Thinking about making a demonstration video for a product but don’t have experience, software, or equipment? This post is for you! We are going to cover the basics of creating a video and we will do it inexpensively with your cell phone and free software. In most cases, this will get you a high enough quality of video to accomplish everything you need to do with it. And, if video takes off for you, you can invest in gear and software later.
Why Make A Product Video?
It can take paragraphs to explain something that a video can show in seconds.Before spending your time on videos, you should consider why you would make one. There are a few reasons that make a lot of sense for ecommerce. Since you are reading this post, you likely are already convinced that they are a good idea for you, so we’ll be brief. First, they can be an effective way to explain a complex product. It can take paragraphs to explain something that a video can show in seconds. Second, videos help you engage with your customers, increase legitimacy, and build your brand. Third, videos can help increase your store’s conversion rate!
With those reasons in mind, let’s jump into the filming process.
Who Is Your Audience?
Before anything else, think about who you are making this video for. What is it that they want to learn? What do you want to show them? What would you like them to do after watching your video? How knowledgeable is your intended viewer? Spend a few minutes thinking through these questions before you start scripting or filming. You may even find it helpful to write down some bullet points about your audience. Knowing who your audience is will help guide your content so that you create a video that your audience wants to see.
Features and Benefits
When making your product demonstration video, note the features of your product. If you’re making a demonstration video about an Aeropress Coffee Maker for example, you might make a list like this:
- Brews at a low temperature (175 recommended)
- Durable materials
- Easy to clean
- Brewed coffee has low acidity
- Can be used in a many different ways
If you are dealing with a particularly complex product, you probably won’t touch on every feature in your video. In that case, decide what the most important features are.
Next, consider how your features benefit your viewer. It may seem obvious to you, but you should still state it explicitly. It may not be as obvious to your viewer, so make sure to connect the dots. In the case of Aeropress you might say:
- Easy to store and take with you while traveling. Always have amazing coffee wherever you go.
- You can consistently make great coffee.
- Impress your friends with the quality of your coffee.
- Allows you to experiment with many different recipes so that you can find the method that’s perfect for you.
The benefits that you identify are the reasons the viewer will want your product. Features are useless if they don’t benefit anyone.
Bullet point scripts allow you to speak naturally and are quick to write.Now, you’re ready to script. Scripting is an area that trips a lot of people up. On the one hand, I’ve seen people go into a video without a script of any kind. Result: a repetitive, sloppy, and unfocused video. On the other hand, I’ve seen people over prepare, writing a thorough script with every word they are going to say. This may work well for some people, but in my experience it makes the performance too stiff and formal. It can also take more time since you have to write the script and during the shoot you’ll have to keep referring back to the script to make sure you are saying things right. If you don’t have time to memorize the script but will be OCD about following it exactly, this will slow everything down.
My preference is to have a bullet point script. It gives the structure of the video to keep you on track but still allows you to speak naturally. It’s also quick to write. And, if you mess up while filming, no big deal. You can do as many takes as you need!
Remember that it’s also okay to film in chunks rather than one continuous take. That way you can do multiple takes as needed to get each section right. If you do this, make sure not to do a big intro and outro for each section. Once clipped together the sections will feel more continuous if you jump right in. Plus, it will help the video end up shorter.
For your outro, plan your call to action. This might be asking for a subscription or purchase. You can do something as simple as, “that’s how to brew coffee. If you found this video helpful, please subscribe. We’ll be releasing more like this. Thanks for watching.”
The tone of your script should match your brand. Include humor if appropriate. Be informal or ultra professional. Whatever your brand is, your video should be an extension of that.
Equipment and Software
To get started with videos, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment and software. In fact you can probably get started for under $25. Modern cell phones have really nice cameras and there is free software available. The only extra thing that you probably don’t have is a tripod for your phone.
If you use an iPhone or iPad, iMovie comes installed. For Android, you can use InShOt. If you have another camera you want to use, you can edit on a computer. I recommend either iMovie for Mac or VSCD for PC.
Down the line when you are ready to step things up, you can get a nicer camera (Canon 60D is great), a GoPro for your action shots, lights, and pro software (Adobe Premier and After Effects are my choice).
