You ever wonder what it costs to produce an advertisement? At Ydraw we turn down a mountain of clients each and every week because they feel our prices are just too much. But how do our prices stack up against other companies? And just how cost effective is a whiteboard animation compared to other forms of advertising on the market?
Let’s do this thing.
I’m going to start with whiteboard animation, since that’s what Ydraw is primarily known for — though our library is quite diverse in terms of the types of products we offer.
A whiteboard animation running sixty seconds costs $7,500. This includes the customer’s choice of voice over artist, visual artist, a screenplay, and music/SFX.
Here’s an example:
Now, check out these prices for various forms of advertising, per Adage.com:
The average outlay for a commercial during the fifth season of AMC‘s “The Walking Dead,” making it the costliest scripted series on TV. The Oct. 12, 2014, season premiere drew 17.3 million viewers; the March 29 season finale, 15.8 million. According to averages from media buyers compiled by Ad Age during the upfronts; ratings according to Nielsen.
The amount Snapchat demands per “Brand Story” ad, a branded post (or “snap”) that appears within the app’s “Stories” feed. Snapchat doesn’t disclose user numbers. According to media buyers interviewed by Ad Age, January 2015.
The cost for a thousand impressions on Hulu for standard run-of-site in-stream video ads, with a minimum requirement of two ads per campaign. According to Hulu’s rate card, March 2015.
The cost of 30 seconds of ad time in the championship game of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament on CBS, when Duke will take on Wisconsin. That’s up from $1.49 million in 2014. Last year the championship game averaged 21.2 million viewers, down from 23.4 million in 2013. According to Kantar Media, Nielsen and media buyers interviewed by Ad Age.
The average cost for 30 seconds of commercial time in prime time broadcast TV last year. That’s up from $110,00 in 2013. According to Nielsen
The average cost of a 30-second commercial during “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS, the most expensive comedy on TV. “Big Bang” averaged 16.7 million viewers this season through March 12. According to Ad Age interviews with media buyers during the 2014 upfronts; audience according to Nielsen
The cost of one full-color ad on the front page of The New York Times. To appear on the Times’ front page, though, marketers must commit to a certain frequency, such as front-page ads every Tuesday for six months; the total cost of running frequent page-one ads would likely top $1 million. According to current and former Times executives interviewed by Ad Age, March 2015.
The average cost of a thousand impressions for a 30-second commercial in broadcast prime time in 2014, down from $25.06 in 2013. According to Nielsen
The cost of a thousand impressions for a sponsored photo on Instagram, down from $40 in 2013 when Instagram first rolled out ads. Instagram says more than 300 million people around the world check out the photo-sharing app each month. Instagram’s minimum ad spend is $200,000. According to rate cards provided to media buyers by Instagram in spring 2015, before any discounts; minimum spend is according to a media buyer interviewed by Ad Age, March 2015.
The cost of a thousand impressions for a sponsored video on Instagram. According to rate cards provided to media buyers by Instagram in spring 2015, before any discounts.
The cost of four weeks on Times Square’s biggest billboard, Clear Channel’s eight-story sign on Broadway from West 45th Street to West 46th Street. According to sources familiar with the sign’s cost as of March 2015.
Can you imagine paying over a million dollars for an ad that runs less than one minute?
Obviously, these are extreme examples. Here are some you might be more familiar with, according to this website:
National TV Advertising
Setup Cost — $63,000 to $8 million
Cost of Media — Approx. $342,000 per 30 second ad
National Magazine Advertising
Setup Cost — $500 to $397,800
Cost of Media — Approx. $250,000 per ad
National Newspaper Advertising
Setup Cost — $11 to $1.4 million
Cost of Media — Approx. $113,000 per ad
Direct Mail Marketing
Setup Cost — $50 to $7,200
Cost of Media — Approx. $51.40 per order
Setup Cost — $1,000 to $5,200
Cost of Media — $7-$70 per hour, or $35 – $60 per lead
National Search Engine Optimization
Setup Cost — $4,000 to $10,000
Cost of Media — Free, though it’s roughly $500 per month for an internet marketer
National Pay Per Click Marketing
Setup Cost — $4,000 to $10,000
Cost of Media — $0.05-$3 per qualified visitor, plus $500 per month to internet marketer
National Email Marketing
Setup Cost — $4,000 to $10,000
Cost of Media — $0.05 – $3 per qualified visitor, plus $500 per month to internet marketer
Web Content Marketing Campaign
Setup Cost — $6,000 to $12,000
Cost of Media — Free
A Whiteboard video falls in line with the final choice: Web Content Marketing Campaign. So, while the upfront cost of $7,500 for a sixty-second ad might throw you off, consider it a lifetime investment in terms of how you can promote your business.
