Interestingly, video isn’t just good on its own. Syndacast also found that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.
I recently purchased a Cowboy Studios backdrop support kit from Amazon.com. The kit arrived with a broken knob on one of the adjustment screws. It looked like it was damaged in shipment but it is hard to say for sure. Amazon’s customer service has always impressed me but I had a shoot coming up and didn’t want to have to exchange the whole kit so I contacted Cowboy Studios directly. They agreed to send me just the broken part so I could fix it myself.
When I experience good customer service I like to share the story. Stuff happens in shipping and sometimes a product gets out the door from the manufacturer with a missed defect. If it happens a lot I tend to not return to that supplier. If it happens once, as in this case, I view it as a chance for the supplier to earn my loyalty through their support. Cowboy Studios came through with flying colors.
If you don’t know them, Cowboy Studios is a supplier of affordable photo and video accessories including lighting, stands, backdrops and more. The products aren’t over-priced like the major brands but are a little more expensive than some of the no-name brands. In my opinion, the small difference in price compared to the direct importers is worth it because Cowboy Studios is based in Texas and has real support people that you can call or email and get quick service without a lot of hassle. They also usually offer two flavors of their products, a basic version and a heavy duty version. For something that will remain in the studio and not be adjusted a lot, the basic version is a great way to save money and still get the functionality you need. For something that will be adjusted constantly or taken on the road, the heavy duty version is more robust and will stand up better over time while still being pretty affordable. Sometimes there are other differences as well. With the backdrop support systems, for example, the heavy duty version is available with crossbars as wide as 20 feet while the basic version comes as wide as about 10 feet.
I also have a folding green/blue screen from Cowboy Studios and have it used it on several projects. I’m interested to see they now offer a variety of backdrops in the same pop out format.
Continuing on theme of key moments and using change to draw the viewer in, have a look at this T-Mobile UK ad:
Note the use of the Dire Straits “I want my MTV” and how things change at the points where Mark Knopfler’s guitar kicks in at around 1:34. Then see the changes in the characters. Did you feel the tension building? Did you know a major change was coming with that music change? A well done ad in my opinion.
Last time I wrote about success storytelling. I made a 12 minute video explaining my thoughts on success story videos. If you’ve made hundreds of success story videos I think you’ll find much of this to be basic but you may find the focus on key moments useful. If you’ve never made a success story video you will want to watch the whole thing and then go look at some good success stories on various company websites or YouTube channels.
In addition to watching the video here or on YouTube, you may also want to learn a lot more about what I call key moments. Norman Hollyn wrote a wonderful book called “The Lean Forward Moment” in 2009 that goes into much more detail on this concept and how you can use it in everything from commercials to feature films.
The most successful success stories follow a simple formula. Most experienced producers of success stories have a standard set of questions they aim to answer in the video. They usually look something like this:
• How was it before?
• What made you decide to change?
• Who helped you?
• What did you do?
• What was the result?
You may use more or fewer questions and you may ask them a little different than I’ve shown here but we all use some basic form of these to show why it needed changing, who and what created the change and how good things are because of the change. We try to put this in business terms,not technical jargon or product specific words.
The most successful stories pair this approach with an equally good production plan. Each change that is highlighted in an answer to a question is a good place for using motion, sound or transitions and effects to draw the viewer in. A few changes will be the most important and deserve the most consideration in terms of B-roll, sound and effects possibilities. Maybe the solution brought the client or their customers from misery to delight. Show that with the right mood change as you tell the story. In the “Who helped you?” question, maybe the answer is an excellent partner. How about using B-roll and a lower third to introduce a person or people from that partner meeting with the customer to make them real and show their commitment to helping their customer?
As always, timing is everything. Make the cuts and effects happen on the beat unless you have a specific reason for going off the beat. Leave titles and lower thirds on-screen long enough to be read two to three times. All the standard good practices still matter but the extra part, the special sauce in the best success stories is tying your editing to the changing moods and situations of the story.