What are explainer videos and why do small businesses need them? Create your own.

Traditional corporate videos are dead! Explainer videos are the new way to go.  Explainer videos are right in the middle of Commercials and How-To videos. Commercials are used to highlight a product to drive sales. How-To videos are step by step instruction based videos leading to the completion of some project. The goal of the explainer video is to inform the viewer so that they can take the next step of discovery.

What Are Explainer Videos?
Why does every small business need an explainer video?
Explainer video examples by type
How do to create an explainer video for a small business
Explainer video script
Explainer video voiceover
Explainer video soundtracks and music
Explainer video creation tools
Variable Explainer video budgets

What are Explainer videos?

As business owners and sales people, we are always explaining things to other people. We want to tell them about our new fantastic products or help them discover something new which will help them. We present power point presentations, create flyers, build websites, attack social media and publish other online and print advertising. Well, explainer videos are another tool for the tool belt.

Explainer videos are, simple stated, videos which fully explain to the audience watching what the creator of the video intended to explain to them. More in-depth than a simple commercial, these explainer videos go deep into the topic to more fully convey the message. Explainer videos are not as deep as step by step how-to videos but rather explainer videos fill the gap between commercials and how-to videos.

Why does every small business need an explainer video?

When you can’t be in front of an audience explaining away, you need to have and explainer video in your place to take over. The explainer video is a very effective tool to quickly engage your audience and bring them up to speed on what it is you want them to know.

For example, perhaps you are launch a new product or service and want to get the word out. Your website is setup for this type of interaction. However, you have to have some fantastic content to draw your customers in and for them to fully understand your new product or service before they will take action. Sure you can include great images and use great narrative to explain your product or service but with time strapped potential customers this may be just too long. If you make things too time consuming for your potential customers you risk losing them before you even get the chance to explain anything!

Most explainer videos are fun to watch and bring the potential customer up to speed within the 1-3 minutes it takes to watch the video. As customers typically first investigation of new products or services before they purchase, with an explainer video you can check this part of the purchasing pipeline off and help the potential customer move closer to becoming your customer.

Explainer video examples by type

Live action explainer video examples

Dollar Shave Club published the following explainer video back in 2012 which went viral based on what people found a humorous video to watch. Today it has millions of views. The style of this explainer video is a continuous video shot using live video capture to present the message. These type of explainer videos can become costly to do correctly if you consider the camera work, lighting, editing, etc… however, they can be very effective to get the word out about your company.

Bluesmart luggage creator used the following crowdfunding explainer video  to raise all the money they needed to bring their vision to life. Again, this explainer video has higher production cost but it does show the value in bringing the potential customers up to speed quickly.

Animation type explainer video examples

The music site Spotify created the following explainer video to announce their move onto the Facebook platform. You will notice this video uses drawings and a simple sound track to explain how Spotify works on Facebook. Without the expensive camera work and voiceovers, videos of this type can be done at a reasonable price for small businesses.

*** sorry the Spotify video isn't around any longer and I am looking for a replacement example!  Please comment below if you feel you have a good example.

Ontario Health Study explainer video about the Ontario health study. As an example of an explainer video using animation, this also highlights the need to get the script properly organized. There is a lot of content in this explainer video and it could have been made much more effective if the content was broken down a little more into small messages. Many smaller videos are much better than a longer one trying to cover too much information.

Whiteboard explainer video example

A new application launch called iConsult to help improve the health care process. This explainer video does a fantastic job describing the problem and solution in just over 3 minutes. The video is fun and the voiceover works well with the story. This type of video may seem like it needs a lot of production to produce all the drawings and syncing of voiceover, etcetera, however, an explainer video similar to this can really be done at a reasonable price as you will see below with the tools available.

Craft cut-out type explainer video example

Twitter in plain English explainer video was created by Common Craft and their style has been used to create many explainer videos. Common Craft are the creators of cut out type explainer videos. Tools are available which can enable you to do these types of videos quite easily as well. See the explainer video animation tools below for further guidance. Of course you could also hire Common Craft to create your video, however, you will also need a good budget.

How do to create an explainer video for a small business?

First, you will have to determine what it is that you would like to explain. If for example your business is relatively new you will most likely want to create an explainer video about what your business does. If your business is more established you may want to create explainer videos about certain products you would like highlight. Perhaps you even want to inform your potential customers about your industry and how to navigate the many different aspects of the industry. Really your explainer video can cover many different things based on what you would like to accomplish with the video.

