Using videos to promote your business can be effective if you follow a few simple rules and stay focused on showing—not telling—what the benefit of your product to your customers is. 

With a small budget and a really cool idea, you can engage customers in unconventional ways. This is the story about a new company with a new premium product entering a giant market, the pet space. And how video narratives drove their market entry.

An invention drives a startup

It all started with a hungry puppy.

BarkerFun invented the Treat Clincher with a simple mission: to create an indestructible device that keeps a bully stick or dog treat fixed in one place so the dog can safely eat it. After some early adopters tested the Treat Clincher they were clear the real benefit was the quality time for themselves that was created as their dogs stayed occupied. Think about all the dogs’ zoom-bombing work conference calls as the problem. The consumer’s problem was how to keep their dog safely occupied while the owner got on with the task at hand.  

The BarkerFun challenge is to not sell a bully stick holder but to sell that quality time created while our Treat Clincher keeps your dog occupied.  This required a before and after narrative where the benefit was an intangible emotion “quality time” created while your dog is safely and happily engaged. Only video could carry that narrative.

Videos on social media, Youtube, and your website

There are basic marketing reasons to use video for consumer attention and engagement. It is clear that in the world of consumers scrolling their phones, a video (or a short gif)  holds the consumer for a second or two longer as they choose what to click on.  

BarkerFun has experimented with both videos and photos on Instagram and Facebook. Our results were radically different from the “consensus.” We achieved about 50 percent more views and 40 percent more website clicks over still image ads when using short videos on all platforms. We attribute that to the videos creating a compelling before and after narrative that a still photo or carrousel could not.

Video crosses channels easily. Barkerfun uses organic posting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. We have tested advertising on all those platforms. We were pleasantly surprised by LinkedIn engagement. On Youtube, one of our customer testimonials made it mysteriously into the recommendation algorithm and jumped thousands of views in just a couple of weeks.

Four distinct types of videos convey the marketing message

The benefit of the Treat Clincher is in transforming the owner’s time. Our early adopters identified family life, working from home, and recreational time with their dogs. In each case, there was a demonstrable before and after behavior of each individual dog. However the “through story” of each of these videos is essentially the same: the dog’s new, improved behavior frees up the owner’s time.

Barkerfun was fortunate to have engaged and articulate early adopters. Unscripted customer testimonials became the cornerstone of the campaign. Those personal testimonials are the most trusted type of endorsement by general consumers. The professional videographer’s challenge was to carry that “through story” across all the videos.

Almost all dog products are cheap; most are meant to be thrown away. The Treat Clincher is meant to last the lifetime of your dog. The videos needed to be of the highest quality to convey the quality of the product. Here are the four different video styles we leveraged to promote the Treat Clincher, and recommend you use with your business.

1. Showcase a use-case 

Video helps showcase the product in action more effectively than any other medium. However, it’s important to not only show the product effectively but ensure that the example matches the lifestyle of your customers. In this example, the BarkerFun team focused on a lifestyle story revolving around how the product solves the issue of your dog slobbering on expensive furniture.

BarkerFun sells an expensive, premium product so the environment in the video needs to match the product. Everything about the outside and inside of the house says quality. High-end furniture, art collection, swimming pool — they all send messages. Then you meet Red, the wirehaired pointing griffon. Red is a big, hairy, fun family dog. He is also a slobberer. 

The owners say that they want more time with Red in the house. But he makes a mess.  And they share their story about how they can give Red bully sticks or treats in the house and also keep their home beautiful.

2. Be timely and feature real customers

Being relatable to your customers’ needs is vital. It’s especially the case if a new use case has emerged that you don’t currently cover. So, similar to the use-case video, focus on creating video messaging that is timely and expands the number of viable examples you can showcase. If possible, it’s even better if you can leverage real customers to provide greater authenticity and proof that this is actually a need.

