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June 17, 2014

The Secret to Avoiding Corporate BS in Your Brand Videos

If you grew up in the country and are of a certain age you have undoubtedly heard an old-timer warn you to “steer clear of the road apples.”

‘Road apples’ to the uninitiated are horse poop. (You can use your imagination and make the connection from there). When you’re walking down a path frequented by horses, someone is sure to shout out “Watch out, road apples.” If you do not watch out you’ll likely be spending the next few minutes cleaning off one or both shoes. The same phrase works equally well for what I like to call corporate gobbledygook.

You know what I’m talking about: BS.

Here are a few examples:

Buzzwords or "road apples"

The words above are 13 of the top terms used in all press releases released in the US last year. Does using any of these really make you unique if everyone else is “revolutionary” and “world class” too?

People start reading or hearing this kind of gobbledygook and their brain checks out. Why? Because they have heard it all before, possibly in the last video they watched on a competitor’s website they were looking at before they got to your website.

The viewer doesn’t care if you are an “industry leader” or your product/service is “revolutionary”. Guess what? Those are just internal marketing ‘road apples’ that should have stayed internal and not seen the light of day. If the Huffington Post calls your product “revolutionary” or the New York Times calls your service “state of the art”, fine. Kudos in fact. Those are highly respected third parties talking about your organization and paying you a very high complement, not you talking about yourself.

So how do you set yourself apart?

Remember: WIIFMWhen a viewer watches one of your brand videos, the only thing they are thinking is, “What’s in it for me?” or WIIFM.

They may not care about a particular feature in your product even if you spent the past 3 months working non-stop to get it right. Unless that feature is the solution to their problem, it’s not the focus. The only thing the viewer cares about is, “Does this product/service solve my problem?” or, “Will this product/service save me time and make my life easier?”

People care about people, they don’t care about companies. Nobody wants to be sold to, not even a sales person. So as a company you need to relate to your viewers as people. You need to think and script your video as though you are having a conversation with them.

Your goal in the video is to make the viewer feel like you not only understand them, but are speaking directly to them. How do you do that? Put your target audience in the video by speaking to the key problems your product or service solves.

You want the viewer to be nodding along and with the video, saying “Yeah…that’s exactly the problem I’m having.” If someone has clicked to watch your video, they’ve already expressed interest. Don’t lose them by drowning them in a sea of corporate gobbledygook that pumps your company’s tires (“Aren’t we great? We really are!”) and does nothing to resolve the viewer’s questions and problems.

Not answering “What’s In It For Me” would be the equivalent on going on a first date of droning on and on about yourself, probably talking about yourself in the third person and how “revolutionary” you are, only to look across the table and realize that your date left. That’s a site bounce right there!

Ultimately, don’t drop any road apples into your video content! Always answer the question “what’s in it for me” from the audience’s perspective and steer clear of cliches or corporate speak. Be clear, be helpful, and avoid those road apples.

Eric Guerin

Eric Guerin

Eric Guerin is the Founder and Executive Producer at Adelie Studios, an award winning explainer video animation studio that specializes in visual storytelling. Adelie Studios has produced hundreds of explainer videos for startups to big brands to help them stand out in an increasingly competitive environment. Eric can easily be bribed with coffee.

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