The Formula for Compelling Video

Subtitled: “What Media Pros Can Learn from Billy Mays.” We all know who he is- that loud and sometimes annoying guy who makes a fortune selling household maintenance items on tv. You know, Oxiclean, Hercules Hooks, Kaboom, Mighty Putty and Zorbeez just to name a few.  A closer look at the formula used to create his videos reveals people are really buying the ad – not not the actual product for sale.

In our opinion, many of the products can be made at home with simple hardware or purchased for less than what Billy is selling them for. Take the Hercules Hook for example- just take a coat hanger, bend it and push it into your wall – all for $.50. Who wants to pay $19.95 for the cleverly shaped wire he’s pushing in the ads?

We’re not writing this article to bash Billy’s products, we simply want to make a point that his productions follow all the rules TO SELL those products. He has the formula down, merchandise out the door and money into his bank account- all with a simple video.

Watch the sample:

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This video follows 5 simple rules for keeping it interesting:

Rule #1 Keep it short.

Recent data reveals 2.5 minutes as the attention span for anyone who watches your videos online. Any content after that point, and viewers start dropping off. Many of Billy’s videos are under 2 minutes – perfect!

Rule #2 Grab attention within the first 15-30 seconds.

These first few seconds are crucial (we call this “the sting”). If you watch all of Billy’s commercials he really sells his product within the golden time frame- the first 15-30 seconds. That’s it.  All the information he gives within the first few seconds is enough to sell the product.

Like the photo or creative title on the front page of a newspaper or magazine that catches your eye while you stand in line at the checkout counter, your video has to do the same.

Rule #3. Use compelling graphics, bright colors, various angles and audio to grab and keep attention.

Billy’s videos use bright images, bright scenes, clean faces, louder audio. Ever wonder why he wears a blue, purple or yellow shirt? and his beard is so neatly trimmed? There’s more to it than just looking honest.

Rule #4 Inform and demonstrate.

Who cares about a piece of wire holding up a heavy mirror in real life. A super liquid that removes stains – not interesting. These videos make mundane topics interesting to watch and BIlly’s enthusiastic personality makes it believable.

Rule #5 Include a call to action.

So why aren’t you getting sales or responses to your videos? Take a look at your call to action. With any advertising materials, it’s crucial that you get potential customers to act or respond. Now!

A timeline look at the formula:

If this video was 2 minutes and 30 seconds long, the formula would simply repeat all over again:

  • Sting
  • Inform
  • Sting again
  • Call to action.

The same message, different graphics, different wording, different demonstrations. If it was 4 minutes – much of the same.

If it’s to sell something, to tell a story, to inform or to entertain, all of our videos should follow the simple rules and stick to a formula such as this.

Um, thanks Billy Mays?

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