What is Focused Messaging?

We’ve talked before about the inefficiency of using one film in too many settings. Video can’t deliver real value if it’s spread too thin or presented in the wrong context.

Let’s put aside issues of format and timing for the moment. Today, we want to elaborate on how you can make your video stronger by limiting it to a single, focused message.

We know that this goes against a lot of people’s business instincts. It’s understandable that you might think to yourself: “If I’m going to invest all this money in a video, I might as well cram as much messaging into it as I can.”

But this approach actually hurts you rather than helps you. Instead of creating a more valuable video, it completely diminishes the potential rewards.

Videos with a limited scope are infinitely more effective. Here are three reasons why.

1. Targeted Appeal Gets Better Results

Imagine a flyer advertising a garage sale with the following text: “Garage sale this Tuesday from 9-12.”

If you don’t have a particular audience in mind, this generic pitch is all you can offer. It includes everybody, but it doesn’t suggest anything to get any of them excited.

On the other hand, you can choose to create multiple flyers targeting multiple audiences. You can attract young parents by promoting the toys and games available. You can appeal to technophiles by touting the computer parts and other gadgetry for sale.

By highlighting specific points of interest, you greatly increase your chances of getting an active response.

You connect with viewers by using references that are relevant to them. We’ve spoken before about choosing footage, colors, music, and other details based on what will resonate with your key demographic. By taking audience into account, you increase your chances of making a truly meaningful impression.

But you can’t take every audience into account at the same time. You can’t put a list of every single item for sale on your garage sale flyer; no one would read it! Your audience isn’t going to waste their time hunting through the mess to find out what you can offer them in particular.

Golden Rule #1: Don't do this with your video!

Golden Rule #1: Don’t do this with your video!

Every second of your video must speak to the needs of your chosen viewership. Don’t divide your focus; it’s the surest way to lose everyone’s interest. Once that happens, your bottom line is where you’ll see the result.

2. Send a Message of Exclusivity

Who sells better quality suits: Armani or Walmart? Do you trust a family doctor or cardiac specialist more when it comes to diagnosing a critical heart problem?

More isn’t always better. A jack-of-all-trades is an ace of none, while an expert is admired and sought after. This isn’t to say that your organization can’t do a lot of good across a wide range of issues. But by pushing this as your narrative, you run the risk of creating a mediocre impression. You don’t want to appear so universal that viewers think all your contributions must be slight or marginal.

When a video focuses on a specific aspect of your brand, it labels you as a leader in that area. It sends the message that you’re at the forefront of the field, the number one organization engaging with the problem. This means that more people will want to work with you or involve themselves with the cause through you.

A focused message implies exclusivity, which equals exceptionalism in the minds of the viewer.

In the end, this will bring in better results than trying to prove your widespread appeal.

3. Keep One Goal in your Sights

What do you want your video to achieve? What actions do you want the viewer to take as a result of watching it?

You may have a number of objectives that would benefit from promotion. Fundraising drives, event attendance, outreach and long-term relationship building are all typical examples that fall into this category.

There are probably several important projects that you want to publicize at any given moment. You may therefore be imagining that one video would give you the chance to get them all out there at the same time. If you run a school, this would mean that you could invite viewers to come to the open house, send in their applications, RSVP to the annual dinner and donate on the website, all at the same time.

This doesn’t work as well as you might think.

In fact, it doesn’t work at all. Sure, our example was a little over the top, but even throwing just two requests out at once makes viewers less likely to take you up on either of them.

Any ask gets watered down by being grouped with others.

Even if someone would normally be interested, each item is made a little more anonymous or overwhelming by appearing in the middle of a prolonged list.

4. Steps Forward

By restricting your videos to one call to action, you make the opportunity in question that much more attractive to your audience. Instead of wasting your efforts on an overloaded pitch, you give your organization a real chance of achieving your fundamental goals.

We recommend narrowing your focus in stages according to these categories. First, settle on one call to action. What basic goal do you have in mind?

This decision will help you extrapolate an audience. Who are the people most likely to answer this need?

Finally, you can define your unique selling proposition (USP) against your competition in the market. What aspect of your work can help you stand out as the worthiest option?

These steps are the cornerstones of a well-constructed and highly productive video.

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