Derek Dienner is the founder and creative director at MAKE Films and has been creating video marketing content for over 10 years.
In today’s fast-paced world, the average attention span is only 8 seconds; marketers must use video to tell better stories in less time or risk losing their audience.
HOW TO: Develop effective video content and become a better storyteller
1. Fit in the 5 elements of a story, no matter how short your video: characters, setting, plot structure, conflict, and theme
What’s the quickest way jump into the story? Shaving seconds will start to add up; i.e., don’t let characters introduce themselves, just insert their name and job title at the bottom of the screen.
Nike fit all 5 elements into a 15-second ad →
Start the video at 12:08
2. Use focus groups/surveys to research character archetypes that are relevant to your target audience
MAKE interviewed the best workers at a construction company to understand their ideal employee. Then they created videos attracting better applicants and employee turnover fell.
You can make your own surveys in Google Sheets or use an online survey provider →
3. Develop empathy-based storytelling by asking questions, inviting brutal honesty, and putting others’ needs first
Empathy is the root of becoming a better storyteller. The above 3 exercises will help you learn more about people and therefore help you develop more relatable characters.
Let clients check in on your progress, and invite feedback from them and from colleagues as you go →
4. Make brainstorming creatives a full-team exercise, from executives to interns
Brainstorming is the time to say “yes, yes, yes.” Hold onto good ideas even if you can’t use them in your current project; they may come in handy later.
The classic whiteboard scribbling works well here, or try a virtual board for a remote team →
5. Dig into your analytics to learn where you’re losing people and test different CTAs throughout the video
Keep experimenting until you find what works. Don’t randomly change things; use the data to make systematic tweaks.
There are free analytics on YouTube, but Derek recommends collecting more precise data with →
6. Set goals with your client to manage expectations and ensure that they’re realistic
Sometimes clients are looking for a miracle; it’s important that you’re upfront with them from the beginning to avoid a future let down.
Schedule a review with clients after the project is done to learn what can be improved — it’s best to do it in person if possible, but you can also do it by video chat →
7. Start writing the story from its ending and reverse engineer the details
This ensures that you get your main point across, and you can fill in the finer points as you work backward.
Try this software to plan your videos and get organized →
8. Send a tangible gift to clients when you finish the project
Of course, you also delivered a digital project, but a physical thank-you gift will help you stand out for future projects. It also helps to soften the blow of the invoice.
It’s always best to give personalized gifts, but if you’re struggling to find something, try a gift box like this →