The Video Demo

Source: TechCrunch, Oct 2009

… make a video demo and prominently promote it somewhere where new visitors can find it. One that shows off the core function of your product without making people think they’re watching an ad or a pitch. And answer, as thoroughly as possible in 2-3 minutes, what it is that you’re bringing to the table.

you need to make sure that the video actually conveys what the hell you actually do. This is apparently much harder than it sounds, because I’ve seen plenty of video demos loaded with screenshots, walkthroughs, and pretty graphics but still leave me scratching my head. The truth is, you don’t need a single screenshot to make an effective video. You just need to show how people will actually use what you’ve built, not a sales pitch.

Related Read: TechCrunch, Mar 2012

While “nothing kills a bad product better than good marketing”, a video can give users an insight to your product that allows them to both use it more effectively, and understand your larger vision, so that if the product isn’t there yet, they know where it is going and don’t immediately turn you off.

If you are going to make a video, here a few basic rules to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t make a “viral” video.
  2. Don’t just make a product walkthrough.  Product walkthroughs have their place, but they are only effective after the user understands what the product is about in the first place. Don’t just do a product demo, starting at the login screen, and walking through all the features.  Answer the question, “How does this product fit into my life?”, or “Why should I use this?”, before answering “How does this work?”.  You want to pique the user’s interest with the video, then let them figure how the product works on their own, by signing up and using it. Having said that…
  3. Prioritize your message and keep it short.  …  However, the sweet spot for these videos tend to be around 45-90 seconds.
  4. Include a call to action at the end.
  5. Prominently feature the video.
  6. Quality matters.
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