Picking the Right Genre for Your Business Promotional Video
[Part 1 of 4]

We produce great videos for businesses. As such, people often approach us with three basic ideas about what they’re looking for:

  1. “I need a promo video.”
  2. Translation: long and boring.

    These have been the gold standard for a long time and you’ve seen them a million times. People think they want this because they either lack exposure to other options or they don’t know how to describe what they want without using the words “promo video” (which can be misleading).

  3. “I want something like that video for Dollar Shave Club.”
  4. Translation: unoriginal

    These folks see a video they like and run straight towards it. They try to replicate a specific approach without considering whether it’s the best approach to serve their business goals.

  5. “Just make us look good!”
  6. Translation: we have no idea what we want.

    These people are willing to fully trust that the video production company has the expertise to pick an effective approach for their business.

Unfortunately, unless you are hiring a large production house or ad agency, independent producers tend to gravitate toward what they do best – which may not be what’s best for you or your business.

Know What You’re Talking About
We work with a lot of clients who understand the value of a well produced video. What they often don’t know, is that just like big budget Hollywood movies, promotional videos have genres.

These genres fall into two main categories: videos that communicate information and videos that capture essence.

While these qualities are not mutually exclusive, each contains a genre that is suited for specific purposes.

In this first post, we’ll examine the Information-driven genres that are better at communicating basic details.This is not intended to be an all-encompassing list, but more of a starting place to help you narrow down a general direction for the type of video that best suits your needs.

Information-Driven Genres

Basic Promo Video

When people say “promo video,” this is usually what they’re talking about.

You know what this is. Fade up to a business owner telling you why their business is so great. Cut to b-roll (supplemental footage) of things happening around the business while narration continues. Perhaps a customer testimony is inserted. The video ends with a call to action like, “call 555-5555 to talk to a representative.”

While this can be an effective genre, it’s unlikely to stand out unless the videographer is able to do something really special with it – really great imagery, decent music, and strong interviews are all helpful. Here’s a video we like in this genre:

Explainer Video

Some products and services sell themselves…if only the audience knew what the product/service did.

Explainer videos take a complex idea and break it down in ways that are easy to understand. To understand the power of an explainer video, try explaining the concept behind the smartcard Coin using only words. Then show them the video below and notice how much more clearly they understand the product.

Animated Explainer Video

Similar to the explainer video genre, videos in this category help explain products or services that are more conceptual in nature.

They use animation, graphics, and drawings to represent complex ideas…often employing symbolism to help make the point.

In the example below, Volunteers for Outdoors Colorado is able to show a broad overview of their business in a way that is visually pleasing, rather than using b-roll of people working on trails (likely without a bald eagle flying overhead).

Stylized Explainer Video

There are countless other ways to stylize explainer videos. Claymation and stop-frame animation are two of the more popular ways. The example below makes unique use of model trains.

Remember: you can get creative with rich visuals to explain your business. Just make sure the approach connects well with your brand and helps to clearly communicate important information.

Whiteboard Videos

Remember when everyone had one of these…Fast-paced narration matched by hand drawn pictures on a whiteboard (usually sped up)?

Just like the other information-driven genres, whiteboard videos can help make information more visual, but they’re also a great example of a genre that distracted more than it informed.

While it’s an inexpensive genre, in our opinion, it’s been overdone and has lost it’s effectiveness. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about…

Next in the Series…

We hope we’ve given you enough to understand the basics of information-driven promo videos.

In the next post, we’ll be discussing genres that capture more of the heart and soul of a business – those that aim to connect with viewers on more of an emotional level – promo videos with essence.

Questions or comments about informational promo videos? Drop them into the comments below.

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    Promotional Video Genres with essense