Driving It Home

We make lots of videos, and we think we're pretty good at it, but it's not what we do for a living. That's why we thought we'd bring in the big guns to teach us all a thing or two about how to make great videos. Amber Harloff of IlluminateThis (listed on Wistia's 50Grove producer directory) creates simple, animated explanatory videos to clarify brands. To kick off this instructional video series, she's created an awesome, brief video on how to perfect your video's messaging!

Wistia: Why did you decide to make messaging the topic of this video?

Amber Harloff: I chose messaging because it’s really the starting piece that will define the direction of the video. It’s all about asking, what do you want your video to say? How do you want people to feel watching it? And what kind of action do you want them to take? The messaging will be a lot different between each of those scenarios.

W: What's your personal process for honing in on a message?

AH: Listening first to what the client wants their video to say is a good place to start. Then, working an angle to present that in its most simplified form. You want to supply the viewer with enough information to make an educated decision, but not so much they totally tune you out. That is the delicate balance. In order for people to take action, you have to either solve a problem that they have, or spark an emotion that compels them to take action. Once we have determined what those key factors are, we start to think about concepts and how we can illustrate them. The script will form out of those concepts.

W: What do you think are some of the biggest hurdles people face with messaging?

AH: Usually the part where we talk about that balance of supplying just the right amount of information to the viewer. Often, people want to jam the most words into 2 minutes that they can get. This is not a good strategy.

Fewer words, well-chosen, is a plan.

W: What are some particular tips you might give people for making their message more concise?

AH: Stick to one or two features of your product. Focus more on the value your product can bring to people’s lives -- features will soon be outdated by others as they upgrade their services. However, if you can prove a value that adds to those features, that goes further. Keep it under 2 minutes for sure. 1) Outline problem; 2) Demonstrate how you will fix it; 3) Call to Action.

W: Why is video so powerful for conveying a message?

AH: People remember more when they see and read something. They remember by association to color, images, or sequences of visual events. Also, by displaying it visually, you can make it humorous yet keep the messaging pretty buttoned down.

W: What suggestions would you have for people looking to work with an outside producer on a video?

AH: Just to make sure they understand what your goals are in producing the video. That you like their messaging “style,” and you feel communication with them will be easy.

W: What's the most important advice you'd give to aspiring producers?

AH: I guess it would be to work to hone your skill as an artist. If you like working on messaging and concepts, take notice around you: what commercials or other videos are memorable to you? What makes you act upon seeing one? And if you can't write, don't be afraid to hire a great copywriter that can while you stick to the visual. I've definitely reached out to some good copywriters along the way that help me form the messaging into a better video that I could just myself.

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