Chapter Two: Blast Off

Making videos isn’t exactly rocket science, especially in a time when anyone with PowerPoint, a microphone and screen capture software can call themselves a producer. But making memorable and impactful videos is another story, and in my company’s case, the key to success is brain science.

Let me go back before I jump into the intricate workings of the brain. When I first made the jump from Switch Fuel to Switch Video, it wasn’t as if I immediately started creating award-winning projects. In fact, some of my first efforts were amateurish and lacked any real production value. Yet, to my surprise, they still seemed to be rather effective and the clients were happy.

I started working on national training programs for the Home Depot and then traveled across Canada, producing (poor-quality!) PowerPoint videos. But we had a great response to these videos and they wildly exceeded our clients’ expectations. Even though the videos we produced were still not very polished, they were simple and they were visual. And as it turns out, Home Depot hadn’t used video in the past to do these training programs.

Online video is the fastest-growing ad format in 2012 with nearly 55% growth. – eMarketer, January 2012

What I learned from this experience was the power of simple storytelling. That was the real key, and the overall quality of the videos was almost secondary. I know this sounds ass-backwards, especially to anyone in the video production business, but it was true.

I did these kinds of projects for another two years and naturally, the production values improved. Then, I realized I’d built up a skill set and could pivot away from the training side to PR and marketing.

But first, I wanted to know why these fairly basic videos were working so well. So before taking the next step, I went back and talked to my mother, who’s a cognitive psychologist.

I asked her to explain to me why these videos I was producing were so simple but were getting good—no, actually great—results.

She explained to me the three keys of brain science, as they applied to making successful videos:

  • Keep the story simple.
  • Connect with people’s prior knowledge.
  • Stimulate both the auditory and visual senses.

Thus, I had a foundation for the next stage of our business: PR and marketing. Now that I was aware of the underlying brain science, I designed a process for producing videos for our clients that would incorporate each of the basic principles of in all of our work.

Once this process was in place, our company started growing exponentially. And we’ve produced more than three hundred fifty videos for our clients.

I don’t know if it was genetics or osmosis, but I owe a big thanks to my mom because as it turns out, brain science may not be rocket science, but it definitely helped Switch Video take off.

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