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Stop Making Corporate Videos!

By Michael Neelsen

When was the last time you actually enjoyed watching a traditional corporate video? If you’re like me, it’s been a damn long time (if ever). So why do we keep making them?

I’ll define what I mean by ‘corporate video’. A corporate video (in the traditional sense) is a piece of video that forgoes an authentic, emotional connection with the audience so that a company can squeeze in as many message statements, facts and data as they can.

Brands have messages that need communicating. There’s no doubt about that. The thought of communicating these messages through video sounds like a fun alternative to a white paper or memo – and it is! When you make a video for your company, you’re thinking your audience will enjoy receiving your message this way because it’s like a little movie — and who doesn’t love movies?

But people love movies when the filmmakers’ goal is to connect with and move the audience. The goal of traditional corporate videos is to dress up and stylize a brand message. See the difference?

Video alone won’t do the trick. As we all know, there are plenty of booooring videos out there. Video is not inherently “fun.”

Boring corporate videos are typically made when brands take their white paper copy and dryly put the words into the mouths of on-screen faces. For example, if your brand message is “We Value Our Clients,” it is a boring decision to put your company’s president in front of a camera and have him utter the words, “we value our clients.”

Instead, show your audience that your company values its clients. Make me care about what you do.

Anything you can capture visually through action will speak a thousand times louder than the words “we value our clients.” Did you have your clients to the office holiday party? Did you join hands with your clients at a recent charity event? Even better – is there a specific problem you solved for your client that reflects the core values of your brand?

Now, if you stopped here you would be fine. You will have taken your brand messaging out of the black abyss that is traditional corporate video. But if you want to add that little extra sauce to make your communication even more authentic and impactful, resist the urge to say “we value our clients” after showing that you do.

I know it’s hard. You want to make it explicitly clear how awesome your company is. But it’s good to let the actions on the screen speak for themselves. Your audience will appreciate it. Why?

What if every time your friend did something nice for you he then said, “I value my friends”? It’s like patting yourself on the back, and nobody likes someone who only does things for the recognition.

This is all about respecting your audience. While every brand has something to communicate, the method of communication must start with listening to your audience. How can your video actively contribute to your audience’s lives? How can you show them you understand them? How can you overcome the natural human resistance to “being sold” so that your audience will listen to your message?

Take a cue from Hollywood and make the goal of your video connecting with and moving your audience.

If you truly listen to your audience with an open heart and mind (don’t just wait for your turn to deliver ‘the message’), finding the best way to connect with them in a relevant way becomes clear. Traditional corporate video will never be the most effective approach.

And then we can all live in a world without traditional corporate videos. I’ll drink to that.