After teetering on the brink for months, I see today that that this blog has today gained its thousandth follower!

Many thanks to all who have stuck with us through the good times and the better (and a big kiss for number 1000). Stay with us.

Onwards and upwards!

Many performers use promo videos. I’ve made a few myself.

Animated Logo for Craig’s Magic.

But are we looking at this the wrong way round? Yes, a ‘promo video’ is designed to promote the performer and his work. But perhaps we need to give more attention to the potential viewers; not making the concept of ‘promotion’ the centre of our intent, but instead to explain why what we offer solves specific needs our viewers have.

Think of them as ‘Explainer’ videos, not promo videos.

“An explanation is a way to package ideas.” To create an effective explanation we must transform bare facts into a more understandable collection of ideas and concepts.

Explanations helps to clarify why something (a product or service, for example) makes sense and fits a need and solves a problem, thus making it easier to understand and apply to some purpose.

An Explanation Video should enable people to see an idea from their own perspective”, thus allowing them to make educated decisions about whether they want to invest their time, money, or energy to find out more about what you can offer, and ultimately book you.

With the wide availability of broadband services, the proliferation of video hosting platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and the reducing costs of video production, online videos have become an indispensable part of our marketing arsenal.

Explainer Videos are short (certainly less than two minutes), imaginative, and succinct videos that can be used to communicate a product, a service, an idea or a value proposition quickly and effectively.

Explainer Videos can use video clips of you and your previous clients, photographs, places you’re worked, and objects, or 2D/3D animations, or a mixture of these to communicate some aspect(s) of your business, and create an engagement with your potential, or current customers.

Explainer Videos use real people or animated characters (or both) within a and engaging narrative or story-line to create emotional bonds, trust and empathy with your viewers.

How Should Explainer Videos Be Used to Gain Most Benefit for Your Effort?

Using Explainer Videos as part of your overall marketing solution will enable you to communicate information, feelings, and emotion to your audience, by using motion, images and sound.

Explainer Videos should be included on your website, your blog, on video hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), and within your social media network: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.

Ideally, you should have a video channel set up on YouTube (or other video hosting sites), with video and channel branding which is consistent with your overall online brand; your website and all social media channels.

You need to ensure that your videos are properly annotated and tagged to ensure that they are properly indexed on Google, YouTube and more easily found by your potential viewers when performing searches.

To be effective, Explainer Videos need to have a well thought out script. If using animated characters, they do not necessarily need to be complex to be effective. In fact, Lee Lefever of Common Craft uses animated characters with no facial features in many of their animations. As this removes the emotional distraction created by our brains interpreting the emotion on a character’s face.

So, some considerable thought and creative imagination needs to go into your explanation and the proper format and structure of your video for it to have the desired effects of communicating your message and creating engagement with your audience.

An Example Explainer Video Script Outline

Neil Patel, co-founder of CrazyEgg, drew up a list of what a good Explainer Video script for a startup company should contain. I’ve adapted his suggestions for our market. The basic elements are:

  • An introduction to you and an overview of the service(s) you offer;
  • Why your services are of value to your target market;
  • Specific examples;
  • Show what you can offer and how you can solve a problem or meet a need;
  • Give a ‘call to action';
  • Use client quotes and testimonials to seal the deal.

Why You Should Be Using Explainer Videos: Some Relevant Statistics

According to a recent survey by Shutterstock/Comscore, when users perform online search they are significantly more likely to click a video link rather than a text link.

Digital Video also tends to be most often watched on mobile devices, when the viewer is in their own home, or on their own leisure time. So, your viewer is relaxed and has more time to take in your message.

60% of all Internet data is now made up of video content.

Of the 190 million videos watched, one sixth were watched on mobile devices. 36% of those 190 million videos were ads, some being forced views to get access to otherwise free content!

So, video ads have also become a popular and acceptable medium for viewer business/product/service information gathering, and entertainment. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, online advertising revenue/spend has been above $11bn for three consecutive quarters in 2013/2014.

Of this figure, mobile advertising makes up $5.3bn, a 76% growth on 2013 figures (PWC/IAB 2014);
Digital Video makes up $1.5bn, a 13% growth over the same period in 2013.

The proportion of consumers watching TV or movies on tablets on a weekly basis has grown from 17% to 26%.

Many companies are adding videos to their home pages as a means of increasing user stickiness and engagement. It has been shown experimentally that users spend more time (up to 88% more) on websites that include video content.

