What the Doctor Ordered

I know you, and I know you've been sitting at your desk, or running in between meetings, or sitting poolside on your lovely family vacation (finally!), and thinking, boy, I wish someone would send me a video statistic right now.  Well, I have just what the doctor ordered, your monthly dose of Solstice wisdom (just don't ask us to prescribe anything non-video related.  We don't like to mix our medications).

Facebook, that pusher of video (at nearly 3 Billion video views a day, they are becoming a serious player in the distribution world), conducted a recent study through Nielsen Research to measure the impact of video on changing a viewer's behavior.  At only one second, one second (that's 24 to 30 frames, for you tech nerds), impact on Ad Recall, Brand Awareness, and Purchase Intent all see a lift, and by 3 seconds in, that lift jumps to almost 50%. By the 10 second mark, the lift in Purchase Intent is up to 72%, and the others jump almost as high. Hard to believe?  Just read it for yourself.

So, how does this relate to us?  Well, let's look at this in a few different ways:

1) Marketers have long been touting video as the single most effective tool.  Now we know that even one second of video impacts the viewer in a positive way.  Pretty cool, huh?

2) Short and effective can move the viewer to a 72% increase in purchase intent.  Wait, did I say that already?  Just making sure you were paying attention.

3) Every second of video counts.  What do you show in those first 24 or 30 frames?  What does it sound like, what is the messaging?  Grab the viewer, share your message, right away.  Every frame tells a story, and those stories, those seconds, can add up to a tremendous impact, if used correctly.  Don't waste them.

4) There is a learned skill in creating short, effective, impactful video.  Just getting ready to put that first second on screen requires hours, sometimes weeks, of scripting, planning, talent casting, storyboarding, you name it, and even then, it takes a collaborative team effort to bring it to life.  Just as you rely on a medical professional for your drug prescriptions, it's important to rely on a video professional for your production needs (side effects of DIY video may include: loss of interest by your audience, a negative brand perception, boredom, or upset stomach).

Ready to make an appointment?  You know how - contact me here.

Leave it to the Professionals

Managing a commercial property, keeping the site maintained, and the tenants happy, is hard.  Doing it while running an entirely different business, with that business your main focus and revenue source?  Even harder, as you can hear Hilliker Corporation property management clients testify in this month's video.  That's why these very smart, successful business owners choose to outsource to a trusted resource, right?

Producing a good video?  An effective one, with strong messaging, compelling and exciting visuals, and a pacing that keeps the audience from losing focus halfway through?  Also, hard.  Here's an interesting fact that was shared in a recent presentation I was fortunate to see: Recall is best at the beginning of a presentation, and again at the end.  All that stuff in between?  Often lost.  Unless a practiced storyteller - or speaker- creates interruptions, which we in the video biz call "beats", that spark the audience's interest, promotes recall, and guides the audience through a journey to exactly where we want them to end up.  (Saying "yes!" See more here)

Story structure is important - there's a reason that just about every film you've ever seen has a Three Act structure, it works!  Without those disruptions, that movement, that particular reveal of information, no one would ever sit in a theater (or on the couch) for 2 or 3 hours at a stretch.  And it's no different for a business video.  Did you know that YouTube prefers longer videos?  It's true - videos that perform well on the second largest search engine in the world can run up to 15 minutes in length, or even beyond.  But, the caveat.  The longer the video, the more important story structure and interrupts become.  Why?  Remember what I said earlier, about how all that stuff you say in the middle will be lost without it?  

When you want to have flexibility in your commercial property management plan, and the option to hand it all over to a professional team and sit back and collect checks, you call on a team like Hilliker.  When you want to produce an effective marketing video?  Shouldn't you turn to a professional for that as well?

Still have questions?  I love to talk story!  Let's chat.

A Study in Style

I had a phone call a few weeks ago with a prospect that I met via LinkedIn.  The company already has an overview animation, but the new Director of Marketing wasn't thrilled with it.  In his words, "It's so generic, all stock characters.  I think they made the same video for our competitors."

