Want to create a powerful promotional video? You probably already know that the right video can help you go places, but where do you start? If you’re a video producer, or looking to make a high-end promo film for your brand, let me introduce you to my magical process.
Disclaimer: I’ve been making promotional pieces for years, so realize the recipe is improved by attaining my “10,000 hours” in the creative kitchen. Results may vary.
The following steps show you how I worked with Lewis Howes on his book trailer for “The School of Greatness” which debuted #3 on The New York Times Best Seller’s List. Watch it here, then read the process below.
There are so many things that go into making a high quality promotional film like this one. Some of our secrets included getting an awesome soundtrack scored by Lewis’s brother Christian Howes & producer Hamilton Hardin, and sourcing some of the footage I was shooting with major celebrities this Summer. But the following steps are what I’ve boiled down as what made the most impact…
STEP 1: CAST A VISION
I’m cheating here, because that’s the advice Lewis Howes gives in the first chapter of his book “The School of Greatness”. But it’s the most important foundation for any endeavor. I talked with Lewis at length about the “feeling” he hoped to evoke with the book trailer. Early on, we developed a shared vision of the tone, shots, and underlying message the film would communicate. Not only did we cast a vision for the film, we also visualized the positive impact it would have on his audience. We started this process many months before his book release, because pre-planning is one of the most crucial ingredients to a successful launch. When it comes down to it, all great video is comparable to alchemy. The combination of scenes, music, and choice of words combines to create something bigger and more moving than you could have imagined. And it all starts with solid storyboards that become your blueprint. Our intention was to make something epic and aspirational, so striking visuals were #1. But we also didn’t want it to seem like any other inspirational mashup, so a consistent look and cohesive movement throughout the piece were prioritized. I also focused on shooting in the most epic locations possible which required some solid scouting. Although we often didn’t have an official film permit, our crew is small and agile so we were able to fly under the radar. The result: Remote beaches, Hollywood views, and trails off the beaten path.
STEP 2: SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION
Remember to play to your strengths. We identified two major advantages in approaching the project:
1) As a result of interviewing so many greats on his podcast, Lewis is friends with some of the most inspiring athletes/entrepreneurs on the planet.
2) I would already be going on a Summer tour across North America shooting branded content for Wanderlust, so I could schedule shoots with all these amazing characters along the way.
This helped dramatically reduce production costs, and made everything possible. Although it made our travel schedule absolutely exhausting, it was all worth it for the experiences along the way.
If you want to start a movement, there’s power in inclusivity. Since the message of the book is bigger than Lewis, and shares the inspirational stories of others, we wanted to incorporate as many luminaries and modern-day legends as we could that represent the ethos of the book. Those featured in the final project volunteered their time because they believe in what Lewis stands for and want to see him succeed. When you have the backing of an army of awesome people, you have unlimited momentum. By including and truly celebrating others, you create a spirit of collaboration and a sense of “we’re all in this together” that makes everyone feel like they’re invited to the party. Since they shared the project with their audience, it amplified his message to a much greater audience. So no matter how big your following is, when you include and feature other awesome personalities, it complements your promotional content.
STEP 3: RELEASE CONTENT ON SLOW DRIP
As part of the campaign strategy, I thought it would be ideal to put the extra content that didn’t make the final cut to good use. We made 10 instagram teaser videos (pitched 8, always over-deliver!), each told a short cinematic story of an athlete in training. This was the perfect way to show off more beautiful footage we filmed with each person. It also resulted in building more buzz in anticipation of the book release with all the social interactions generated. We essentially provided fresh content every few days to keep fans excited about the book launch. Meanwhile, Lewis was making appearances and doing several interviews each day. With the added feature of a book trailer on his website, it acted as a way for readers to wet their appetite and feel connected with it. Having a simple video book trailer is becoming the standard for successful book launches. Having a cinematic trailer takes you to the next level.
STEP 4: PLUG IN THE MARKETING MACHINE
The rest is history. Want to know what years of building a core audience amounts to? Although Lewis is a first time author, he’s been building a huge following because he’s constantly giving. Free training, inspirational podcasts, and more have helped make a name for himself in the online marketing world. Beyond that, he’s fostered a network of entrepreneurs that support one another. He’s also become clear on who he serves, which has resulted in an audience that knows him as well as he knows them. He’s a guy that truly lives in the present. If we had an idea about filming with someone, he’d immediately dial their number and get them on the phone. I suppose it helps to have superstars on speed dial. No matter how good your video is, you’ll need to have a marketing plan and release partners if you really want to make a splash. Some of my most successful videos have been for brands that understand the value of leveraging their community.
STEP 5: LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE
The internet has become short attention span theatre. Nobody’s proud of it. It’s an easy target to criticize, and as a media producer it can be frustrating to try to share something of substance with the reality that most will click away or scroll down if your video lasts longer than a couple minutes. That’s why we focused on a TRT (total running time) of 60 seconds. As a result, you get more viewers re-watching the video to catch all the cool moments again. Have you ever watched a movie trailer that completely gave away the whole story? That’s just annoying. What are the chances you’ll end up going to see that movie? Feels like you already saw it, right? That’s why any good promotional video should leave us asking more questions and inspiring our curiosity more than anything else. It’s like an impressionistic painting. You get the big picture, but it inspires you to walk closer to see more detail. The beauty in the brush strokes. There’s so much more meaning waiting to be explored.
To learn more about the book and get your copy today (which I highly recommend), go here: The School of Greatness.
What kind of promo video do you want to produce? Want to know more shortcuts and secret ingredients to streamline the process? Sign up for our mailing list and I’ll share more free tips from my Producer’s Blueprint for making great videos.