Episode 184

How to Make a Funny Sales Video Without Hiring an Expert

Joseph Wilkins - FunnySalesVideos.com
December 1, 2021
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The holy grail right now for online advertising is to be both funny and persuasive. To be relevant and engaging. Funny videos that sell are rare. Mostly because most people don’t know how to create them. In this episode Joseph walks us through his 8-step process for creating funny videos that sell without hiring an expert. 

Joseph Wilkins has a rich background in creating videos that convert. He launched his career in the infomercial business while working on the launch of Little Giant Ladder. That infomercial went on to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ladders.  

I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Joseph on a mutual client - Tru Earth. Joseph and his team created videos for Tru Earth that have now racked up over 100 million views! More than that, though, they are driving new customer acquisition.  

Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • Why having a crystal clear picture of your customer in your head is a must before you do anything else. You wouldn’t write a letter without knowing who you’re writing it to, would you?
  • How Joseph assembles a team of people to write scripts and why this is more important than fancy editing skills.
  • How to find talent for videos
  • Why you should probably forget about going viral
  • Getting your pace right and testing before you go live with a video
  • How and when to add humor to your ads
  • How to think about production quality

Mentioned in this Episode:

Joseph Wilkins

FunnySalesVideos.com
Tru Earth
Ryan McKenzie
eE 164 Ryan McKenzie - Tru Earth

eE 125 Ryan McKenzie - Tru Earth

Little Giant Ladders
David Ogilvy
Dave Thomas
Dollar Shave Club
Squatty Potty Commercial
SurveyMonkey
B. J. Novak
Fiverr
Upwork
Freelance.com

Transcript:

Brett:

Well hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and today, we are talking about one of my all-time favorite topics. I really never get tired of this topic. We're talking about video ads, and specifically, we're talking about how to make a funny sales video without hiring an expert, although you may want to hire an expert, but here's how to do it on your own. We're going to get into lots of actionable content. It's going to be a ton of fun.

Brett:

My guest is just a rockstar when it comes to funny sales videos. We actually met through a shared client, Tru Earth, Ryan McKenzie, shout out to Ryan. You may have tuned into that episode with Ryan, actually two episodes with Ryan on the podcast. My guest today is Joseph Wilkins. Joseph is the founder of FunnySalesVideos.com. He's also the host of the podcast, How to Make a Video Go Viral. He's hailing from the beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah. With that, Joseph, welcome to the show, and how you doing?

Joseph:

I'm awesome. Thanks for having me on the show, Brett. I'm excited to be here.

Brett:

Yeah, really excited to be digging into this topic. For those that are watching the video, they can already tell, your studio is legit. We see screens, and we see speakers, and we see this beautiful condenser microphone with a screen, so you've got a killer setup. Are we actually looking at the studio where you film a lot of your commercials?

Joseph:

Yeah, yeah. Just through that door is a big, 3,000 square foot studio, with big, high ceilings. But it's kind of interesting. We don't use it as much anymore. As you've seen in our videos, we love to go out on location. But yes, we're in the studio today.

Brett:

Awesome. We're going to be talking about today, eight steps anyone can follow to make a funny sales video, so we're going to be walking through that, going to be very actionable, very practical. But before we get into that, Joseph, would love to hear your background, because how does one stumble into becoming the funny sales video guy and funny sales video team? I hear you did a little bit of TV in a previous life?

Joseph:

Yeah, so not to get too far into my background, but I grew up in London, as you might be able to hear. I sound a little bit different. My dad was in the advertising agency industry. He was a photographer, did a lot of the big campaigns, for big companies back in the day, worked for Vogue Magazine, did the Queen of England's personal portraits. That's pretty-

Brett:

Wow. That is-

Joseph:

That was probably the highlight of his career.

Brett:

That's a unique calling card right there. Very few people can say that.

Joseph:

Yeah, so I grew up kind of with it in my blood, so when I finished college, I started graphic design, and I started working in marketing, and it was when the internet was getting to the point where it could support video, and my boss said, "Hey, we need to learn some video stuff. Let's send the graphic designer on a course." That was really the beginning. So I started freelancing on the side, and then my very first client as a freelancer was Little Giant Ladders. They're hearing me talk-

Brett:

Little Giant Ladders? Okay, wow.

Joseph:

Yeah. So I was part of a three-company production, producing that infomercial, that did over $200 million in sales, just... I mean, talk about starting with a big hit in your pocket. And I really milked that for all it was worth, and approached other companies, and said, "You know, let's do some infomercials," and the first 15 years, that's really what we did, was long-form and short-form, direct response television commercials, and then a bunch of web videos on the side. But the problem is, I don't know about you, Brett, I literally cannot remember the last time I turned on a television.

Brett:

Yeah, just to watch like a major network.