Other campaigns, such as magazine or newspaper ads require constant updates and monthly fees. And while you’re certainly guaranteed to get a lot of impressions, chances are only a small percent of them are catering to your audience.
You have a little more leeway in this regard with a television or radio ad since you can choose which time of day, or programs to run it; therefore, guaranteeing the audience is at least fit for your product.
But, again, the fees. Lots and lots of fees. Plus, such ads quickly become dated. Or, they may not even be seen at all!
According to an article written in The Guardian in 2010 (!), it was reported that nearly 90% of audiences skipped through TV advertising. Such is common practice in today’s high-tech world of streaming services, and DVR satellite systems that let you fast forward through advertisements.
Ask yourself: when was the last time you truly paid attention to the commercials during a TV show, sporting event (outside of the Super Bowl), or movie you were watching?
In my house, we have our smart TV connected with our Google Movies account. Between that and Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go, our exposure to TV advertising is quite limited.
Same with radio, where most ads go unheard because there are so many more convenient streaming options for music these days.
Now, the thing about a Whiteboard video, specifically, is that it features eye-catching visuals that are designed to attract an audience’s attention. And there are so many inexpensive ways to market them.
Yeah, Facebook charges a fee to advertise on their site, as does YouTube, and Instagram. According to FitSmallBusiness.com:
The short answer is $0.65 per click in the US. In other words, every $65 you put into Facebook gives you around 100 clicks on your ad, according to the Salesforce Advertising Index Q3 2015.
You can put your Whiteboard video on Facebook, and then, using the site’s unique features, ensure it gets seen by your target audience. You can customize the features to allow only specific states or regions to see your content, and you only pay when a potential client clicks your ad. That cuts out a lot of needless excess cost.
No, I’m not here to advertise for Facebook, but merely to demonstrate the myriad of ways you can use a Whiteboard video. You can post them on YouTube, or simply post them on your website. You can share them with clients, potential clients; use them at shows, and even put them on TV if you’ve got the budget.
And you can do all of this for $7,500!
There’s no worrying about OCD directors, stuck up actors, shooting schedules, or the myriad of problems that exist with a live-action commercial production. Check out this quote from JLB Media Productions:
The DGA (Director’s Guild of America), of which I am a member, considers low budget commercial work to be $75,000 per day, up to $225,000 for a three-day production. Most national commercials are several hundred thousand dollars up to a few million dollars. Directors are typically paid anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 per day of shooting, but many times that means $25,000 for a one-day shoot that also involves two weeks of prep and another week bidding on the job against other directors.
And that doesn’t factor in the aforementioned cost to advertise your product. Smaller production companies will charge less, but the result more often than not looks like this:
Yikes! Does that ad reflect the company it’s promoting well?
Now, check out this Whiteboard video, which cost less to produce:
See the difference? Which business looks more professional? Which one required the least amount of time and headaches to produce?
So, before you dish out a gazillion dollars on a thirty-second TV, radio, or newspaper ad, give Ydraw a call. Our process is simple and guaranteed to produce the results you’re looking for.
Do you ever wonder how a voice artist lands his or her big break? What’s the secret to standing out amidst a crowded field of eager-to-please actors, all of whom probably have more experience, more training, and more passion than you?
I’m here to give you a few tips on what it takes to land that big breakthrough voice acting gig you’ve been striving for. After reading this, there’s no reason to believe you can’t become the next Marcus Bentley. And if you don’t know who that is, I’m afraid you’re not quite as devoted to the sacred art of voice acting work. (This is a joke.)
A BRIEF HISTORY
Voice actors have existed since the invention of radio. Maybe even before that. I picture a group of cavemen sitting around a fire watching one of their own silently act out a recent hunt, while another caveman narrates the story. Perhaps they even use animals for sound FX?
The history of the voice actor does date back quite a few years — before the Titanic sunk, in point of fact. Before the invention of the vacuum cleaner, tea bags, radar, the electric washing machine, water coolers, paper cups, hair dryers, kiss-proof lipstick, and movies with sound. We had voice actors before we had submachine guns.
It is commonly believed that the first voiceover was from Walt Disney, as Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie.” And although this was a long time ago, in 1928, in actual fact the first voice over was in 1900! This historical achievement belongs to Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian inventor. He was thrilled with Alexander Graham Bell’s new device, the telephone, and set out to create a way to remotely communicate without wires. The beginning of “Wireless!” In 1900, working for the United States Weather Bureau, Fessenden recorded the very first voice over: a test he made reporting the weather.
He was also the first voice of radio. In Boston, in 1906, during the Christmas season, he recorded an entire program of music, Bible texts, and Christmas messages to ships out at sea.
