A Big Bowl of Memorable Content

A Big Bowl of Memorable Content

Getting lots and lots of presents can make a person feel wonderful. But who wants lots and lots of crappy presents you didn’t want or ask for? Furthermore, it’s a colossal waste of time and money for the person giving the gifts.

That’s exactly how I feel about the video content we provide for our clients. As we all keep hearing, video content is king. But who wants a bunch of content with no substance and no clear direction or storyline? I can answer that quickly…nobody.

As video marketing has increased and evolved, I’ve made it a point to build a team that is second to none in modern day video marketing. That’s probably a bit of a bold statement, but I truly believe we are the best at combining expertly produced TV commercials and equally impressive web and social media video content.

The example that is on my mind right now is the work we’ve done for the Cactus Bowl and Fiesta Bowl these past few months. We’ve produced TV commercials that will air during both games, but we’ve put just as much thought and planning into all of the social media and sizzle reels we’re producing.

By January 1, 2017 we will have shot, edited, and produced 34 different videos for this client in just 3 months. Moreover, in the next 2 weeks, we will crank out 17 different videos for the Cactus Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. They will all be beautifully shot, produced, edited and memorable. If they’re not, then why are we doing them? After all, the goal is to get those who view these videos to get excited and take action. This is how our clients increase revenue. It’s something we take very seriously.

Please allow me to wrap this up by saying Happy Holidays to each and everyone one of you. If I haven’t met you yet, please give me a call, send an email, or just come on down to Manley Films.

Watch Cactus and Fiesta Bowl Videos by Manley Films & Media

Take me to the videos!
Never Let Words Get in the Way of Memorable Script

Never Let Words Get in the Way of Memorable Script

In our business, sometimes the best script has no words. In fact, some of our most successful videos have very few words or no words at all. I learned a long time ago to never let art get in the way of a memorable story. After all, the number one goal of telling a story in our business is to inspire those who view it and compel them to take action because they were moved in one way or another.

 

When I first started writing scripts many years ago, I crafted them with what I thought were eloquent, smart, poetic words. But, my scripts read more like a novel than a memorable video story. Then, I attended a lecture where the legendary reporter Bob Dotson had this to say about writing for television and video:

“Writing is nothing more than stitching one great sound bite or one descriptive frame of video to another. Any more than that and you’re just trying to show off.”

That was the moment I stopped trying to show off and I began telling the story the way it was supposed to be told. As a result, heart found a path into every video we make. I’ve never forgotten the lesson. It’s something we teach everyone here at Manley Films & Media. But, we don’t just mention it and move on; we constantly remind each other that every single video we produce has to be memorable. Not just some of them, all of them.

If we don’t do that, we’re wasting our clients’ time and money.

Yesterday, as we sat in our weekly planning meeting, our team watched this new Amazon commercial, modestly titled the “A Priest and Imam meet for a cup of tea.”

Just like we don’t let words get in the way of telling a good story, we don’t let ego get in the way of learning and improving. We didn’t have anything to do with the production of this video but I sat my team down to watch it. It was quickly dubbed the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” video for the new era, with a decidedly more urgent appeal that the world needs more than words to heal.

Amazon’s video is beautifully scripted, but it has no words. It doesn’t need them. It tells a timely story in gestures, smiles, eyes and hands which weave a tale of acceptance, kindness, faith and unity. It’s a timeless novella of human compassion and benevolence. I don’t know, nor do I care, if Amazon is making a political statement with this commercial as some have theorized, or if Amazon is simply making a statement that allows the viewer to decide their own takeaway.

Here’s my takeaway. This story of unity will always drive marketing messaging. But, over the next year we will see an increase in the theme of unity. Some will be memorable, some will not. Not everyone who uses the unity theme will be up to the task. Telling this story will become more and more challenging, because commercials like this aren’t happy accidents. It takes a tremendous amount of planning by the production team and the client to pull a memorable concept like this together. If both sides aren’t totally committed, the end result might end up being a mere shell of what could’ve been. Or worse, incite a negative outcry.