Animation is definitely on trend, and has been for some time.  There's good reason for it - there are processes and products that are impossible, or very expensive, to capture or explain with live action video.  With animation, if you can think of it, you can bring it to life, and connect your story to your audience in an extremely effective way.  So, yeah, we here at Solstice Productions love animation (and I hope it shows!).  

While it's not the right answer for every business (we here at Solstice love live action video, as well), when a company does decide to turn to animation, how should you choose a production partner?

Unless you produce a large number of videos a year, or have a killer in-house graphics person, you're unlikely to produce DIY animation.  There are some online tools you can use, but they all come with a learning curve, and, of course, your competition can make the exact same video.

So, what should you look for?  I say it all comes down to style.  Some companies produce a "Saturday morning cartoon" style, some work all in motion graphics (taking still images or text and giving them a bit of life), and others use a set stable of characters and scripts and repurpose them across multiple clients.  The first step in choosing an animation company is watching several of their animations.  Do they all look the same?  Well, that's what yours will look like, too.  You love that look?  Go for it!

But, if you're looking to create something that's unique, that captures, or elevates, your brand, that your audience remembers well after it's been seen, then you'll want to choose a company that showcases multiple animation styles on their reel or website.  Again, make sure the styles they showcase are in line with your taste, but a company that has a diverse portfolio is a necessity for creating a unique project.

The next step?  Talk to a producer.  Find out how they work.  Do you supply the first draft of the script, or do they?  Who provides the style guide, you, them, do you collaborate on that?  At what stages in the process can you see and approve?  How do they charge?  By the project?  The hour?  The finished second?  

If you love their style, and you feel comfortable with their production process, then congrats!  You've found an animation partner!  Sign that contract and get to the fun part.  Then use that beautiful animation for years to come, and feel that satisfaction when your prospects say, "Oh, THAT'S what you do!"

Have an animation in mind?  Like our style?  Let's talk!


If I Could Turn Back Time

The opportunity?  Help a 130 year old mutual insurance company celebrate their anniversary.

The challenge?  Available materials include a tattered, hand written leather bound ledger, policy documents scripted in pencil, and a basement full of boxes of paper.  Any original members?  Long gone.  

The solution?  Meramec Valley Mutual Insurance Company celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1987 with a well structured written history distributed via pamphlet.  Scenes from that article provided the backbone for the voiceover script.  The client had already asked for animation, which opened up the possibilities for production (although we might have had fun retro-fitting that original ledger book into an actual time machine, with animation no books were harmed).  The time machine and pages within are modeled off of photos of the actual ledger book, and many, many hours of image search, compositing, animation, and sound design brought the pages to life.

The result?  Watch it here.

But I can't possibly leave you with just this case study, can I?  There must be a lesson here, or I'm not doing my blogging job.

Cher sings about regret (you did pick up on the Cher reference in the title of this article, no?)  And we talk to companies every day about how they would really like to capture their founder on video before he/she retires (or worse), celebrate their anniversary with an eye catching video, have that product demonstration on a flat screen for their next trade show, communicate that training process to every new employee through an easy to understand video, beat out their competition by using Millennial friendly video to recruit the best and brightest new talent.  We know we're not talking to all of you whom have thought, planned, dreamed, wished, that you had made that relatively small investment in video, and have now missed the moment.  Yes, it costs money.  Yes, it takes some time (although how much depends largely on which producer you work with.  If time is precious to you, choose a production company wisely).  And, yes, you will have the most effective communication tool on your website, blog, social media, trade show booth, sales presentation, training platform, etc, for years to come.

You don't need a time machine to get started.  Just call us - and stop living with regret.

Speak From the Heart

It's not a secret that audiences and marketers love video.  It's engaging, fun, compelling, authentic, and so damned effective.  Here's my Valentine's Day gift to you marketing folks - a 2015 study conducted by Facebook and Nielsen showed that even if a viewer watched only one second of a video ad, there was a measurable lift in ad recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration.  (You're welcome!  You can go back and share that when the CEO asks, "But will it work?")

