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Common Explainer Video Mistakes

The hallmark of a bad explainer video is when I can work with a client for weeks on a video and then, when I look at the finished product, I have no idea what the hell I just watched. Unfortunately, that's happened on more than one occasion. Part of my job is to essentially try and save clients from themselves. Here at Fire Starter, we're experts at making explainer videos. We know what to do and what not to do. But there are, occasionally, clients who don't want to listen to our advice. Here are the five most common explainer video mistakes they make.

1. Technical Jargon

In all likelihood, if you come to us to make an explainer video, you know your product or service pretty damn well. You know all the terminology, and all the complicated little things that set your product apart from the competition. But your audience doesn't. The point of an explainer video is to explain. If you need an explainer video for your product, it's probably not simple enough to understand right off the shelf. Our talented scriptwriters use simple metaphors and analogies to get your audience to understand your product.

2. Too much, too fast

We once had an explainer video in which a family rescued a dog, took it home, and then, one night, the dog saved them from a fire. It's a cute story, but it didn't connect with anyone. Because the whole thing happened in three seconds. I often get client's pushing for “more stuff” in their storyboards. What they don't realize, and what I try to explain to them, is that simplicity is key. With any good explainer video, you need to focus on one or two key ideas and really sell them. 90 seconds isn't a long amount of time and overloading your video with complex visuals will only confuse your audience.

3. No humor

Explainer videos are short and to the point. But that doesn't mean they need to be boring. People retain information much better when it makes them laugh. They also tend to watch the entire video if it's funny. That's something I really try to explain to my clients as best I can. Your audience isn't locked in to watching the whole video. If they aren't entertained in the first 30 seconds or so, they're probably going to stop watching.

4. Not focusing on the need

This is something we generally catch pretty early on in the process. There are some clients who come in having written their own scripts. The scripts are funny and they mention the product name a lot and they have a solid call to action at the end. But something's missing. They haven't explained what need their product fulfills. It sounds pretty and it is”¦ which is why it's so easy to overlook. If your audience doesn't know why they need your product, they're not going to buy it. Many clients think they've covered their bases, but really they've just pointed out special features of their product.

5. Being too vague

This is a conversation I once had with a client:

ME: “[Client], I'm looking through your project notes and I honestly don't know what service you're providing. I think your script may be a bit too vague.”

CLIENT: “The idea is to get them really intrigued by our message so they like our Facebook page and learn more.”

To be clear: this is a mistake. Your explainer video should explain your product or service. It shouldn't be a teaser trailer filled with buzzwords and no actual substance. There's a key difference between “click here for more details about our services” and “click here to learn what the hell this video was about. Also, like our Facebook page.” The latter is much less effective. It sounds like a pyramid scheme and will turn off prospective customers in droves.

Here at Fire Starter Videos, our goal is to give you an effective long-term sales tool. Here's advice I give to almost every client and it has not failed once: You know your product well, but we know how to make great explainer videos. Trust us.

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