Second, you have to decide on the type of explainer video would work best for your small business. Your budget will help with the decision as the different types of explainer videos can become very expensive very quickly. Although expense it part of creating an explainer video, you really don’t have to spend outrageous amounts to obtain a professional quality explainer video. Also for expense, you will have to estimate the benefits to your business which an explainer video will bring and measure it against your budget. In most cases, you will find that an explainer video is well worth the expense.

Thirdly, you will have to determine if you are going to attempt to create the video yourself or hire a company to do it for your. There are many pros and cons both ways and usually budget plays a factor. In the end you will have to determine how you will get the best professional explainer video for the value you have put into it. Remember don’t underestimate the time involved to create an explainer video yourself. If you do have the time to learn the tools and have the talent you could certainly produce some quality work for your business.
Finally, all your assets for the production of your explainer video will have to be pulled together. This will include the script, any custom elements and tools required to create the video. If you are working with an outside company, most likely they will do all this heavy lifting for you.

Explainer video script

The total length of the explainer video should be less than 3 minutes and only contain a few very targeted points you wold like to have the viewer understand. The goal of the explainer video is to tell a very short story which the viewer will understand, remember and in most cases take action on.

There are many methods to build your story. Following is a proven technique which provides fantastic structure for your explainer video:

Introduction: Start with a solid opening statement
Body: No more than 3 points you are going to cover
Closing: Closing statement which refers to the opening statement

Example script using the technique above:

So you want to build an outstanding explainer video for your business. Following are 3 key points for your success: Highlight the problem, make it personal and provide the solution with a call to action.

First, you want to highlight the problem to the viewer such as: Creating explainer videos can be time consuming and difficult if you are new to the process. Also it can be difficult for the newbie to create a professional quality explainer video.

Second, you will want to make it more personal similar to the following example: Have you every started a project which you thought would take no time but in the end it took much longer than anticipated? How about when you did finish the project, the feeling you had, that you really were not satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps a professional can help save you time and provide you with a better final solution.

Lastly, you will want to provide the solution with a call to action as you will see here: Don’t worry, check out COMPANY NAME today for a complete solution to save you time and produce the professional quality explainer video you want for your business. You may be surprised that COMPANY NAME will work with you within the budget you have set aside and may even save you some money for something else!

Now go and build your outstanding explainer video for your business by using the three key points: Highlight the problem, make it personal and provide the solution with a call to action.

Explainer video voiceover

Some recommendations are to create your voiceover first for your video and then use it to create your video. This technique apparently creates a more smooth matched voice video. Of course the other technique is to create the video and have the voiceover created as the video is playing. Either way you will have three choices to choose who will do your voiceover: you will be able to do it yourself, pay to have it done or use text to speech tools to create the voiceover.

Using your own voice (or other non-professional)

Even though you may have never done this before, you may be surprised to find that you are quite good at it. Sometimes people are self-conscious about hearing their own voice but with practice you can certainly succeed at producing your voiceover with your own voice.

A good place to start is by viewing other explainer videos and listening to many different voiceovers. You will find that there are different styles and voice inflections used to lend mood to the video. For example, just like in regular conversation you can tell that a person is excited about a topic based on the pitch of his or her voice.

After listening to several other voices you will want to practice your script several times. Record all your practice tries and listen to them as you go. You will find the parts you want to improved and can make alterations with each practice until you have a complete voice file which will work for your explainer video.

Hire a professional voiceover

Hiring a professional doesn’t have to cost that much and can really save a lot of time. There are many online services which provide professional speakers for your voiceovers but also don’t shy away from putting an ad online in a free classified site to advertising for talent. The one thing you will want to keep in mind is that if you are planning on creating more videos you may want to use the same voice, so you should make arrangements ahead of time with the voiceover professional.

Following are some sites to find some professional voiceovers:

www.voices.com - large directory of professional voices for voiceovers. You should budget around $100-$250 for up to 5 minutes as found on the voices.com budget page and here on their rates page  

voxtalent.com - a Canadian voice over directory of talent. The budget for this service should be at least $250 for up to 10 minutes of script. Here are the rates 

Fiverr.com may provide you with some luck finding a very affordable voice over talent HERE. The fiverr.com website is a collection of people who will do whatever you need in $5 increments. For example some voice over professionals list anywhere from $5 for 50 words to $5 for 150 words. So shop around on the site and I am sure you will find the deal and voice which will meet your needs.

Script length Estimation tool

To help estimate costs for a professional voiceover you will need to determine the length of your script. Using the above example script it would create the voice over length of at least 1 minute and 23 seconds using 3 words a second to calculate that figure. Here is a handy tool to calculate script time.