At the heart of the corporate video landscape is the interview - particularly in any service based business, or any industry with a lot of competition.  After all, people buy from people, and audiences want to know, like, and trust you before they ever want to hear a sales pitch.   A great copywriter can come up with a savvy, funny, smart, or heart wrenching script, but when it comes to interview, what's on screen is what's on screen.  Authentic.  Unscripted. Real.  And, too often, guarded, awkward, or, well, boring.  Scared to get in front of the camera?  Afraid to come off as a "talking head'?  There's no need to be - we can help!

Tip #1: Be Yourself

Yeah, who else would you be, right?  But when that lens is turned on you, the lights are blinding, and the you can see that little red "recording" beam, it can be anything but easy to be yourself.  Take a deep breath.  Look the person who's conducting the interview in the eye. (No one there?  Make someone you trust stand there and listen to you).  And forget that the camera is there.  

Not working yet?  Ok, here's

Tip #2: Talk to One Person

Yes, you are producing a video so that you can talk to a broad audience, so this may seem counter productive.  But the true value of video comes when each individual who views it walks away feeling like they've had a one on one conversation with you.  You can't create that experience without having a one on one conversation.

So, pick an ideal audience member profile (you should have done this well before the camera ever started rolling.)  Design an interview structure that will answer the questions that that one audience member will want to know.  And have a conversation.  Don't worry about stating every point perfectly, just talk.  But don't overshare, please heed

Tip #3: Keep it Simple

Try not to get too detailed or technical.  There are better ways to convey highly technical information than interview (such as animation), so keep the content in line with the style.  Interviews are all about authenticity, trust, and emotion, so keep the answers on that level.  Yes, get excited about your business.  Yes, laugh, cry, if it's appropriate.  Share a personal story.  

Don't memorize a script, or a list, or a set of technical specifications.  Think about a video interview as a first date - you want to make a great impression, and then you want to leave them ready to take the next step.  It's more important to connect than to inform - the time to inform will come later.  And, speaking of first dates, you should definitely

Tip #4: Have Fun

And this can be made so much easier if you like the person who's conducting the interview.  Are they at ease?  Are they creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere?  Are they making you feel rushed, or like you have plenty of time?  Are they listening, and engaged in what you're saying?

A typical interview session for 1-2 minutes of video will last for 15-25 minutes, which gives a good interviewer time to establish rapport, create a relaxed environment, capture all of the relevant information, and stretch out.  After all, some of the best stuff comes after the subject thinks the camera has stopped rolling (a little trade secret).  So whether you hire a professional production company, work with an existing relationship, or have someone on staff conduct the interview, make sure you're comfortable around, feel heard by, and genuinely like the person asking the questions.  That'll help you create an interview driven video that you, and your audience, truly love.

Love our work?  Want to get to know us better?  Well, we'd love to!  Contact us to schedule a time.




A World of Possibilities

Inspiration comes from everywhere.  A book, an article, a blog.  A video, a tv show, a social media post.  A speech, a meeting, a story.  Every day we meet with entrepreneurs and business leaders, and every day we hear stories of what inspires them, what drives them to strike out, build a business, solve a problem.

And, at the start of every video project, we face a blank page, a scribble of notes, a headful of stories and directions and ideas, and we seek inspiration.  How do you produce an international award winning video?  Or, more importantly, how do you produce a video that engages an audience, or moves them to action?  Well, you turn to the global creative community for that spark of inspiration.

We watch a lot of video here at Solstice Productions.  We watch videos from around the world, in languages that we don't speak, for companies large and small, independent films, branded, non branded, animation, live action.  We sort the ones that move us - this idea is perfect for this client, file this one away for later, combine elements from those ideas and stir.  It's challenging, fun, rewarding, and ultimately, an integral part of who we are (much like open source is integral to OCI - see the video here).

So, how do you find that inspiration, and turn it into a video that is unique, effective, and helps your business?

First of all, don't be afraid to look outside your industry.  Yes, it's important to see what the competition is up to, but more important to find a style, a voice, a brand message, a story that is organic and unique to YOU.  And you may find that in some surprising places.  

Next, ask yourself why the videos or stories that move you do so.  Or, if you watch some sample videos and don't feel moved, why not?  It may be as simple as "that was really easy to understand," or "I stopped paying attention after 20 seconds of that one."  Just defining "I get that" versus "I don't care" will help you to create better videos.

