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Marketers can learn a lot from movie trailers

The movie industry is a 286 billion dollar giant. Maybe you never thought about it, but a lot of this success is based on short video clips – the movie trailers – that don’t last longer than two minutes. Below, four short (and precious) lessons to all marketers that leverage videos to reach their business goals (if you don’t do this, read here why you should).


1. Infuse emotions in your videos

No, we don’t mean that your video needs to make viewers cry in front of heartbreaking stories. The point is that videos work when they make people feel something. That ‘something’ can be desire, happiness, complicity, curiosity. In short, basically anything that can create engagement, and ultimately drive conversions.

Those who create trailers know this well. According to John Long – one of Hollywood “big shots” – every trailer needs to tell a short story on itself. In his words, ‘a great trailer is its own mini-story’. Long, who’s been recently nominated for several Golden Trailer Awards (yes, there are the Oscars for trailers), recommends to divide each movie in the trailer construction into three parts: the first introduces the problem; second makes it worse; and the third solves it, showing a surprise ending.

Well, you can do exactly the same for your marketing videos (which often have a duration comparable to trailers). For instance: allowing your customers to save money and time is just like saving the world for a big-screen superhero. Make your story incredible and emotional through Long’s three-step approach. In this way, your video will have a familiar and effective structure that will speak to the audience.


2. Start with a powerful hook

Good trailers never start with mild dialogues, or trivial scenes. Directors always make sure to use images and sounds that quickly generate interest and curiosity. In short, they try to catch the spectator’s attention by offering immediately stimulating material.

Do the same with your customers. Keep in mind that, when they watch your videos, they’re not in a silent movie theater. They could be in a distracted environment, such as a crowded train. You need to grab their precious attention. That’s why a powerful hook at the beginning of your video is pivotal. Maybe you’ll realize that the most attractive part of your story is not the beginning. No worries. Approach it like the legendary Quentin Tarantino, who always uses flashback or flash forwards to break through the clutter at the beginning of his movies.

Another strategic, important move is to insert your logo, or the name of your service next to the hook. In this way, customers (who may not necessarily watch the video until the end) will have a greater chance of remembering who you are, and what your message is really all about.


3. Post-production makes all the difference

Post-production is indeed a game-changer when it comes to video. In most cases, those who produce trailers are not the same people who produce the movie. In fact, these two similar but different categories of professionals have different objectives and targets. In a sense, a movie and its trailer tell different stories.

The authors of the trailer for Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, for instance, didn’t mention at all that the movie was actually a musical. Why? Simple, musicals tend to sell less tickets. So better to keep this information hidden. Another (funnier) example is represented by all those ironic movie remixes, sometimes made by professionals, sometimes by amateurs; where you have the creepy ‘Shining’ turning into a romantic comedy (see here).

So, the bottom line is: the initial idea of your story is very important. The quality of footage, or animations, are too. But another crucial part of the game is editing. And the same rule is valid for marketing videos.

Make sure to have the necessary tools and resources to create a quality product (no, making videos is not necessarily expensive). Rarely this know-how lies within your company. So don’t be afraid to outsource. Out there, you will find amazing, specific platforms designed for video marketing — even personalized movies. Take a look at what Doxee does.


4. Create suspense and drive action

OK, you created an amazing video. Congratulations. Now stop bragging and ask yourself: Did it work? Unfortunately, beautiful videos are useless from a business perspective if they don’t drive action.

Likewise, a movie trailer doesn’t work if its only entertaining and doesn’t prompt viewers to go watch the movie (and maybe tell friends about it). Not by chance, trailer directors know that they always need to leave out ‘the best part’ of the story in their trailers, in order to avoid dangerous spoilers that would kill the audience’s interest in the actual movie.

Long says that, when producing a video, you ‘have to have a great way to end the piece. The way people’s brains are wired, first we remember how something ends, and then we remember how it begins.’

Luckily, in video marketing things are a little easier. You don’t have to hope that a customer will actually go to the movies in person, maybe days after he saw the trailer. You can prompt immediate action, for instance by inserting a clickable call-to-action directly into the video screen after the climax. In this way, you will be able to intercept customers when their attention is at its peak, making sure to funnel it into the best direction for your business.

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