Joseph:

Yeah.

Brett:

Other than maybe a sporting event for some people. I mean, that's usually-

Joseph:

Sports or news.

Brett:

... if I'm tuning into major networks, yeah, sports, yeah.

Joseph:

Yeah, but you certainly don't flip through the channels, which is how we used to get you with our infomercials. So as you can imagine, our clients started saying, "We can't keep spending the same amount of money on production and getting lower and lower results, because nobody's watching TV." So it was about 15 years ago... And the funny thing is, before that, when a client would call us and say, "Hey, we saw this really funny video online. We want to do something like that," we would say, "Sorry, we don't do funny. Go find someone else." Because the worst thing you can do is try to be funny when you're not. And we didn't have the team around that-

Brett:

Then that's just sad, right? That's just sad, it's just embarrassing. When you try to be funny and you're not, it's like, "Oh. Nice." Yeah.

Joseph:

I mean, it's cultural egg on your face.

Brett:

Totally.

Joseph:

It wasn't until about four or five years ago that we really said, "Okay, we've got to pivot. We've got to figure out where are these viewers watching, how are they watching, and how do we create videos that get the results that we used to get on TV?" We really started to look at my hero, the Harmon Brothers, and other-

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, worthy hero too. That group, those guys are just fantastic.

Joseph:

Yeah, absolutely geniuses, and kind of put the flag in the ground for what really good content, that not only engages but converts to sales, looks like. And this was before they launched their Harmon Brothers University. It was about a year before they launched it, and we said, "Okay, we need to assemble a team of really good writers." We knew how to shoot and edit, but we didn't have the skills to script it. To give you a compare and contrast, before this, our biggest video that we'd ever got in 15 years online had 100,000 views. We thought that was pretty good.

Brett:

Sure.

Joseph:

Our very first campaign that we launched after we started Funny Sales Videos, with this team of new, really good writers, and I can talk later about how we assembled that team, and how your listeners can do the same-

Brett:

Would love to hear about that, for sure.

Joseph:

Yeah, so our very first campaign was for a super, super, niche of a niche client. We didn't know if it was going to be successful or not. We did three videos for them, and between them, we did seven million views. So compare those two, 100,000 views versus seven million views, and more importantly, views don't mean too much unless they translate to sales, this very small company did over $500,000 in sales from those three videos. So we knew we were onto something, and then we can talk more, but fast-forward to today, as you know, our biggest campaign today, between three or four videos, we're about to hit 90 million views. That's Tru Earth.

Brett:

It's just crazy, yeah for Tru Earth.

Joseph:

Yeah, nutty.

Brett:

Yeah. At OMG, we're running the YouTube side of that, so we get to see that firsthand. We got court side seats, as we're running these videos, and they're just doing a fantastic job. Not only are they racking up the views, and these videos are three-and-a-half minutes long, but the engagement rate is crazy, and the conversion rate is great as well. CPAs, cost per acquisition, or CAC, customer acquisition cost, is all fantastic. These videos are really, really working. So, a couple things I want to point-

Joseph:

And I'll just say-

Brett:

Go ahead.

Joseph:

... I have one more thing.

Brett:

Yeah, please.

Joseph:

We didn't want to just be a me-too agency, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Joseph:

There's a lot of companies out there that are trying to do the same thing that the Harmon Brothers did. We kind of put our flag in the ground and said we want to be the agency for the company that doesn't have the kinds of budgets that bigger agencies are charging. I mean, when you watch these videos, you can tell they take months to produce. They're very expensive, and they're still not cheap, but we like to say, you know, we're the guys to call when you can't afford to call the guys who really do it right.

Brett:

I love that. But yeah, some of the videos you're watching and some of the Harmon Brothers productions are half a million dollars, a million dollars, or more, so they're big-time productions. A couple interesting things I want to point out. One, I love that you started with infomercials, because I think that is just the best place to start, to learn how to sell with video. I've shared on the podcast before, but one of my earliest memories of when I thought, "Hmm, making ads would be interesting. That'd be interesting as a career," was when I watched the Ginsu knife commercials, and I was just enthralled with it. I watched the whole thing, and I was a kid. I wasn't going to buy knives, but I was like, "This is so cool. It's cutting the Pepsi can, then it's cutting the tomato," and it was just blowing my mind.

Brett:

But then after that, as I got into advertising, I used to watch infomercials, and would just watch the cadence, and the pace, and the speed, and how they're tackling objections and things like that. It's just the best way, I think, to watch sale on video. I think it goes back also to a David Oglevee principle, which I'm a big David Oglevee fan. He always said that it isn't creative if it doesn't sell, right? It's not creative if it doesn't sell, so you guys then have mastered...

