Promotional Video Tips and Tricks

The truth is that your promotional video is probably going to disqualify you faster than it will qualify you to a client. Most promotional videos are too long, they’re boring, the production value is terrible, and they’re out-dated. Take a look at your own video and be very critical.

Attention spans on the internet are really short. After all you’re competing with a million other things they could be doing.  You need to make sure that whatever you produce is high quality, entertaining, and effective.

Promotional video No-No’s!

  1. A trick is being performed but there’s no visual element to the trick. Shots with spectators should always have them reacting to the show or it makes you look boring. 
  2. The performer is speaking but you can’t clearly hear what they are saying. First try to make the audio louder, if that fails use a different clip instead.
  3. Using footage from the same event multiple times
  4. Performing in situations that aren’t congruent with your target market. Performing on the street or in a coffee shop when your target is birthday parties and corporate events makes no sense.
  5. Don’t use footage that is out of date, shaky, or dark.
  6. Don’t use cheesy transition effects. Stick to straight edits 99% of the time.
  7. The mood of the video isn’t congruent with the style of show you offer. Don’t try to appear “mysterious” if you offer a Comedy Magic show.

Promo video suggestions

  1. Keep your video as short as possible. Really short. I aimed for 2-3 minutes. Anything longer and you risk losing their attention
  2. Use energetic music to keep the energy level high if that matches your style
  3. If your video is longer have a voice-over to help drive the story. Watch your local news and see how they use a voiceover to drive the story segments. Inexpensive voiceovers can be purchased from
  4. Film lots of your shows. The more footage you have the easier it will be once you start editing. My camera is simply set up on a tripod at the back of the room. Because the angle doesn’t change once I use a clip from that show in my video, the rest of the footage is unusable. If you don’t have lots of footage from different events your final video will have lots of clips from just a couple of shows. This sends a negative signal that you don’t work very often.
  5. Capture lots of video testimonials and written testimonials from your post-show evaluation to use in your video
  6. Include as many impressive social proof elements as you can. TV appearances, newspaper articles, awards, testimonials, etc.
  7. Edit your own video. I realize this may sound counter intuitive especially because there’s so many bad promotional video’s out there. If you hire somebody to film and edit your promotional video for you it’s probably going to be expensive. Even if it isn’t expensive and you can find somebody to do it for a discount, or free, your video is still going to end up being out of date in just a couple years. If you are young your look is going to change and mature quickly. If you are just getting established your show material and the quality of your performance is also going to improve drastically over just a few years. The main reason you should produce your own videos is so that you can update your video as needed and you will also have the skills necessary to create videos for other marketing campaigns. Editing tools these days are easier than ever and youtube is filled with tutortials that will teach you what you need to know. Remember, you want straight edits and a short video so you should have no problem at all.
  8. After you upload your video fill out as much information in the fields as possible so that people can find your video. Pay especially close attention to the title and select a thumbnail image that best represents the video.

The video structure

Online video’s shouldn’t include a title at the start of the video. Instead get into the action right away. Your website that the video is hosted on will provide context for the video, or if they are watching from a video sharing site like youtube then the title will be above the video. Any additional context can be included in the video description as well.

Your video should make you look as good as possible. This means that it should have as high of production value as you can afford. But it isn’t enough to simply have a great video, it should also be congruent with your show and the intended audience. Show footage of that target audience laughing and having fun, included testimonials from clients, media, and audience members. If you’ve had any impressive TV appearances or received any impressive awards, find a way to include those in your video as well.

The end of the video should include a Call To Action (CTA). Tell the audience exactly what you want them to do such as “Book today, dates are limited” or “Book early to avoid disappointment”. Below that you will put your phone number, website address, and your email address. The reason you will include your website URL even if the video is hosted on your website is so that if somebody is watching from the hosting site like youtube will know where to go next to book you. Also when you post the video on social networking sites you’ll want your website URL at the end.

Examples of great videos

And if a video of yours went viral… ditch the promo video and use that instead!

Edit: Here’s a great promotional video from Josh Norris. Notice that it shows “social proof” by having Intel as the client, and the focus is on the reactions and the testimonials, instead of the magic. I would make two changes– I would remove the title image at the start of the video or put it in the middle, and I would put a call to action to book at the end of the video.

Video hosting services

There are several websites online where you can host your video for free or you can host the video on your own website. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each.

The main advantage of Youtube is that its very easy to use and the built in community is very large. People can “subscribe” to your account, thumbs up your video, and easily comment with their google/youtube account. Hosting is also free and plays on many browsers and devices. The problem with youtube is that it shows related videos once your video is finished playing. People may think that those videos are also yours when the video is embeded on your website, even though they aren’t. Also people may get distracted by these related videos and leave your website.

This means that the video file is stored on your webserver instead of being saved onto youtube, vimeo, or someplace else. The main disadvantage is that its more difficult to setup, and you have to pay for the additional bandwidth usage. But the advantage is that you can control exactly how the video plays and what the player looks like. This is the option I was going to use until I made it a requirement that my video would play on all browsers and all devices like iPhones, iPad’s, and other phones. Setting up a self-hosted video that plays on every device can be complicated.

Vimeo offers similar advantages and disadvantages to youtube. I went with a paid Vimeo Plus account for my business pages. With Vimeo Plus I have options for how that video will appear on my website and most importantly I can set what happens at the end of the video unlike youtube. Vimeo videos will also play on any browser and any device.

But I don’t have footage…

If you don’t have any footage yet but you would still like to include a video on your website you can make an animated photo video instead. Make no mistake these these videos aren’t nearly as impressive but it will get your foot in the door and on the path to including video in your marketing materials. Head on over to Animoto and take a look at what they offer. There are many other similar services online. Most versions of OSX and Windows include a simple movie editor as well that you can produce similar results with by including just photo’s and music.

The good news and the bad news is that your video isn’t going to last forever. Find out what works for you and update update update!

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