From these early artists stemmed a number of talented voice actors, including Mel Blanc, Walt Disney, and Don LaFontaine. Now, seriously, if you don’t know the LaFontaine, you seriously have zero passion for this line of work, as he is to movie trailers what Tom Brady is to football — the GOAT:
These guys had it easy, as they were the pioneers in what would become a rather lucrative profession that millions of people are now trying to break into. Who doesn’t want to earn a nice chunk of change by sitting in a booth for a couple hours a day? It’s every stay-at-home parent’s ultimate dream! (Well, that and a robot that takes care of house vermin — i.e., children and pets.)
So, how do you land this gig? Most people have no idea how to present themselves to a company. At Ydraw, we get several emails a week from various voice actors, but rarely choose any of them simply because they don’t do anything to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Or they show up in sandals. Never show up in sandals.
Look, simply calling a business and saying, “Hey, I’m a voice artist,” won’t land you any gigs. Neither will sending an email outlining your work history — unless you’ve worked with Paul McCartney. Then all bets are off.
In this day and age, anyone and everyone can do practically anything if they have the right equipment. Heck, machines can make even the most incompetent singers sound semi professional … as anyone who saw the recent Beauty and the Beast will attest.
So, how do you make your voice work stand out? It’s really simple. Just follow these complicated steps:
DO A SAMPLE FOR FREE
You read that right. For a business to gauge whether or not your talents meet their requirements, they need to see, nay, hear you in action. Again, it does a business manager or recruiter no good to read resumes, or listen to blab about your ingenuity over the phone.
Take Ydraw for example. The videos we produce require unique talent. And while past videos/portfolios may demonstrate your ability to perform at a high level, we can’t know for sure if you’d make a good fit with our company until we get a chance to hear your voice set over our beautiful designs.
Providing a free audition is the best way to turn any business manager’s head, mainly because they’re cheap and love the word “free”, but also because it shows you are 100% willing to do whatever it takes to land a gig. Well, almost anything.
Here’s an idea. When applying for a particular gig, research the various voice actors employed by the company in question. Then, figure out a way to separate yourself from the pack. Do something that makes that company realize what their current crop of talent is lacking. For example, you could take one of their fully produced videos, copy the script, and provide your own voice over. You could rework the script, thus demonstrating even more creative talent, or add something completely new to the production that blows the company away.
Bam! Now, you’re not only showing off your skill, but also your value.
If it were Ydraw, and you sent us something amazing, we’d figure out a way to utilize your talents whether we were hiring or not. If you rock, we want you to rock for us. Get it?
Even if you don’t land the gig, just getting your stuff out there is important. Who knows? Maybe we’ll look you up down the road, or connect you with a client in need of radical services.
You heard that right. Radical.
Just because you’re not a fit at the present time doesn’t mean you won’t be added to the rotary phone speed dial.
DO SOMETHING CREATIVE
Another avenue to explore is to do something worthy of a Keanu, “Whoa!”
– Send a tape with you performing different voices – Read from a crazy book – Write a hilarious script, then read it back to us – Sing something amazing (just not Adele) – Perform a script reading with your cat – Read something while setting yourself on fire (disclaimer: this is a joke. Please don’t do this.) – Read Biblical versus with a Scottish accent
Ok, most of those are terrible ideas, but you get the gist. Do something that will make us remember you. Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Hollywood is full of strange audition tales. Heck, Sean Young showed up at Warner Bros. dressed as Catwoman hoping to land the gig that ultimately went to Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns. Me-ouch?
At least she tried, right?
Auditioning is a process of trial and error. You’ll likely fail more times than you succeed, as the old adage goes, but all you need is one success for your career to take off to crazy new heights.
Just stay away from bland e-mails that follow this boring template: “Hi, I’m Bob. I’m a good voice over artist. I would like to work for your company. I’ve done a lot of voice over work. See attached. I’ll do a script for you for a small fee to show off my talents. I own a home studio with an ISDN patch. Blah, blah, blah …”
Seriously? Don’t let that be your pitch. Also, don’t fill the subject line with: “Do you use voice actors?” No. 1, it’s not very catchy, and will instantly be ignored. No. 2, what? No. 3, it shows you haven’t done the proper research. That’s like walking into Best Buy asking if they sell electronics — which happened, a lot. At least when I worked there.
Try something like this in the subject line: “Your next great voice actor has arrived!” Then, produce an e-mail that caters to the company’s needs:
This is Bob,
I’m perhaps the greatest voice actor in town, and I’d love to work for your company. I could bore you with a recap of my work history, but you’re most likely busy and eager to move onto the next e-mail. So, I’ve attached a very special audio file. It’s me performing one of your videos. Except, I’m using a cockney accent, because, after reviewing your collection of awesome videos, I realized you don’t have anyone who can speak in a cockney accent. Give it a listen, then give me a call.
If you sent me that e-mail, I’d read it and probably get a kick out of it. And even if I didn’t end up hiring you, I’d certainly remember your audition for future reference.
TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN
You can never be too good at anything, so why not continue to improve? An article I found on Backstage.com delves into this aspect of the business:
Like learning to swim, you have to get into the water. You can’t figure it out by walking around the edge of the pool. One of the key things to learn is the different script genres within the commercial genre, i.e., real person, announcer, spokesperson, character, banter, PSA, etc. There are other genres and they all require different interpretive skills and talents. Promos, audiobooks, character animation, and ADR are the most popular. There’s also comedy and drama to be considered, and some folks may have a knack for one or the other. In addition to knowing the genres, training includes timing, relaxation, projecting a naturalistic tone, microphone technique, releasing inhibitions, and learning to create the world of a script within a lonely, lifeless recording booth. Unlike acting for film, TV or stage, you don’t typically have other actors or props with which to interact. You do it all with your imagination!
Don’t settle for second, third, or fourth best. You must understand that, no matter how much practice you’re putting into a skill, someone, somewhere is putting in twice as much. And they probably aren’t dating anyone, which means they have a lot of time on their hands.
Make yourself stand out by being so inundated with talent that you’ll literally leave our jaws on the floor with just one audition. Make a company need to have you.
Our No. 1 go-to voice actor, Dawson McKay, worked in every aspect of show business before breaking in as a voice actor. In his own words:
Growing up, I fell in love with the most colorful of entertainers: The Muppets, David Copperfield, and KISS all created fantasy worlds to which we could escape, and I studied their every move.
Over the years, I searched for my ideal creative outlet, working professionally in magic, puppetry, radio, cartooning, sound design, video editing, and acting. I finally found my home in voice over, which allows an actor to play everything from rock star to puppet to your friendly guy-next-door. Performing in front of a live audience is always a rush, but I do love when the curtain goes up and the lights go on in my studio and it’s time to perform … your copy.
Dawson studied acting, worked tirelessly on inflections, pronunciations, etc. And he didn’t stop until he landed his big break. Now, he not only works for us, but a number of high profile companies, as seen on his website, http://www.dawsonvo.com/.
— When you call, offer to do a sample for free
— Send something creative, be it a crazy recording session, or you doing an impersonation of Charlton Heston from the Ten Commandments … make yourself stand out
— Train as if your life depended on it, because, in truth, it kind of does
Voice acting is one of the more enjoyable, rewarding, and lucrative careers a person could strive for. One great gig could land you roles in cartoons, commercials, or even movies. It’s a life changing career.
So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this right now, and go out there and put these suggestions to good use. Then come back and pay me a manager fee. I’m not kidding. I want 30% of whatever you make.
Most everyone loves a good movie. Be it a thriller, comedy, romance, or science fiction, film remains an important staple in pop culture if only due to its profound ability to make us feel raw emotion on a purely visceral level.
What’s the secret?
Well, there’s not any one reason that elevates a mediocre film to blockbuster status. Good directing, acting, writing, editing, etc., all contribute to a film’s success. However, I’ve always held the belief that the most important element to any film, TV, or commercial lies in the musical choices selected to accompany the images on screen.
Need an example?
Watch this YouTube video that uses a scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws to make this exact point:
The first half of the video plays sans John Williams’ iconic score. The second half is accompanied by the maestro. Which do you prefer?
Here’s another dramatic example taken from Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial*. The first video, again, plays sans music (the score cuts off around 22 seconds), while the second video features the same scene with Williams’ magical score. (Fast forward to the minute mark in the second video to watch the scene under review.)
*Spielberg’s films often employ a heavy musical arrangement, almost always composed by John Williams, which is why I’m using sequences from his films specifically to make my point.
Let’s venture into the “smaller” realm of television, where budget constraints often limit what a producer/director is able to accomplish on the sound stage. Here’s a clip from Breaking Bad. Actually, it’s the final scene of what many consider the greatest TV show of all time. (In other words, spoilers may ensue.)
The show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, opted to use an upbeat rock song to wrap up the tragic tale of Walter White/Heisenberg. It’s a bittersweet moment summed up perfectly through the song’s lyrics, which, if you listen carefully, go a long way in summarizing the series in its entirety.
Interestingly, Gilligan, actually had to fight to keep the song in place as his music supervisor, Thomas Golubic, felt the music didn’t fit the scene, as explained to RollingStone in 2013:
“But in came the dailies, with that wonderful crane shot moving over Walter White, and once we played the song, [we thought], ‘Oh, I get it now,'” Golubić continues. “This is a love-affair story of Walt and his love of science, and this was his greatest product – his greatest triumph as a chemist. It wasn’t about Walter White as a criminal or a murderer or an awful person. It was him ending on his own terms. It felt creatively right.”
The music renders the final scene of Breaking Bad both sad, and heroic, as the man we had come to both love and fear arrived at his final denouement amongst his greatest accomplishment — a methamphetamine factory.