Brett:

And I also like the idea, because there was this time when people didn't do funny. In fact, another, to kind of back to one of the classics, Claude Hopkins would say, "Funny doesn't sell," right? Don't be a clown in your ads, but that was like a more serious time, right? Now, we're finding that funny does sell, if you do it the right way. And the Harmon Brothers did kind of pave the way with that.

Joseph:

Yeah.

Brett:

But before we get into these eight steps, I want to talk about kind of mistakes that people make. What do you see, as you're evaluating videos that clients already have, or you're watching other advertisers, what are some of the mistakes you see people make, either in approach, or ideation, or execution? What are some of the common things you see?

Joseph:

Well, I mean, I'll be honest, I'm a bit of a snob, so I-

Brett:

And you should be. You should be a snob, yeah.

Joseph:

I see videos all the time that make critical mistakes, and you would think, being a production guy, I started out behind the camera, stressing out on the details, and you would think I would say, "Oh, people are trying to film it themselves." That's actually not the biggest mistake I'm seeing.

Brett:

Totally.

Joseph:

I mean, literally, for those that are watching, I'm holding my iPhone in my hand. This would have cost $50,000 when I started this company, to get a camera... In fact, a camera didn't exist when I started this company 20 years ago, that does what your iPhone does today.

Brett:

It's insane.

Joseph:

It creates beautiful pictures. Now, that doesn't mean that you're going to go create a masterpiece unless you know how to use it, but the picture quality isn't the issue anymore. In fact, I would say sound is way more important than picture if you're going to film with an iPhone, because I iPhone will give you great picture. It won't give you great sound.

Brett:

Correct, yeah.

Joseph:

So there's just a first tip, is if you're going to film something, figure out how to get really good sound. You know, get another microphone, just like you can see the two of us are sitting in front of great microphones. People will forgive a bad image quicker than they'll forgive bad sound. There's one tip, but really, there's eight steps that we take every project through, and the two that I would say you cannot try to do yourself, or you shouldn't try to do yourself, are the scripting, so the writing, and the acting.

Brett:

Yeah.

Joseph:

Everything else, I think is forgivable. Everything else, I think is accomplishable on a much smaller scale, but those two things, you really can't fake, really good writing and really good acting.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally agree with that. I think there are some, especially if you're doing this type of video, right? If you're trying to be funny, you're creating a funny sales video, likely, it's not going to be you in the video, or if it is, you may not be writing the script or putting it all together. I think there is a place-

Joseph:

Totally.

Brett:

... for the owner to be on camera, speaking about the product, and that video can be useful. You know, I go back to the Wendy's campaign from days gone by, of Dave Thompson, I believe was the founder, and they did studies, like him on camera, talking about why Wendy's burgers are great. They just outperformed everything else. He's since passed, but... So there's a time and place for that, but I agree.

Joseph:

Yeah, Dollar Shave Club is another example. That's an exception. What a lot of people don't understand was that guy was actually an improv-

Brett:

Stand-up comedian.

Joseph:

... comedian in his college days, so he had the skills. If you have those skills, by all means, you can be your best actor, but unless you're a trained actor, don't try and do one of these kinds of videos. But just like you said, marketing is like a salad. You should have all sorts of kinds of videos. For this kind of video, I just don't see it unless you are one of those characters that are really good in front of the camera.

Brett:

Yeah, totally agree. I like having kind of a founder's story video, and that should feature the founder, but then like these hero videos, these funny videos, these are going to be kind of a different feel. So, great stuff. Let's actually dive into the eight steps. Let's take it away. What's step number one, and go in whatever order you want to go?

Joseph:

Sure. Step number one is, it's really marketing 101, doing your research. Imagine if you're writing a letter to somebody. Would you write a letter to them and then decide who you're going to address it to? I mean, that's madness, but yet people sit down and start to write scripts, or sales emails, or-

Brett:

You can start with a very personal opening of, "To whom it may concern." I always love letters that start like that. You're like, "Oh, this is personal. Thank you." Yeah.

Joseph:

Yeah, or underscore F Name. That's always my favorite. But anyway, you've got to understand who is it that's going to watch this video. Who do you want this video? What are their big problems? I'm not talking about high-level surface problems. I'm talking about deep underlying needs that they have, and the best way that you can do that, and you'd be amazed how many CEOs I work with, and they tell me, "Here are the top three selling points," and then we'll go away and do our research, and go through the steps I'm about to talk about, and we'll come back and say, "You need to completely change your marketing. You're singing the wrong song. You're drinking your own Kool-Aid. Stop, and go ask your customers why do they buy."

Joseph:

The best way to do that, and I learned this in one of the Harmon Brothers University courses, is to read a ton of reviews. The number one comment that we got on that first Tru Earth video was, "That actress is me. That actress is just like me," or, "I want to be friends with her," or, "I just feel a connection....

