Telling a good story helps sell your product

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Question: What's the key to telling good business stories with online video? Answer: In 1941 watchmaker Bulova paid $9 to become the first company to use TV advertising to market its watches. In the decades that followed, marketers promoting con-sumer products became acutely adept at telling engaging and emotional stories with dialogue and images meant to inspire our loyalty and open our wallets. In the era of digital experience, where video-based content is not just for mass market delivery but can instead be targeted, optimized and distributed online, many b-to-b marketers are learning, for the first time, the art of storytelling with online video. So while the topic is as old as TV, the context has changed significantly. To succeed at capturing attention and clearly articulating your vision and value through video, you need to do three things well: 1) Consider the story. As with all marketing, the best stories will connect with the largest audience. So more than anything else, your video needs to have the basic dramatic structure that lends itself to powerful storytelling. You need a clear theme, an engaging plot, distinct language and identifiable characters. Outline the structure of your story and tune it so that it strikes the right balance between the emotional and the intellectual. 2) Create a spectacle. We've all seen them—the six-minute videos with a talking head waxing on about the state of the industry and the profundity of their solution. That is not spectacle, it is tedious. Production costs may not need to be high, but the fidelity does. If you want to carry your audience along to the end, you need a good story and you need it executed with a visual tone and style that both capture attention and hold it. 3) Cut it short. Always sacrifice length for quality. Nowhere can the value of brevity be more significant than in online video. Not only does every second of video increase production costs but, added up, those seconds quickly begin to decrease the value of your video. After about 2.5 minutes, people stop watching. Think in 30-second increments, and decide how many of them you want people to stick around for. Michael Colombo is partner-CEO of Maark (, a strategic and interactive b-to-b marketing agency headquartered in Boston.
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