We just finished two months of shooting, scripting, rewriting, drafting, storyboarding, location scouting, selecting actors, pre-shoot testing and crew coordination for three :30 commercials for one of our largest clients. Post production editing is happening as I write this and our client will come to Manley Films & Media HQ to view the first drafts of the commercials today. If you’re wondering if these commercials have words, they do. But, just enough to help stitch one memorable frame of video to the next. We take this and every client’s street cred seriously, so we will tweak every word and every second of film to tell their story the way they need and want it told. That’s a promise we make to our clients.

I started my company many years ago because I truly wanted to make a difference in this world. At Manley Films & Media, we are excited for this renewed focus on unity. Thanks for lighting the fire, Amazon Prime. Now, give us a call and we’ll take care of your next commercial.

View Amazon Prime’s video here.

Photo from Amazon Prime’s “A priest and imam meet for a cup of tea.”
5 Practices That Delight Video Clients

5 Practices That Delight Video Clients

I remember the first time I missed a deadline in my professional life. I was working for NBC in Phoenix and I had just returned from shooting a beautiful story. Back then, I thought everything I did was extraordinary, because I really thought I was something. Long story short: I sat down to edit this masterpiece. The clock ticks away. I miss getting my story on the 10 p.m. news.

Now, I only missed it by two minutes, but that meant everything, because it didn’t make it into the newscast.

One of the seasoned photojournalists walked into the edit bay right afterwards and said, “Hey, what’s up, Manley?”

I said, “Man, I just edited this beautiful masterpiece and I missed my deadline. But, take a look, it’s great.”

Uninterested, he walked towards the door, looked at me, and said in an old sage’s tone, “It ain’t great if nobody saw it.” Then he walked out.

That was over twenty years ago and I’ve taken that experience to heart almost every day. When I started Manley Films more than ten years ago, I made meeting and beating deadlines one of the cornerstones of our customer service experience. But, to meet deadlines, you have to have a few other organizational procedures in place. Here are five ways we work with our clients to ensure that deadlines are met and the outcome exceeds their expectations.

Clarity

Before we even begin a project, we ask a lot of questions so everyone is on the same page. What is the most powerful impact possible from this video? Who is the audience? What ROI are we expecting? How can we maximize the footage we’re gathering and editing? These are just a few of the many questions we ask to achieve the clarity everyone craves.

Production Calendars

No matter how big or small the project, we work very closely with our video clients to create a solid production calendar. This calendar contains dates for pre-production, script writing/storyboards, client feedback and changes, shooting the video, editing the video, more client feedback and changes, and dates for the final deliverables.

Bi-weekly Equipment Checks

One thing that can derail a good plan is a curveball like equipment failure on a shoot. So, at least once a week, we take an hour or so to test and clean our cameras, cables, batteries, tripods, monitors, and anything else we feel needs to be tested and cleaned.

Project Checklists

As I sit here writing this, I’m listening to two Manley Filmers going over the project checklist for an upcoming commercial we’re shooting in Miami. Again, no matter how big or small the project, we go through the exact same process and the exact same checklist every single time. Things like: are there insurance considerations? Do we need hair and makeup, talent releases, props? Still photography, social media opportunities (for our client and for us)? Water, food, craft services, food allergies? These are all very important things which need to be addressed well before we shoot or edit video.

The Manley Films & Media Protocols

We’re sticklers for protocol. On shoots, we have a dress code, a neatness code, a “no cursing” policy, a “be nice and always use good manners” policy and a “don’t freak out” code. Most importantly, we have a “take tremendous care of our clients” code. These are not made-up things. We have them, we live by them, and we take them seriously.

 

The bottom line is this: what we do is fun. It’s also very important to our clients, to their bosses (if they’re not already the boss), and to their companies. And that makes it extremely important to us. So, all of these preparations, protocols, and systems are put in place to ensure that our video production clients get the most powerful impact possible from the video content we produce for them. Therefore, we must we deliver exactly what they need when they need it: on time, as promised, and in keeping with our personal code.

Want to experience a light-hearted look at how we communicate with our clients? Watch Episode 5 of the Manley Films & Media Vlog: Client Relations.

 

Lessons From the 80s: The Squawk Heard Around the World

Lessons From the 80s: The Squawk Heard Around the World

Something totally awesome happened in 1984.

It blew me away and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life.

“Where’s the beef?” cawed Clara Peller. That was it. That did it.