Brett:

She's kind of become like a mini celebrity since this ...

Joseph:

Yeah, she absolutely did, and guess why. It's because we literally lifted lines from customer comments and put those in the script. So the things that she was saying were the things that the customers were saying. So the more detailed, the more granular you can get in building your customer avatar before you ever put pen to paper, the more you're going to hit that target. That's the first thing, and there's five steps in my eBook. I can't take the time to go through each one, but really understand who your customer is. We had a client, Pela Case. I don't know if you know those guys.

Brett:

No.

Joseph:

They're up in Canada. They do a similar space to Ryan. They're an eco-conscious phone case that is compostable. When they sent me their customer avatar document, it was so detailed, down to, "Here's her name. Here's what she orders at Starbucks. Here are the radio stations she listens to." I mean, with data like that, it's so much easier to be able to write, to connect with that person. So think about that in all of your marketing. How do you get down to that level?

Brett:

Yeah, and really that response that you guys heard from that first Tru Earth video of, "I want to be like her, I want to be friends with her, she is me," that is the goal. That's what you're trying to accomplish. One of my favorite quotes when it comes to marketing, and I can't remember who I heard this from, but it's, "You should enter the conversation taking place in your customer's head," right? There's fears, concerns, problems, issues that people are trying to solve, and are bouncing around in their head, and really, your job is just to enter that conversation. And what better way to do that than with lines extracted from customer reviews, and customer comments, and customer feedback? Yeah, just fantastic, and really, there's nothing worse than an ad that just falls flat and is totally irrelevant, right? That doesn't speak to the customer at all, and I think that's the issue that some executives can get into if they're too removed from their customer, or too removed from their audience, so okay awesome, fantastic place to start.

Joseph:

And it also, that information, Brett, is going to give agencies like yours way more detail to be able to say, "Okay, where are these people spending their time online? What platforms are we even building this video for?"

Brett:

Yeah, what channels do we target? What audiences do we build? How do we structure these campaigns? Yeah, really without that, we have to do a lot of experimentation and guesswork, but with that information, we can really get off to a great start, with proper audience testing. That's fantastic. All right, that's step number one. What's step number two?

Joseph:

Okay, step two is the fun one, brainstorming. Now, a lot of people, that word terrifies them, because it literally means start with a blank sheet. And what we do-

Brett:

That is scary for a lot of people, for sure.

Joseph:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's still scary for us sometimes, but what we tell people is start out with zero judgment. Start out with zero expectation, and we do an exercise where we basically say, "Okay, here's a blank sheet. We're not leaving this room until there are 50 concepts on the page." Now, a concept is just two things. Who is the hero of this video? So, in Tru Earth's case, it was a mother who has two kids and cares about the planet, but isn't an extremist, right? So she's just a regular, real mom. And the second thing is what is their problem, and how do we make that fun? Right?

Joseph:

Before you worry about fun, though, just throw out 50 concepts with those two things. Who's our hero? What's their problem? The more story you can add, the better. We will literally get out a piece of paper, and we'll just start throwing it out, throwing it out. Nobody's judging the ideas. Nobody even cares if they're good or bad. In fact, a lot of the time, the worse the idea is, the better, because it'll give somebody else the chance to think, and say, "Well, okay, what if we did it slightly differently?" And you can get tangential ideas that are better than if you had never thrown out that bad idea.

Brett:

Yeah. Too often in a brainstorming session, and even in other scenarios or other situations too, we're too... We have too tight of a filter, right? We want to make sure like, "Well, I don't want to share this unless it's really polished, or unless it's a really good idea, or unless it's totally going to work." But you don't know that. That's not the point. Like, brainstorming's just to get any idea out there, because who knows what that salad of ideas is going to lead to?

Joseph:

Right. I mean, think about that brainstorm room where the Harmon Brothers said, "Okay, we're trying to sell Squatty Potty. What if we did an English prince and a pooping unicorn?"

Brett:

Yeah.

Joseph:

I mean, who's going to say yes to that idea? But the most successful viral video of all time, I think, still, if not-

Brett:

I think you're right, yeah.

Joseph:

... one of them.

Brett:

Yeah. The pooping unicorn.

Joseph:

Don't filter your ideas.

Brett:

Right.

Joseph:

But at some point, you have to say, "Okay, now we've filled the page with 50 ideas." And as an agency, typically what I'm doing is I'm bringing my top five to the client. You don't want to overwhelm them, and you also don't want to give them the option to pick terrible ideas, which sometimes clients will do if you give them the chance. But, we'll come back to the client and we'll say, "Okay, here are our top five ideas," and we'll get some feedback before we tell them which one we think is right, because we want to involve them in the process. But eventually, you want to go with the idea that just resonates.

