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The 10 Secrets to Making a Spellbinding Video Trailer for Your Next Blog, Book, or Product Launch

Posted By Guest Blogger 27th of November 2011 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

This guest post is by Jon Morrow of

Okay, so not everybody is a natural-born Steven Spielberg.

You might like the idea of creating a trailer for your next launch. You might even believe it’s doable after reading this guide to creating movie trailers.


Image copyright Rafa Irusta - Fotolia

But is it reasonable to think you can be “spellbinding?”

Can little old you really make a trailer that connects with visitors on such a primal level it throws them into a frenzy to subscribe?

Are you really capable of making a video so jaw-dropping they want to tell their friends, creating a tidal wave of viral traffic for your new project?

Well … I won’t make any promises. For one, you probably wouldn’t believe me, and for two, spellbinding millions of people isn’t something anyone can do at the drop of a hat.

It takes work. It takes thought. It even takes (gasp!) a little bit of talent.

But it’s probably easier than you think.

Here are ten little strategies for making it happen.

1. Beware the technology

When you pop open a site like VideoHive, it’s easy to get hypnotized by all the jaw-dropping special effects, musical nuances, and limitless possibilities of what you can do with the technology.

But beware.

The secret to creating a great trailer isn’t special effects. It’s not music. It’s not even the great and powerful Adobe After Effects.

It’s story.

In my trailer, I told the story that I’m an up and comer respected by some of the biggest names in the industry. In Google’s Super Bowl commercial, they told the story of how Google is an integral part of a beautiful and constantly changing life. In the Lateral Action trailer, they told the story about how creativity is the new secret success.

Yes, the special effects and music and technology were important, but it all started with sitting down and writing the story. The reason we see so many big-budget Hollywood flops is directors routinely forget this fact and try to put the gadgetry first.

But it doesn’t work. Regardless of whether you are creating a video trailer, a book, a radio show, or a blog post, the story comes first. It always has.

2. Put your creativity in a box

Okay, so I’m a pretty creative guy, right? I understand the desire to do something new, to create art that uniquely represents your brand, to drive people to places they never thought they would go.

But you have to fit it inside a box.

With your trailer, for instance, you’ll be tempted to hire an After Effects designer to develop a trailer that better represents your brand. You’ll be tempted to believe you need to take an entirely new approach. You’ll be tempted to invent said approach all by yourself.

But don’t. Stick with a template that’s already created, or at the very least, confine yourself to a style of trailer that’s proven to work. You can still do amazing things; just do them inside of those limits.

Because, you see, real genius isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about doing things with the wheel nobody ever thought of.

PS: Thank you Twyla Tharp for showing me this.

3. Forget about teaching anything

So, in your launch video, you need to give everyone all sorts of useful advice they can put into action right away, right?

Actually, no. Yes, giving away useful advice is an important launch strategy, but in your trailer, you don’t have time. If you use the Hollywood guidelines, you only have 30-210 seconds, and that’s only enough time to do one thing:

Create a bond.

You can’t show off your expertise. You can’t teach them a tip that will improve their life. You can’t give them a sample of what they’ll get inside.

But you can make them care. And if you trailer accomplishes that and only that, you’re off to a good start.

4. Deliberately manipulate people’s emotions

What’s the simplest way to create a bond?

Easy: manipulate people’s emotions.

Yes, there’s a dirty connotation to it, but there doesn’t have to be. Your date or spouse is deliberately manipulating your emotions when they put up candles for a romantic dinner, but we don’t care, because it feels good.

Same idea here. In your trailer, you can use your story, special effects, and music create a state of happiness, curiosity, expectancy, inspiration, or pretty much any other positive, enjoyable emotion.

It’s good for you, because it builds an emotional bond, and it’s good for them because you put them in a positive frame of mind. Everybody wins.

5. Decide who you want to be

When I told everyone how I got 1740 subscribers in only a week from my trailer, the response was both loud and predictable:

But that’s because you have quotes from Darren Rowse and Brian Clark! Not everybody can get endorsements like those!

And, well, that’s kind of the point. If everyone could get endorsements like those, it wouldn’t be as impressive, now would it?

But nobody said you have to take the same approach.

In my trailer, I consciously positioned myself as an authority on blog traffic. Maybe you want to position yourself as the:

  • nurturing mommy or daddy type who can help and encourage beginners
  • eccentric but creative genius who creates works of art
  • reformer fighting heroically for change.

All those positions can make people want to subscribe, and all require a different approach with the trailer. Not everybody has to be an authority, so if you’re not one, don’t worry about the quotes. Choose a style that fits your positioning.