As you can see — or hear — music goes a long way in helping a TV show or motion picture transcend its purpose as a bit of entertainment into a surreal artistic experience.
The same goes for commercials, which have a limited amount of time to capture our attention.
Check out this ad, which runs a lengthy three minutes in length, but utilizes a simple theme — helping people — to sell, above all things, insurance. Note the music, as it turns playful, dramatic, sad, happy …
Now, imagine this ad without music. Would it feel the same? Would it feel too long? Would the emotional impact still resonate? The message would undoubtedly remain powerful, but would we feel the sentiment? Even if you don’t remember the music, it still reverberates on a subconscious level.
That being said, sometimes a lack of music can be just as pivotal to a story’s success. Remember the T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park, another Spielberg/Williams collaboration? Think back and try to remember the music that was played during this very intense encounter between man and beast.
You can’t, can you?
That’s because there was no music. Yet, that sequence is one of the more thrilling and intense moments ever captured on film, and it’s driven almost entirely by sound FX — beginning with the rain thumping on the roof of the cars enclosing the film’s main protagonists, the forceful boom accompanying Rexy’s footsteps, the occasional burst of thunder; all of which build to a terrifying attack in which cars are flipped, lawyers are chomped, and dinosaurs run amok. Is it far-fetched to say a musical score during this sequence would’ve lessened its impact?
During last year’s American Film Institute tribute to John Williams, the maestro, in a rare behind the scenes interview, posited that one of the most important aspects of his job was sitting down with the director to decide which scenes didn’t need music.
Sometimes silence is more powerful than a grandiose soundtrack.
Let’s turn now and look at how music affects audiences.
In a study conducted by Psychology Today in 2013, a scene from Spielberg’s Minority Report was shown to a group of 245 college students, 111 of which hadn’t seen the movie. The scene in question, a riveting escape sequence through a shopping mall, is accompanied by Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” ballad rather than traditional action music. Although, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t catch the tune as its placed subtly in the background as if playing through the mall’s speaker system.
This use of music, according to film scholars, is called “diegetic music”, or music that exists within the film’s universe. “Nondiegetic music” is the term used to describe a score that accompanies a scene, ala the music in the above Jaws and E.T. videos.
The same scene was shown to the students three separate times: once in its original form using the diegetic background music, the second time with the same “Moon River” song, except this time played over the scene — in other words, as a traditional music score — and a third time with conventional action music lifted from another one of Williams’ scores.
The results, particularly from those who had never seen the movie, were fascinating, as reported by Psychology Today:
Specifically: participants who watched the original diegetic version (music sounding like it was inside the shopping mall)
perceived the scene as more tense and suspenseful
perceived the relationship between the male and female as more antagonistic, and more unfriendly and hostile
believed the two characters had known each other longer
assumed the female was more fearful and suspicious of the male
assumed the male was more fearful and suspicious of the female
believed the male character wanted to harm the female
perceived the female to be less romantically interested in the male
and perceived the male to be less romantically interested in the female
… than those who had watched the same scene with the same music presented as a dramatic score (nondiegetic).
The second and third iterations containing the nondiegetic scores resulted in very different reactions, as “those who watched the scene with the ‘chase music’ believed the woman wanted to harm the man, while those who watched it with ‘Moon River’ (played nondiegetically) thought she was out to help him.”
That’s a long way to explain how music can shape a video as much, if not more, than the visuals on screen. The wrong piece of music can destroy a quality production almost as quickly as a bad actor.
So, where does this leave us?
At Ydraw, we have a resourceful group of writers, editors and animators that come together to create the best videos imaginable for a number of companies across the world.
Yet, one of the more pivotal aspects of the videos we produce remains — you guessed it — music.
Drawing from a library of resources, Ydraw’s editors carefully integrate music (and sound FX) into our videos during the final phase of production. Except, if the music doesn’t fit, the video doesn’t work. It’s that simple.
As a former editor, I’ve seen, or been a part of, a number of videos that worked visually, but just didn’t quite deliver on an emotional level. That is, until I altered the music. That’s right, a few extra minutes of shuffling a score can make or break the final product.
Here’s some examples of Ydraw produced videos that boast terrific soundtracks:
Pretty cool, right? The music in these videos was purchased from stock music sources, and then edited accordingly. In each instance, the music goes a long way in creating a particular emotion.
Here’s another Ydraw video featuring an above average soundtrack:
Notice anything different? The music for this particular video was produced by one of our freelancers, namely Rotem Hecht, who specializes in music composition. This talented artist takes the project after it’s been assembled, and designs a score specifically for that video.
Would the video have worked with stock music? Certainly. But Rotem’s score injects powerful emotion into an already potent production, and makes it even better. Note how the pace of the video never falters, but, rather, flows rhythmically, gradually building towards a rousing climax, followed by soft piano that accentuates the overarching message.
