Welcome to Web Videos that Suck for Business where I highlight a few web videos created for businesses and/or professionals organizations that I consider to be just plain sucky. I also dive into why I think they suck and discuss what we can learn from them in our own professional video endeavors to arrive at making better videos for business and marketing purposes.
Why Point Out Web Videos That Suck?
I was actually inspired to do this based on a book series by author Vincent Flanders', Web Pages that Suck and Son of Web Pages that Suck. Since those books first came out back in 1998 and 2002 respectively, professionals have had over a decade since to absorb the harsh critiques and raise the playing field of professional-grade websites. The amount of time professionals have had for producing and promoting professional web videos, however, is still fairly small, and a lot is left to be desired.
I need to mention that my goal is not to beat anyone down unfairly or mercilessly. It's commendable to anyone who is willing to make an honest attempt at producing quality web videos, where clear thought and planning has gone into them, along with audience profiling and feedback, and learns from their mistakes. (I know from my own personal experience that the only way to get better at making videos is by doing a lot of them, and honestly look at all the mistakes we make along the way. No one gets better without practicing, and having audience feedback and/or a video coach is an ideal way to improve.)
However, I do see some businesses and professional-minded individuals not make really honest attempts with acknowledging where they aren't professionally-inclined – either their severe lack of technical expertise, or their content selections, or their on-camera talent, or their marketing choices. It also really irks me when I see companies claim to be web video production and marketing experts, but make such glaring oversights that you really have to call into question both their competence and their intentions. You find for the latter group, it's these "professional" web videos that bother me the most, and I reserve my harshest criticisms for.
My main goal for doing this series can be described in 3 steps:
- Showcase what videos I think really suck;
- Explain why I think these videos suck, and;
- Mention what I think we can learn from them (so we can avoid sucking so much ourselves!)
And yes, I'm going to be sarcastic sometimes and inject my own attempts at humor. It may not always be your cup of java, but you're stuck with my personality!
What Makes for a "Professional Business Video?”
My main criteria for what counts as a "professional business video" is this: It's a video produced and distributed online by any enterprise or individual that can demonstrate a connection with their own business, brand, or occupation. Here are some specific qualifications I use:
- It must be a video primarily related to their paid occupation, rather than primarily to a recreational or educational activity.
- It must be intended, or show the intention of, supporting their business, brand, skills, expertise, experience, or other work-related attribute(s).
- It must be intended for distribution online, for public viewing and consumption.
- It must be intended to have a business-related objective. (E.g., increased visibility, leads, sales, better branding, awareness, or other conversion goal.)
As you can see, what I am "professional" here is separate from the technical or creative aspects of a web video, both of which have their own objective and subjective characteristics. While I use both of those aspects for my own critique of these videos, neither of them are my qualifications for what I choose to review. So what I'm getting at is there's a difference between a web video that's "professional minded" versus "professional quality." My qualification for review is just the former.
Suck #1: RealVideoProduction
This actually came to me by a colleague who's part of a book I'm writing, and I asked him to do a promotional video of himself for the book. Since he only had $150 to budget, he got an offer from a guy who said he could set him up in a virtual studio real cheap. Yet it was impossible for me to tell by the vendor's website what he actually did for a living. (His e-mail signature mentioned that he sold "seminar and speaker products.”)
I insisted with this vendor that he show me an actual video example of what we would be getting for our $150.
When the vendor sent me the link to his sample video, he mentioned in his email to me, "We still have issues it is a temp studio building one in 2 months.”
Things that suck about this video:
- Seriously, can you imagine being interviewed by this guy? Even if this was a community cable access show, it would be well below any professional expectations.
- Picture quality is among worst I've seen – not just for a virtual set, but for anything claiming to be professional. The image looks unbelievably muddy. Both the host and guest look like creatures from Night of the Living Dead.
- 30-plus minutes of two people talking – no graphics, text notices, or B-roll footage. (It does appear to have a 3-camera setup, but you have very awkward transitions.)
- Muddy graphics – the book cover featured in the background screen is too hard to discern.
- Most annoying banner ad – a banner advertisement runs continually below the video, which I found incredibly distracting and annoying. (Now you know why this guy is so cheap!)
It's only fair to mention that the interviewee, Kathy Perry, has received good testimonials and local television coverage on her profession. It's just really unfortunate that this video does her such an injustice.
What would I have done to make this video better:
- Have a short version of this video. (Try for a 3 minute, 2 minute, and even a one minute version)
- If you have a long format video interview, have b-roll graphics or video footage. If you can't have that, at least have text graphics that highlight the points you're making throughout the interview.
- Don't do the virtual studio if it looks terrible, and if it doesn't relate to what the subject material is about! (Really, even just doing a Flip Camcorder in a natural environment would have come across a lot better.)
