Video Handbooks – The Next Step in Product Videos

The concept of a video handbook is based on the most successful and effective product videos. It combines marketing videos with customer support videos and creates an interactive experience that helps people learn about a product or service. In short, a video handbook is a product or service video guide that helps educate consumers about your product or service and it does it in a logical, step by step progression. It helps before or after the sale, and ensures that your customers will have the best possible experience with your company.

You will need to create a series of short videos instead of creating one long video. It may sound like more work at first, but the benefits are great: not only your viewers can access information quickly and easily, but you can update individual video chapters and you will not need to abandon the whole video that you spend so much time creating. You can also add to the video handbook at any time, so it can serve the needs of your viewers, or answer the questions that were not addressed in the original videos.

So how do you create a video handbook? It might be as simple as organizing your existing video content, or creating new videos quickly following the standardized format that makes it easy to get started. Every video handbook should be based on separate chapters to allow for the ease of navigation. Think of books and manuals – they always have a table of contents and allow you to access exactly what you need without having to read the entire document. So should your videos. And every video handbook should have these 3 parts: Introduction, Basic Features, and Quick Start Guide. If you watch any successful product video you will see that it has these parts.

So let’s get started.

Your video handbook will need to have an introduction chapter. It can be anywhere from 30 sec to 3 minutes or longer.

Here is where you will tell the viewers what the product or service is, who can use and why. That will be your value proposition. Do not assume that everyone is familiar with your company or your technology, and that they understand what your product or service does. Start from the beginning and tell the viewers what it is in plain English.

Tip #1: Don’t launch into an elaborate story and spend too much time setting up the stage. While MasterCard can get away with creating its famous line of commercials that take forever to get to the point ($5 dollars for this, $10 dollars for that…for everything else there is MasterCard) – they were only successful because they used TV as a medium. It allowed them to “force” people to get to the end of the story, and they had a huge budget to push these commercials until they become well known. With online video you don’t have that luxury. Viewers click out before you get to the point, and you loose big time.

Tip #2: Address the problem that your product or service is trying to solve. Every product or service exists to solve some kind of a problem, and it is important to identify it. But again, if you spend too much time getting to the point you will loose the viewers who are increasingly impatient when it comes to online videos. So be brief.

Tip #3: Identify your target audience or skill level. Whom are you speaking to in your video? If it is a general consumer you may not need to spend too much time explaining who can use the product or service, but if your product or service is more technical it is important that you address this issue. If your product/service can only be used by a technician or a specialist, or if it requires a certain skill set, – you need to identify it. There is nothing more frustrating that watching about a product only to find out at the end that you cannot use it because of the requirements. That is why if you watch a video on Home Depot or Lowe’s website for example, it always tells you what skill level is required. They do it because they know it is not just about selling. If a customer buys but cannot use the product it will be a return. And no one wins when a product gets returned.

Next, your video handbook needs to have a basic features overview chapter. It can be about the same length – 30 sec to 3 minutes or longer.

If the introduction chapter was about your value proposition, this chapters is about differentiation, features and benefits. How is your product or service different? What are the options? If it is a product, then tell the viewers what comes in the box or give them a short walk through identifying different functions that are important. Are there different sizes, colors they can choose from? What are the specs? This will help them decide if your product is the right one for them. For a service you may need to elaborate on the benefits to help the viewers see why your service is so much better than other similar services. What sets you apart? Do you offer different packages, discounts, levels of membership, etc?

Tip #1: List the features first, then if you need to, go back and elaborate. Online viewers are impatient, so keep the video moving forward. Resist the temptation to veer off and mix your features with testimonials for example (especially if they are lengthy). Stay on track.

Finally your video handbook needs to have a quick start chapter. This chapter will usually be about 1 to 5 minutes depending on the product or service.

Now that the viewers are interested in your product or service, they want to see it in action, and they want to see the steps involved. This reassures them that they can use it, and that they will have a pleasant and trouble free experience.

Now that the 3 most important chapters have been created you can add any number of additional chapters. They can include detailed assembly, testimonials videos, most often asked FAQ, etc. This will provide additional support as well as reassurance for your potential customers. Even the best products or services can fail if they don’t provide effective customer support. Video handbooks allow you to provide this support. Now you can send links to a specific chapter, and make sure your customers get their problems resolved with minimal effort on your customer support staff.