Animated Video Production

“What’s Your Hook?” A Video Marketing Guide

Shawn 11.07.2017

Hands down, the best way to reach people online is with video. People love video because it’s easy to watch, engaging as all heck, helpful, and increasingly mobile. Video is perfectly positioned for mobile devices, and make no mistake—buyers have gone mobile. Desktop and mobile users alike don’t have time for massive blocks of text. If you’re not ready with a video to answer their concerns, you’re simply not part of the conversation. There are plenty of fish in this new digital sea, but to catch the right ones you need the right hook. Explainer video is your hook.

A great explainer video is a cost-effective, reliable way to attract potential clients, new users, your target customers, and other prospects, but only if it answers these central questions:

  • What makes your company different?
  • What makes you better than your competition?
  • Why should I listen to you?

…and  most importantly : How can you help me?

When your video answers these questions, you create you video marketing hook that reels in leads and increases conversions. You don’t need a complicated video marketing strategy when your explainer video is your strategy. Make a video that answers these questions, establishes your authority in the space, and demonstrates your value, and the hook is set.

What’s Your Video Marketing Hook?

If you’re having trouble identifying your hook, or you can’t choose between all the great feature that set you apart form the competition, here’s a set of questions to help you find your hook:

  • Are you an industry leader?
  • Do you have the lowest price?
  • Do you have the best customer support?
  • Is your approach or proprietary technology a game-changer (or “disruptive” if you insist)?
  • Have you collected and calculated mountains of compelling data?
  • Is your turnaround time lightning fast?

You have to be able to answer at least some of these questions in your 30-second explainer video, because if you don’t, who cares? People don’t watch explainer videos to learn about the nuances of your organization—they watch explainer videos to learn about the things that matter to them. Convince people that you matter, and your video marketing strategy is well on its way to increasing conversions.

People Want Solutions, not Companies.

video marketing solutions

People don’t hire companies, because “companies” cost money, waste time and energy with meetings, updates, check-ins, and delays. Companies don’t deliver results. People want solutions, not sales. An explainer video that cuts through the jargon and provides a  solution—especially in 60-seconds or less—is one heck of a hook.

Video Marketing Hook 101: Dollar Shave Club

Here at IdeaRocket, we love animated video. However, when a great live action video comes along, it’s hard not to take notice. So when Dollar Shave Club launched their brilliant explainer video in 2012, we paid attention. Years later, this video is still performing by bringing in links, driving conversions, and raising brand awareness through this one video marketing asset. Why?

Because this video provides the right hook from the opening frames.

This video answers all your questions about a razor delivery startup, from the cost, the quality, the reason you should sign up, and even the supply chain. It’s a master class in delivering value and hooking viewers with an energetic engaging explainer video that clearly states the value proposition of the company. The hook is set, and it’s incredibly hard to resist. In fact, I want to sign up (again) every time I mention this video in a video marketing article, which is often.

Video Marketing Hook in Action

Superfish Hook Logo

When founders Chris Reygel and Jessica Gordon created the brand development firm Superfish the first thing they did was identify their hook. That simple decision swelled into their firm’s identity, and influenced their entire branding strategy—literally. However, their logo is more than just a clever design. Superfish’s mission—to design marketing “hooks” for companies with poor branding—cuts to the heart of your business model. According to Reygel and Gordon:

“A brand is about knowing who you are and why you exist. This is what allows you to connect with your target clients in a meaningful way. It’s what gives you the confidence to follow through on your objectives.”

The acute awareness of the problem they’re solving—poor branding—is what makes their hook so compelling. If Superfish had an anemic brand and stale logo, you’d know they can’t help you establish your brand. The same is true for your startup or business. If you can’t explain what you do and why you matter in under a minute, no one will listen. They’re going to move on to a brand that can communicate and solve their problems.

Not all examples are this cut and dry, and not every business need be this concerned with branding, but the point remains—you can’t move forward with a video marketing strategy unless you know what sets you apart in your industry.

Video Marketing Hooks: Startup Videos = Tangible Value

Explainer videos are a great video marketing hook for startups and companies looking to showcase the tangible value they provide in their particular niche. Copenhagen Wheel’s explainer video for example, launched their product to over 3 million viewers. This most obvious type of video marketing hook—explainer video—has been a staple of the tech and IT sectors for years, simply because it’s insanely effective at communicating value and selling the merits of a minimum viable product to skeptical users.

Video Marketing Hooks: Whiteboard Videos = Information

The RSA whiteboard video practically invented the informative video marketing hook. Each one of these videos brings the extensive knowledge of an expert to bear through the use of long-form explainer videos. The hook happens when interested viewers engage with the animation, instead of simply watching another tired lecture.

