How I Consistently Earn A 20x ROI With Brand Story Video’s
When you start a new business, no one knows what it is or why it exists.
Sure, you might get support from friends and family, but generally, that won’t be enough to pay the bills.
The majority of people you want to do business with will be cold. I.e. They’re people who don’t know your business and don’t know what it has to offer.
To turn this cold audience into customers, you need to start talking to them and building a connection with them.
One of the biggest traps I see small or new business owners fall into is expecting people to come to them. However, waiting around and hoping people will show up at your store isn’t a good strategy.
Even if you’re digitally savvy and can put together a decent website, there’s a very slim chance you’ll rank on the first page of Google or any search engine, for that matter.
You’ve got to get out there, talk to people and make them aware of your business. Marketers often call this ‘prospecting’, kinda like fishing for new customers.
From learning and practising different marketing methods, I’ve found telling a story is the most effective way to hook these new customers. And video has been the most potent medium I’ve used to tell these stories.
You can create a video, put it in front of potential customers on the internet and tell them a story about your business, brand, product, or service. This is known as a brand story video.
During the last ten years or so, the cost of producing these brand story video’s has dropped to a point where they’re an accessible tool that any business owner can use.
I created an origin story – brand story video for our gym’s small group training program (Tribe), which you can see here for $1,400; even accounting for the cost of my time, the total cost was still only $2,000.
When we launched our campaign and spent $200 on Ads across Facebook and Youtube, we generated 50,000+ brand impressions in Dunedin (~100,000 population), which led to us signing 30 new members or ~$30,000 in annual revenue for our business within 12 weeks.
Since then, we’ve used this video for a few more campaigns, spent no more than $1,000 promoting it and added at least another 30 members to our gym. Combined, that’s 17x return on spend.
Not only this, but we dramatically increased brand awareness for our Tribe program, which was virtually unknown before we created this video. With no exaggeration everywhere, Phil goes (our head coach) people recognise him and talk to him about Tribe.
At another company, I am a co-founder of, we created an elementary product explainer video.
We used this video for an on-going Facebook ad campaign for ~18 months. We delivered it to a cold audience, then ran a retargeting campaign to people who’d watched 75% or more of the video. We’ve generated 58 sales for an upfront value of ~$6,000. Almost all of these sales turned into recurring customers, and over the next few years, we expect the lifetime value of this campaign to be worth $50,000+, a 50x return.
BRAND STORY VIDEOS
If you’re looking for a new way to market your business effectively, I’d recommend starting here.
In this article, I’ll show you step by step how you can create a brand story video for less than $2,000 and 10 hours of your time.
First, I’ll introduce you to a couple of different versions of these and why, in particular, I think a brand story video is so compelling. If you want to get straight into it, skip to the ‘how to’ section below.
Brand Origin Story
This type of brand story video tells the origin story of your business or brand.
Russel Brunson (Founder of Click Funnels) calls these the ‘Epiphany Bridge story’ (You can read more about them in his book ‘Expert Secrets’). He explains the purpose of an epiphany bridge story is to create an aha moment with your audience.
These use narrative to unpack the events or circumstances that lead to the start of your business.
Company Mission Story
These types of brand story videos tell your audience why you do what you do. Whatever your business’s grand mission is, these videos aim to wrap that up into a story and create an emotional connection.
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream created one for their brand. I wouldn’t say this is the best example; it’s a bit stiff/corporate – but you’ll get the point.
Product Explainer Video
These types of videos explain your product to your audience. They still need to create a connection with your audience. I’ve seen many examples of these videos that are too cold and unemotional or too technical.
The best product explainer videos are creative and authentic.
Slack has created an excellent product explainer video. It’s easy to watch, a fun video, and powerfully shows you exactly how their product can help you.
Another really cool and now famous example of this is the ‘Dollar Shave Clubs’ video. This one video exploded their brand awareness and sales in North America.
A Day In The Life Video
This type of video shows how your product or service fits into a customer’s everyday life. Your audience can watch these videos resonate with the person in the video and understand why they need your product or service in their lives.
