Video Marketing: 7 Ways to Capture Their Attention in the First 15 Seconds

Jan 2, 2014 | Advertising, Brand, Communication, Content Generation, Creativity, Marketing, Multimedia, storytelling, Technology, Video

"Attention" stamp

I love movie trailers. They grab my attention like no other communication tool. These previews are big-budget productions expertly edited to make or break a movie’s run at the box office. So, minus the large budget, how does one make a marketing video capture a viewer’s imagination?

The old “15-second rule” definitely comes into play. It says you have a 15-second window at the beginning of each production to hold people’s interest. If you don’t grab them within this timeframe, they will move on to something that does. With decreasing attention spans, this window may be even smaller today.

Here are 7 ways to help your video keep a viewer’s attention within this ever-shrinking timeframe:

1. Don’t be Boring.

It may sound obvious, but the bottom line is if you aren’t excited about your product or service, your prospects won’t be either. Like most areas of communication, the value of genuine enthusiasm cannot be overstated. All of the following points build on this foundation—but don’t go overboard. Too much excitement will sound phony, like some of the local car dealers’ TV spots I’ve seen.

2. Solve a Problem.

By offering your product or service as the solution to a need, you gain an audience that wants to hang around for the details. Love them or hate them, infomercials have taken this to a new level; but the lesson to learn is to make your video relevant to the need.

3. Provide an Incentive.

“Staying tuned” for an offer can be a tempting attraction—whether it’s doubling the order or receiving a code to unlock a valuable coupon or service.

4. Make it Move.

The first 15 seconds should be paced appropriately for the product or service offered. If you sell wakeboards, it should be fast-paced and exciting to match the lifestyle. However, if you offer funeral insurance, slow it down to match the seriousness of the subject. But even if it is a solemn product, keep it moving. (Remember point number one.)

5. Preview the Content.

Letting your audience know what is to come helps them decide if they want to stay to learn more. Of course, this technique is also known as “the teaser” and can be used very effectively in capturing an audience at the start. This is used by news broadcasters to open programs so viewers will hang around. Why can’t marketing videos do the same?

6. Animate and Dominate.

The way our brains are wired makes animation an amazing attention-getter. There’s something about moving pictures that taps into our psyche and says “Hey, look at me!” It’s a visual hook that, when used appropriately, reaps amazing results. By graphically illustrating the benefit or even the challenge met by your product or service, your audience will be more apt to understand and engage in your offer.

7. Use an Action Sequence.

Movies use this method frequently to draw you into the storyline. The “chase” or “escape” is a legendary film technique. Why not tell your story using engaging “close calls?” If you clean carpets, show a wine glass ready to spill on the floor. Everyone can relate to the helpless feeling of something spilling or a valuable item breaking. This attention-grabber shows the “solution” of your service—or a way to prevent what may be dreaded.

You could even add the tried and true techniques of the “cliffhanger” or “celebrity endorser” as attention-getting methods to capture those crucial first 15 seconds of interest. But I’m more interested in your thoughts. What have you found to be helpful?

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