Yes, that’s correct. This story is about the biggest growth hack that our team pulled off in the last 9 months after going live in March 2017 — our explainer video ‘Videos for Everyone’
To set some context, I am the co-founder of Typito, an online video creation tool that’s trying to democratise video making online — one of the top 20 social media products recommended by Buffer. Typito gives you all that you need to create a powerful video for the Internet — easy to use motion graphic templates, ability to add your favourite music, create image and video slideshows and produce square videos for social media. Think Canva, but for videos!
It was 24th September and our team was getting ready for our Product Hunt (PH) launch that was due soon. The whole team was fighting it out by spending 16 hours at office for the last 2 weeks to revamp the product for the big release. I was the owner for this launch — coordinating with our freelance designer, development team, intern who’s setting up our Help section, Kevin who offered to hunt us on PH and even the artist who was crafting our logo animation. We were making good progress, but something was amiss — a feeling that kept me uneasy for days. And finally the grave realisation dawned on me — we are a video company and we don’t have an explainer video! And we had only 7 more days to go live on PH.
The first decision we had to make was to zero down on the type of video we wanted to create. Having co-founded Wildbeez, an Animated Explainer Studio before building Typito, I knew I’ll have a soft corner for creating an animated explainer. My favourite Explainer video of all time has been Google’s Project Loon a beautiful story that lays out a state of the art technology solution in the simplest of languages for everyone to understand. I thought this would be a great opportunity to do something similar!
However the more I started thinking about it, a few important questions popped in my mind:
“Animated videos are great to explain abstract concepts. Is Typito an ideal candidate?”
“It’s going to take us time and money to produce a kickass animated video and we don’t have both on our side.”
“We have a great product, but real product screenshots look meh on animated videos.”
“Real videos with real people with some product screenshots — that’d be awesome right? But who’ll shoot and edit? What’s the cast? Voice over recordings, location to shoot, equipments — too much to handle with too little time.”
Real videos seemed an almost impossible choice. So yes, we decided to do it! We knew it was the right way to approach Typito’s explainer. How to do it — we thought we will figure that out later!
We also got a good reference video for real explainer — Canva’s first explainer video. We liked how it gave a good preview of the app. However we didn’t like the narrative “Design’s around us.” We felt it was cliched and we decided to do something different.
Every video starts with a script. Then comes the storyboard which then acts as the guideline for your video production efforts. If you have a great script and storyboard I’d say your job is half done (I’m obviously exaggerating). We checked out different tag-lines for our script — ‘Power of Videos’, ‘Videos for Business’ etc. What finally stuck among the spaghetti on the wall was ‘Videos for Everyone’ and that was based on our mission to make Typito the easiest tool to produce videos online — something that’s built for everyone. And to back it up, we did have customers who were 7 year olds to 70 year olds. Next step — we drafted a script built on first person narrative based on 3 actual users of Typito and did a textual storyboard version of the script. We were making progress!
Our script required footages of 3 characters (based on true customers) talking about their experience using Typito — a kid YouTuber, a digital marketer and an accomplished food blogger. My first instinct was to check if I can manage with stock footages that can go with the narrative. I was disappointed with the results I got. Lesson learnt — stock footages will always remain stock footages.
I immediately started making a list of friends and relatives who would be happy to play a role in the video. First catch for the day was our friend at the co-working space Karthik who offered to do the role of the marketing guy (1/3). I then reached out to one of my friends to ask if his daughter Sarah could act the role of our kid YouTuber. She agreed and was pretty excited about the acting gig! (2/3) We had one more character left — a 65 year old food YouTube star (based on Manjula Jain, one of our early customers). The day was ending and we didn’t yet have the final character sorted. And that’s when my Mom called me on phone. Bazinga! We got the third actor too, I decided! 🙂 (3/3)
We had 72 hours to get the video up and decided to wrap up all the shooting by noon. While Jatin, my co founder at Wildbeez helped us by shooting footages of Sarah who’s enacting the role of Kyra, Deepak who’s Karthik’s co founder at TMinus and a professional videographer wrapped up the scenes of the marketer. My brother Benjamin who was at home with Mom that day shared the videos of Mom acting out the food blogger scenes. We got the videos ready by afternoon!
Now, voice over for an explainer is something that most people don’t give enough importance. But from what I’ve learned in Wildbeez, I knew it makes a lot of difference from a quality perspective. I reached out to artists on Fiverr who could fill up voices for the three characters and who could deliver the next day so that I can wrap up the editing without any delay.
This was my opportunity for dogfooding — using Typito to create video about Typito :). It went smooth and we had the final video ready for upload within an hour’s editing work. We also got the voice overs ready from Fiverr artists. While we liked the kid and food blogger voices, we felt the marketer voice came out a bit monotonous. I scouted Fiverr again and found another voice artist who matched the requirement well and also offered to deliver within 24 hours. Fingers crossed we went for it. FYI, the $40 we spent from our pockets for the whole project was on the voice overs and it was worth it! Everything else was DIY.
The same day I was worried about how to position our video for users to watch and understand what Typito stands for. A few obvious options were placing it as a landing page video, sharing the link on the Maker’s comment on Product Hunt. They were all the routine stuff but how do we get to do something really really special? That’s when it struck us, thanks to invention’s parents, necessity and desperation, that the video was actually edited on Typito! We edited the clips, added branded text layouts and stitched music with the same tool that we are trying to sell. We decided the video can be repurposed as a publicly available project demo from which users can learn 2 important things — what Typito is, how Typito works!
Contrary to the panic when you are 1 day away from your deadline, this day was calm and pleasant (silence before the storm?). I took some time to stitch the latest voice over for the marketer part of the video (which came out really well!), Srijith, my co-founder got Typito Demo up and running and we published our video on YouTube for further distribution on different forums. It was a great feeling — having produced our explainer video just the way we wanted! I remember walking down the streets that day with my head really high and confident like a boss. :-).
It’s been 4 months since we produced the video and launched ourselves on Product Hunt. The video has been the cornerstone of our conversion funnel ever since. Customers who decided to subscribe to one of our payment plans after checking out the Demo contributed to $4000 in the last 4 months. We believe they were able to build that confidence only after trying out the no-signup demo while also being educated about what Typito stands for. While we love to give a 8/10 for the explainer video growth experiment, here are few moments related to the video experiment we love to cherish:
1/ Patrick McKenzie (better known as patio11) gave us a thumbs up on email after checking out the video. He was helping us with feedback on our Y Combinator application for Jan 2018. A serial entrepreneur who’s revered worldwide for his expertise in B2B and Enterprise sales loved our video and that was a great validation for us :).
2/ Here’s Beth Fiedler a Product Hunt user referring to one of the customer stories in the explainer video in a comment about Typito. For us, this is a sign of brand recall and evidence of a story that sunk in deep enough to make a difference.
3/ One of our creators expressed her appreciation for our demo app. Demo became an easy way for users to get a hang of what Typito offers without going through the ordeal of signing up for trial.
Overall, we feel the video helped our launch to a great extent while also ensuring our user on-boarding became much better than how it was before. We observed that a user who’s checked out our explainer video on the Demo is more likely to at least produce 2 videos using Typito.
Hope you enjoyed the story about how we created a $40 video that’s still driving customers to learn and use Typito for their video needs. If you plan to create an explainer video for your business, I’d strongly recommend that you think about how you want to repurpose it to improve your business. And then work backwards to create an awesome video!
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