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Making Your Case

Aug 17, 2010 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

How to use video case histories to sell your services to potential clients.

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Tricks of the trade

Youmans says there's a trick to getting people who are not professional actors to look good on camera. "You have to warm them up," he says. Start talking to them as soon as you can on a personal level.

Once you have your camera and lights working, keep talking to them, but get the video rolling as soon as possible and keep it rolling. "I generally ask the same question more than once during the course of an interview, sometimes five or six times if it's an important question," Youmans says. "They'll answer it differently each time, and often their answers will get more interesting and more succinct as the conversation goes on."

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Be sure to listen carefully to what the person you're interviewing says so you can follow through with more questions. "A good interview is more like a conversation," Youmans says. "We always start out with prepared questions, but once you start talking, you never know exactly what you're going to get. Sometimes you'll get some very nice statements that you never would expect."

No matter what you do, some people won't look good on video. "Everyone is nervous starting out," Youmans says. "Most will warm up, but some don't." For that reason, it's best to have more than one person on hand to interview. If you plan to use the IS director at a corporate customer, try to line up the facility manager as well.

"We assured each of our end users that we would cut any uncomfortable moments when we edited the videos," Clarke adds. "If someone had trouble, we tried to keep their segments shorter."

How much video should you expect to shoot? Youmans says you should record 5 to 30 minutes of video for every minute you use, with a ratio of 20:1 to 30:1 common for a film or television documentary. For a 6-minute video he recently completed, he shot 15 hours of tape over a two-day period. This shoot included interviews plus video of his client's products in action—in this case, commercial trucks. "Tape is very cheap," Youmans says. "You're going to have to edit it no matter what, and truly the more you have to work with, the better your final product is going to be."

Clarke says that for each of the AVI-SPL video case histories, she spent a full day onsite interviewing customers and reps and shooting B-roll of their AV systems. Youmans also spent most of a day on site for each of his AMX videos.

It's possible to shoot your own video and get good results, but most people should plan to hire a videographer to help. There's a lot to keep in mind. You will probably shoot conference rooms and classrooms using available lighting, but more than likely, you'll need to supplement that lighting when you position your customer for an interview. You need good sound. You need good color. You will absolutely need to edit what you shoot, so you will need some expertise in Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, or a similar program, and you will need to spend a lot of time in the editing process.

With careful planning and, most likely, some professional help, your company can produce its own video case histories. If you do, I think you'll find them a powerful addition to your marketing program. "We have found that these video are definitely a great tool," Clarke says, "We plan to do more of them."

Don Kreski is the president of Kreski Marketing Consultants, which offers marketing services to the AV industry. You can reach him at

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