This can also help search engine rankings, as search engine algorithms also take duration of user time spent on webpages as a measure of relevant and quality content.

Explainer Videos can lead to a higher sales conversion rates; online retailer stacksandstacks.com reported that visitors were 144% more likely to purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not.

Including video in emails greatly increases the probability of reader click through CTR: GetResponse Study showed that video Emails Increase Click-through Rates by 96%. Wistia showed a 300% increase in click through rate compared to emails not including video. Hubspot – normal CTR 2.4%, with video CTR of 16.4%, 583% higher than average.

According to Kissmetrics, video now appears in 70% of the top 100 search results listings, and viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.

In short, Explainer Videos are ideal for small to medium businesses with a low budget, which I reckon includes most of us!

Why Explainer Videos?

All videos enable you to connect with potential clients in ways that you cannot do with e-mail, phone calls, or print. It takes time to build customer rapport and trust, and research has shown that videos can do this more effectively than any other medium.

Explainer Videos can help introduce yourself and your services before you make direct contact with prospects. As the client has contacted you after seeing your videos, this cuts down/out most of the initial effort required to get a customer familiar with your work and increases the prospect of a successful relationship.

Impact of Effective Explainer Videos on Sales

This research has come largely from the retail market, but I feel strongly that it applies equally to those in the entertainment business.

Higher Conversion Rates and Reduced Returns with Videos: Recent research has shown that shoppers who chose to view product specific videos were 85% to 174% more likely to make a purchase than viewers who didn’t, and that pre-purchase video viewing reduced returns by up to 25%. [Sources: Retail Touchpoints, Internet Retailer, Ice.com]

Videos Reduce Your Bounce Rate: When making buying decisions, 60% of consumers will spend between 2 and three minutes watching Videos that educate them about a product that they are considering purchasing.

Video Gives Higher Search Rankings: Video results appear in about 70% of the top 100 listings.

Videos Increase Sales: site visitors who view video stay two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors.

Videos Encourage Use of QR and Barcodes: The most popular use for mobile action codes, such as QR and bar codes, is linking to mobile video: 40% of codes link to video content, including product demos.

Videos Establish Credibility and Trust with Your Customer before You Sell To Them: 57% of purchase decisions are made prior to ever talking to a sales-person.

What Kind of Explainer Videos Work Best?

According to one recent analysis by socialbakers.com, YouTube videos under 2 minutes in length get almost 50% of all views. This is an ideal duration for short Explainer Videos.

A recent study, “Types of Brand Videos Consumers Want to Watch” (Source Levels Beyond August 2014) found that viewers were primarily looking for the following kinds of videos online:

  • How-to, instructional or tutorial videos 67%
  • Comedy or spoof videos 42%
  • Product/information videos 34%
  • Micro-documentaries telling the story of a person or event 33%
  • Animations/infographic videos 30%

From the point of view of Explainer Videos it is interesting how many viewers are interested in animation/infographics, product/information videos, How-to and micro-documentaries. All of which allow ample scope to create interesting videos with promotional objectives in mind, especially product, service and support videos.

The reason we don’t emphasise comedy, or spoof videos, is that it is easy to offend people with comedy, and it takes either a naturally funny presenter, or team to pull them off effectively. Nevertheless, younger viewers do prefer humour, and, if you have the imagination and resources then this can work very well to show yourself in a light-hearted and different way to the fact-heavy manner of the usual showcase video. Especially if you’re a comedy entertainer!

So, keeping in mind the above insights, you should be able to effectively use low budget, short, Explainer Videos to help boost bookings with the following:

  • Promotional: Showcases your performances and services
  • Testimonial: Highlights your talents by showing clients happy with work you’ve done
  • How-To: Informs prospects on how they can use your services
  • Information: Explains the features and benefits your services offer
  • Entertainment: Shows your human side; leverage viral videos, perhaps contests or challenges?
  • Hints and Tips: Present useful information relevant to your clients (hints on organising kids’ parties, etc)

These are types of videos that most performers should be able to make use of to help promote themselves and their services. They fit into the ‘normal’ range of things that good businesses do in their usual marketing efforts, but transformed into a new medium that allows more creativity, expression, engagement and dynamism in communication.