Joseph:

Now, how do we pick that? I really can't tell you that. It just feels right. Now, the one thing I can tell you, and step seven, I'm skipping ahead, step seven is testing, at every single level. What you really want to do, ideally, you want to have a small group of sample clients or customers, right? Some of my customers, we'll send out an email to the best customers and say, "We'll give you a free voucher for our stuff if you participate in this process, which is simply we're going to send you four or five emails, and you're going to give us your opinion." You want to send a sample in person ideally, or just send out a SurveyMonkey to a few customers, not too many, 10's probably the most I would do, and just get feedback on every level.

Joseph:

No one customer is going to give you the answer. It's the wisdom of the crowd that you're looking for. Who generally likes it? Now, as a marketer, you have an informed opinion as well. You want to guide it in the way that you think it should go, but ultimately, I've had my mind changed when I listened to these customers. Oh, that actually wasn't the best concept. This is the one that they're resonating with.

Brett:

Yeah.

Joseph:

So that's basically the step two, is pick your number one concept, and again, you're not... All you're picking is who's our hero character, what's their problem?

Brett:

And then what's their problem? One thing that I'll chime in on, when it comes to what resonates, I heard this interview with BJ Novak, who was one of the writers for The Office.

Joseph:

Oh yeah.

Brett:

Brilliant guy, and he talked about humor causes a physical reaction. If you're pitching a joke, and he did a lot of stand-up comedy, if you're telling a joke, you're watching for that physical reaction, right? People can't help it. If something's funny, they move, they lean in, they laugh, they tear up, all kinds of physical reactions, so I think you have to watch for that. And I've done this before with our team, when I'm showing a client video, especially if I've seen the video a few times. I won't watch the video. I'll watch the room, and I'll see like, is there a spot when people move, or laugh, or is there a spot when they check their phone, or start to look out the window, or have this far-off look in their eyes? Because we're losing them, right? So what is the physical reaction, and do you... When you watch it, are there points in the video where you're feeling emotional, or where you're hearing this and you're like, "Oh, this is great," or, "Oh man, I want that"? Like, is it causing an emotional reaction? That's key.

Joseph:

I love that. We actually used to do that in infomercials. I remember, with the Little Giant Ladder, we literally hired a focus group company to fill a room with 20 people, and we were behind a one-way mirror. They had a dial, and it could only be on "I like it" or "I don't like it," and they would constantly switch it back and forth, and that gave us clues in the edit, where to cut, where to expand. And we can talk about this in the editing step, five, but you've got to edit your video to take out anything that would cause them to change the channel, proverbially.

Brett:

Yeah, anything that will slow them down, anything that doesn't get to that solution of this problem, anything that causes their eye to glaze over, even a little bit, is deadly. Okay, we have-

Joseph:

Yeah, so step three-

Brett:

Step three.

Joseph:

... scripting. You've got your concept, but it's only those two details. You've now got to create... Most of our videos are around three, three-and-a-half, maybe four minutes long, and a lot of people say, "Well, that's too long for the internet." People don't stop watching videos because they're too long. They watch Netflix for two hours. They stop watching because they get bored. They stop watching because it's irrelevant. They stop watching because it's just has no value to them. So your job is to create a script that is packed full, from the very first second to the last, and obviously, there's going to be an attrition rate. You're never going to get a video... I think the Harmon Brothers have said publicly, even their videos get like a 5% watch-through rate, so 95% leave the video before the end, but if you've got a video that's getting tens of millions of views, 5% of that is huge.

Brett:

Yeah, and often, even the person that watches to two minutes, so if it's a three-and-a-half minute video, the person that watches to one-and-a-half minutes or two-and-a-half minutes, they're going to be way more sold than someone who only watched a 30-second video. And we've tested this a lot. 30-second version of a video versus like a minute-and-a-half version of a video, and the minute-and-a-half version usually has 10X the conversion rate of that shorter video. So it kind of depends on what you want to do. Do you just want to rack up views or do you want to get conversions? And the cool thing is, if you do it the way you're talking about, you're going to rack up a lot of views too, while you're driving conversions.

Joseph:

Right.

Brett:

So on the script-writing piece, and please feel free to dig into any other details there that you want to, and I want to point people to your eBook in just a minute, but I'm also very curious how you assembled your team, because I would totally agree with you. I even know people that have been in advertising their whole adult lives, and they suck at writing scripts. Writing scripts is so hard, so any tips you want to give there? And then I would love to hear how you assembled your team.

Joseph:

Again, the wisdom of the crowd. If you go to FunnySalesVideos.com, watch some of those videos, there's not a script there that wasn't touched by at least eight writers.

Brett:

Wow. Wow.