Also, it’s important to point out that the music never overtakes the visuals. Instead, the animation and musical composition work hand in hand in telling the dramatic story. Combined with a powerful script, and an effective voice over, this video goes a long way in establishing an emotional connection with its core audience.
More importantly, because of his lucrative experience, Rotem’s turnaround time for producing one of his fantastic scores is typically a little under twenty-four hours. That’s incredible.
His name may not be John Williams, but Rotem aptly lifts Ydraw’s videos from tremendous achievements to something akin to an extraordinary Celestial encounter. Seriously, he’s that good.
Need more convincing?
Check out his website www.rotemmusic.com to listen to the various commercials, corporate ads, games, TV shows, and even films Rotem has scored over the years.
And then give us a call so we can start working on the next great Ydraw video for you!
How Ydraw Helped AppMakr Reach Clients Around the Globe in Less Than 90 Days-AppMakr’s new Ydraw videogot 1000 views and improves website conversion rate in the first 5 days! And that’s just the English version
We would like to introduce you to forward thinker, Jay Shapiro.
He knows all about the world–he’s circled it countless times. He started Singapore-based digital agency BLUE in 1999 and had homes in San Mateo, Singapore, New York London and Beijing. He traveled over a million miles every year to build and maintain a thriving company.
Jay grew to love the various cultures and interacted/worked with the best of the best on a global level. The time he spent traveling, however, began to wear on him and he missed his family.
In 2007, in the same month the iPhone was launched, he sold BLUE and started on his path to becoming the largest DIY mobile app publisher in the world. Unlike the past though he made sure his company could be run from anywhere, even his own home–no more globetrotting (for work!)
Although Jay no longer had to board planes on an almost daily basis, he still wanted to experience other cultures and work with the best of the best in the world.
He incorporated a non-office office and hired all his staff through UpWork. His 65 expert employees live on six continents! In fact, he’s the only one on the team who calls New York home. Business is done via Slack, email and video conference in this beautiful new business model.
His mission/passion is to empower other entrepreneurs to use similar techniques to build global teams and access customers worldwide.
Jay’s app system fit his mission and was so intuitive and demand was so high that it took off—he bought his largest competitor, AppMakr in 2013 and business has skyrocketed!
He still travels the world where 70% of his customer base is outside the United States. However, he does it on his own terms and usually brings his family with him.
He still works 50+ hours a week, but his “office” is now seaside, or on exotic peaks or in his living room, rarely in a conference room. Jay is a strong advocate for working remotely and with the best people—and he definitely practices what he preaches!
With the growth rate of his company (nearly 3 million customers already!), Jay wanted to keep the momentum going and quickly educate potential clients on how AppMakr was just what they needed.
A whiteboard explainer video was the way to do it.
As he considered whiteboard he knew he wanted it done right, he wanted it highly customized, top of the line and he knew he needed it done fast!
As with everything else in his business, Jay decided to bring on the best of the best in the world to create his video.
When he came across Ydraw’s website and saw our work, he knew he’d found the newest members of his “team”.
“Ydraw are truly the experts.” he said, “The team was incredibly professional and great to work with on this project, essentially becoming part of our AppMakr team and they got the job done right!”
The new explainer video would go on the landing page of AppMakr’s website. They wanted to show in less than two minutes how AppMakr could be an asset to any entrepreneur and show exactly what the service is famous for.
Because 70% of the AppMakr customer base is outside the USA (their largest markets are India, Brazil, Turkey and the Middle East), they wanted to make sure that the video reflected these multiple cultures and ethnicities.
They wanted to have a video that could easily and believably be voiced over in 15 languages within a matter of weeks.
Getting to Work
Jay had his first consultation with Project Manager, Kristen Langston and Creative Director/writer Erica Schmidt Jabali.
The AppMakr team and the Ydraw team worked together to develop a story line, detailed script, character sketches and scene designs – all to convey they core message. “I was blown away by how immediately the team at Ydraw just ‘got it’ exclaimed Jay. “It really was a collaborative process, with everyone listening, and contributing their ideas, just great.”
Not only was the video top quality, it was done within 30 days.
“I was really concerned that the video be as culturally diverse as our customers are, I can’t believe how well the character animations conveyed that.” said Shapiro.
In a move away from the norm, AppMakr asked Ydraw to have the video voiced by an artist from South Africa, to give the video an international, but neutral feel to it, rather than being obviously American, Indian or British.
Less than a week after the English version was posted, the Portuguese voice over was completed and released. Versions in Indonesian, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Spanish are all in production and due to be live within the month. When all is said and done, this video will be watched in 15 different languages around the world.