A recent STRATA survey found that viewers are more inclined to watch online video ads if they’re entertaining (43%), targeted to their interests (31%) and educational or informative (30%). Younger viewers (18-29 year olds) prefer humour, whereas older viewers find the informative side of an ad more appealing. *[Source: marketing Charts, STRATA]

Further evidence for the use of Explainer type videos comes from Advance Auto Parts, a car parts retailer, which tried placing how-to and instructional videos on its website and Facebook pages. They found that visitors who watch video stay on the site twice as long and visit twice as many pages versus those who don’t see video. Sharing their videos on Facebook (which you should always do!) further enhanced their online reach.


Explainer Videos are a very effective way to communicate your services in an engaging and imaginative manner. With the rapid uptake of Video as a marketing communications medium by many businesses, it would be very easy to get left behind and lose the advantage of Explainer Videos to reach and engage new clients, or just to get your ideas out there and get recognition as a leader in your area.

Wedding DVD promo for SmartDanceWorks.

About Magick’s Video Services

We produce ‘real-life’ and animated videos for performers, such as magicians and dance companies, and other small businesses. If you have any questions about Explainer and/or Promo Videos, or the production process involved in producing one, or if you are considering having a video produced, please contact Russell for a no obligations conversation about your aspirations! Or with a little thought (and hardly any technical expertise) you could have a go at making your own! Click here for more information.

Karl Hein 2Karl Hein is known all over the world for his amazing card handling abilities and his naturally disarming performance style. He has performed over 100 lectures in more than 15 countries and has authored many instructional DVDs including “The Heinstein Shuffle”, “Heiny 500”, “Heinstein’s Dream”, “Hein’s Catch Up” and “The Heinous Collection”. And you can see and learn from him here at The Magick Lounge next Thursday 20 November.

“Of all the new faces I’ve met in the past 15 years, Karl Hein stands out as being one of the few magicians that I just know will be a huge success. It is rare for a magician to not only understand technique, but also entertainment and business. I feel comfortable booking Karl any time and anywhere. I highly recommend his lecture!” – Bill Malone

If you are looking for original and entertaining routines developed by an experienced professional magician than this lecture is for you. Karl will use these routines to teach sleights, flourishes and principles of magic and misdirection that both beginners and seasoned professionals can appreciate. More importantly, you will learn how to “Go With the Flow” as Karl explains how to change his routines depending on your skill level, audience and performing conditions.

“Karl Hein is an entertaining, accomplished and experienced worker. Just one of his routines has more magic than some acts.” – Bob Sheets

If card tricks aren’t all you’re interested in, you’ll be glad to know that Karl specializes in performing for family audiences. Don’t miss out on learning commercial routines that bring coins, ropes, bills, and cream-filled goodies to life. Even more valuable are Karl’s thoughts on performing and his tips on how to make a great living performing shows for all ages.

“Karl Hein’s lecture provided me with more usable magic and information than any other lecture I can remember. Several of his routines have made their way into my professional walk-around and stand-up performances. I went out of my way to see his first lecture and I can’t wait to see the next.” – Cody Fisher

Karl’s lecture is at The Magick Lounge on Thursday 20 November at 7:30. Doors open at 7:01. Admission is free for Sheffield Circle members, £10 for visiting magicians. Not to be missed!

I had a call earlier from someone who’d seen my previous post about Explaindio, asking if it was really as easy as I said it was, and what could you do with it. So I took a little time out this evening to make a short test video.

Please note that this is not intended as a serious promotional offering. I knocked it out in about 20 minutes as a way of getting to know the program and seeing what it can do. So I’ve mixed static and hand-written text, video, cartoon characters, still images, etc.

The result won’t win any prizes. (If I was going to do it properly I’d keep some of the text on the screen longer so even kids’ entertainers would have time to read it, for example.) But it does show what you can do using the standard ‘slides’ and animations that come with the pack.

It is a very simple, menu-led program. You add ‘slides’ to the simple timeline and just add your own text and pics. There are a couple of teaching videos on the Explaindio website, but you don’t really need then to start using the program. Just pitch in and click a few buttons like I did…

But keep it simpler; don’t use all the facilities in one video!

Confession: Although the program does come with some royalty-free music I added my own instead. But you probably guessed that.

These days most working magicians have a web site or a blog, perhaps both. That’s one reason why they’re working!

It’s great to have pictures and quotations from satisfied clients on your site; in fact they’re essential. But nothing sells your services quite as well as a video.

But coming up with a good, selling video isn’t easy. You can pay to have one made for you. In fact Magick offers this service. I use Adobe After Effects and other high-end video editing software. Our prices are reasonable considering the time and effort involved, but it’s still going to cost you several hundred pounds.