First, I thought to myself, the person or people who came up with that commercial had to be mad creative geniuses.

clarapellerSecond, I pictured the scene in the corporate boardroom when “Where’s the Beef?” was pitched. I mean, can you imagine the look on the faces of the client when the creative madmen said, “Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do…since your target audience is 18-45 year olds, let’s get a 4 foot 11 inch, 81 year-old manicurist with no acting experience and a crow-like voice to be the spokesperson for your product in this new round of commercials. She’ll say 3 words and we believe those 3 words will take your product to the next level.”

After that, there had to be blank stares, hands on foreheads, and perhaps some curse words from the client. But, the madmen believed in their idea. They did their research, they accessed the competition, they dug deep into their years of experience, and they stood by their pitch, eventually gaining the buy-in from their valued client.

In two short years, Wendy’s sales jumped 31 percent worldwide. Wendy’s SVP of Communications, Denny Lynch, stated at the time, “With Clara we accomplished as much in five weeks as we did in 14½ years.” The offbeat campaign succeeded in part due to the simplicity of the idea. From Clara Peller’s squawk came one of the most recognizable slogans, still known today. Now, that’s endurance.

Thirty-two years later, here I am, in my twenty-third year of pitching ideas. The Manley team and I have seen those blank stares, hands on foreheads, and we’ve even been cursed at a few times. And you know what, that’s okay. No, it’s better than okay. It’s great.

Decisions driving revenue and decisions driving your company’s success should be scrutinized, explored and questioned. There is no room for ego. Yes, we may want to pitch a “where’s the beef” to you and we hope that you’ll consider it. But, when it comes down to it, we’re in a partnership with you. A giant sales jump sounds just as awesome to us as it sounds to you.

So, because of Clara, the mad creative geniuses, and Wendy’s corporate, I’m living a dream life. I get to partner with some of the finest companies in the world to help create memorable moments. And you know what? If you decide you’d like to sit in a conference room with me and my team, I would consider it an honor. But, please remember, if you feel like our ideas are too soft, you know what to say.

“Where’s the beef, Manley?”

 

A Storyteller’s How-To Manual Revealed

A Storyteller’s How-To Manual Revealed

Pictured: Little Jimmy Manley, future filmmaker and business owner.

 

Manley Films founder, Jim Manley, has been telling stories since he was 5 years old.

Ask any of his teachers and they’ll tell you how “Little Jimmy Manley” would bury his face into a blank piece of paper and then wouldn’t stop writing until he felt like his story was perfect…and memorable.

Then, he discovered video, built a team of like-minded storytellers, and the rest is Manley Films history.

When done well, video doesn’t just make you look good, it makes you real.

To that end, we are pleased to present THE MANLEY MANUALS, a new resource for our existing clients and potential new clients.

Manley Manuals is an introduction to the Manley Films & Media process. We’re giving you a peek behind the curtain, so you understand what every member of our team contributes to your project as well as how our expertise makes the final cut a product you’ll be excited to put into action.

In the Manley Manuals you can get pro tips on marketing strategy, planning and execution, budgeting, preparing for your first shoot, and more. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

There’s a good reason video is the most popular content marketing format these days. It’s projected that by 2019, 80% of all Internet traffic will be people streaming video content. Also, 93% of marketers today are already using video content, calling video the most effective content marketing they use, ranking it ahead of case studies, blogs and infographics. And 74% of businesses report that video content drives more conversions than any other content type.

Video is one of the superstars of content marketing today because so many people have embraced the format to get their news, entertainment, product information and inform every part of their lives. The best part? It transcends age. You can reach older demographics as well as younger. Heck, we’ve seen our own babies learn to operate media players before they can even say YouTube.

Video catalyzes a marketing content plan by adding excitement, energy and timeliness. Just as marketing is all about what you do today, video is very much in the moment. So, how do you get staying power with a medium that is constantly evolving? Using video along with your other marketing tools, such as web advertising, email campaigns, social media, advertising and PR, is salt to the soup: video helps bring out the flavor of everything else.

Video lets you tell your stories like nothing else can. It engages all the senses and evokes emotion and prompts action. It’s incredible easy to share. And when it is done very well, video seamlessly adds a layer of sophistication to your brand, organization, company and team.

Unsure how to get started using video content? Just want to get a few pointers in the right direction?Contact us, we’ll help you figure it out!

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