- Get an interviewer who doesn't have a strong local accent when they're asking questions. That will just prove to be very distracting, even comical. (It's also advantageous if they have at least a basic knowledge of the subject material.)
- Allow people to embed the video on their own blog or other web page if they wish.
Suck #2: ChicagoWebVideoMarketing
A company I had never heard of before – Chicago Web Video Marketing originally contacted me on my Facebook page earlier this month – as part of unsolicited email blasts. They were announcing themselves as the hosts of "Chicago's largest business networking holiday party," where for 30 bucks (or a $500 sponsorship fee), they would invite you to their very special party to "Celebrate the launch of Chicago's top web video marketing company and get crucial information on how CWVM can help take your business to the next level with powerful videos!" (Their exact wording.)
Here's more on how their promotional information read:
"Chicago Web Video Marketing is Chicago's premiere full-service marketing and advertising agency. We provide professional high quality video production and distribution services in addition to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) providing our customers with organic keyword domination and celebrity-like exposure. We specialize in web marketing, expert branding, web traffic, and the integration of automated sales and marketing systems.”
So I should first qualify that I also work out of Chicago; and ReelSEO covers web video marketing, plus a few people like myself do freelance consulting and other professional services. So any critique I could do of a potential competitor should first come with that full transparency. However, since the folks at Chicago Web Video Marketing don't actually appear to be familiar with who ReelSEO is, yet claim themselves to be experts in the professional web video marketing space, and the fact that they solicited me, I consider them fair game. Check out the videos from own website and judge for yourself. (I went through over a dozen of them.)
Things That Suck About Their Home Page Video:
- Ugly video player skin (with no "embed" feature)
- Thick Chicago accents are a turn-off. (In fact, a lot of thick accents can be a turn-off, unless your selling your culture or your nationality as part of your brand. But is that what they intended? It just doesn't make them sound at all like professionals in the space.)
- Intro female host sounds like a teenager.
- To the 2nd person on camera: Don't have someone start his or her introduction by saying "If you've been paying attention." (You sound like you're giving someone a lecture!)
- Have you every listened to a video where the speakers sound like they're reading from a teleprompter and don't appear to actually comprehend what it is they're saying? That's the impression I get with these guys.
- There are no captions of who it is that's actually speaking. Do they work for the company? Are they spokespeople?
- Listen to that music – it's like something from the early 1980's!
- At 2:22, the lady proclaims, "Did you hear what I said?" That is unintentionally hilarious.
- At 4:15, the lady proclaims, "Well, our time is up. I have to keep this short and to the point." (After over 4 minutes??)
Things That Suck About Their Other Videos:
These I pulsed from their Video Blog, or "vLOG" page, which is really all videos from their YouTube channel:
- For the 2nd promotional video, it opens with, "Tis the Season… To Crush Your Competition." Boy, that's real Christmas Spirit right there, eh? (They also don't know how to spell "spokesmodels," which is one of the services they claim to offer.)
I found a ton of problems with their individual web video promos…
- No intro or outtro graphics, or transitions. (And you're a web video marketing company? Really?)
- Really ugly background. (You're claiming to be professional video producers, and you couldn't think to use an appropriate backdrop?)
- Reading from a teleprompter seems very unnatural with each of the speakers. Its important to come across in your video as authentic, and none of these speakers pull that off.
- White balance goes out of sync during the video. (They're supposed to be professionals, yet they appear to have their camcorder on autofocus?)
Then I checked out their portfolio page…
- They feature a restaurant and do awkwardly slow pans of the food items, without having any graphics of what they're about. The narrator (one of the same guys I saw in the intro videos) also distracts the piece with his strong accent.
- Don't have a promo with the graphic "video coming soon!”
- Their "bio video" has no introductory graphics, everyone has a very dark outfit, it suffers from a poor contrast between foreground and background, and has a very creepy feel of three people all staring at you during intervals of the interview. (Like you're on a very bad blind date.)
What they could have done to make their videos better:
Actually, their problem appears to be so deep, I don't think I could offer a a realistic solution, short of starting a new company with all new people. So instead, I'm going to give them a business tip: On your YouTube page, don't showcase a video of yourself introducing an entirely separate consulting company you wanted to originally be, but apparently that never took off.
Suck #3: MY Own First Professional Web Video!
I had to pull this one from my vault, which I did back in July of 2007. What's ironic is I was critiquing some of my fellow search engine marketers for their videos, and yet you can see I make many mistakes on my own delivery. (I've highlighted them throughout the video.)
So there you have it, my first installment of Professional Web Videos That Suck! Do you have or know of a professional web video that sucks? Send it my way to grant [at] reelseo.com, and I'll feature those in future posts that really catch my attention.
Here's to 2011 giving us a lot more sucking, which we can all share and learn from.Special thanks to Lane Media Productions for donating their professional-quality video production services and making my intro video (and for also making videos that don't suck!)