Visual Marketing: Show, Show, Show

By Alexander Hiam

Be sure to take full advantage of video’s great strength in marketing: its ability to show. In a video ad, you can demonstrate a product feature, show a product in use, and do about a thousand other things just with your visuals.

For example, you can go to YouTube to view a series of tests of blenders and juicers, and discover that you don’t need to buy a higher-priced model to get good performance. You’re able to see, right there on the screen, that some of the cheaper models outperformed their fancy counterparts. Seeing really is believing.

Some people in your audience think visually, whereas others favor a verbal message, so you have to cover both bases by using words and images in your advertising. In a video ad, you must show and tell (note the emphasis on showing).

Compare this with radio, where you show by telling, or with print, where the two modes balance each other out, so the rule becomes simply to show and tell. The visual and verbal modes reinforce each other.

To make sure you keep the “show” part of the formula top of mind, do what TV ad designers do: Rough out your ideas in a visually oriented script, using quick sketches to indicate how the ad will look. You — or preferably the competent agency or scriptwriter you hire — should prepare rough storyboards as you think through and discuss various ad concepts.

A storyboard is an easy way to show the key visual images of film, using pictures in sequence. The sketches run down the center of a sheet of paper or poster board in most standard storyboard layouts.

On the left, you write notes about how to shoot each image, how to use music and sound effects, and whether to superimpose text on the screen. On the right, you include a rough version of the script (the words actors in the scenes or in a voice-over say). See this sample storyboard.

Roughing out a video ad on a storyboard.

Roughing out a video ad on a storyboard.