Whiteboard videos buck a lot of the “rules” of good online video creation, but they add so much value that it’s tough to complain. The buyer’s journey has changed. 80% of executives and top decision makers use video to research purchasing decisions, and one of the best ways to attract new leads to your sales funnel is through eduction during the research phase of the buying process. Whiteboard video is perfect for highly motivated buyers looking for more information.

While it’s nowhere near as flashy as other animation styles, whiteboard animation is effective because it communicates immediate value through this single video marketing hook—comprehensive explanations. This promise of detailed explanations is what sets companies that create whiteboard videos apart from their competitors.

Video Marketing Hook: 2D Animation & Motion Graphics = Brand Identity

2D character animation and motion graphics are useful tools to highlight your hook, especially for startups and B2C brands that rely on social shares. When we created this animated explainer video for Venmo, they featured the strength of their hook—the ease of use and social utility of paying friends and your bills online—through their fun, comic book style video. The message of the video marketing hook often determines the video style.

Now that you know how a few different styles of video can hook viewers, here are some great ways to actually kick off your explainer video with a bang.

5 Ways to Start Your Explainer Video with a Great Hook

Start with a Startling Fact

Did you know that the founders of Google tried to sell the company for $1 million back in 1999? That fact has nothing to do with this article, but it’s interesting as heck, isn’t it?

Fact: Facts are often stranger than fiction. If you can pique the interest of viewers with a relevant factoid, you’re halfway to convincing them to trust you. Naturally, you should look for facts that actually engage with your brand, but don’t be afraid to “Geico” it and find interesting facts that are a little out there. The beginning of your video is a blank slate. Have some fun with it.

For example, consider the What Would Happen If You Didn’t Sleep? explainer that we recently featured as one of our picks of the week. It begins with a straightforward fact: “In 1965, 17- year-old high school student Randy Garner stayed awake for 264 hours…” and then dives into a super engaging animated explainer video that will keep you hooked through all five minutes. Watch this and try out your own round of arresting questions. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

Ask a Personal Question

Factual information is great, but another great way to hook viewers is by enticing directly involving them. Ask viewers a question that you hope to answer in your video. It can be a common pain point, or something related to your target audience. Asking questions can be tricky, as even target audiences have diverse demographics, but a well-framed and well-worded question can cut through the noise online and get people focused on your innovative solution.

One way to keep things personal while asking relatively broad questions is by focusing on wish fulfillment. You pose a question that offers them a solution to a universal challenges (for which they have personal frustrations). Are you sick of X? Is Y no longer doing the trick? Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop worrying about X and Y and instead have Z?

Ask a Philosophical Question

Personal questions tap into emotions, but what it doesn’t tap into is that type of “tell-me-more curiosity” we see from really viral videos. If that’s your objective, you might want to consider a different type of question. One that approaches some of the mysteries in life, scratching an itch you might not even know that you had.

These bigger questions can come in a variety of ways. Perhaps you begin with something trivial but interesting like, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why do bears hibernate?” Another tack is a hypothetical question aimed at laying out a specific point of view. “Who’s the best President of all-time?” or “What would happen if the 2016 Warriors played the ’96 Bulls?” can lead to some pretty engaged viewers. But be careful. You don’t want to ask a question that sends viewers spinning in a thousand different directions. Make sure you’re able to segue from that inquiry into interesting and relevant content.

Create a Compelling Character

Do you have a favorite movie or TV show where nothing really happens, but you still love it? That’s great character design, and it can be one of the most powerful video marketing hooks when done well.

It’s obvious, but it helps if viewers like the main character. Another thing we tend to like is characters who are, well, “characters.” Individuals who are memorable and unique because of how they act or how they speak. Perhaps that’s why anthropomorphized characters often work well in animation. However, with the right tone and design, even abstract shapes can have all the character appeal you need to drive engagement rates.

Start with a Joke

Opening with a joke might seem like an obvious way to warm up an audience, but there’s a reason why so many speeches kick off with a joke—inclusion. Jokes break down walls between subject and viewer, uniting them in a shared understanding of why something is funny. You laugh together, and boom—brand identity achievement unlocked. It’s a tough needle to thread, but when you do, you’re in for video marketing gold.

What’s Your Video Marketing Hook?

Regardless of your company or your industry, explainer video is an undeniably powerful hook for your video marketing strategy. A professional animated video that explains what sets you apart from the competition is a powerful asset for any startup or established brand. Start your video marketing strategy off right with an animated explainer videos that hooks viewers from the first frame and never lets go.

To find out how to succeed with animated video, download our free eBook, and signup below for our newsletter.

Shawn

Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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