Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Purple Feather

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words is a video worth? According to Dr James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is approximately equal to 1.8 million words. I will examine that claim in a future post but for today I want to share a video with you that makes it clear that the words you use can make a huge difference to the outcome you can expect.

The Power of Words: Purple Feather

In the 6th in the series we look at a video by Andrea Gardner's Purple Feather, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

As Purple Feather say on their website, they created 'The Power of Words' video to showcase their respect for language. It is a direct homage to ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ by Alonso Alvarez Barreda, which won an online contest organised by the National Film Board of Canada at the Cannes Film Festival 2008. In turn, ‘The Power of Words’, Purple Feather’s English version made in 2010, also won an award and actually went on to be viewed over 25 million times on YouTube.
Although this post is about ‘The Power of Words’ I would encourage you to watch the original Mexican/USA film. The fact that it is in Spanish does not matter, you will follow its story that “with a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man”. You can view Barreda’s ‘Historia de un Letrero (The Story of a Sign)’ below.

Now back to Purple Feather’s video. First of all, if you don’t have an emotional response to “The Power of Words” check that you still have a heart. The manipulation of your emotions is important in this story and allows the film makers to magnify the impact of their message.
The video illustrates that by changing the words you use you can turbocharge your message. However, it is a little ironic that Purple Feather use the power of visual story-telling, coupled with emotion loaded music, to make that point.
The makers demonstrate a good understanding of visual communication, for instance contrasting the life experience of the man with those around him, always in a way that builds the viewer’s empathy with him. Even his physical placement on the pavement at the bottom of the set of steps, literally placing him below everyone else, helps to build our sympathy for his situation.
Another thing worth noting is that Barreda’s short film was around five and a half minutes whereas ‘The Power of Words’ is less than half that length. The brevity seems to intensify the emotional impact of the video, as does the music by Giles Lamb and the colour grading (the video has been given a golden tone, almost matching that in the Barreda’s film).
The video tugs at your heart strings and just as you are reaching for the Kleenex, in comes the clever twist at the end. As a copywriter and producer I’ll admit it’s one of those occasions when I think to myself, “now why didn’t I think of that!”

Key takeaway from this video

You might think the key take away from “The Power of Words” would be to use emotion to influence your viewer. Although manipulating your viewer’s emotions can be beneficial it is not what I think is important here. The key thing is that Purple Feather demonstrated in this video the thing they do for their clients. They are skilled wordsmiths and they showed how phrasing your call to action can completely alter the outcome. Purple Feather did not talk about the power of words, they showed you. When you demonstrate the efficacy of your claim it makes that claim all the more powerful.

The same strategy is used by Blendtec in their famous “Will it Blend” series of YouTube videos. They show how powerful their kitchen blenders are by blending numerous household items until they are dust. Perhaps the best known is the blending of an iPhone. It is fascinating and shocking at the same time, partly because they are destroying an expensive and cool piece of tech and partly because it is the last thing you would expect in a kitchen blender. In an updated version they put an iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 head-to-head. What's the result? Five and a half million pairs of eye-balls who now know how powerful a Blendtec really is!

That is clever and a strategy you can apply to your own marketing videos. Show rather than tell your prospects what you can do for them. It is less salesy and your viewers will be all the more convinced and impressed. After all, ‘seeing is believing’, as they say.

Next week’s video

Next week we take a look at a video made by Shopify, the well-known eCommerce platform. We see how a young go-ahead company exploits video to make viewers think it is a cool place to work, and how that allows them to recruit talented staff who perfectly match and reflect the ethos of the company.

Learn how to make your own business videos

You want to record your own professional looking content marketing videos that look and sound professional. Well anyone can shoot video, but you also need to know how to make videos that will impress your contacts and prospects.

My online course Make Great Videos On A Budget, co-authored with online PR and Marketing guru Ken McGaffin, is a non-techy guide getting started with video. You can follow the video course at your own pace on your PC, tablet or mobile.

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