When Marketing and Video Don’t Mix



I thought that title might get some attention. Doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?

Well don’t worry. It doesn’t apply to all. This may have been written in a moment of frustration, but there’s still a lesson to be learned.

But some marketing people just write marketing hype. That’s what they do. They write stuff they think you and I want to read or hear. They don’t write or talk like real people yet somehow think these perfectly phrased key words will get you to buy something. I hate to tell you, but those days are pretty much over and have been for some time. No one believes it any more and they can see it coming a mile away. If they manage to sneak up on you, you can hear it in the first few milliseconds. It rings false. It’s like listening to a merchandising politician.

What happens when these type of marketing people are around when you’re trying to do a video to effectively MARKET their product or service is that they drill the people you’re going to interview into what they are SUPPOSED TO SAY. They fill up their heads with bullet points, slogans, marketing speak and other drivel. You suddenly find the person in front of you is not really communicating with you. Instead they are frantically trying to remember what to say and desperately searching for their notes where these gems were written down. They talk fast and nervously. They interrupt themselves when they realise they haven’t said it right. They say, ‘oh I can’t say that’ and other nonsense. In short, they come off like robots and would be better off just sending off their promo to people who won’t read it anyway.

Just to be clear, there are professional marketing companies that can do both. They write good copy showcasing the quality of the product or service in real terms and are also able to talk to people on a level that connects with reality. In fact, I work for one. And that MD is the one who conducts the interviews for many of the videos I have produced. And there are also marketing departments that come up with very clever and effective video campaigns, but they are usually based on humour or unexpected and entertaining approaches to selling. But that’s what they specialise in. 

Just don’t ever let someone dictate what they think the interviewee should say or talk about. If the person you’re interviewing knows his or her job (and they should if they’ve been selected to be interviewed and so represent the company), you can get it out of them just by talking to them. And when you do, you’ll get natural real responses. If you detect that they’re slipping into the ‘company speak’, just follow up with, ‘Well what do you think about that and carry on in a line of friendly conversation that gets them to tell you what they think, not what the ‘company’ thinks. You’ll very often get surprising gems that are perfect for–you guessed it–marketing the product or service (because it’s sincere).

These days videos give you a golden opportunity to give a face to an otherwise faceless business. They give you an opportunity to meet the actual people of the business, warts and all.

When you shop on line for a product, what’s the one thing you almost always do before buying? You read the customer reviews. You get the feedback from real people. “Yeah, sounds great, but let me see if your customers really think so”. The hype might get your attention, but you know well enough to not believe it without questioning and will go to great lengths to verify if it has any real merit.

When I do marketing videos, my approach has always been to interview the key people involved. I don’t even really need to go in very prepared. If I’ve got the MD sitting down in front of me, I’m pretty sure he can tell me just about anything about the the products or services he offers–along with the history of the business, why he gets up in the morning, why he’s passionate about it, and so forth. I don’t care if that’s 60 minutes of material to trim down into a 3 minute video.

It’s MY job to edit it in such a way as to effectively sell his product or service. In other words, it is MY job to market them with video. But before that, my job is to get them to talk to me like they would talk to any friend. I think I went to great length discussing this process in the book Run ‘n Gun Videography–The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide.

Like I said, I haven’t had to go through this often thankfully, but recently was faced with 5 interviews of people who were prepped by marketing people (despite my advance warning to not do so). Interestingly, after the local marketing person was finished running the first interviewee through all the questions (meaning trying to prompt the answers she wanted to hear), she asked if I wanted to ask about anything else. So I asked the girl something like, “You seem to really like your job here. What makes you get up in the morning?” The answer was pretty good, but the most remarkable thing was that her former almost frantic delivery was gone. She slowed right down and started speaking naturally. And it was sincere and believable. And that’s what you, the consumer, look for these days, isn’t it?







4 responses

  1. Nice one, Joe! The greatest compliments I get from clients is how comfortable I get them when sitting in front of the camera(s). Like you, I want the subject to “have a conversation,” and I don’t want to hear all the “bumper sticker” talking points. But if those points are woven into a “normal” conversation, it will be far more believable, and after all, isn’t that we want?


    • I think so. I just did another one recently. This time for a care company that specialises in paralysis from spinal injury. 11 interviews. 5 clients, 4 carers and two nurses. I had to hack it down from just over 2 hours. When I got to about 7 minutes I felt I couldn’t reduce it anymore. Normally I don’t go any longer than 3 1/2 minutes. But in this case I felt that potential viewers for this service have no concern about time and every concern about finding the right solution. It was no longer than need be, but not so short it lost its impact and value in selling the service. I submitted it and it came back, ‘Fantastic!’ with requests for more videos. First time submission, done. That’s typical when you do it right and for the purpose I covered in this blog article. I never get re-dos or back-to-the drawing board. That said, I’m struggling now with the one that prompted me to write this particular blog; something I rarely run into. I’ll try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but i will have a talk the MD afterward. To his credit, toward the end of his ‘interview’ that he had written down before hand (and after struggling to say all that splendid stuff), he looked up at me again and said, “Joe, I’ll never do that again”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. completely wrong approach . Sorry . Marketing people know, we don’t but they do. They hire us to do what they want. For example : you work with Panasonic and write the ads . you get some new m43 lens to sell , and you put 12-35mm 2.8 , 35mm equivalent 24-70mm 5.6 . WRONG : the marketing lady will correct with 24-70mm 2.8 and treat you like an idiot. You were right and she is wrong but guess which line will be selected to sell? Tough business, but unless we own a marketing division that goes with our production division then we do what they want, not our business. Never been and never will.


    • Hi Mark. Not sure if you read the whole thing or got my point. I do interview driven pieces. I interview the guy who made the lens. He talks for a half hour and I reduce it down to the essentials that will market the lens to the target audience. This difference is that he comes across human. The passion and sincerity is real, not scripted or dictated. Ironically probably 25% of my videos are for the marketing company that hires me to produce the video for their clients because of how I approach the video production. The rest are either direct referrals or from people who saw a video I did for someone else. And not one has ever been because of anything written on my website. The most recent commission was from a business owner who was shopping for a camera so he could do his own video. He watched one of my old camera reviews and decided to hire me to do it instead. Why? And why did those reviews leap to the top of the search engines over the many other reviews that were out longer than mine? It wasn’t because I was technically more accurate about the cameras. It was the perception of sincerity and the fact that I showed them what a prospective video camera buyer would want to see– is what the camera can do, not what they could read on the box or on the Sony site. Anyway, point well taken. To be honest, I don’t deal with huge companies that either have large and competent marketing departments or can afford to hire a full service production company.

      Liked by 1 person

Don't just sit there...say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: