6 Actionable Steps for Better Promo Videos

Try these on your next DIY video project!

By: Peter Gray

By: Peter Gray

Are your promotional videos “thumb stopping”? Do they compel consumers to take the next step and learn more about you?

We first learned the term when one of our local small business clients in Gig Harbor requested a “thumb stopping” promo video. While I had never heard that saying before, we knew exactly what he meant. 

At Gray Media, in both our music series (The Old Still) and in our general business promotion, we are constantly learning how to best grow and engage our following. In the saturated market of content creation, this can be difficult. We only have a couple seconds to catch someone’s attention, amplifying the importance of quality and relevance in our social media videos.

We have put together a few basic tips that are guaranteed to increase the engagement and success of a promotional video campaign. As always, if you have found success using other strategies, feel free to leave us a comment. We are always looking for ways to improve our social media marketing!

Here are 6 tips that will boost the success of your social media or general promotional videos: 

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”

1. Establish a Purpose

What is the goal of this video? This is the very first question you should ask before planning your business’ promotional video. 


For example, if I were to make a video promoting this blog, the purpose would be something like: “direct people to the blog and encourage engagement”. This is a very specific goal that fits into our umbrella objective of the blog to “gain trust and build brand awareness by posting informational and entertaining content”.

This applies to social media videos and really any project a videographer undertakes. With each client, this is the very first question we ask to ensure that they have a clear roadmap. We base all of our creative decisions on that original goal established in the first meeting. You can often decipher this goal from a client when they say things like “I want to make a video that ____” or “I need help promoting ___ service to my target audience”. 


2. Entertain and Engage

Successful promotions are always entertaining and engaging. Here are a few specific ways you can achieve these two qualities in your social media videos. 


Ask a Question

Encourage participation by asking a relevant and thought provoking question at the beginning of your video. This is guaranteed to increase the engagement in the form of comments on your social media posts. The viewer will be more likely to pay attention to you if they feel they are a part of the conversation.

Focus on the Feeling

A videographer must never forget the most important component to their promotional video: the audience. Focusing solely on the product and its features will leave potential customers disinterested and bored. Instead, focusing on how the product or service makes the customer feel should be the priority. 


Consider Nike commercials, for instance. Most of their ads focus on the feeling of their brand rather than specific features of their running shoes or athletic attire. They focus on conveying emotion through a narrative. Tell a story! 


After searching for the most recent Nike commercial on YouTube, this 1 minute spot came up. Not once does Nike mention their products or any characteristics. Just a story about a girl setting her alarm imagining what the next day will hold… (Nike Commercial)


Be Yourself!

People like silly, genuine, and unexpected content. They don’t want to hear you talk to the camera for 60 seconds about why you should buy their product. They want to be entertained! Tom Fishburne, a marketing cartoonist once said that, “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”. 


Yes, the goal of a promo video may be to raise awareness for a new product, but be creative in how you communicate that! In The Old Still series, we constantly strive to market our livestreams in new and outside the box ways.

Below you will find the intro to one of our Old Still live streams with artist Jeannie Rak. I probably won’t be winning any awards for my lackluster performance, but we thought this style of intro was more entertaining than an alternative of talking at the camera about how fun the show will be. Enjoy the video!


3. Prioritize Quality

Regardless of how creative an idea you have for a video, low quality just won’t cut it. Standards of quality in media are lightyears ahead of where they were just a decade ago. If you don’t utilize basic equipment to ensure your audio and visual are up to par, people will lose interest fast. 

Investing in a basic external microphone, tripod, and editing software can maximize the quality even if you are shooting video on an iphone. If you are looking to take on the challenge of producing video content for your business or group, here is a great read for some basic video techniques and best practices: (How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck)


“you must catch your audience’s eye and “stop their thumbs” from scrolling past your content.”

4. Catch the Audience's Eye Right off the Bat

Going back to the beginning of this blog, you must catch your audience’s eye and “stop their thumbs” from scrolling past your content. This makes the first second of your video so crucial to its engagement. 

Thumb stopping material could include interesting B Roll, sound bites, or you just being silly. For more casual tones, you can get pretty far outside the box. As we mentioned above, people enjoy it when you are authentic. 

Time is money, and if you waste your audience’s time, they will scroll past your content within seconds. Getting straight to the point is crucial in these first few frames. Long, drawn out intros or landscape shots usually don’t work, unless you are shooting a spaghetti western. 


5. Make Your Message/Branding Clear and Concise

Do you ever watch a really good commercial but forget what company it was for? When this happens, it seems like a waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars for these larger corporations with massive marketing budgets. To avoid this, make your branding clear. Make the logo and call to action clear either at the beginning, end, or both. You can still be creative and outside the box while having a clear call to action. Don’t miss this crucial step!

Also, communicating your message concisely is key…


When your video marketing needs far outweigh your internal capabilities, hire a pro. For certain projects , you may be able to get away with shooting on an iphone and a cheap amazon mic. However, the quality of your videos can reflect (positively or negatively) on your business. 

We will conveniently place the Gray Media contact button below in case you have any questions at all. If you own a business in Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Seattle, or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, we’d love to help with your video production needs!