Of course you can make your own video. Good quality editing software isn’t cheap; After Effects will cost you around £600-£700, and the learning curve approaches the perpendicular. Even if you don’t want to use snazzy effects, you will need to combine short evocative clips with appropriate text to give the most impact, perhaps with short client quotes and a logo.

There have recently been a number of pieces of video software on offer which do some of these things. I’ve bought several of them, and they are handy to have. But so far I haven’t found anything which stood on its own and could be used without additional editing in another program.

Until Explaindio came along. Now you don’t need high-tech video production skills to create professional-looking videos for yourself or others. This powerful software allows you to combine animation, whiteboard sketch elements and full motion video all into one attention-grabbing video, with ‘just a few clicks’, as the ad says.

I’ve had a preview and it is very good. The launch price is $37 (around £25) which is an absolute bargain. As soon as I saw it I realised that it’s ideal for entertainers as well as any small business.

Here’s the promo video. I know it doesn’t actually mention entertainers, but it only takes a little imagination… (Sorry for the over-the top approach here; I’m afraid that seems standard these days. Not to mention the stupid name. And in case you’re wondering what a ‘nitch’ is, that’s apparently how some people pronounce niche; wonder if they say ‘quitch’ and ‘pastitch’ too…)

And that’s not all, if you really are a video beginner, Explaindio comes with access to a marketplace where you can instantly get your hands on:

  • Premade slide packs which you can use to spice up your own videos
  • Entire pre-made projects that are essentially “fill-in-the-blank,” full videos.

I’ve never promoted non-magical products here before, but I thought I’d make an exception for Explaindio. I get lots of entertainers asking for help to produce sales videos, and now I know what to suggest if they don’t want to pay for a full professional job!

Remember you can use action photos, video clips of your performances, etc. And it’s really easy to add comments, cartoons, or your logo.

The official launch is at 11:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday 11 November (that’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, GMT). I recommend you check it out soon as this is a special launch price, and apparently it’s going to move to a subscription service later. Click the banner thingy below for more information:

:Explaindio 234X602

Spooky TrucksTickets are now available for the Spooky Magic Evening, which will include a Theatrical Seance. This unique event will be held in The Minstrel’s Chambers in the Town Hall at 6:45 on Saturday 1st of November. Doors will creak slowly open at 6:30.

We’ve also got some rather haunting posters. Let me know if you can display one for us. Once again they’re available in A3 and A4. If you have a printer we can email you one as a pdf, or you can collect from Magick (when you’re picking up your tickets for the Saturday and Sunday shows…).

Appearing are Ashton Carter, Roger Curzon, John Blackwood plus that world-famous special guest, TBA. Tickets are £8. This presentation is designed for over 16’s only. Due to the nature of the performances latecomers may be refused entry.

Tickets can be obtained direct from Magick, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Or by ringing us during opening hours (11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Thursdays and Sundays). You can pay by cash, Paypal or any major debit or credit card.

Please note that this is a traditional parlour style performance and is limited to 50 spectators only. First come…

Bus Stop Poster_smPosters are now available for the Sunday Night of Magic at Sheffield’s Library Theatre on 2 November. As with the general Street Magic Festival posters they are available in two sizes: A3 (397 x 420 mm, approximately 11.7 x 16.5 inches) and A4 (210 x 297 mm, approximately 8.27 x 11.7 inches).

Again, if you have a printer I can email a copy to you as a pdf (tell me which size you require) or you can pick one (or more!) up from Magick during opening hours (11:00 to 5:30 any day except Thursday or Sunday). Message me, email me, text me or ring 0114 276 0482.

The genial Steve Faulkner is hosting the show and we have a truly outstanding bill for you: John Archer, Peter Antoniou, Looch, Jared Manley, and Tim Smithies. (And I’ll be behind the scenes stage-managing for this lot; should be fun…!)

In fact it’s such a great bill that for a moment there I was tempted to use the adjective ‘awesome’. Phew.

Please tell all your friends, family, lovers, co-workers, fellow Facebookers, gym members, Twitterers, acquaintances, enemies and that guy in the pub you nod to on Thursdays, tickets can be obtained now from Magick, 82 Broad Street, Sheffield, S2 5TG. Or by ringing us on 0114 276 0482 during opening hours (11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Thursdays and Sundays). You can pay by cash, Paypal or any major debit or credit card.

Don’t miss the bus… it’ll be magic!


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