July 2022 – Why your campaign would benefit from an intro video

Good intro videos don’t need to be prohibitively expensive–and are a great tool for talking to online voters.

These days, just about everyone agrees–for a political campaign to have an effective online presence, they need:

  • A website
  • Active organic Social Media accounts

We call these “Foundational Digital Assets.” When voters, donors, or supporters want to find out more information about a candidate, they’ll land here. Folks checking out these assets are heading into “the middle of the marketing funnel.” They are signaling their willingness to give the candidate a minute or two of their time to learn what they’re all about.

Illustration of the Digital Journey

Long form introductory videos are another mid-funnel marketing asset that we think should join websites and Social Media accounts in the “Must Have” category. Why have we come to think this? Simple answer: most mid-funnel consumers would rather spend their 1-2 minutes watching a video than having to read stuff. It’s a form of media that better fits the consumption habits of online audiences! Here are a couple samples that we’ve done:
Jo Anne Simon for Congress – Ready On Day One
Alyia Gaskins for Alexandria City Council

Not convinced of the need for an intro video yet?

Here are a bunch of additional reasons you should consider it:

  • They don’t need to be prohibitively expensive. There are a lot of media firms that make great intro videos, but they charge an arm and a leg to do it. You don’t need a 2 day shoot with a 5 person crew and 2 cameras to make a strong intro video. With proper planning, like a thorough Run of Show, a 2 person crew can get everything necessary to make a strong intro video in a single day. This greatly reduces costs.
  • You’ll need strong video assets to make good Digital ads–which means you’ll probably need to do a video shoot anyways. If you’re planning on running a strong Digital Persuasion program, you’re going to need good video ads–we typically spend about 75% of the average campaign’s Digital Persuasion ad buy budget on serving 6, 15, and 30 second video assets. You are likely to want to make a few different sets of ads to avoid over saturating your fickle online audience with stale ads that folks will tune out. As such, you are probably going to want to do a video shoot to get everything you need to develop your ads–and if you’re doing a video shoot, you are already incurring much of the costs it would take to also make a 1:30 intro video!
  • They can help you with fundraising and clearing the field. Putting together a solid intro video shows competence. Donors like competence, and they like to watch videos, just like everyone else. Not only are intro videos solid fundraising tools, they can also be deployed as part of a campaign announcement / roll out to make other candidates think twice about jumping into a race. Here are a couple of intro videos we’ve made this year as part of a campaign rollout that successfully helped our clients freeze out other potential candidates:
  • Your candidate will love them! Candidates spend a lot of time dialing for dollars and doing other unsavory tasks. They will enjoy taking a break to make something that tells their full story.
Intro Video Best Practices

So you’re convinced you want to make an intro video. How do you MAKE IT POP??? Here are some tips from us:

  • Try to keep it around 1:30 or less. Online audiences have short attention spans, even ones who have moved themselves into the “Consideration Phase” of the marketing funnel and are signaling a willingness to give you a bit more of their time. It is very difficult to hold their attention for more than 1:30. Also, the longer a video, the harder it is to make it good from start to finish, and the more expensive it will be to produce. We’ve found 1:30 to be the sweet spot length: Enough time to tell a fuller story, not too much time to lose the audience or make production burdensome.
  • Build a connection to your voters beyond the stump speech. Your audience already has countless opportunities to learn about the details of your platform (your website, short ads, banners on the wider web, your social media accounts, etc.). Also, recent research has shown that voters are increasingly likely to tune out laundry lists of issues and promises from political candidates. The intro video is your opportunity to create an emotional connection with voters by telling your story, showing them that you understand and feel the issues in your district, and creating a sense of true relatability. The more your voters and donors feel like they know and can relate to you, the more effective the video. This isn’t to say you should avoid ALL platform pieces, but make sure you are weaving them into a broader story. “I care about Issue X because I’ve lived Situation Y.”
  • Create efficiencies for making your Digital ads. You can often use the Intro Video script as a jumping off point for the first set of ads for a campaign, which are typically a positive candidate intro of some sort. This can save time/money on production. Here’s an example of a first round of ads that mirror the intro video:
  • Make sure all stakeholders weigh in on the scripting and post production phase. Candidates have more important things to do then write their intro video scripts–most of them, anyways 😀. But, they also must be involved in the process to some extent. This is their story after all! Take it from us–you don’t want to get to the shoot and have the candidate rewriting the script on the fly. Make sure the candidate and all other possible stakeholders (other consultants, campaign managers, etc.) have the chance to weigh in before the shoot.
Video Killed The Radio Star
The proliferation of video in online media has revolutionized the way campaigns can talk to online audiences. Make sure you are part of the revolutionary vanguard by creating strong intro videos and Digital video ads! If you want to learn more about COMPETE’s ability to help with scripting, shoots, and video production, please reach out to us.
Photo of Team COMPETE doing a video shoot for Makya Little
COMPETE’s team in action–filming a VA House of Delegates Intro Video

We also want to note that full video shoots, while very helpful and ideal if the budget is there for them, are not necessary to make strong Digital ads. Some of the ads in our highlight reels were made without a video shoot:
COMPETE 2021 Candidate Reel
COMPETE 2021 Attack Reel

Thanks for reading! Wishing you luck heading into campaign busy season,

Zach Mandelblatt

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