The Ydraw explainer video has been on AppMakr’s landing page since May 6th. In the first 5 days alone it was watched over 1,000 times by Appmakr’s customers and is already increasing the company’s website conversion rate.
As for us at Ydraw, it was a pleasure being part of the AppMakr team! They are great people with an incredible product. We enjoyed working with them and being a part of the best of the best to continue introducing the world to innovation from AppMakr and Ydraw.
Thank you for reading. Now, how Ydraw and AppMakr help you enhance your business?
Develop Descriptive Details to Delight Your Audience
In my last post, I taught you how to create an outline in preparation to write a selling story. As promised, I’m going to teach you how to write a selling story by adding details.
1-Put Your Right Brain to Work to Fill in Details
Once you have your outline together, fill in the details.
New York Times Best Selling Author and Trainer, M. Bridget Cook-Burch teaches that you need to know your characters just as well or more than you know your audience.
Know what your character eats for breakfast, what he/she likes to do for fun, things like that. You don’t have to tell or even hint at it in your story, but knowing those things about your characters will help you write them in a more realistic and well-rounded way, just as if you were writing a story about your best friend.
Imagine writing a story about a random person versus writing a story about your best friend. How would they differ in description?
You also need to put a lot into the scene. Make sure you have enough details so your audience can picture themselves where the characters are. If you’re writing for video, write out details you want in the scene like an old knotted oak tree or mountains in the background.
If your viewers feel themselves in the scene they will much more likely to relate to your character. And your character naturally uses your product or service successfully–you definitely want your audience to relate to that!
2-Use Your Life Experiences as Raw Material
Creative director Erica Schmidt Jabali gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received when it comes to creativity and making things real and funny!
Ditch the old social norm of hiding who you really are and keeping your skeletons in the closet. Time to take them out, dress them up and show them off!
Use your life experiences, embarrassing, humorous, heartbreaking, whatever, as fodder for creating a storyline.
Remember that time you went to your first junior high dance and the cute boy next door crossed the floor to ask you to dance? How about the summer you got three speeding tickets in three weeks, or the road trip where everything that could go wrong did–how you crossed the Mohave with no air conditioning mid summer and made it alive is still a mystery.
Dig deep into your life history. You’ve lived through it so why not benefit from what life has handed you by turning it into a profitable story? Chances are, many in your audience will relate because something like that has happened to them before.
As I’ve said so many times, connecting with your audience emotionally is one of the best ways to get them to listen to you and hopefully answer your call to action.
3-When Possible..Add Humor
This can’t be overstated! Most stories need at least a little humor. Save harsh reality for real life, and even then look for something to make you smile.
The last thing you want is a depressed and unmotivated audience.
6-Save Unused Great Ideas for Later
When I went to M.Bridget Cook-Burch’s writer’s retreat, one of the most notable things she said was that no writing is ever wasted.
I looked from the dry 500 page manuscript I brought with me that I’d worked on for so long to the new outline waiting to be brought to life. I felt deflated–I had a lot of wasted work!
Or did I?
As it turned out, those 500 pages made the book writing process go so much faster and the book is so much better!
My point–don’t be afraid to sit down and write, even if you aren’t sure if the story you put together is going to be used for your video or not.
File away all stories and writings; you never know when you will need them for speeches, blog posts, possibly a book or even, once you’ve seen the success from your first video, another video.
No writing is useless or wasted-keep a file for your next projects!
I hope these tips help you not only get past the anxiety that can come with a writing project, but help you love the story writing process! Writing really can be a fun activity, especially when you have the right tools to give you just a little more confidence to produce a story that touches emotions and of course–sells!
Thank you for reading both parts of How to Write a Selling Story!
I now invite you to connect with your right brain and…get…creative!
Don’t be scared.
Even as a seasoned writer, when put on the spot to “come up with a great story” on the fly, I sometimes draw a blank at first and even feel a little inadequate at times; it’s natural!
When I first started working for Ydraw I watched the videos in awe and revered our creative directors and their brains that just spouted magical metaphors..all..the..time!
I haven’t watched one single video that doesn’t catch my attention and make me smile. I mean, a prison for husbands and boyfriends who buy bad gifts? Who comes up with that-that’s brilliant!! Lesa Thomas, I salute you…along with the rest of the Ydraw goldmine team of writers!
I found myself thinking “I just don’t have that kind of a brain!”
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m a talented writer. I’ve won several awards over the years and am on the verge of publishing a novel, but my primary background has been in memoir, honoring leaders and making people cry. But fun and quirky? That was fairly new territory for me.
Sometimes it can be harder to inspire genuine guttural laughter than warm fuzzies and tears with the written word. Many people (like me) are afraid of “trying too hard” and being that annoying person who gets crickets and eye rolls after a failed attempt at humor. There really is a fine line between being funny and being obnoxious.
Don’t let that stop you!
