We’ve gotten a handful of compliments on our OnCompare intro video, and a number of questions on how we put it together.

This was actually the video I used to introduce customer development interviewees to the OnCompare concept. I found it very useful when warming-up a cold introduction – made us look more legit than some guy randomly emailing MailChimp asking to talk to someone in BizDev.

We really need to remake the video because our target audience has changed dramatically (note how we don’t follow bullet point #1) , but it’s good enough for our three week sprint.

  1. What’s your goal? Why are you making an intro video?  If your answer is, “introduce my product to people”, try again.  No one cares about your product.  People care about solving problems.  What problem are you going to solve by making someone sit through your video?  Also, “demoing my product” is 100% not acceptable – see previous note regading how much people care about your product.

    Our goal: figure out if we’re solving a compelling problem.  When asking for a customer development interview, we want to give our interviewee some context on us and our idea.  We want to look like we’re serious about this and won’t waste their time.
    Our non-goals: get investor attention, get media attention, tell consumers about our product, spread the word about OnCompare.
  2. Who is your audience? Absolutely the most important part of making an intro video.  You must know who you want this video to speak to and what gets him/her motivated.   You won’t be able to speak to everyone’s interests in a short period of time, so don’t.  Pick the one or two most important constituencies and speak directly to them.Our video’s audiences: SaaS consumers, SaaS providers, Small-medium sized business experts.
    Our video’s non-audiences: investors, friends/family, the media, people who stumble onto our site, etc.
  3. What are the key points each of your audience members should walk away with? Write down, in bullet form, what each audience member type should learn watching your video.  You’ll use this as the basis for your next step, so don’t skip it.Our video’s key points:
    1. SaaS consumers: choosing software is hard, time consuming, and it happens more often than you might think.
    2. SaaS producers: there are people who want to hear about your service, but your marketing budget is being wasted on unqualified leads.
    3. SaaS experts: you can build your business by helping people choose the right tools.
  4. Write a script. Unscripted intro videos are awkward to listen to and provide little value for the amount of time spent watching it.  Also, you’re not going to record the video and audio at the same time anyway, so you need a script so you can pace each recording properly.
  5. Throw away your script and write it again.  As with so many things, the first script you write is going to suck.  I promise.  Rewrite the script with the key points list in front of you again but this time, make it more succinct and really capture people’s attention.  Story telling is a great way to do that, but there are plenty of others. The best ones make great use of visuals.  Have fun, be impactful, but most importantly, don’t waste your viewer’s time.
  6. Visualize your script.  Here’s where Prezi really helps out.  I’m no graphic designer, and I have an aversion to flash, but Prezi makes it easy to pretend you know what you’re doing. There are also a ton a things you can do with the purposefully limited functionality within Prezi.  For example, we use arrows all the time to emphasize points, underline things, and direct flow.  You can also play with sizes, and directions like in the growing “reputation” and the dripping “drip campaign.”Another great resource is Stock.xchng – not awful free stock photography.
  7. Pick your screen resolution. Running Prezi’s animations can take up some serious CPU cycles and you don’t want them to look choppy in your video. The best way to combat that is to figure out what screen resolution you want to display your video at and make sure the window you run your Prezi in when you record it is that size.  The smaller the window, the more fluid your animations will be.
  8. Record your video.  We used Camtasia Studio this time but have used the free tool CamStudio previously.  Read the script while you record the video so the timing is right, but don’t worry about recording the audio – you’re not going to use it anyway.
  9. Record your audio separately. Camtasia Studio has a narration feature that makes it easy to record subsets of audio for your video – that’s the way to go.  There’s no way you’re going to nail the entire thing at once.
    Other important notes regarding video: 

    1. Get a good microphone.  Crappy mics sound crappy and make your product/company look crappy.
    2. Eliminate all background noise (including your computer’s fan, street noise, etc.)
    3. Put something “fluffy” around you when you speak.  If you speak in a conference room with the doors closed you’re going to get some echoes that make it sound you recorded this yourself.  For our video I spoke into the back of a cushy office chair to cut down on the echoes.
  10. Edit your audio.  If you hate the sound of your recorded voice as much as I do, there’s a great trick you can use in Audacity.  Use the “bass boost” filter and decrease the pitch by “-3%” and you’ll sound just like you do in your own head. You can also use the noise reduction filters in Audacity, which are great but be careful not to play around too much with audio – things will quickly sound T-Payne-ish, which isn’t good unless you’re on a boat.
  11. Add some background music.  Camtasia Studio has some free music in the library which is what we used but I’ve also had good luck getting free music at the Free Music Archive.

Congrats!  You’ve just produced a top notch intro video.  Show me when you’re finished.