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What’s Your Hook? A Video Messaging Primer

Think about how you behave when you’re first introduced to a new person. You’ll start out exchanging pleasantries and engaging in casual chit-chat. When you hit on a mutual interest, you might explore that topic a little more. You get to know each other and learn whether you might be friends rather than just acquaintances.

Just as there’s a standard practice for this type of introduction between two individuals, a company should follow some set guidelines in how it communicates with new people. Those basic ideas are wrapped up in how your business thinks about messaging.

Rather than figuring out if there’s the potential for friendship, both parties are looking for some type of a business arrangement. Treat that relationship with the proper respect by making smart choices in how you communicate with those potential customers.

This is your primer on messaging. In addition to explaining the various stages of your company conversation, we’ll show you how video can be your secret weapon for messaging success.

Messaging 101: The Basics

You already know all there is to know about your business, and it’s understandable that you want to share all those details with any and everyone. However, just as you wouldn’t monopolize the conversation when meeting a new acquaintance, this is a time when it’s important not to come on too strong.

To have the best chances of getting a new customer fully educated about you and your company, you need to have a clear approach to messaging.

Start with a hook.

You only have a short amount of time to capture a person’s interest, so you need to have a short, punchy message that hits at the heart of your business. It won’t capture all the nuances of what you do, but it should be a clear statement of the most important thing your potential customers need to know.

Not only do you need to consider what to say, but how you say it. Choosing your words carefully here is paramount. Since there won’t be many of them, each one needs to be perfect.

And remember, the hook is just the element you’re using to attract new people. Once you’ve intrigued your audience, they’ll be ready for more information. Make sure that you serve up that information in an orderly fashion.

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The hook is the center of your messaging web; all the other statements should branch out organically from it. Once you’ve caught their eye, your company needs to have messages that answer any questions a potential client might have before signing on with your business.

Why should they choose you over a competitor? Are they your target audience? What value can you provide? What makes your product unique? Make sure you address any salient points about your brand and your services with a clear message that supports your hook statement.

These other messages add more breadth to the picture of what your brand is all about. The more time a person spends getting to know your company, the more details you can share with them in your messaging.

While you’ll always be able to go back to your top-level message, such as your formal company slogan, think about crafting concise messages for any other important areas of your company.

Drafting and Editing

To develop a great hook, spend some time brainstorming the elements that make your company unique. Maybe you have the lowest prices, or the highest quality, or a special outlook on the world that customers need to know about.

Once you highlight those facets to your business, distill them down to the most concise phrase possible. Remember, the goal for a hook is to have a punchy statement that will be memorable as well as descriptive.

That hook should share the most important aspect of your business. The other facets can be incorporated into your other messages. Any time you’re crafting a company message, the old adage is key: keep it simple. Putting too many details in a single missive can dilute the power of each element. Pick your focus and stick with it.

How to Use Video

Video is the perfect vehicle for the concept of “show, don’t tell.” It can be powerful for expressing your top-level hook statement, as well as communicating the messages for all different facets of your business.

As online video becomes more and more essential for business success, it’s going to be ever more important to use it as a messaging tool.

Make your hook video short and sweet. In the most traditional form, you’ll want to include your main message, word for word, in the script. It should be the visual equivalent of that punchy message, so think bright and sensory at this stage. Remember, this is the video that sets the tone for your customers in your marketing material, so it needs to make a clear, focused statement.

Advanced Video Hooks

Basic is good, but if you’re ready for a more advanced take on messaging, video has the ability to capture ideas without words. Remember the famous silhouette ads for the Apple iPod? It’s a great example of a hook video that didn’t need to rely on excessive text.

The message is all visual: the iPod is mobile, fun, and young.

The trick to this style of video is a great creative team. Once you have a message, can you link it to something sensory? Perhaps there’s a song that captures the same feeling you want to evoke in your customers; there’s your soundtrack.

Take the same approach to color palette. Is your message bold and bright or soft and pastel? Being able to connect those artistic concepts to your business concepts is a great skill, and it can take any video to the next level.

Another alternative type of hook is an explainer video. This type of video is a clip that walks a client through your product or service —or a product demo or a client testimonial. Where the above style is an all-visual take, an explainer video favors a more in-depth script.

As with any hook, the goal is to make videos that are a visual representation of your message, but this approach allows you to embellish a single core statement with a little more information that would appeal to your customers.

In planning your video messaging, consider the strengths of your business. For instance, a complex service may be best served by a hook that’s an explainer video, so that your potential clients understand everything they need to know before signing up. Your messaging should feel like a natural match for your company.

Companies Doing It Right

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With any type of messaging, the most important thing is to be clear and simple. Don’t try to pack too much information into each message. Focus on a single statement to answer each question. Not only will this prevent information overload in your audience, but it will present a more expressive picture of what your business is all about. Apply all the usual rules of creating videos to the clips that will support your messaging goals.

To connect all those video messages into a stronger structure, try to create the same tone. You can do this by maintaining a style across your videos (think about using a consistent color palette or the same piece of music). Ideally, you’ll even want to have some key phrases that pop up in the script, too.

One brand that has nailed its messaging is car insurance company Geico. The marketing tagline is “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” It’s a simple statement that relies on the repetition within the phrase.

Part of what has made the “15 minutes” campaign such a hit for Geico is that it has kept the hook consistent even as it introduced new looks to videos. The gecko videos were an early success, but now the company has put that same hook into two new video series.

The first shows the subjects of paintings interacting with each other. The second riffs on the familiarity of the hook by making a joke that the Geico message is common knowledge; many of them even show billboards of the iconic gecko.

Even though the look and the tone of the new videos are different, the audience is still receiving the same hook message: that Geico is a source of great savings. That consistency can be achieved by any company. When you find the perfect phrase for explaining the core of your business, stick with it. You’d be amazed how far it can take you.

Another great example is the recently launched PlayStation 4 from Sony. The company coupled the launch with a campaign titled “Greatness Awaits.” The hook video includes a grandiose, empowering script backed with visuals harkening to different games that can be played on the console.

It’s a bold video that became an instant viral success for how it captured the PlayStation’s hook with a unique tone. The idea of creating real-world versions of iconic games captured the “greatness awaits” message, showing people enacting the wild adventures that they get to experience in games. If it’s a cultural match for your brand, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something a little zany.

Video is a great way to convey any type of your company’s messages. It’s a testament to the old adage, because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video can successfully capture anything you want to share about your business.


Want to know more about getting started in online video? These articles will put you on the right path:

Image credits: Flickr, Ervins Strauhmanis/ Flickr, Garry Knight

Written by Anna Washenko
Anna is a freelance writer. Dancer/DJ. Chicagoan living in Brooklyn.