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As Persuasion Machine
By Jerry Bader (c) 2009
The combination of the Internet, the Web, and technology has democratized business almost beyond recognition. Today the small, nimble, clever adaptor has the competitive advantage over their bigger, slower moving, ‘we’ve-always-done-it-this-way’ competitors; but the confluence of the Web environment and digital technology is one thing, how to use it effectively is another. Not every trendy social networking gimmick, user generated irrelevance, and pointless viral voyeurism is a productive business communication tactic.
The Day Dinosaurs Died
Like the dinosaurs that once ruled the world, the giant behemoth corporations that once dominated the business landscape have become fat and lazy, relying on muscle rather than brains, on statistics rather than understanding, and on technology rather than insight. As these companies got bigger, they became top-heavy, corrupt, and stagnant, throwing their weight around rather than innovating and adapting. Oh yes, the big boys are still around, still doing what they’ve always done, jumping on every trend ‘du jour’ promoted by the ‘blogosphere’ without any real understanding of what it can accomplish, but hell, they figure if they throw enough you-know-what at the wall some of it is bound to stick, or so they hope.
But the handwriting is on the wall, the giant Internet meteorite has already hit these corporations right in their balance sheets and they are tumbling into irrelevance. The list of extinct corporate giants grows, and the march to Chapter 11 continues unabated.
So how does the smart, fearless, innovative thinking, business decision-maker take advantage of the Web’s ability to even the playing field? The answer lies in their ability to use the Web as a persuasive communication medium.
The Web is really a very simple concept: it is a place that allows you to communicate your message to your audience. What could be simpler, but like anything democratic, it’s messy: a jumble of the very good and the very bad, and a whole lot of mediocre in-between. And in today’s overcrowded Web-centric business environment there is little room for the mediocre.
In the final analysis all marketing, branding, positioning, advertising, and public relations is about communicating a persuasive message that attracts attention, generates interest, stimulates desire, triggers experiences, produces memories, and prompts action. And what Web-enabled communication tool gives you the best chance of delivering that kind of persuasive message? Web Video.
Persuasive Web Video Communication
The Web has some of the most effective creative video presentations you would ever want to see, and it also has some of the worst. Easy-to-use and relatively inexpensive technology has created a plethora of do-it-yourself efforts. Some DIYers do it because of cost, others do it because of ego, and some just figure they’re smarter than the people who do it for a living; and in some cases they may be right. Not all professionally produced Web-video is created equal. If your Web-video team is not pushing you to be bold with a focused, defining, differentiating message, then you’ve hired the wrong people.
Communication intended to persuade is a complex undertaking, one that requires a better understanding of how messages are communicated than it does the technical production issues. When people watch a video, what they see is far more susceptible to both intended and unintended nuance than a simple face-to-face conversation.
Every Move You Make, I’ll Be Watching You
“Every move you make; every vow you break; every smile you fake; every claim you stake; I’ll be watching you.”
– From the song ‘I’ll Be Watching You’ by The Police
Everything a person does or says is a sign, not just a communication of the obvious intent but also of the underlying subconscious subtext. In person, people have a built-in monitoring system that filters-out irrelevant verbal and non-verbal distractions, glitches and eccentricities, but on your website, in a video, those performance issues get magnified and can destroy your entire presentation.
In his book ‘Messages, Signs, and Meanings’ Marcel Danesi states, “Humans convey over two-thirds of their messages through the body, producing up to 700,000 physical signs, of which 1000 are different bodily postures, 5000 are hand gestures, and 250,000 are facial expressions.”
If your website lacks a video presentation, and instead relies solely on text communication, you are handicapping your business’s ability to persuade, convince, and convert website visitors into clients. And, if you do have video on your site, but it’s not producing the intended results, perhaps the verbal communication is in conflict with the nonverbal message, creating confusion and distrust rather than confidence and understanding.
Forget all the things you think your website should be doing; its most important and most critical purpose is to deliver an effective communication to your audience.
A Recipe for Web-Video Communication
Persuasive Web-video communication is a complicated process that involves numerous creative and technical talents, as well as psychological insight into performance issues: scripting, casting, producing, directing, editing, music, and sound design, all complemented by communication psychology, emotional resonance, and business savvy are required to create effective presentations.
Ingredient One: Attract Attention
Job one is to get people to take their hand off the mouse and pay attention; it’s the equivalent of someone yelling, “hey you” in a crowded room, everyone stops and turns to find out what’s going on.
Mark Hughes author of “Buzzmarketing” suggests six criteria that provide the hey-you-pay-attention affect: the taboo, the unusual, the humorous, the outrageous, the remarkable, the secret, and the titillating. Which of these criteria you choose to use depends on your brand image, your audience, and your message.
All these elements individually or in combination can produce the stop-look-and-listen effect you want as long as they are appropriate for your target audience.
Ingredient Two: Generate Interest
Sarah Wood of Unruly Media, a company that specializes in paid viral seeding points to high value relevancy as an additional key ingredient; it’s what turns the viral-for-viral’s sake into a purposeful, persuasive, viral marketing communication.
High value relevancy is based on the connection made through your video presentation. If your video doesn’t resonate in some way, you will lose your audience. Resonance can be established through the performers’ personality, the delivery of the dialogue, the scenario presented, the subject matter discussed, the point-of-view perspective, and/or the emotional content.