The video megatrend continues to transform marketing. Why? For one good reason: Video done right can dramatically increase your response.
Video brings your product or service to life in a way that print cannot, with demonstrations, testimonials and benefits in action.
Test after test shows that videos boost response when properly used in your emails, banner ads, Facebook, meta-targeting, landing pages, and more.
For almost every campaign I do for a client, we do a video. We are now approaching over 400 videos we have created and tested.
I’ll share some of the things we have learned and discovered that will help make your video more responsive … and hopefully increase your response rates, whether you’re selling B2B or to the consumer.
The videos we use are for landing pages, Facebook, banner ads, email, pre-roll commercials and more.
So here are 21 direct response video rules you should follow:

Video Marketing Rule #1: The First Few Seconds of Your Video are Key

You’ve got to capture the attention of your audience immediately. It’s too easy to skip from video to video, so make sure the first few seconds are powerful.
And don’t start with a fade-in from a black screen—instead, use vibrant, colorful images to immediately engage the viewer.

Rule #2: Use Only Direct Response Copy in Your Script

Your script should have one clear theme. It must be benefit-oriented and guide your viewer through AIDA. It should attract Attention, create Interest, create Desire, compel Action.
Remember, it’s a story designed to get people to buy your product or service, or generate that lead.
Don’t let image ad agencies fool you. If your script is editorial, typical ad agency short and cute copy … your video will fail. Customers won’t buy. You won’t get the lead.
Direct response copy makes all the difference in your success—or failure.

Rule #3: Use a Credible Spokesperson

This is an easy way to reinforce how great your product is and demonstrate its benefits. Seeing it in action—and hearing it discussed by the spokesperson—is powerful.
A spokesperson can be more effective than sheer entertainment … but that doesn’t mean your video can’t be fun. For example, we cast a 4-year old as “the world’s greatest investment trader” in a client’s online video. It was entertaining, informative, and effective.

Rule #4: Repeat Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Just as you should feature your USP at the beginning, middle, and end of every print campaign, you also need it in your video. Be sure it’s consistent with the rest of your branding and collateral materials.

Rule #5: Video v. Action 

Video will help increase your response to your email, infomercial ads, and Facebook marketing.
Plus, putting a video on your landing page can increase your response.
On my video/TV/infomercial examples of videos created by my CDMG group, you’ll see:

  1. PowerPoint “videos”
  2. Action/drama videos

We are finding that our “power point” video works best.
This is now confirmed by Facebook, which says using printed words increases video engagement by an average of 12%.
So … Facebook now has a new tool to use. It’s easy to add word captions for your Facebook videos.
See our video here of video commercials my agency CDMG has created here.

Rule #6: Use Text

Whether you’re using a live personality or a PowerPoint, on-screen text will increase how long someone will watch a video, and will increase the response.
Make sure that the words properly reflect what’s being said, are easy to read, and stay in one location.

Rule #7: Give a Tutorial

Viewers want to see your product in motion, so show them how it works. If you’re selling a membership service, create a video that showcases your members-only benefits. Or create a video for existing members to increase renewals.

Rule #8: Use Testimonials and/or Reviews with Ratings

Testimonials are one of the most powerful sales tools in existence. But remember, viewers want to see real people who like your product.
Showing a person who is not a professional model—who seems uncomfortable and whose story is not overly rehearsed—actually increases your response.
When you’re filming customer testimonials, shoot them several times so you can edit exactly what you want from the answers. IPhone testimonials are great, too!

Rule #9: Connect the Script with the Prospect Quickly and Dramatically

A powerful direct response script will do what needs to be done with email, direct mail, and other direct response copy: hit hard immediately.
Drama. Suspense. Surprise.
No warm up. No introduction. Command attention.
47% of the value of a video is delivered within the first three seconds, 74% in the first ten.

Rule #10: Length—Fear Not

Do not be afraid of a longer video. Some of the most powerful ones are twelve minutes. How complicated are your benefits to explain? How easy to overcome objections? How high the volume? I normally create 3-7 minute videos; they produce better than 30 second-2 minute videos.

Rule #11: Get a model release

Always get a model release from those you’re filming so you have the right to use your footage wherever you want to. You may want to use a still photo and an excerpt from the testimonial in a brochure, for example.

Rule #12: Have a Strong Call to Action

Your job is to make it as easy as possible for the viewer to respond … whether you show a phone number, email URL, or mailing address.

Rule #13: Graphics Add Power

The addition of graphics in the right places will increase viewer retention and reinforce your message. Every image must reflect the value of your goods and services.

Rule # 14: Optimize your Video for Silent Mode

85% of people watch Facebook videos on silent. That means that you’ll have to create drama and impact without relying on a voiceover or background music.
Instead, communicate your message with powerful action, and if necessary, show important words as text on screen.

Rule #15: Clean and Simple Win on Small Screens

Remember that many of your prospects will be watching your video on mobile screens.
Avoid small text and detailed visuals, and keep your graphics simple and bold. This is a key detail when choosing your thumbnail image, which should be clean and bright to catch the eye of your audience.
Your title doesn’t need to be included in the thumbnail—you can attach metadata to the file when you share it online.

Rule #16: The Camera is Unforgiving

Consider how the subjects you’re filming appear through the lens. Don’t neglect wardrobe considerations. An outrageously patterned tie or an electric blue dress can distract viewers from the content.
Take extra time to see what doesn’t belong in the shot. For example, a newspaper or magazine showing a headline can immediately date your production and limit its use.

Rule #17: Remember Murphy’s Law

If something can go wrong, it will.
Plan, plan, plan! If you don’t bring it to your video shoot, you’re sure to need it. If you don’t have a Plan B, you’ll need one. Outline everything you’ll need, including rolls and rolls of duct tape.
Take special care with cameras and other equipment that may become victims of carelessness. Look into getting insurance for the day of the shoot that includes weather, equipment, and both personal and corporate liability.

Rule #18: Allow for Extra Shots

Always shoot more footage than you need, since you’ll always need more than you thought. Even if you think a scene is “perfect”, always shoot a backup so you can pick from the best material as you edit.
Make time for “establishing shots”—shots that show the context of what’s being sold. Shoot “reaction shots” to show one person reacting to another’s comments. This is called “B-roll” footage, which can be invaluable during editing.

Rule #19: Think Viral

Put your video on YouTube and some of the 30+ other large video-sharing websites. The more people who see your video, the more leads or sales you’ll get. Remember, Google loves video for SEO … and Facebook favors it also.

Rule #20: Maximize its Use

Brainstorm multiple uses for your video—as a premium, as a download, to drive people to your URL … your sales team can even use it on sales calls.

Rule #21: Enlist the Right Crew

Remember, it was direct response marketers who perfected the infomercial—and it works.
That’s why it’s important to use direct marketing professionals … not video professionals or general ad agencies … to get the most out of your video.
The result: Increased leads, conversion, and sales.
Any questions on how your company can put together a video that sells? Call me at (310) 212-5727 or email me at
Here are the rest of this issue’s articles: