Georgi Todorov
Georgi Todorov 20 January 2020
Categories Video advertising

10 Rookie Video Marketing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

In the social media age, video marketing is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it’s highly engaging. People watch it longer, remember it better, and share it more frequently than text or still photos. On the minus side, it takes significantly more resources than a tweet or a photo on Instagram.

You must have a good camera and microphone and understand how to use them. You must also understand the basics of lighting, recording, and how to edit and upload videos in a semi-professional way. If you do it wrong, you’ve spent a lot of your time, money, and expertise compared to what it costs to produce a blog post or pay-per-click advertising spot. 

Only you know exactly what's best for your brand, but here are a few of the most common mistakes made by newly minted video marketers. 

1. Making It All About You

Here’s the thing: Nobody actually cares about you or your brand until you’ve shown them why they should. You don’t do that by talking nonstop about yourself, your products, your brand, or what you had for dinner. People only care about that stuff after you’ve formed a relationship with them. 

Videos that simply show how great you are fail to engage casual viewers. And since professionals read the words “casual viewers” as “potential leads,” you can see why it’s a mistake to fail to engage them. 

What to Do Instead

Make your videos about the viewer. Talk about the topics they find interesting. Offer free advice on how to solve their key pain points. Demonstrate the benefits of what you have to offer. Make them laugh or feel empowered.

That’s how you get your foot in the door. Once that happens, they begin to care about you and your brand. 

2. Failing to Promote

Online marketing is not like “Field of Dreams.” Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. 

Yes, video content performs better than other forms of promotion once people see it. But you still need to support the video with promotion plans so people can see it. 

You’ve spent the time, money, and effort on a perfect video spot, but it won’t perform — let alone “go viral” — if you don’t tell people about it. 

What to Do Instead

Build a solid promotion strategy around every video you release. It should include pre-release “teaser” posts, announcements of the video, and periodic re-shares of the video at appropriate times and with the appropriate audiences. 

3. Forgetting to Tell a Story

Humanity is hard-wired to care about and remember stories. That’s why our first myths and legends were devised as a way to pass down knowledge before we knew how to write. It’s why publishing and film-making are multi-billion-dollar industries. And it’s why brand engagement that tells a story outperforms strategies that don’t. 

Storytelling, whether it’s a video that includes a meaningful vignette or an overarching invitation for consumers to take your brand’s journey along with you, builds a deeper connection. It improves loyalty and encodes the value of your brand. Videos that fail to leverage storytelling are videos that fail to do all they can.

What to Do Instead

Take time to create context and narrative within your video spots. This should happen during the initial storyboarding and brainstorming stages, so the later tasks happen fully informed of the story you’re trying to tell. 

4. Getting Too Slick

Twentieth-century marketing was all about providing a solid, professional, flawless, even bulletproof face to consumers. Broadcast media delivered vacuum-packed, hermetically sealed corporate images to viewers and listeners who had no choice but to believe what they were told. 

This century, consumers don’t want slick, seamless production values. They want authenticity, transparency, and honesty. Although a professional, high-quality video is important (more on that in a bit), avoid coming off like a PR “flack.”

What to Do Instead

Inject as much of what is uniquely you into each video, even when it means you leave in a stutter here or a bad haircut there. Those little personalising details are what modern consumers crave. Give it to them, and they will love you for it.

5. Making the Intro Too Long

YouTube video viewers have already sat through an ad by the time they get to your video. Don’t make them sit through another two minutes of greetings, shoutouts, and other noise that isn’t related to the title of the link they clicked on. 

The ideal total length of a video varies according to the kind of video it is, but across all video types, the shorter the intro, the better. Avoid the error of adding introductory content just because your grammar school composition teacher told you it was important. 

What to Do Instead

Jump right into the action. Start with a single sentence introducing yourself and another briefly telling viewers what you’re going to share with them in the video. After that, any other introductory material just loses viewers. 

6. Not Paying Attention to Production Quality

Although a few transparent foibles are valuable in your videos, that doesn’t mean the quality of the production can suffer. The Internet is full of ineffective videos made on an older phone by somebody who doesn’t know enough about lighting and recording angles to do the job right. 

Even after production, too many videos lose eyes because they were edited, uploaded, or encoded incorrectly. Modern video viewers simply don’t have the patience for a highly pixelated video with voices that sound like robots. You need to pass basic quality standards for your videos to engage people.

What to Do Instead

Invest in some decent recording equipment and hire a professional to manage your post-production and uploading. The cost is lower than you might suspect, and it’s worth it for saving you personal time and frustration alone. 

7. Monetising Too Much

One benefit of video marketing used to be revenue sharing on YouTube. If you included advertising, you could make a little money when your videos did well. The trouble is that nobody wants to watch additional advertising while they’re watching your advertising. 

Worse, YouTube recently announced changes to its monetization policy that leave most producers out in the cold. Maximizing advertising on your promotional videos not only loses viewers, but it won’t make you real money, anyway.

What to Do Instead

Trust your video promotions to do their job and make you money through increased sales. Disable all the advertising you can, and deliver only what you made the video to deliver. 

8. Not Including a Call to Action

This one is a common mistake across every form of marketing. Everything you release about your product must include a plainly stated next step for strangers to become leads, for leads to become customers, and for customers to become committed advocates of your brand.

If your video doesn’t include this information, even if it’s just an invitation to subscribe to your feed, then it’s not doing it’s most important job. The shares and likes it gathers won’t do you the good they should because people who view the video won’t know what to do about it.

What to Do Instead

Include a verbal call to action in the video inviting people to take that next step. Couple it with easy buttons and banners in the video’s YouTube spot — or wherever you post it — so taking that step is intuitive and simple. 

9. Sharing Too Much, Too Soon

You’re an expert in what you sell. If you weren’t, you’d be selling something else. It can be tempting for you to jump in with the coolest stuff you’re most excited about. You should make videos about what excites you and show it in ways that make that excitement infectious, but remember that your viewers don’t have your context or experience. 

Any video should focus on just one point or idea. If you force viewers to “drink from a fire hose,” they’ll turn it off and watch something less challenging. 

What to Do Instead

Make a series of videos that culminate in the viewers knowing enough to fully and easily understand the concepts you’re most excited to share without feeling overwhelmed. 

10. Making the Whole Video Too Long

We touched on this for the intro already, but engagement also plummets if your video is too long in general. Viewers want their information quickly, and they’ll fast-forward through a video or leave it altogether if you take too much time getting to your point. 

According to research by Animoto, the ideal length for different types of promotional video is as follows:

  • Customer Testimonials: Under 30 seconds
  • Company Information: 30-60 seconds
  • Behind-the-Scenes Info: 1-3 minutes
  • Product Overviews: 30-60 seconds
  • Product Demonstrations: 1-3 minutes

What to Do Instead

Script your video from the beginning with these time guidelines in mind. If your rehearsal runs are too long, cut something out until you’re where you need to be. 

Final Thoughts

One final piece of video marketing advice, and you’ll recognise this from any of a dozen other places: show, don’t tell. Whenever possible, avoid telling your audience something when you can instead demonstrate it in real time.

To that end, here are three great examples of video marketing done right. Watch them with this list in mind, and see how they follow the best practices each and every time:

These were all high-budget productions by major brands, but if you can stick with the basics, you don’t need that support to make a difference in your bottom line. 

Pat Townsend lives on the East Coast and provides marketing advice to startups and small businesses.


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