You have a fresh flow of cash. You’ve hired your first employees. What comes next? For many start-ups, it's the promotional or demo video. Making one can seem like a daunting and expensive task, but it doesn't have to be. Bloodhound CEO Anthony Krumeich walked me through how his team created a video to market an event guide app.--John Brandon
The more time you spend on the planning stage, the better. The first step is to pick a style: Are you going for cheeky and sarcastic, or serious and to the point? At this point you also need to decide if your video will be live action or animated. Krumeich says it's helpful to pick a handful of good examples from similar companies, and find what they have in common--then get to work. Here, Krumeich uses a whiteboard to scope out ideas and choose the overall theme of the video.
A good script is your first task. One way to go about it is to dissect the videos you like. Transcribe them into a text file so you can analyze them as a team. This exercise can also help you determine the right length for what you want to say. In this example, the script for a promotional video for Square is shown next to the Bloodhound script, offering a side-by-side comparison.
If you're going to show off an app, you will need source images to use in your new video. Krumeich says you want to create a sense of familiarity when the user downloads and tests out the app. In other words, your images should mirror what users will experience. (The same rule applies to any product or service--give customers a taste of what is to come.) He says to focus on the sections of the app the user will see the most and the splash screen with the logo.
Of course, for a mobile app, you’ll need to show how it works, not just static images. Bloodhound used an overlay of a screen with a green-screen background to make screen recordings that look colorful and crisp. The lesson, he says, is to show the product in action. You're telling a story, so make it fun to watch but also useful.
For an animated video, focus on selecting a voice you would trust and believe in. Bloodhound ended up doing both a live action and animated video. For the live action portion, they picked one of their own employees who had previous acting experience.
Music helps tells a story as well. A light techno beat may convey that you’re hip, while a swirling orchestration gives your product an air of seriousness. Of course, make sure you can acquire the rights to use the song first. Krumeich says the most important decision has to do with the mood: A piece of music needs a certain tempo and style that matches what you are trying to tell about your product.
You’ll need video editing software or a studio to do the final work for you. Krumeich says it takes on average about three weeks to edit a live action video, and three months for an animated video. Bloodhound spent $25,000 to produce five commercials.
In the end, you have one goal: “If you had no idea what your company did, would you understand based on only the video? If the answer is yes, your video does an effective job at communicating your desired message,” says Krumeich. Watch the final Bloodhound video here.