The fundamental reason we cringe when we see ourselves on video is a sudden shift in perspective. Seeing ourselves from the outside in creates a jolt to the system, sometimes even mild anxiety.
Why does this happen? Three factors are at play here:
Factor 1. Do I really look like that?
When we see ourselves, it’s generally when we look in the mirror.
The issue with mirrors is that they flip the image of your face horizontally 180 degrees.
So when you see yourself in the mirror, you’re not looking at an image of your face as others see it, but you get used to the ‘mirror image’. When you see yourself on camera, everything is actually the right way round but it looks wrong to you. The reason for this is that our faces aren’t symmetric.
It’s still you, but both images look very different.
Our brain reacts to this lack of recognition and familiarity with a jolt of mild anxiety that psychologists call cognitive dissonance; the cringe factor we experience.
Check out the video:
Factor 2. Boy do I sound weird!
The bones and tissues in our head conduct the sound of our voice to our ears, so we hear our voice for about 15% through our skull.
This means that we hear our own voice very different form others: typically we sound deeper/warmer to ourselves. Because our brain adjusts to how we sound from our perspective, hearing ourselves on a recording feels strange: squeaky and thin.
Factor 3. Self talk
The final reason for our cringing it self talk.
Anyone who sets high standards for her/himself is going to find something that needs to be improved. It’s great to strive for high quality, but perfectionism can actually keep you from getting started!
Relax. We all cringe.
Some discomfort is part of authentic communication. Even experienced actors and presenters cringe.
You could even argue that some level of discomfort is a good sign; it shows that we stretched ourselves a bit. Like any discomfort it’s temporarily and it can be managed by having the right mindset and perspective, which is where friends come in handy.
You can’t be objective about yourself
The best way to get around your own perspective is to use someone else’s judgement.
Assuming your friend will give you an honest account of how you’re doing (otherwise you may want to have a look at who’s in your ‘friend zone’), friends can help you push the ‘send’ button so do don’t get in your own way.
Here’s a statistic to think about; 85% of our audience will trust peer recommendations more than any marketing This is why a good business video is about what you do an why. If you want to let people know you’re brilliant, it will have to be your clients who tell the story.
Keeping it real
In the past we’ve been asked to hire a few actors to create ‘case studies’ and ‘client testimonials. We don’t do that for two reasons: 1. Why fake it? If you run a great business, it should be easy to find three clients who love what you do and are happy to talk about it. If not, you need a better product! If you don’t have the product in the market yet, tell a story that describes the problem your product solves. 2. Actors do other work. The social media fallout of your ‘production manager’ turning up in a major beer commercial (yes, that really happened) is not worth the benefit of slicker delivery that actors can offer.
But what if my clients are terrible presenters?
Our experience is the anyone will come across well if they talk about something they fully understand and care about. Any other issues with delivery are about clever coaching and directing. It’s the video producer’s job to make sure your clients are in the right mindset to tell their story.
Let go of control
It’s important to not try to control the outcome too much by sending scripts or ‘overdirecting’. When you interrupt the client’s train of thought and try to get your branding message in there, you will lose the authenticity. Once that’s gone, so is the credibility of the testimonial.
Mix it up
In video the ‘rule of three’ applies. When three people discuss something it’s feels like a credible story. Less is too little, more can be overwhelming. Here’s an example: http://vimeo.com/42601926 Mixing your team’s narrative with that of your clients can also be a great option: https://vimeo.com/52974598
And for something completely different
Here’s a beautiful and unusual way to get a client testimonial. You know you’re doing something special if your clients write a poem about the experience they had with you! https://vimeo.com/123904559
And finally: Keep it short
60-90 seconds is enough to establish you’re awesome!
https://vimeo.com/103196491 We love Slow School, an unconventional business school for people passionate about building a purpose-driven and prosperous business that makes the world a better place. Last week Slow School officially launches at the Hub, so we asked a few people about that they think about education:
Recently we did a project with the wonderful people of Atkinson Vinden Lawyers in Sydney. We love working with Atkinson VInden because they trusted us in executing a bold idea. Instead of making a ‘promo’ video, we worked with Atkinson Vinden to create content that’s about meaningful connection and useful information. https://vimeo.com/99794385 We are very excited about this approach, because it create an authentic story around the business: Content that’s created to connect on a deeper level than making a sale.