This video story evolved during the pandemic. The customer, Sally, is just like thousands of other people working from home. Sally has high-profile clients and does not want any interruptions during her webinars. She needs to concentrate on her business. She also has a new puppy. Bella, This video shows rather than tells that the puppy has transformed from a demanding, barking pup into a fully occupied quiet companion. Sally can focus on business while her pup is fully occupied.

3. Embrace third-party reviews 

You can claim how great your product is all you want. However, without some form of social proof, like customer reviews and testimonials, new customers are simply taking you at your word. That’s why it’s vital to embrace authoritative third-party reviewers who are unassociated with your business, talking about your product. 

This story is an example of using an authoritative outsider to explain the product but from their point of view. In this example notice the video is not scripted so it is credible and believable. It looks and sounds natural. The Treat Clincher happens to be a substantial piece of solid aluminum. In this video, it was important for the viewer to also feel how solid the Treat Clincher was.

4. Let the visuals do the talking

There’s a reason that videos are so effective. The visual and interactive nature makes them far easier to digest than written copy and even images. Sometimes, even the audio can get in the way of telling an effective story, so sometimes it’s best to keep things simple.

Some videos with no spoken words are the best. In this case, BarkerFun is not selling a dog treat holder. BarkerFun is selling some quality, calm, peaceful time for you while you are with your dog.

How to succeed with video — Advice from a professional videographer

Our videographer, Morgan M Hamel is an independent video producer, editor, and director. She began her professional video storytelling career at a 3D printer manufacturer where she interviewed and filmed dozens of customers. She created many compelling stories from preserving dinosaurs to bronze casting to drone research. Morgan now works independently and is creating video stories in a wide variety of industries all over the country. The following four points are advice from Morgan:

Determine your goal with the video 

What are your goals for each video? Do you want to make a product release video, a silent visual piece to be embedded on your website, a customer story? What is the deliverable? Write out everything in a project proposal so you can go to a videographer with a clear project and intent.

How do you want it to look? 

It’s always best to go to a videographer with examples of other work you like and want to emulate in your project. It doesn’t even need to be in your particular industry — it can be a completely different space as long as you can tell a videographer what it is you like about a particular video. Is it the style of the interview? The style and shots of a product release video? The mood and coloring? Visual examples are the best way to make sure you and your videographer are on the right track and on-brand.

What’s your budget?

Go into meetings knowing roughly how much you want to spend. This will help inform the scope of the project and what sort of deliverables you’ll be getting. If you have particular shots in mind, certain equipment may be required which may cost extra, so if you can tell a videographer how much you’re able to spend, they can tell you what’s doable within that range.

What does success look like with your video project? 

Do you simply want a professional piece to lend credibility to your business when people come to your website? Do you want a punchy piece with shareable potential to draw people to your social media channel? Do you want an interview with a customer that makes up a large part of your customer demographic so you can use the video for sales purposes? Do you want to prompt people to subscribe to a YouTube channel

If you can put in words what success looks like for this project you can drill down into what the most important aspects are for your video.

Additional tips for leveraging video

If you plan to hire a videographer, ask them to include two or three mini videos of your main theme. The mini-videos are usually 10 to 30 seconds and can be used for teaser ads. Also, ask your videographer to create a couple of different thumbnails. You can occasionally change out thumbnails and it will appear to your audience like it may be a new video. 

Being small is a great advantage when using videos. Your customers do not want to see perfection. When a potential client can see that you understand their point of pain and that you understand how to solve their pain you will get their attention. Once they see that you care about solving their problem you have gotten yourself a prospect.

  • Short-form videos, usually about one minute. 
  • Use people in the videos who are actual customers.
  • Authentic settings where you would find the product.
  • Unscripted words. Let the customer talk directly into a camera about their experience.
  • Sell the emotion, not the product.
AvatarSusan Mravca

Susan is a serial entrepreneur, most of her ventures have been in the technology services sector. She is also the co-founder of an HR software company. Her most recent business is BarkerFun Inc. Her story about starting BarkerFun speaks volumes to how an entrepreneur can move from tech services to HR software to a consumer product in the pet space.