I am here to officially announce (insert drum roll)…

It no longer takes a lot of money to tell a Web story with video.

The bandwidth is here, voice talent is a click away, high def lives in our phones, stock photos and music are inexpensive — there’s no reason not to use video to tell your brand story.

There are four types of Web video:

  • Explainer Video – Typically under two minutes with light, folksy music, the Explainer Video describes a product or service in a nutshell. The goal is to make it simple to understand, easy to use, and a no-brainer to buy. Explainer videos typically use graphics or animation to simplify concepts.
  • Demos – These are what Explainer Videos used to be called before they developed brand attitude.
  • Brand Video – A Brand Video presents your “brand position” — how your company uniquely meets the customer’s need and where you live in the brand universe. Unlike an Explainer Video, the video focuses more on brand attributes, higher production values and a bigger budget.
  • Testimonial Video – Think Dave Thomas selling you a burger or all his customers praising his product. Testimonials take a lot of work, but it pays off with emotional authenticity.

This past week, I followed my advice and produced an Explainer Video for a start-up I am developing with my friend, Jim Scully.

Jim likes to repurpose things (he is currently converting a trampoline frame into a greenhouse to support his green smoothie kick). He had developed an online benchmarking application for the HR market and he asked me to help him repurpose it for trade associations.

This was a market test, so we sought a close-to-zero out-of-pocket cost:

  • Wrote the script in Celtx, a free online scriptwriting platform, although Word would have sufficed.
  • Recorded the talent using VoiceJungle. You pay .30 per word. It came to $82. At the last minute, we changed the name of the company — $10 for another domain name (BenchmarkGenie.com) plus $65 minimum for a re-record. VoiceJungle is a bit of a crap shoot compared to the traditional approach of auditioning talent, directing the session, and paying $400 – $600 for topflight talent. I normally use SunSpot Productions.
  • Created the graphics using royalty-free stock photos. I have a subscription plan with ThinkStock Photos which costs me $143 per month for up to 100 images. Without a plan, you can purchase credits on iStockPhotos for around $9.00 per image. Yes, there is cost here, but incomparably cheaper than creating original art. I used mainly vector illustrations.
  • Scored the music with a cut from FreshMusic that I already had. You can get $2.99 royalty-free production music from JewelBeat.com
  • Used a variety of tools that cost some money. I use Sony Vegas Pro and Corel’s version of Photoshop (because I want to own my software rather than rent from Adobe).

Here is the result:

The big caveat is that you need a bunch of experience to pull it all off. But the point is that we are headed to a price point where every business or cause should be able to tell its brand story “audio-visually” for pocket change compared to the past.

More importantly, given the choice, most people prefer to process information emotionally/visually — and not through reading cognitively (and I am speaking as a writer). For this reason, given two product sites, I always lean toward the one with the more compelling visual story.