Joseph:

We actually go through three phases of scripting. Phase one is the marketing copy points, which was pretty much done in step one. When you're doing your customer review exercise, you're picking out what are the five key points that you have to deliver for people to buy this product? Point number one is going to get mentioned way more than point number five, but in about three minutes, you can get to about five selling points. So you've got to create a marketing flow of we got to say this, we got to say this. If there are objections you need to overcome, you've got to address them. An unresolved concern will never lead to a sale.

Brett:

Totally. Totally.

Joseph:

And also a confused mind will never lead to a sale, so you've got to clearly clarify exactly what the benefit is that your customer's going to get by clicking below, what the offer is, and again, if your price is too high, and if you're going to mention your price in the video, which is a whole nother subject, you've got to address why it's high. Your competitor might be half the price, but breaks four times as many times, so you only have to buy one as opposed to four. You've got to figure out, if in that reviewing of your customers, there's a key theme that comes up over and over again, you've got to address it.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, and I love that. I don't want to get on too much of a tangent, because I think we can make a podcast all about price and the psychology of price, but yeah, there's ways to do it, like you make a... If maybe you're more expensive than your competitors, make an indirect comparison, right? "Sleeping on our mattress is way cheaper than going to the chiropractor three times a month," right? Or whatever. You make an indirect comparison, or you do kind of what the Harmon Brothers did with Purple Mattress and talk about... They kind of did this value stacking thing, and they also talked about, "Hey, you know, really expensive mattresses are five or $10,000, but these aren't even $4,000," so they're comparing it to the high end of the market. There's lots of things you can do with psychology of price, and sometimes, you don't even mention it. Sometimes, you want to mention that on the lander, but again, that's kind of a whole nother topic, so-

Joseph:

Exactly.

Brett:

Yeah.

Joseph:

Once you've got your marketing framework, then you bring in somebody with a different set of skills, which is a storyteller, a creative writer, a script writer. However you want to frame it, and just to let you know, I don't have any full-time writers on staff. I use 100% freelancers. You can go onto sites like Fiverr, and Upwork, and freelancer.com, and you can find really talented, really good writers, that maybe are full-time writers at big companies, that they're just looking for extra income on the side, and you can ask them to give you a quote to help with your script. Now, after four or five years of doing this, we've gone through a lot of bad writers to get to the good, but even a bad writer will add to the process, and hopefully, on every video, and this is something that makes us different. We're very small. I personally am the creative director on every video.

Brett:

That's awesome.

Joseph:

Now, that doesn't mean I do any one thing. I just oversee the whole process. You have to have somebody, maybe that's you or maybe that's somebody that you hire. You've got to have someone that's going to protect the story from beginning to end, because a great comedian could come in and write a joke that's going to make you pee your pants, but if it doesn't further the sale, it has to go. You need somebody that's protecting the brand, protecting the project from beginning to end, so multiple people need to be contributing on this. But ultimately, the second kind of writing is the creative writing, that takes the character, the problem, or the marketing points and puts a story together.

Joseph:

Now, it's not funny yet, but it's creative. It's fun. I'm still not going to show it to the client. Personally, I don't like doing that until it's ready to be shown. That's step three. I will bring in at least five trained comedy writers, so these are typically people who do improv comedy in their spare time, or full-time comedians. I have a couple of people that work on cruise ships. That's their full-time gig, so guess-

Brett:

Interesting.

Joseph:

... what they're doing during the day? They're sitting on the beach in Saint Johns, writing for me. They're filling their time, or they're traveling from one city to the next to do stand-up in a club, and on the plane, they're writing for me. You guys can do the exact same thing. Just reach out to them. You'd be amazed. They're kind of a starving artist, so they love it when businesses say, "Hey, let me give you money for time." But again, no one comedian is going to be able to write a funny sales video. You want multiple comedy writers on each project, and one person collating it, because we do it virtually, so we use Dropbox Paper, and everyone gets to see everyone else's notes, and the best stuff makes it onto the sheet, but the best stuff isn't necessarily the funniest. It's the most relevant-

Brett:

The most relevant, yeah.

Joseph:

... that advances the story.

Brett:

Because if something is really, really funny, but it diverts... You know, something can be so funny, and too different from the story, or out of place in the story, and it may cause a belly laugh or may cause you to pee your pants, but if it distracts you, then you want to avoid that, right? That's where that person that oversees all of it, that creative director, is so key, because you have to stay on point. I would rather be a little less funny, but relevant, than to be super funny and irrelevant. ...

Joseph:

And last point on comedy, it has to hit the avatar. Imagine-

Brett:

It has to be funny to them.

Joseph:

... we've done videos. Yeah-

Brett:

Doesn't matter if it's funny to you.