Then ask, what can you add to the conversation?  If it's a competitor's video that you like, what can you say that will differentiate you?  If it's from a different industry, how can that style be applied to your industry or business, and how will it be adjusted to stay relevant?

Finally, don't jump on a bandwagon of "trend".  Yes, five years ago everyone wanted a whiteboard animation.  That was FIVE YEARS AGO.  Whiteboard can still be a good technique, but now feels dated, unless it adds something new to the conversation.  Instead, consider how you might use some of the ideas from that trend (say, turning non-visual concepts into visual images) in a way that will still be relevant a few years from now.

Need help with inspiration, or turning that inspiration into a video reality?  You know we're always here for you . . . 




At the Top of the Nice List

You already have video at the top of your list for 2017 marketing strategies, right?  Right?!?  If you're hoping to keep up, you'd better (63% of marketers plan to increase their video marketing budget in 2017, and Forbes names video as one of the top marketing needs for the new year).

But maybe you're still working through how, exactly, you're going to spend all of this newly allocated budget on the hottest, fastest growing, most effective marketing and communication tool.  Well, let me help you!

Your Holiday Gift from Solstice Productions: 17 Video Content Ideas for 2017!  Drumroll!!

1. Project Case Study Videos

2. Process Training Videos

3. Tips from the Team or FAQ Videos

4. Client Testimonial Videos

5. Safety Training or Risk Management Videos

6. On-boarding Videos for new Hires

7. Recruiting Videos

8. Systems Training Videos for End Users

9. Thought Leadership

10. Company Culture or Company Story Videos

11. Explainer Animations

12. Project or Building Profile Videos

13. Community Stories

14. Video Sales Sheets

15. Capabilities Videos

16.  Company History Videos

17. Brand Awareness or Brand Building Videos


Already have a plan in place, but need help implementing?  We've got you covered.  Still deciding where to start?  We can help with that, too!

Have a safe and happy holiday, and reach out to us anytime!

And The Winner is . . . YOU!

We're a simple people.  We really just want one thing from our video, right?  For it to WORK!  When it's effective, video holds the number one spot amongst marketers as the most important individual element in any given campaign (the actual number cited is 600% more effective than other marketing medium)

Ok, let's all rush out and buy video!  Yes!  But, wait, to get the most out of your time, money, energy, etc., you should understand how to win at video (and at video marketing.)

First, a caveat.  62% of viewers cited a negative brand perception when presented with a poorly produced video.  That's not only a total waste of time, money, energy, etc, but actually works against your business.  Tread carefully.  Do your research.  If you're hiring a production house, hire them based on their previous work samples.  If you like the work they do, chances are great that your audience will, too.  You don't?  Well, do you really think they're going to do a better job this time?  You may spend a little extra, but turning 62% of your prospects off will always be more expensive than a minor differential in pricing.

Ok, you get it, don't rush out.  But still buy video!  How?

Creating a winning video starts with you.  A little bit of homework will go a long way in helping you succeed.  Answer a few quick questions, and then you're ready.  A seasoned producer can then help you shape your plan into an effective video that wins results over, and over, and over, and . . . 

1) What action do I want the viewer to take once they've seen this video?  It should be clear, actionable, and simple - just one action.  "I want them to visit our website and learn more."  "I want them to call us to schedule a meeting".  "I want them to order my product."  "I want them to apply for a job here."  One thing.  One action.  This allows you to create one cohesive experience throughout the video that drives them to that action, and gets them ready to take the plunge.

2) What is the profile of the ideal viewer? To be effective, a video must speak to the individual.  Create an audience profile.  Answer that viewer's questions, speak in that viewer's language, create a visual experience that resonates with that viewer.  If you attempt to reach everyone, you'll end up reaching no one.  Focusing in will help you create a stronger message, and make a larger impact.

3) How will I reach my ideal viewer? The great thing about online distribution is that it's pretty cheap, often even free.  But different platforms do call for different approaches.  For social media, you'll want to deliver the content in short, self contained bites.  But your website, emails, YouTube channel, live presentations, etc, may call for longer, more complex stories. Training videos, streaming services, direct response TV, these all have distinctive styles and come with a set of expectations.  Create a map of where your ideal viewer lives online, and design your video strategy with that in mind from the very start.