It’s about engaging the audience
Connecting in a meaningful way to your audience is worth while, but like anything worth while it’s not necessarily easy. A lot a agencies may tell you there’s a shortcut. You could write a script, stick it on an auto cue reader and get a great looking actor to read it out in front of the camera, pretending to be part of your business. This approach gets you very nice looking, polished and well presented video. The problem with videos like these is the level of audience engagement:
Watch us not care
The relentless media and advertising efforts of the past have created a major credibility gap between businesses and their audiences. Agencies have persuaded us that it’s basically o.k. to mislead our audiences by using pretend clients and pretend business owners. That approach is very effective in terms of fast turn around and low cost for the agency, but did all of that advertising really help us as business owners?
Are we making an impact?
The average Australian encounters branding 3000-4000 times a day. By the time you read this post today, you’ve probably seen at least a few hundred. Can you recall five? I know I can’t. The ROI on TV commercials, banner ads and corporate video is dropping at a steady rate, despite the lower cost. Clearly, we’re not cutting through, and creating even more content isn’t the answer. Our audience just gets better at ignoring us.
We need to earn the trust
Our audience’s attention is a privilege that’s based on trusting that we offer something relevant. It’s time for a different approach. At Hunting With Pixels we base our content on authenticity. We only work with real people talking about real experiences. https://vimeo.com/99220941
Great brands are about creating a real connection with a long term view, because we can see that in a media saturated world, it’s the only thing that works.
There’s no quick win
We may need to recalibrate how we look at what marketing is. The first step is to accept that trust is something that takes time to build. The idea that we can outsource connection and get a big return for a low investment in time and effort is outdated and short sighted. You need to have the clout and endurance to think long term and invest into the relationship you have with your audience.
.. and there’s some uncertainty
Building an authentic brand can be challenging. The first hurdle you’d likely to encounter is that there is less control over the details of the outcome. All the information should be correct and well presented, but interviewees will bring their own personality into this. This is a generally a positive aspect of authenticity, but it does required a flexible mindset around what your brand really is. The reality is that the is no way to have full control, because your brand is what other people (including your staff) say about you.
It’s the big picture
Authenticity will give you the best shot at getting great results every time provided it’s well considered and is based on a long term strategy for your brand. This takes careful planning and some resilience, but it will yield real and sustainable results for your business.
It is shareable?
The fundamental question for you is this: Would you share the video you created for your company with your friends. And more importantly, would they?
Corporate video is the best thing since sliced bread. And we really really love sliced bread.
So what is corporate video?
Forget what all those pesky content marketing gurus make us believe; corporate video is all about you and your business. This is why corporate videos last a minimum of three minutes, but longer is always better: this is the only way to get all the information in there, but to be sure add a lot of bullet points.
Short is good. Long is better.
Remember, today’s audience is very time rich so get on that soapbox and wait till they drag you off kicking and screaming. The subsequent savage beating is a way in which your audience communicates respect and gratitude. Business people are funny like that.
Let’s talk about me.
A corporate video is essentially a promotional tool for your business and your brand, which means you. So effectively, it’s really all about you.
Plus is better than minus.
Adding value is important. The operative word is ‘adding’ so don’t forget to mention:
What you were up to in 1989.
Add something generic like ‘we’ll go the extra mile’.
So you’re the Apple of chartered accountants? Do tell.
Features and benefits
You can safely assume no-one has researched your product before visiting your site, so hammer home those features and benefits, no matter if they’re also in the written content and the brochure.
