This guest post is by Jon Morrow of boostblogtraffic.com.
Okay, so not everybody is a natural-born Steven Spielberg.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.