But, you can easily get by with a more basic setup to start. It’s also a good idea to see if video is a good fit for you before you spend a lot of money.
Now that you’ve prepped, it’s time to film! Set up the room you’ll be filming in. Try to find a room with natural light and low noise. Without extra lights, you’ll get best results from natural lighting. Most offices have harsh lighting or are too dark. Listen to the audio after your first take and adjust the setting if needed. The phone will sometimes pick up buzzing light, wind, or other things you don’t notice.
|Photo graciously provided by Kyle Loves Tori Photography|
Choose the framing based on your space and the size of your product. For small products, frame from your waist up. For larger products, keep the shot as tight as you can without cutting out important parts of the product. Whenever possible, cut in closeups.
If you are using your phone, make sure to shoot horizontally, not vertically.
Take your time and film as many takes as needed. If you are new to this, you’ll probably be uncomfortable at first. Perfectly normal! Practice will help. If you are having trouble, try jumping into the product info and filming the introduction last.
If appropriate, get some close ups of the product. It’s also helpful to get in-use shots if you can.
YouTube Cards and Endscreens
YouTube offers the ability to add interactivity to your videos. They used to be called annotations (which is what I called them in the video above) but they are now called Cards and End Screens.
You can add up to 5 Cards to a video. You can:
- Link to another video or playlist;
- Add a poll;
- Ask for a donation to an approved charity;
- Link to a webpage (YouTube Now requires your channel to have at least 10,000 views and be part of their partner program to do this… (why YouTube, why?!?).
This helps bridge the gap in getting people from your video to where you want them. You can say something like, “learn more about this with our other video” and link straight to it. Unfortunately, it’s now difficult to link to things like the product page, which was one of my favorite things to do with Cards. You can still add a link to video description.Here’s how to add cards: Open up the video in YouTube Video Manager. You’ll end up there after uploading. If you already navigated away, you can get back by clicking your profile at the top right and clicking Creator Studio. Click on the Cards tab at the top. Watch through the video and pause at the spot where you’d like add a card. Click Add Card and select the type you want. This will pull up a screen where you can enter details about the card. In the case of a video, select the video you want from your own channel or by entering its URL. Customize the text that will display on the video if you’d like and click Create Card.
At the end of your video, you have similar options. Instead of teaser text with Cards, End Screens overlay on top of your video. The new choice is to add a Subscribe option. You should definitely do this so that people will be notified about your future videos. At least one item on your end screen need to link to another video or playlist.
End screens work very similarly to Cards. While editing the video in YouTube, select End Screen & Annotations in the top menu. Click Add Element and select the item you’d like. In most cases, this will be a link to another video or playlist, and a subscribe button. You can add up to 4, so you can link to multiple videos, link to another YouTube channel, or link to a webpage if that’s enabled for your account. You can click and drag these elements around to arrange them how you’d like. If you like gesturing in your video (aka “Click here to subscribe” while pointing somewhere on the screen), you can move the subscribe button there. If you do that, keep in mind that you can only add End Cards to the last 20 seconds of the video.
Here are a few inspiration videos. All of these are low budget but still highly effective at demonstrating a product.
First, this is the example video that I created using only a cell phone and free editing software.
I found this next video helpful when I was shopping for ice packs. It’s short, no-nonsense, and shows exactly how the product works. Sometimes it’s hard to give people a sense of how your product works with text and still images. A quick video can solve that! This one didn’t even require any talking. The only change I’d make is to add some music because the total silence is a little weird.
This JetPens explainer Video is super simple and helpful. There are tons of choices in for converters and laymen like me can find it confusing and intimidating. The video also uses a voiceover which is far less pressure if you aren’t comfortable in front of the camera.
Of course, we need a coffee example! Here, Chris Baca gives some tips to get the best brew from a French Press. The actual demonstration is filmed separately and overlaid as Chris talks about each step. The talking is a series of very short sections cut together. This makes it feel like things are moving along quickly. Long continuous shots usually include some pauses and “ups”.
Hopefully this post helps you understand the how and why of making product demo videos. You can make effective videos, even on very low budgets. I’d be thrilled if you’ leave a comment, possibly using one of these prompts:
- What tips do you have for making videos?
- Whats keeping you from making a video?
- Send me a link to a video you made!