Creativity isn’t exclusive to advertising executives, fantasy writers, and comedians. The authors of Made to Stick say that creativity can be learned. I agree, and add that humor can be learned too. It just takes a little research, practice and following steps that have been proven to work.
When I took this job I took it with a staunch resolve to succeed! I did my research, asked a bunch of questions, dug into my existing bag of literary tricks and started utilizing tactics provided by my new cohorts, and guess what? With a little exercise and practice, I found out I really do have “that kind of a brain”.
I’m here to share some of those secrets along with other helpful hints to help you write a really great story that sells!
Where a selling story is more than just entertaining word vomit, I’m going to break the instructions into two posts. After all, I told you I’m here to tell you how to write a quality story to showcase your business. Where it isn’t as scary as it may sound and is definitely doable, it takes effort and a lot of strategic thought to write a really good marketing story.
This post will help you set the stage to strategic storytelling and provide structure; next week’s post will help you develop descriptive details to delight your audience and teach you how to access creativity you’ve had within you all along!
I love writing stories and believe in the process I’m about to share with you.
I just may give you homework!
1-Set Your Intentions Before You Set the Stage
Free thinking writing where you just let your brain go has it’s place and can be fun. Chances are, however, that you’re writing your story with a purpose in mind so save the expressive energy for a step later on down the line. It’s time to set your intentions and build a solid foundation.
Kimberly Smith provides 4 great suggestions to help you prepare to write your story in her book Once Upon a Marketing Message: How to Craft Stories that Sell.
I took her points and put my own spin on them. Most of these have already been addressed in other articles, but they are worth mentioning again.
1-Establish your goal. What do you want your audience to do after they watch your video? How will the video encourage them to do what you want them to do?
2-Understand your audience. Make sure you understand who you’re targeting and what kind of story would speak to them. Where it would be nice to be universally appealing, keep in mind you want to really connect with online “shoppers” who are looking for what you have but don’t know that they want your product or services yet. The target audience for Buffalo Wild Wings is slightly different than the target audience for The Cheesecake Factory. Both serve amazing food and both are wildly popular, but think about the atmosphere and experience at both places. They definitely draw in different crowds, even though some of the same people will frequent both places. They will just experience a different kind of dining at each place. Don’t just understand your audience in general but narrow it down and write a story to a specific “person” or avatar. Follow the steps in the article Script Writing 101: Know Your Audience to help there.
3-Know how you want your audience to feel. Do you want to get them discouraged about a problem so they will love the solution you have to offer? Do you want to pump them up and motivate them to embark on a new adventure or make a lifestyle change with your services? Do you want them to select your establishment as a place they will unwind after a long day or week when they’re overwhelmed with life? Figure out which emotion(s) you want to trigger during each phase of your story. How do you want them to feel and what is going to get them motivated to answer your call to action?
4-Uncover what will elicit the feelings. Picture different scenarios where the desired emotions could be triggered. Keep them in mind as you write your story
2-Develop an Outline to Set the Stage
Kim Smith also provides the following suggested parts of your story. These are helpful as you organize a basic outline/timeline to build on.
1-Introduce the Characters You need a small cast including a main protagonist your audience can connect with as well as a challenger. Where your story will be about overcoming something, there needs to be a challenger whether it be another person, an illness, a natural disaster or creature from another planet..whatever..just come up with and introduce your hero and your challenger. At this point you should know your specific target audience or avatar, so create a character they can relate to.
2-Set the Scene Put your characters in a place your audience will understand. Are they at home, at work, in the jungle? Where are they going? Where will they end up?
3-Lay Down the Stakes Simply put, what is the problem and why must it be overcome?
4-Develop Some Drama This goes right along with laying down the stakes and understanding how you want your audience to feel. Create some dramatic events that will evoke desired emotions.
5-Resolve the Issues Resolve the issues (drama) realistically. Keep the story in mind and please, though you’re writing the story for a purpose, do NOT make it pitchy! You will lose credibility and possibly even lose your audience. This takes practice but it can be done. Look at other stories that have sold you and keep those in mind.
6-Wrap it Up We naturally like to see things resolved in the end. Now that Jimmy has his finances fixed or has lost 60 pounds, show him at a beach enjoying the fruits of his efforts. With Jenny’s newly found health, show her in running clothes with a race medal around her neck. Make sure you have a nice clean ending unless, of course, you want to leave a cliff hanger for a potential sequel…that can be good too!
3-Finalize Your Outline
Now that your strategy is set, clean it up into an outline of how it will go from start to finish. Don’t worry about perfecting it or having details quite yet, just make your outline clear and make sure your call to action is in focus.
Homework time! By next time have an outline typed up on a word document. Come back and I will give you tips on how to bring your outline to life in a selling story! Challenge issued but not required to read part 2. 😉