I think Madewell did a good of this with their day in the life video. It’s fast-paced with upbeat music and has a punchline. It’s not apparent what the video is about until the end; then, they deliver an aha moment.
Case Study Video
A case study video tells a story about how a product or service delivers a valuable outcome for an end-user. Some companies have become creative with these using different points of view to demonstrate their product’s usefulness for the end-user.
Customer Testimonial Video
Similar to a case study video, customer testimonial videos again show how a product or service has benefited a customer, except this time, they are directly narrated or verified by that customer.
Again, these videos are still telling a story but focus on the end user’s experience rather than the broad customer experience.
Here’s an example of an excellent testimonial video Tesla created based on an Australian customer.
WHY A BRAND STORY VIDEO
Big brands have been creating these for decades with tremendous results.
But I believe it is us, the small and new business owners, who can gain the most from creating brand story videos.
They’re Great For Cold Audiences
We connect with stories; Since 50,000 BC, we’ve used stories to communicate with others and form our tribes.
Think about the most charismatic people you know – The people you love to go for a beer with, the ones you want to invite to your dinner parties. I bet they’re good storytellers.
By creating a brand story video, you can turn your business into that charismatic person.
You’re combining motion pictures and words (narration) with music and sounds that deliver a powerful consumer experience.
I’m confident any business can produce an impactful video for ~$1,500 and 10 hours of work.
Compare that to how much time and resources you can invest in creating organic social media content, updating your website, or writing blog posts. They won’t achieve even a tenth of the connection you can establish with a brand story video.
Combine them with a bit of ad-spend and a functioning website can you drive impressive business results.
Your brand story video is going to be valuable and impactful for a long time. From my experience, these can be useful and impactful for 2 – 5 years.
Think about that video from Slack. Did you look at the timestamp? It’s already five years old.
Slack could still use that video today for great effect.
You can add a brand story video to your website, your email signature, your landing pages, your EDM’s, etc.
Anywhere you have an opportunity to ‘market’ your business, your brand story video will tell your story and create new connections.
Compare that to your latest Instagram or Facebook post. For the most part, that’s one and done content. Your mood boards on Pinterest are only useful for Pinterest; a TikTok video will just work on TikTok, and so on.
Sure, you can slice and dice this material to use across other platforms, but as you do so, it loses its value and impact. In comparison, your brand story video will keep working just as hard.
How To Create A Brand Story Video
I’ve created a google doc worksheet to help you work through this process, which you can access here. Open the doc, click ‘file’, choose ‘make a copy’ and save it as your own.
Refer back to your working doc and update it as you progress through these steps.
• For the remainder of this article, I will refer to a ‘brand story video’ as ‘BSV.’
PLOTTING YOUR BSV
1. Create A Brief For Your BSV
Creating an effective BSV starts with planning. Start with an outline. Work through the points below and update your brief as you go.
Objective – What is your BSV goal? I always connect mine to business results (leads & sales). For example: Generate 30 new website leads or Sell 50x of Product XYZ
Scope – Outline how your BSV will achieve your objective. This will also guide your storyboard later on(Part 2). For example, our Tribe BSV scope was; ‘to educate a cold audience about our ‘why’ using the founder’s origin story that will drive website traffic and generate new leads.’
Budget – Choose your budget. If this is your first attempt, you won’t be aware of all the costs involved. But I wouldn’t spend more than $2,000, especially if it’s your first attempt.
Target audience – Outline the customer you want to target. Hopefully, you’ve got some customer avatars already available to choose from. Like any marketing activity, get specific with your customer targeting, and your BSV will be more effective.
• If you’re not sure how to proceed here, read this article.
Audience stage – Outline the level of awareness your audience has of your business or brand. I keep this simple and pick between three groups of customers, Cold, Warm & Hot. This is important because you need to make sure your BSV has the right level of context.
• If you’re not sure how to proceed, read the second half of this article.