Joseph:

... exactly, exactly. We've done videos for CXO, SaaS companies that are targeting CXOs. They're not going to think that the same humor is funny as a video targeting teenagers with an acne cream. Two completely different senses of humor, so you got to test it. Again, back to creating that customer avatar brain share that you can email out and say, you know... Ideally, I love your comment earlier, ideally, I like to sit people down and just watch them as they read the jokes. You can't always do that, but you've got to test at every step of the process, or else again, you're writing a letter to somebody that you don't know who it is. So step four is adding the comedy. Those are kind of two... Yeah.

Joseph:

Step five is production. This is where the rubber meets the road, and I want to say do not proceed to step four until you've done all of the steps before, and have a script that you're 100% happy with. Now, it's never going to be perfect, right? Version one is better than version none. If perfection was the goal, we would have a stack of scripts and no videos online. But, you don't want to waste money producing a script that really isn't working, so that's the longest part of our process.

Joseph:

Typically a video, in Funny Sales Videos, if you were to call us and say, "Let's do a video," minimum it's going to be four months. Two of those months are just working on the script, so it's definitely the longest step in the process, but you can't rush it. You can't try to go to production and say, "Oh, maybe this'll be funnier once we actually see it, and the actor delivers it." No, you've got to be laughing at the script before you think you're going to be laughing at the actor. Yes.

Joseph:

You would think I would say the most important part of production is a great camera, and great lights, and beautiful sound. It's not. It's casting. It's picking the right actor. A lot of businesses don't understand that auditioning actors, even very professional actors, is free. Does not cost a penny. We are very picky with the actors that we choose. It's something that we take a lot of thought and time with. We will typically audition about 50 actors for each key role.

Joseph:

Now, what does that look like? In the world of post, hopefully, COVID, it's way easier, because what you do is you send out an email to your local top two, or three, four acting agencies, you give them a portion of the script, don't give them the whole script. Pick out maybe three or four paragraphs that are the most challenging, that you want to make sure this person can nail, and say... You want to give them the rate that you're willing to pay, because you don't want to waste their time if you're thinking, "Oh, I'm going to pay this much," and they're thinking, "I'm going to get hired at this much." So you want to be transparent. You also want to let them know roughly when you're going to be filming, because actors are booked up, and they're a one commodity, their time.

Joseph:

When you send it out, you'll get video auditions that'll come back to you. Watch through those, and I typically pick my top four or five, and then I'll set up a callback. Either they'll come here physically into the studio, and my clients, if they're local, will be here, or we'll get them on Zoom to watch, and we'll not only go over those paragraphs that we've just done in a virtual audition, but I'll throw other stuff at them, and I'll see, "Can you do that faster? Can you do it a little bit slower? Can you put the emphasis on this word? Can you deliver this joke a little bit differently?"

Joseph:

What you're looking for is are they coachable? Are they directable? You're also looking for, and this is why I love working with actors that have experience with improv, comedy. I'm looking for what are they bringing that I didn't write? Your scripts should never follow the same format as the finished video. It should always be better. During the production process, you don't want to be so focused on getting it exactly the way that it's scripted that you don't allow your actors to play. A lot of the time... Absolutely. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, and picking actors that have experience, they should give you things during the filming, that you're just like, "Well, I never would have thought about that."

Joseph:

Anyway, that, step five, is the production. Now, if you're a small business, you're trying to do this yourself, I already mentioned, make sure you have good sound, or go out and hire a relatively low cost local production company. Yeah. Right. And it's about visually being disruptive. The most important part of your video is the first five to 10 seconds, because nobody's going to watch anything past that if you don't visually disrupt them, and the better you can do with your visuals, both from a what am I actually showing, but also how good does it look, how different does it look to the next video that they're scrolling past?

Joseph:

If everyone is showing videos that were filmed on their iPhone, your video's going to look just the same. If you go out and hire professionals, that's where they earn their money. They're going to make it look different, and therefore disruptive compared to the other videos, and obviously, any of these Harmon Brothers videos that you've seen, there's details in every single shot, that you just won't get if you try to do it yourself. But, version one is better than version none, so if that's all that you can afford, by all means, go out and do it yourself.

Joseph:

Step six is the editing. That's where the rubber really hits the road, because if you've done all the previous steps right, you'll have a great video, but you can make it a great video better with good editing. The same line delivered by an actor feels completely different if you put the cut here as opposed to the cut here. After they deliver their line, do we go straight into another line, or do we let that line breathe? I can't tell you how to do that. A good editor just feels it. Comedy is about timing.

Joseph:

As you know, Brett, we also edit our videos a whole bunch of different ways. We'll do a long version, a short version. We'll format them for square, widescreen for YouTube, square for mobile, so back to production, you've got to make sure that you have your guides on your monitor, so that you're not filming something where the critical detail is on the outside edges of the frame, because that's going to get chopped off when you version your square video for mobile.