6. Keep it under three minutes

If you’re using a trailer from VideoHive, this one isn’t an issue, because your template will determine how long your trailer is, but if you’re designing one from scratch or substantially modifying a template, here’s the rule of thumb on length:

Keep it under three minutes.

Yes, it’s possible to go longer, but you start to lose viewers, and it affects your subscription rate. Longer videos are fine for sales or training, where it’s necessary you educate the viewer, but in this case, you want to give them just enough to get them excited … and nothing more.

7. Autoplay the video

Okay, so saying this is going to get some people upset, but you’re reading this to learn how to craft an effective trailer, right?

Well, here it is:

Autoplay video works better than making people click play.

When visitors arrive on your trailer page, in other words, the video should begin playing automatically. Yes, it annoys some people, but marketers have tested the socks off this, and it gets a better subscription rate pretty much every time.

8. Eliminate all distractions from the page

If you look at my trailer page, you’ll notice it’s pretty stark. Just the video, a TV-style border, and the subscription box at the bottom.

Here’s why:

It keeps people focused.

If you put your trailer on a page with a sidebar and other blog posts and comments and tweets, your visitors are going to do everything but subscribe. They’ll get distracted, they’ll intend to come back, but then they’ll forget, leave, and you’ve lost them forever.

So eliminate the distractions from the page. If you already have a blog, set up a separate page with its own template, but under no circumstances put it in the body of a regular blog post. It will get a horrible subscription rate.

9. Tell them what to do at the end

This is one area where I disagree with Hollywood.

Normal movie trailers end with a cliffhanger or a quip or a snappy line of dialogue, fading to the logo and the film’s premiere date. They don’t actually expect you to remember the name or the date, of course. You’re just supposed to remember you like it and it’s coming soon.

And that’s fine, if you have $30 million to buy thousands of commercials, reminding people several times a day that your film is coming out, but if you’re a little guy, and you’re getting all of your traffic from word-of-mouth, it’s deadly. For us, it’s absolutely essential we get them to subscribe the first time they see the trailer, and to do that, we have to tell them:


You can still have the cliffhanger or quips or snappy dialogue, and I do recommend inserting your logo somewhere in the trailer, but the ending must absolutely tell them to subscribe, and you need to do it in the strongest possible way. If there’s one thing I regret about my trailer, it’s having such a soft call to action at the end. It’s probably cost me hundreds of readers.

10. Be worthy of the hype

Now we come to the most important point of all.

The purpose of a trailer is to build buzz. The purpose of a trailer is to raise expectations. The purpose of a trailer is, bluntly, to hype your project.

But are you worthy of it?

All too often, the films we see trailers for are not. The trailer makes it seem uproariously funny, edge-of-your-seat tense, or satisfyingly lovey-dovey, but when you go see the movie, it’s just … terrible.

We feel betrayed. We feel lied to. We feel like marketers are evil scum buckets who will say anything to make a buck.

Many times, it’s true. But here’s the question:

Do you want to be that guy?

I don’t.

I want to go beyond what people could ever imagine. I want to enchant them. I want to create a little sliver of magic they carry with them until the day they die.

And it’s hard work. I’ve been working on my blog launch for … umm … three months, and honestly, it’s just getting started.

But it’s also worth it.

At the end, I’ll have tens of thousands of subscribers. At the end, I’ll have a business that will support me for years to come. At the end, I’ll have changed the lives of countless people.

You can too. You just have to make an uncompromising commitment to being worthy of your hype.

Do that, and you’re not a scam artist. You’re a hero.

And if you ask me, the world needs more of those.

Jon Morrow is also on a mission to help good writers get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his upcoming blog about (surprise!) blogging.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Howdy!

    With regards to autoplaying. I respectfully disagree. I can’t see how deliberately annoying people is good marketing. And do you happen to have any links to the studies? Thanks.

  2. Love this followup to the post who did a couple of days ago. I’m curious as to how this would work if you NEVER guest posted or have a blog of your own. If you’re just starting out, can you guest post before you have a couple articles and just a video?

  3. Hi Jon,
    I am looking forward to getting into creating video promotional launch for one of my upcoming products. The hype and the visual effects really do help with selling the product plus giving us some nice income returns as a result.

  4. Thanks, Jon! Great to see you here…

    For my book trailer (which I just did 2 weeks ago), I didn’t use any special effects.

    I added some soft music in the background, and I think it works.

    My trailer is nothing fancy; I’m told that it reflects me, though.

    That’s all I wanted.