Delivery Channels – How will you deliver your BSV to your audience? I’ve found social media to be the most effective. You need to know this for post-production so you meet the creative requirements for each platform.
2. Choose The Right BSV
Using your outline above, choose what type of BSV will be best for your audience and objective. BSV’s work best with cold audiences.
If you’re marketing to a warmer audience, you’ll need to go deeper with your storytelling, add more details and different angles. Audiences already familiar with your business or brand will likely know the broad strokes of what you do etc. A product explainer video might be more effective in this case.
Use Google or Youtube to find examples of other companies who have created BSV to guide your decision.
The only BSV I would stay away from when marketing to a cold audience is a ‘customer testimonial video’ unless you’re going to use influencers to distribute your video. All other BSV outlined above are effective with a cold audience.
3. Outline Your Brand Personality
Now, jot down the critical aspects of your brand and video style. If you’ve got company brand guidelines available, they’re an excellent place to start.
Make sure your video doesn’t go off-brand. You don’t want to sell an audience one version of your business only for them to experience another when they interact with you. You’ll come off false and turn people off.
Here’s a question to help you get started.
• What is your brand or business personality?
For our Tribe Origin Story Video, we came up with the following.
• Energy/Fun/Positive Vibes
4. Outline Your Brand Video Unique Story Proposition
Like a unique sales proposition, you’ll need a unique story proposition to create an impactful video.
There are 100’s of awesome brand story videos out there, but there are also 1000’s of generic ones that look and sound the same.
Picking your unique story points is how you can differentiate your brand story video from all others and cut through the noise.
For example, going back to the Slack BSV, their USP might look like this;
• Use animals as workplace characters
• Use animals to show differences between people and skillsets.
• Show how slack can drive/organise a business.
• Show how slack brings people together.
For our Tribe BSV, our unique story propositions were:
• Use Dunedin’s natural beauty to draw attention.
• Show that Tribe is more than training; it’s a lifestyle.
• Bring out Phil’s comfortable and caring personality through narration.
• Show that we are locally owned and operated.
• Your number of USP’s is not essential. Just make sure you have at least one—the more unique, the better.
5. What’s Your Message
The first four steps above help you outline the purpose and semantics of your video. Now you need to flesh out the message.
A good starting point is the five w’s framework.
• Who: Who, if anyone, will feature in your video
• What: What’s the story about? What’s happening in the video
• When: When will your story be told, When will your video be filmed
• Where: Where will your video be filmed, Where is the story being told
• Why: Why are you telling the story? Why will people want to hear this story?
Here’s ours for our Tribe BSV
Who: Phil will be the key character of the story and narrate from his point of view
What: Phil will go about his morning while telling his origin story and finish by coaching a Tribe session
When: This will take place early morning to show tribe as part of a lifestyle
Where: This will take place at Phil’s house, then his commute to work, finishing at the Tribe studio
Why: To tell our audience why we got into Tribe and why we think our members love it.
6. Outline Video Specs
Refer back to the channels noted in your outline. In this section, jot down the different specifications your video will need to meet for the channels/platforms you intend to publish them on.
Sprout Social has an always up to date blog post for the leading Social media channels, which you can view here.
If you’re going more obscure like Snapchat or TikTok, you can run a google search to find this information. Like below.
• If you’re still stuck, your videographer should be able to help you out, which we’ll get to shortly.
BRINGING YOUR PLOT TO LIFE
Now for the fun stuff and bringing your creative ideas to life.
7. Find Your Videographer
First, you need to find a videographer.
Because we’re focusing on creating an affordable brand story video here, you’ll likely need to use a relatively new local business.
If you use an established/well-known production company or videographer, you’ll have to pay for their experience and reputation, which can be the difference between spending $1,500 and $10,000.
Because you’ve carefully plotted your brand story video creative brief, you can confidently work with a new and inexperienced company or person and achieve a good outcome.
• The best videographer I’ve worked with was also the cheapest. Young, hungry, and creative is a good mix.
Let’s start your search.