Joseph:

Editing is key, because you can speed things up, and cut out pauses, and overlap dialog, and anything to keep this feeling exciting, engaging, nothing that's going to get borning and nothing that gets confusing. Again, you want to test different versions of your edit with your sample audience, or with people... Like, literally here at the studio, when the delivery man comes, I'll say, "Can you watch this for a second? Give me some feedback," or clients will come, and I'm always looking for feedback on the editing, so test out what works, what doesn't, and a great editor's really going to help.

Joseph:

Totally. Yeah, it's just like a music track. If it was just (singing) the whole time. You've got to have the bridge, and let things slow down and then speed up. That's how you keep people's attention. Now, I mentioned this earlier. We also edit different versions with different content, so typically, we'll do three different opening hooks. That's the first five to 10 seconds. The rest of the video is exactly the same, but the opening hook is completely different, and we test it to see which gets the bigger watch-through rate, which gets the better click-through rate. With some of our clients, we do the same thing with the offer. One of the offers could be... Same video, just a different offer. One could be buy one, get one free. One could be get 25% off. One could be click for a free eBook, or whatever it is. You want to test as many different combinations to get to the ultimate, highest-converting version. You can do that with good editing.

Joseph:

Step seven, we've already spoken about, testing. You can speaking about that on multiple podcast episodes, but have somebody... And we don't do this. Have somebody on your team, whether it's an agency or an employee who really knows how, to take all of these multiple versions of your video, and find out, without spending too much money, and that's the key, how to find out which version of this video you want to start funneling, and opening the floodgates, and really getting out there. You don't want to waste your money on a version that isn't the highest-converting version. You also want to test your squeeze page, and all the copy on your squeeze page, and different upsells and cross-sales. That's where a really good marketing agency will take a great video, which is really only 50% of the process, right? My job is to get you to watch this video to the end and then click through, but that doesn't market client the money. The money really comes on the backend, where you take that click and you don't waste it. You put it in a well-oiled funnel. Yeah.

Joseph:

Yeah. Yeah, and one thing that we worked on together, that previous to doing these kinds of videos, I wasn't aware of, is the retention curve, understanding that you can still make edits after you've launched a small test, with the data that you get from that retention curve, which is basically showing you how the majority of people, where are we losing them? Where are they dropping off? You can literally say, "Okay, at one minute and 30 seconds, there's this big drop in viewers. People are bouncing." Now, that's normal to some degree, when you introduce the product, because really, what these videos are are sketch comedy pieces, or ads disguised as sketch comedy pieces, so whenever somebody finally realizes, "Oh, this is actually an ad," it's only natural that you're going to see a lot of people bouncing.

Joseph:

But, if there are other places where it's not when you're introducing the product, and you're seeing a big drop, you can go back into the video and say, "Okay, I need to cut this section out," or, "I've got to speed this up," or, "I've got to reorder this video so that we're not losing people," and with a really good marketer that can get into that data and tell you, working together with an editor, it's not video delivered and here it is. It's a work in progress, to refine and tweak that until it's the best version, and then again, you open up the floodgates and spend a bunch of money promoting it.

Joseph:

Okay. Yeah, so step eight, real quick, real simple. Forget going viral. It's all about creating a conversion video. It's about, when clients come to us and say, "We want to hire you," when we swap out the creative that they're doing with ours, they see a high increase on return on ad spend. Don't think that going through all these steps is going to get you a video that when you put it on YouTube, it's going to get you a million views. That's not what it's about. It's about the whole way, saying, "Okay, this is a business. We're not going to plan on a flash-in-the-pan lightning strikes, and one time, we get a big viral boost." No, it's about repeatability, consistency, and something that you can plan and forecast based on. So forget viral. Reprogram your mind that this video is going to be a conversion video, that when you spend X amount of dollars, you're going to bring X amount of dollars back in return. Those are my eight steps.

Joseph:

That's why we're on video seven for Tru Earth. Yeah, just go to FunnySalesVideos.com. It's just a simple page that shows... You can see some of our videos. You can see some more case studies. Then scroll down to the bottom, and you'll see a big icon that basically just shows how you can download the free eBook. Yeah. Yeah, so we started it about six months ago, and really, what we do on the podcast is we interview people that have had a video quote-unquote "Go viral." We always laugh that the title is kind of clickbaity, How to Make a Video Go Viral. Yeah, you do. That's a hook. That's our opening grabber.

Joseph:

That's right, yeah. We've interviewed Ryan on the show. We've interviewed four or five other of our clients, and then we've also reached out to other companies, that we didn't work with, but we want to learn what it was like? How did you do it? We basically just interview anyone that has marketing videos that have over a million views, and have been profitable, and go into much more detail on the things that we've talked about today. On all the regular podcast, or you can just go to howtomakeavideogoviral.com. Sure. Yeah, sure. It's been a blast.

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