    The Franchise King®, Joel Libava

  5. Under 3 minutes is good, but under 2 minutes is even better in this fast paced world. You really need to hook in the viewer in the first few seconds so they want to see howit ends…

  6. Andreas Duess says: 11/27/2011 at 3:10 am

    One of the most important things to get right is to make sure that videos play on mobile devices.

  7. Ten good tips indeed, HOWEVER, you’ve overlooked one of the biggest tips of the day… you must make sure your video will play (and your landing page will display) on all common platforms… including mobile devices (iPhones, Androids, Blackberry, iPads, Kindles, etc). It would not be uncommon for up to 40% of your traffic to be on a mobile device (as I was when I first discovered this article on my iPad). However, your video would not play. On a long shot, I shared the URL over to my smartphone… but no luck there. Few site or blog visitors will go through the effort to “wait” until they reach the old PC desktop, so all your great tips, creativity and efforts get flushed. In addition, if you’re seeking visitor opt-ins (and in your example you are), it’s critical to provide a path for mobile opt-ins as well. After teaching thousands of students and helping dozens of clients with Mobile Marketing strategies (and observing first hand the effects or should I say results of being attentive to mobile traffic) I’d recommend you add a tip #11 and perhaps move it up the list of priorities as well. Now… back to my iPad :-)

  8. I like how you pointed out that creativity doesn’t mean you should ignore best practices. Proven formulas are proven for a reason: they work. You can be original without trying to reinvent everything. Create awesome content, and people will say you “reinvented X” anyway.

    Overall, one lesson is that innovation isn’t always about building something better. It’s about recognizing what’s working elsewhere–like in Hollywood–and applying it to your niche, where no one has done it before. Like how Tim Ferriss shot a trailer for his book “The 4-Hour Body.”

    Great job on the trailer, Jon. Can’t wait to start reading your blog.

  9. Amen Brother! Excuse my authentic language, but I think is the best D#mn blog post I’ve read in my life outside of “mine of course” ;-) he he. You’ve taught me that its not about what I do on the surface in social media, even commenting here, but what I do behind the scenes: setting up email autoresponder letters (which has been put on the waste side for way too long), and most of all creating a worthy story which takes time & effort. I’ve so often gotten caught up in the hype of telling people what I can do for them on twitter, etc., yet not taking care of the STUFF “BEHIND CLOSED DOORS” that truly offers my customers & clients these things they deserve.. This is what PR has been teaching me as I’m studying diligently. Thank you sir, your words are appreciated and “for sure being BOOKMARKED” God bless, Curt “Badda CBiz Boom” Bizelli

  10. we must show honesty in the content of the video. we need to maintain the reputation that consumers believe that if we are very credible.
    then we can use the sentences are not excessive flattery and keep this communication of what we want to convey to potential consumers

  11. That video almost made my brain explode. Worthy of Hollywood. Very engaging.

    I’m on the list, first time I’ve been on a list in years.


  12. This is such fantastic information! I haven’t made a trailer for my book, but I’m going to work on it now! Thanks for all the fabulous tips! I’m sharing this post :)

  13. Out of 10 secrets “Be worthy of the hype” this one is more useful and I found it very logically.Thanks!

  14. Cheryl Luke says: 11/27/2011 at 10:25 pm

    A great blog and fantastic launch video. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I’ll just sit back on this one and learn from the big boys… LOL

    ha ha :-)

  16. Following the Hollywood style would really be an impressive work. Creativity would be a major thing when making a trailer and I agree story is the backbone of it. Without a story that is unique and has style and is well written we can think of it as going in the bin and your talent being unappreciated.

  17. Thank you for the post! I think creating a video trailer would be an interesting thing to try not only for my blog, but also for my site.. I have used Animoto for creating few videos for my site and they are currently active in Youtube also. Overall animoto is decently priced services.

    Yesterday I received an offer from them, some holidays special pack. where they are offering the services for free. Has antibody also received a similar offer. As the mail was delivered to my spam box, i am not very comfortable in clicking the link..

  18. Thanks for the information. I’m new to the blogging community and need all the help I can use to get my message out. Great tips, I’ll definitely be using.

  19. Great info here for anyone creating videos, and if you are a marketer that should be you. Thanks John.

  20. I accidentally posted this on the wrong post. This is in regard to #8

    Hello Jon. Love this strategy and I am in the process of implementing it over at my new site but I am running into some issues.

    I am not really a graphic designer but I am pretty familiar with wordpress. Most of the themes still have headers, footers and sidebars on every page. Can you detail how you actually make a full screen video page for the homepage using wordpress that a non-techie could understand. I think I can pretty much handle everything else. I have been stuck on this for a few days not. Thanks

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