A mentor of mine used to quote the adage by Stephen Covey, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” It has often reminded me to focus on what is most important in life and in the things I put my head and hands to accomplishing.
It’s no different in the media and video we put in front of our audience. It should connect with our viewers. If this is not the case for you then definitely stop reading now. No need to think or go any further. You can just go spend tons of money, resource, (and TIME!) to get no where and have no one interested in your vision, mission, product, or concept and as Bing Crosby sang once you’ll be “running around in circles… getting no where fast.” Ok, you get my point.
But if you have given your marketing much thought at all, of course you will want to put your viewer or audience first in all your communications. This creates value, anticipation, and sometimes even an unknowing allegiance on the part of your viewer to who you are and to what you are saying. So here are a few key notes and thoughts on how to do this. These of course are not comprehensive by any means but hopefully will get you thinking – ’cause in the end you want to own and develop the reasons you do what you do.
CUT IT OUT, BABY!
In Robert McKee’s book “Story” about screenwriting (in which I am thoroughly engaged presently) he says, “When talented people write badly, it’s generally for one of two reasons: Either they’re blinded by an idea they feel compelled to prove or they’re driven by an emotion they must express. When talented people write well, it is generally for this reason: They’re moved by a desire to touch the audience.”
When people bring their preconceived ‘must haves’ into the mix and prioritize them above your true purpose of connecting with clients with passion and focus, they usually end up being extremely counterproductive. Of course in business, we do have something we want said, but that often can be said in so many different ways. We should never get caught up in something too specific if we are getting the feeling it is distracting or out of place or sometimes just TOO MUCH!
The best editors and producers in the business know when to cut something, even if it’s the most beautifully shot clip, the most amazing photo, or best line you’ve ever heard. If it is taking away from the overall power of your video or marketing piece – lose it and do it fast before you forget what you are really trying to say in the first place.
Learn the Art of Using ‘Art’ Effectively
There seems to be a divide in the communications world: those who place their ‘art’ and ‘creativity’ above what is their audience can understand or handle and then there are those who are so boxed in, they never actually breathe in the true making of something great. Subconsciously your viewers expect certain things to happen in your video. Imagine if instead of a proper close to your short “explainer” video, it just suddenly stopped in someone’s mid-thought. Odd right? Oh it’s been done more than you think! And it’s pretty shabby too. Your viewers expect a wrap-up, an ending. And they expect a opening that ‘grabs’ them. And a concise middle that feeds them enough to stick around for that closer we mentioned.
But again that is just the content part. How you deliver is your medium and the true metaphoric part of your messaging. It’s NOT JUST CONTENT we want or COPY, it’s a MOMENT. A moment, whether 10 seconds or 3 minutes, that takes us to a place of satisfaction in our watching/viewing/reading/etc.
Use Art and Communicate Correctly.
It’s tough for us all to listen to feedback, even more for us to collect it! But the best learners and ‘sounders’ are the best producers hands down.
When was the last time you actually asked for honest feedback from your clients (and not just on a scale of 1 to 10 “were you satisfied?”) but actual questions like: “What did you like most/least about the video?” “Did this make you feel a certain way when you watched the short?”
Feedback allows us not only to know what people preferred as our audience but in the end it helps us define and hone in on what we actually like or think (even if contrary to what others have said in their feedback) It sharpens us.
So throw out the line to your clients, colleagues, family, friends, artist community forums, and more. You’ll find it truly enriching!