Text to speech tools

Text to speech is a technology which enables you to enter your script and have it read back by the computer in a human sounding voice. You may have heard these before when you call a company and get a voice mail assistant. The voice can be choppy and sometimes words are not pronounced correctly. This can be an effective tool if you are going for a robotic type video, however, I would suggest against it if possible.

You can find some of the Text to speech (sometimes referred to as TTS) tools as an option within the animation software or online as a separate standalone tool.

Readspeaker.com allows you to run a demo which will give you a good feel for what a TTS service will produce.

Explainer video soundtracks and music

All great explainer videos are created with great soundtracks or music.  Many of the creation tools provided royalty free soundtracks to include within your creations. If you are working with a tool which doesn't have soundtracks you will have to search for what you need.  The key to a good soundtrack is to find one which matches your explainer video's mood and tempo.

The big warning to watch for when selecting soundtracks from a service online is to make sure you obtain the correct commercial license or royalty free option from the service. You will want a license which is as flexible as possible so that you can run your content where you would like to run it, such as online, tv, radio, etc...

www.audioblocks.com provide a subscription model to their full library of quality commercial use soundtracks, effects and loops.  They do provide a free 7 day trial. Their monthly and yearly plans are listed here.

www.freestockmusic.com also reports to provide a full library of available commercial use soundtracks, effects and loops.  Always check out the licensing on the selections you make to confirm the usage rights you are getting with the selection.

Explainer video creation tools

Animation explainer video tools

PowToon is an animation tool which has a free offering with watermarks, however, they do offer a per-export pricing model and subscription pricing model which removes the watermarks. This offering provides a very good option for small businesses on a budget. The initial tools will get you going, however, you will soon find that there is a lot more content available with an account upgrade. The powtoons tool is well supported with documentation and does provide a good depth of functionality to enable good explainer videos to be created.

Reallusion has been providing very powerful animation software for many years now. Although a little old school these days with a download rather than an online tool, Reallusion’s crazytalk animator is full of very useful technology. It is the only tool, outside of very expensive software, that provides the ability to alter the characters in good detail.
As the Crazytalk Animator is a download software solution for Mac or Windows, it does provide a package pricing model rather than a subscription. They do also offer some great bundles which I would recommend investigating before purchasing as the bundles can provide some great assets and save some dollars.

Whiteboard explainer video tools

Moovly although this is listed here under the whiteboard tools it really can easily fit in the animation or the craft section but it also provides a good whiteboard effect for explainer videos. As usual there is a free version with watermark and upgraded accounts provide more functionality and options. You can download the video for use on social media.

VideoScribe by Sparkol Ltd. is one of the better animations solutions for whiteboard type explainer videos. There library of assets is fantastic and the tool is very flexible to use. Like others there is very good support content on the site to get you up and running quickly with their tool. They provide a monthly subscription or one off price as well as a limited trial of the full solution.

Craft explainer video tools

Common Craft the creators of this type of explainer video offer several prepackaged animations as well as their cut-outs so that you can create your own Craft type explainer videos. The Common Craft assets are reasonably priced, however, you would then have to find a tool to create the full animations. This is most likely why Common Craft teamed up with GoAnimate.

GoAnimate is a full online animation tool which works extremely well with the Common Craft assets to provide good Craft type explainer videos and much more. They offer a free trial and then a subscription model.

Some other Explainer Video tools

Don’t assume because these are tacked on the end that they are not worth investigating further. There just wasn’t time to dig it but if you have the time it is certainly recommended to take a look as there are some gems the list.

plotagon.com - build story telling animations. Download application with in-app purchases of characters.

www.animatron.com - HTML5 online animation tool. Subscription model with free version

www.makewebvideo.com - online animation tool with free previews.

wideo.co/ - online animation with downloads of final production. Subscription model.

www.emaze.com - online animation with downloads of final production. Subscription model with free offering.

prezi.com - online animation/presentation solution. Subscription model with free offering.

piktochart.com - online infographic creation tool. Subscription model with free offering.

Variable Explainer video budgets

Well it seems based on the tools available and the process to create explainer videos the prices can vary quite a lot. For a good do it yourself version you may want to estimate a range from $0 to $500. For a full professionally done explainer video you may want to budget from $500 and up.
Again the time to create an explainer video is a rather variable window, however, one site listed 3 weeks to a month to create a good video. If you are doing all the production yourself you may be able to pull this time down considerably.


Do you have a favourite tool or explainer video you have found? Please leave your comments below. Everyone would also be interested in your success and struggles with explainer videos if you care to share.



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