. The key thing is that Purple Feather demonstrated in this video the fantastic thing they do for their clients.

They are skilled wordsmiths and they showed how phrasing your call to action can completely alter the outcome. Purple Feather did not talk about the power of words, they showed you. When you demonstrate the efficacy of your claim it makes that claim much more powerful.

The same strategy is used by Blendtec in their famous “Will It Blend” series of YouTube videos. They show how powerful their kitchen blenders are by blending numerous household items until they are dust. Perhaps the best known is the blending of an iPhone.

It is fascinating and shocking at the same time. You don’t expect anyone to destroy an expensive smartphone, nor do you expect it to be in a blender. In an updated version they put an iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 head-to-head. What’s the result? Five and a half million pairs of eye-balls who now know how powerful a Blendtec really is!

That is clever and a strategy you can apply to your own marketing videos for business. The principle is Show and DO NOT Tell.

Do not tell your prospects what you can do for them, show them.

This approach is far less salesy and your viewers will be all the more convinced and impressed. After all, ‘seeing is believing’, as they say.

So hopefully I have convinced you that ordinary businesses can make great videos. Glossy and polished videos may work but there is nothing wrong with a video with lower production values.

The main thing is to give your viewers or prospects what they want. If your video answers their questions and helps to build your credibility that is great. If you can do that by filming yourself sat at your desk that is perfectly fine.

Do not be fooled into thinking you have to spend a whole load of money on video production. What you do need to do is get started and build up your video experience and skills.




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