It was five years ago that I left mainstream television to focus on producing video content for the financial sector. It’s been a huge learning experience. What works on TV, for instance, doesn’t always transfer well to the internet. Producing financial content also has its own specific challenges, compliance for one.

In that time, though, I’ve developed what I think is a pretty good grasp of what makes good — and effective — financial video content. I take it as read that you’ll agree with me that high quality, both technical and editorial, is essential; there is a place for cheap and cheerful content, but not in the financial services. Quality aside, there are, for me, six qualities that the best financial videos have.

They’re original

One of the biggest obstacles to successful marketing is what’s called content shock. In short, there’s now so much content out there, competing for attention, that getting your voice heard above everybody else’s can be a struggle. The best defence against content shock is originality. Instead of focusing on what everyone else is doing, think about what you can do differently. For instance, don’t just plan another series of whiteboard videos; think about using graphics in a more original way, possibly in combination with live action. Apply the same thinking to so-called “taking-head” videos; consider using two cameras, choosing new backdrops, and illustrating the subject with compelling and relevant video footage. Aim to stand out, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

They tell a story

Successful content marketing is essentially good story-telling. From the earliest times, it has largely been through stories that humans have communicated and made sense of the world around them. Every brand should have a story to tell. Maybe it’s your mission to disrupt the status quo, drive down costs for consumers, or be more transparent than your rivals. But whatever your story is, keep on finding new ways of telling it. On a micro level, every piece of content should also tell a story. Decide on the story for each video you make and think in terms of a beginning, middle and end.

They zip along

A question I’m asked more than almost any other is, how long should a video be? The received wisdom used to be a maximum of 90 seconds, but I disagree. There’s no right answer. Micro-video can work well in the financial space, so can long-form documentaries, and indeed any length in-between. The golden rule, however long your videos are, is to keep them zipping along. Attention spans, as we all know, are short. So don’t, for example, spend too long on a particular shot, and given the choice between a two-minute answer and a 20-second soundbite that sums up the bare essentials, always opt for the latter.

They evoke emotions

OK, confession time. I love to explain and to educate. I like to be thorough and to illustrate points with suitable data. But something I’ve underestimated in the past is the importance of evoking emotions. There is, it’s true, an important place for financial education. Consumers want to understand, at least to a point, exactly what your firm is offering. But purchasing decisions are generally triggered by emotions. So when planning your videos, ask yourselves: what emotions do we want evoke, and how do we elicit that response? Also consider humour. Yes, you need to tread carefully, but one of the best ways to connect with a viewer is to make them laugh.

They help people

Content marketing, at a basic level, is about helping people. it’s one of the reasons why so-called how-to videos are so popular. It may seem obvious, but people don’t surf the net or go on YouTube to be sold to. They want help, and generally with very specific things. Think about the questions and concerns your clients and prospects have, and produce video content that gives them the knowledge and reassurance that they need. Also consider pointing your viewers to other helpful content at the end of each video.

They sound great

No, that’s not a mistake. Of course your videos should look great; that goes without saying. But you should also pay close attention to audio. If you use an external contractor, ask about hiring a separate sound engineer if you think the project warrants it. If you produce any of your own content, invest in professional-quality microphones, including radio mics. Either way, all interviews should be filmed in quiet, controlled environments, and voiceovers recorded in a proper studio or sound booth. And every video needs a full audio mix once editing is complete.

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Robin Powell

Robin Powell worked in television journalism for more than 20 years, as a reporter, producer and presenter.

He is the founder of Ember Television, which provides content and social media management for companies worldwide, and which has specialist expertise in the financial services sector.

He also blogs at The Evidence-Based Investor and at Adviser 2.0, is an Ambassador for the Transparency Task Force, which is working with politicians, regulators and the asset management industry to make investment fees more transparent and easier to understand.

Robin is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists and was a Visiting Media Fellow at Duke University in North Carolina.

He is based in Birmingham UK and lives in lives in rural Warwickshire with his wife and two children.
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