You know that guy who always drops names of famous people he met? Be that guy. Nothing boosts credibility more than dropping names of corporates half the town has worked for, so make sure you have a long list of logos flashing up.
Getting the righting write.
Scripts are for wimps. Just copy your entire branding document in a new window and read it all out. Remember, you can always fix it in post by spending a few extra thousand on post production. Your video production company will have a gold plated coffee mug made in your honour.
We all know business is all smoke and mirrors, so it’s good to sound smarter than you are. Jargon is the shortcut to business success, so make people care about your product by using lines like ‘we leverage a diverse and versatile distribution channel that is focussed on delivery quality local rollout’.
A good rule of thumb is to spend at least a third of your budget on one of those swooshy thingies with your logo that the guys on the board will just love. It also makes great content for showreels of production companies.
Getting the music right is essential, so it’s a good thing that there are only two real choices;
That Coldplay song with the piano intro that you hear at every conference. You know tadadadadada tadadadadada tadadadada.
Any track from Ibiza Jazz House Compilation 1997. Especially the one with the endlessly repeating sampled saxophone.
Authenticity is very important. Thank God it’s easy to fake. Here’s how you do it: Use lots of stock photos from the first page of Google Images for your ‘staff profiles’ and get a presenter that does morning TV or beer commercials for ‘client testimonials’ too for maximum authentic connection.
Less is not more. But more is morer.
The value of video production is measured with on simple metric; amount of minutes produces agains budget, so squeeze in those extra two minutes where you can.
Call to action!
Our audience can’t think, so we need to do it for them. Having a strong call to action at the end of your video is a great way to remind people why they’re watching.
Make sure that your audience is made aware of the fact that they can purchase your product or engage your service. It’s easy to forget, so repeat at 30 second intervals.
There are many ways to contact you
Make sure you audience knows they can call you, and email you, and tweet and write a letter and send a postal pigeon and send smoke signals and visit your Myspace page.
Don’t forget to name your URL!
It’s very important to make sure that people know the full URL of your website, especially if they’re watching the video on your website.
It’ll go viral. Promise*
And the best thing is; Corporate videos have a tendency to go viral all by themselves. Just upload them to Youtube and let the sharing begin!
A while back we did an exercise with the wonderful Kat Kinnie of Thought Cloud around values. Values matter, there no question about that. The question for me was; how does it matter for the rebrand of Hunting With Pixels?
Did we go backwards?
What I realised was that we started our thought process the wrong way around. We started with thinking about the clients we’d love to work with, then work back to how we should project ourselves to create the connection.
Personality vs Character
What we were trying to do is to assume a personality. That’s not a bad thing necessarily; we all assume different versions of our own personality depending on the situation. We all have a formal self, and a parent self and a neighbour self, a football club self and so on. All these personalities are you, but with a slightly different emphasis to suit the situation; that’s natural and totally fine.
Character is what you actually do, not what you project. When it comes to our business, core values and character really matter, because they’re the basis of our brand identity. Personality is what gets people interested, character is what builds a sound business. Our client expect high quality, consistency, social intelligence and trustworthiness. That’s based on core values and hard work.
So here’s what our values look like
Hunting With Pixels core values.
Our core values
So how does this relate to business
Here’s the thing that totally sold it for me: Knowing and understanding your core values makes things really easy.
Here’s what happens when you know and understand your values.
It’s easier to produce content and explain what you do. Writing becomes easy.
Identifying who your idea client, collaborator or coworker is. Values are important to create flow; instead of rationalising about how you can fit a square peg in a round hole, you instantly see why it’s easy to work with some people, and difficult to work with others; it’s all about whether you share values.
Your culture is your brand. It makes it much clearer for other people what you are about.
Here’s how we apply this idea.
When we made a new showreel, we wanted to add a more personal touch. So instead of showing a series of nice looking shots, we talk about the kind of people we love collaborating with based on values. http://vimeo.com/25540698
What are your thoughts?
We’d love to hear about how you apply your values to your brand. Did it change the way you communicate?