Animated Video Production

Explainer Video Best Practices: Trade Show, Sales Pitch, Conventions and More

Shawn Forno 01.23.2017

Animated explainer videos are a fantastic way to hook new viewers, explain a complicated product, or build hype for your startup (sometimes all three!), but not all explainers are meant to live on your website or YouTube channel. Video can be a simple, powerful real-world tool for everything from pumping up an industry crowd at a trade show to priming a boardroom of executives for your next sales pitch—you just have to know the rules for using explainers in the the real world.

Below are production tips and explainer video best practices for trade show videos, sales pitch introductions and explainers, event promos, and employee training and corporate explainer videos. Follow the tips and guidelines and you’ll be on your way to an effective, versatile video you can use at live events in no time.

Trade Show Explainer Video Best Practices

Your trade show explainer video is not your sales pitch. It also isn’t your broadcast TV spot. An animated explainer video on the trade show floor is a flashy moving billboard with a singular goal—get people interested in your booth.

Trade shows are loud, crowded, and chaotic. The echo alone is usually deafening. Depending on the size of the event, there could be hundreds of booths (including your direct competitors), and thousands of industry professionals all trying to find the products, services, connections, and solutions they need in a very short time. Your booth is a needle in a very loud, crowded haystack, so you need to be the shiniest, pointiest needle possible. The right video will help you prick some fingers:

explainer video best practices

Visibility at a Distance. Chant that mantra to yourself as you produce your trade show explainer video. People walking past your booth should be captivated by the video, but you want to attract people across the event floor. Bigger is better.

Motion is Important. Bright colors and highly visible product elements (aka close ups) are key. Make your video visible from space. Animation is a great way to add motion and attention-grabbing visuals, as well as a branded color palette. However, the most important feature of your trade show video is sound—particularly the lack of it.

Forget About Sound. Voiceover and dialogue are going to get lost in the commotion of the event. Don’t spend your video budget licensing an expensive song or hiring a top tier voiceover actor. “Talking head” videos are one of the worst types of trade show explainer videos because they rely so heavily on sound.

Bold is Better. Make the visuals self-apparent and if you use text, make sure it is bold, uncluttered, simple, and large. People should be able to grasp the concept of your booth from the video in a matter of seconds. From 100 yards away.

  • Sound doesn’t matter
  • Attractive from a distance
  • Bright and shiny
  • Avoid talking heads

Sales Pitch Explainer Video Best Practices

Sales pitch explainer videos come all shapes and sizes, but they also only have one purpose—sell the product.

Target the Buyer. Typically employed at the beginning of a sales pitch (to whet the appetite), sales explainers should always target the buyer. Most of the work for your sales explainer will be script editing. Spend time honing in on the pain points of your client. Make the protagonist of the video (if it’s narrative) a fitting representation of the executives and employees of the company you’re pitching.

Obviously you can’t tailor every video to individual companies, but you can create the explainer for your target market. If you can’t accurately depict your ideal customer in the video, you’re going to have a difficult time pitching anything to them.

Avoid Technical Details. Keep the lens focused on the solution your product or service solves, not the product or service itself, and avoid too many technical points or detailed product information. A sales pitch is not a full product rundown, it’s the beginning of a conversation. Your sales team can fill in the details of pricing models, service plans, and technical differentiators.

Hook Em, Don’t Exhaust Them. Remember, the sales explainer is meant to get prospects intrigued, not overwhelmed. Keep the video under 5 minutes (less if you can). Hook them with pain points and innovative solutions, but don’t give everything away before you actually pitch.

  • Target your ideal customer
  • Keep it under 5 minutes
  • Tease the solution

Convention and Event Explainer Video Best Practices

An event or convention is a rare situation, a special event (literally). Your animated event video has one broad goal—get people excited. You’ve gotten clients, buyers, staff, vendors, and potential business all in the same room. You have a captive audience with their eyes glued to the screen. Take advantage of that once in a lifetime opportunity and impress the heck out of everyone.

Make it Fun. An event explainer video is not the time to recite the technical specs of your new product. It’s a time to wow people with what could likely be coming their way soon. Think about Apple product launch events. Tim Cook and Steve Jobs don’t open the presentation with the camera aperture dimensions on the new camera on the iPhone, they floor journalists and Apple fan boys with excruciatingly hi-resolution photos taken from those cameras. They show off the shiny features and spinning rims.

Remember, show don’t tell in your event explainer video.

Create (Realistic) Expectations. The nuts and bolts explanations are important, but they come later—in their own separate video that lives on your website. People will have questions about your product/service/business, but an event explainer video isn’t about answering questions—it’s about raising them. Get people excited, curious, and engaged in the possibilities of what you’re offering. Then manage those expectations during the actual event.

  • Show don’t tell
  • Get people excited
  • Create (realistic) expectations

Employee and Corporate Training Explainer Video Best Practices

Employee and training videos get a bad rap as needlessly boring or repetitive, but that’s because they too have a singular, very specific goal—training your team. Don’t panic. Your employee explainer video doesn’t have to be a Super Bowl Halftime Show—it just has to be clear.

Stay Consistent. Stick with a singular style (2D animation, CGI, 3D) throughout the video for continuity and retention. Narratives with a central character anchor viewers and prepare them for progressing through a series of ideas or points without getting lost or distracted.

Repetition is key. Repetition is key. Don’t be afraid to repeat points or return to them several times. Repetition is a useful retention tool, and animated videos can use visual themes (like recognizable characters or color schemes) to key information fresh and easily identifiable.

Mind Your Language. Pay special attention to word choices and language. Run the script past legal and get executive approval before production starts. Take time creating a script that works, but doesn’t create any problems or liabilities. Careful approval of language in the explainer might sound scary, but it’s one of the biggest strengths of using animated videos for corporate culture and training videos.

If a new policy or product feature changes in the next few years, simply edit and overdub the dialogue and boom—you’ve just made another valuable explainer video in minutes. You also don’t have to deal with any additions or omissions from corporate speakers or trainers in live action training sessions. Just press play and you’re covered.

  • Use repetition
  • Keep the style consistent
  • Get legal approval for the script
  • Use repetition

Explainer videos are perfect for grabbing attention in a crowded space, communicating complex ideas, and priming your audience both online and in the real world—you just have to know how to make your video the perfect fit for your situation. Target your audience and your venue and you’ll be able to start the sales pitch, wow the crowd, and pack your trade show booth with informed, engaged people.

And that’s worth every single penny.

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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