4) What is my timeline?  If you have a trade show, or a product launch, or a big presentation, it can be easy to say "I want my video completed by this day."  If not, video can become one of those "someday" items (like cleaning my desk).  Here's a hint - if you don't have it, it's definitely not working for you.  Another hint, your competition is already planning theirs.  And yet another, your audience is already searching for it.  Recognize video as the must have marketing tool that it has become.  And then repeat steps 1-4 until you've built up a library of relevant content.  And then repeat again to update that content.  

Would you like help getting started?  Let's talk!


Solstice Takes the Gold (and the Silver)

When the National Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis played host to the Business Marketing Association of St. Louis’ 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards last Thursday night, Solstice Productions sang a much happier tune when they received two awards for excellence in video and animation.


Solstice took the gold for Animation and Motion Graphics for a 60 second animation featuring the benefits of Green2Go Temporary Jobsite Power.  Client Chuck Justus, Founder and CEO of Green2Go, says, “As a startup equipment rental company swimming in an industry dominated by multi-billion dollar conglomerates, Green2Go Rental Power & Light needed a way to get noticed. Solstice Productions provided a solution for us to show our capabilities but do it in a way that makes potential clients take notice since it isn’t like typical video marketing. In a world full of advertising options, the end result from Solstice Productions was exactly what we wanted and has helped our ability to get traction in our market.  Congratulations on the award!”


Consultant Dick Fleming, whose firm Community Development Ventures selected Solstice Productions to create a video to help win the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s new headquarters West for the City of St. Louis, was also excited to hear when Solstice was honored with a Silver Marketing Excellence award for that documentary video.  “I commend Amanda and her team's outstanding and very productive work.  With our being able to 'tell the story and paint the picture" of the what the 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration Development will be through Solstice's videos, the City was able to win the fierce competition for the $1.5-billion new 1 million square foot HQ, which is now being built on 100 acres at the heart of NorthSide.  Bravo, Solstice!”


CEO and Founder of Solstice Productions Amanda Aschinger, along with her team, offers their thanks to BMA-St. Louis, and congratulations to the fellow winners.

The Video Distribution Checklist

You have a very interesting story, process, product, approach, culture, history.  And now you have a fantastic video to show it off.  Let the ROI roll in, right?  Of course!  First, let's solve that little problem - getting that video in front of your target audience.

1. Your YouTube channel.  

Yes, I do like to watch videos of otters eating at a dinner table when cruising YouTube (don't you?), but as the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube simply cannot be ignored.  Start a branded YouTube channel.  Populate it with compelling and relevant content.  Organize, optimize, and publish on a regular schedule.  Each generation of buyers turns to YouTube for content - from baby boomers to teens (learn more here). With a captured audience of 43% of baby boomers and a whopping 72% of Millennials, YouTube should be your first item on the video distribution checklist.

2. Your Website.

Duh.  Yes, that all important homepage video is alive and well - this recent article cites that video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.  And a homepage video can provide some vital information, whether it's a company story, an overview of services, a welcome message by the CEO, or a fun exploration of the problem that the company solves.  But don't ignore the rest of your site.  With 64% of viewers choosing to purchase after viewing a video,  video should play a key role on any webpage that features products or services.

3. Your Email.

Video embedded in an email will triple your click through rate.  Short, easy to understand, and compelling video content delivered on a consistent basis via email builds a stronger. more engaged list - and brings a higher percentage of ready buyers to your door.  

4. Your Sales Proposals.

Make your proposal stand out by embedding videos - it can increase your engagement rate by 18%.  When you can demonstrate a product or a capability, present a relevant case study, or have an important client testify on your behalf using the most effective media available (90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed in the brain at 60,000 times the speed of text) ,selection committee members have a greatly increased opportunity to remember your proposal even as they review the next one, and the next one, and the next one . . . 

5. Your Next Marketing Campaign.

Social media, direct mail, trade show, cold calling - any type of marketing can integrate video to increase engagement, and to increase conversion rates.  Let us show you how!