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Here at Switch Video, our clients often want to use animated video to help explain all of the interesting things about their products and services. We understand the impulse — companies can and should get excited about what they do. It can be tempting to include the flashiest and coolest elements of a product rather than the features that really speak to the audience. The key is to pick out something about the product or service that really speaks to prospects – a fact that tells a story on its own. This almost always leads into a discussion about one of the most famous ads ever created: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” (Technical Editor of ‘The Motor’ 1959)
The ad only ran in two newspapers and two magazines, yet it is possibly the most famous automobile print ad of all time and David Ogilvy’s best remembered work. Ogilvy, being a faithful believer in research, immersed himself in Rolls-Royce’s data. The facts he found, mostly obscure pieces of testing data from the factory, account for nearly all of the body copy in the ad.
What resulted was an ad that did a lot more than sell cars — it started a new trend in advertising. The ad lured readers in with a useful detail, not sex appeal or flashiness. This is how we like to approach our videos. We study our clients’ product or service, figure out the specific attributes that make it special, and package it into an interesting video.
So, what’s the secret to creating the best explainer videos? “There is really no magic about it — it is merely patient attention to detail.” (says an eminent Rolls-Royce engineer.)
Awesome products tend to sell themselves. Here’s why: if you know and understand your audience, you know what they need, and what will excite and delight them. Ideally you built your product around these needs. Your product is what sets you apart. Know what your customers want and speak to those interests. For Rolls Royce drivers, that meant peace and quiet. In a market saturated with luxury cars, only one offered a smooth ride interrupted only by the sounds of the clock.
As Bradley Gauthier pointed out in his article, cars were the ultimate status symbol in a prosperous post-war era. But they were more or less the same. What makes Ogilvy’s ad so brilliant was that he picked out a small piece of research that set the vehicle apart in a big way. It’s not about flash. It’s about facts, more specifically, the right facts; that’s what customers really want to know.
In a time when audiences and potential buyers are even more fractured than they were back then, Ogilvy’s advice is more important than ever, not just for advertisers, but for marketers. How can you differentiate your company in a crowded marketplace? There are three main things to keep in mind:
Who is your audience? Are they marketers, sales reps? Data managers? Recruiters? Even those are relatively large categories. See if you can narrow down your prospective buyer further. Knowing your audience gives you the advantage of knowing what makes them tick, and what will excite them most about your product. Your message will be most powerful if it is aimed at a specific customer persona. Nailing down this persona will help you determine what is most valuable to communicate about your product.
Every product and service has unique attributes. However, the most appealing ones may not be immediately obvious. It took Ogilvy, an outsider, to identify the winning feature of Rolls Royce. Ogilvy saw that by isolating a single fact he could transform raw data into a slogan that told a story about the vehicle. Sometimes you need to see your product or service in a new light before that spark of genius will come. Take a look at your product. What will offer the greatest benefit to your prospective customers? What sets it apart from the rest of the pack? It might be something small, but that something small could make a big difference to your buyers.
In creating his famous ad, Ogilvy looked at competitors and saw a market filled with luxury vehicles that were all more or less the same. His ability to analyze the marketplace and draw the Rolls-Royce in comparison to the rest of the products was what made him an advertising genius. You can’t put together an awesome campaign without knowing what your competitors are up to. By looking at what they are doing, you can more effectively determine what it is that makes your approach unique. If you’re not doing something new, what are you doing better? Why would someone purchase your product over a competitors? These are the questions you need to focus on.
Ogilvy was selling a luxury car. He could easily have done what most automobile makers do today: create a flashy commercial that appeals to our sense of excitement. But he chose to do the opposite and highlight the one thing the other cars couldn’t offer: a smooth, peaceful ride. Rather than garnering attention with fireworks, he simply stated the truth. Flashy marketing can seem like misdirection. When a marketing video tries too hard to get your attention with exciting music or rapid-fire editing, or a company uses an attention-grabbing headline that has little content, you have to wonder what the company is hiding. Ogilvy let the facts speak for themselves. Next time you’re stuck in a rut with your next marketing campaign, try to let your product speak for itself.
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