Head to Google and Facebook and search the following;
1. ‘City name’ + ‘videographer.’
2. ‘City name’ + ‘marketing media.’
Write down the top 10 search results from Google and Facebook for each search term.
• When you’re searching on Facebook, make sure you refine your search to ‘Pages.’
• Your results will vary between Google and Facebook, depending on the city you live in and how well an individual or company has set up their Facebook page for search engine optimisation.
Once your list is complete, it’s time to do some research.
Visit the website of each business or person on your list. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram. Review their work and put an asterisk next to the names that stand out to you.
Hopefully, you end up with at least five people or companies that you like the look of.
Now you want to make the first contact.
You have two goals here:
- To make sure they can film and post-produce.
- Find out what they will cost.
Here’s an example of an outreach message you can send
My name is XYZ, and I’d like to produce a brand story video for my business to promote us across XYZ channels.
I’ve looked at your work and, in particular, like this video (add a link to that video here). My video will likely be 1 – 3 minutes in length, and I need to follow this outline:
• Add in key points from your brief, including Scope, BSV Type, Brand Personality, Unique Story Proposition & Messaging. (Or you can download your brief as a PDF and attach it to your email)
I’d like to know if you think you can produce this type of video from start to finish and how much this would cost.
Just so you are aware, I am reaching out to a few other local companies and haven’t committed to anyone yet.
If you have any further questions, please let me know.”
Now, wait a week to receive everyone’s responses. Anyone who takes longer than a week to reply is likely too busy or challenging to work with, so you can ignore them.
Filter your responses and see who can produce your video ‘end to end and meet your budget.
Choose your top two. Trust your gut/intuition on who you think will be best, and set up a meeting with them.
8. Meeting Your Videographer
From here on out, the process is going to vary from company to company. They might already have slick processes and guide you effortlessly through to end production. Or if they’re new, there’ll be a lot more back and forth.
• If you’re not feeling it or they’re mucking you around. Just move on. Don’t try and make it work.
When you meet your videographer, make sure you review your entire brief with them and re-explain each point. The clearer you are on what you want to achieve, the better they’ll be able to guide you to that result.
Remember, all creativity is subjective. What you like will differ from what your videographer likes, which will also vary from what your video’s audience will respond to.
You’re paying them for their creative skills, so I think it’s best to allow them at least a little creative lee-way to do their thing.
9. Create Your Storyboard
After working through your outline and clarifying your ideas, they’ll ask you to work with them to produce a storyboard for your video.
If you’re not familiar with a storyboard, please read through this article here. As mentioned in the article, some of the key aspects you want to flesh out are:
• Narration/Unique Story Points
Now you’re ready to film
10. Directing & Filming
I wouldn’t advise providing any direction or interfering with how your videographer wants to film. That’s why you are paying them.
If you need to film customers, staff, etc., make sure you contact them and get their approval before filming. You should clarify the purpose of the video/filming and where you will publish the video.
• I suggest ensuring all stakeholders in your video, including landlords, surrounding businesses, etc., know your intentions and give their approval. Re-filming or re-editing is an expensive exercise and will blow out your budget.
11. Post Production
The final step is post-production.
Sit down with your videographer and review the specs your video will need to meet for each channel/platform you wish to publish on.
They’ll likely ask for your input and approval of each final version. Again creative work is subjective.
Give your feedback and let them know what you like/don’t like but remember you’re making this video for your audience, not for you.
The punch line – make sure your audience sees your video. I don’t like to leave this to chance. I use every channel and medium possible that I think my intended audience is paying attention to.
Do this last part well, and you can expect to earn a huge ROI for your time and money invested.
• Includes subtitles for social media
• Trust your videographer – don’t micromanager them.
• Be confident with your direction bounce ideas off your videographer.
• Create a narration by interviewing the person and cutting up audio feedback
• Make sure you have multiple versions of the end video, specifically post-produced for each platform.
• Keep all your video’s and notes etc., together in one drop-box or a google drive folder.
• Have fun and enjoy the process