Humor brings people together. So why not use it to promote your product or service? In this webinar CEO of Vooza teaches us how to make funny videos that sell.
Matt is no regular CEO. At Vooza, he takes part in all of the stages of video creation process. He writes, produces and acts in them. Vooza videos is a sarcastic and witty take of startup live, go give them a look here.
What helped you build such a futuristic vision? Or should I say, what helped you become a visionary?
So I think that’s really the basis of everything that’s happened to me in the startup world. It’s my willingness to say “failure, I’m with you.”
Then we started a meditation app that was called Guru, which is like Uber but for meditation. So you can press a button and have someone else do your meditating for you. Then we got sued by Dalai Lama and had to pivot again from that.
Now we’re working on Vooza which is basically an app that you install on your phone and then we steal your data and sell it to both, the NSA and spammers located either in Eastern Europe or Asia.
It really doesn’t matter if you have any reason to do it. It’s just more showing and indicating to the world, wow, this guy knows what people are writing about at tech blogs. And that is, I always say, 80% of the path to success.
I always say, the more money you can borrow from people, the more of a success you are in life. That’s why I have three mortgages on my house. Cause I always tell people, that is the path to IPOing.
Because what I found is, the structure of being a public company it’s really…you’re helping the world, making the world a better place, you’re improving things, answering to shareholders who really are looking at the long term, what’s going to be best for the planet, what’s going to be best for our society and that’s the realm that I want to be in. I’m not about let’s make a profit tomorrow.
I’m more about, let’s borrow money and maybe in ten years we can build a spaceship.
We basically treat our employees as if they were 5 years old. And they really respond to that well. Because they are extremely immature. So it’s kind of a perfect fit. So I’d say the perks that we have in our office really helps us attract and retain moderately talented people.
And people are like, well, if it’s on his business card it’s probably right. And I think that’s what makes me such an idea evangelist, as I like to say.
And one of my other big influencers is Woody Woodpecker. Because I really admire his resilience at constantly sort of chipping away at that tree and just going away at that tree all the time.
That’s a real lesson for people in the startup world, how you have to iterate over and over again and keep banging your head against that wall, until eventually, either that wall falls or you get a concussion. Either way you win, really.
But I also realise that without them I wouldn’t be where I am. I have a policy where I’m willing to take selfies for at least 5 minutes but then please, let me go back to eating my meal, at that point I think it’s a good balance.
But that’s the nature of the beast, that’s part of what you get for being so successful and for building such great companies, it’s going to be a lot of attention from the masses. I’m okay with the riff-raff.
And I’m really into funding secret lawsuits against people who write anything that I disapprove of but not having my name behind it. I think it’s a really noble way of fighting for the cause of personal privacies so I respect that a lot.
I guess mark Zuckerberg, because he puts tape over his camera. And I think that sort of proves that NSA is spying on everyone and Facebook kind of knows it, I respect that.
It’s more in a awareness. It’s okay to use a buzzword if you don’t have a better option but if you’re using it if you don’t know what you’re saying or just to sound important that’s when it’s really a problem I think.
I think it’s intimidating and a turn off, sort of like the way to shut down conversations or to exclude people who maybe don’t have the same vocabulary or knowledge of buzzwords that you do.
The more valuable your ideas are the less you need to rely on jargon to get them across. You can explain things simply and directly in a way that anyone can understand.
Some companies that have blown up and became huge the names are pretty dumb but now we’re so used to the actual value and services provided and we’re just used to it.
It’s just funny to have a domain for 6 years and no one offers you anything and the minute you launch like, hey, you want to sell that?
It’s just paying attention to what’s going on. A lot times it’s just seeing an article or a quote that almost sounds like a Vooza episode. Seems like something ridiculous is happening all the time.
Programmers who are drinking meal replacement drinks not to leave their keyboard at any moment. Okay, that already sounds like a Vooza episodes. So let’s just take the reality and make it like 10% more absurd
I think sometimes there’s an element of just try to have a sense of humor even if you’re making a more serious video explaining something. Just have a light tone and use language that makes it seem like you’re not positioning yourself as being more than you are, sounding human, throwing in a couple jokes here and there.
I think it’s sort of a good middle ground for a lot of people. In tech world people tend to, not always, but a lot of times take themselves so seriously and there’s a lot of pretension.
And you need if not actually try to be funny, take that tone, like standup comedian or comedy show takes of having a sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously. Using plain language and making fun of yourself a little bit, coming across as human helps you be different as a part a technical world.
That is where performing live comes in handy. Doing standup and being on stage you kind of learn what’s funny and what’s not funny in front of a room full of people. You develop a certain ear of what’s going to work and what’s not working. At the very beginning it’s what you think is funny.
And if you’re confident that something’s funny sometimes that’s good enough. You put it online and hope that everybody else agrees with you. You’re like hey, that’s the thing that I wanted to make and I thought it was funny and good so I’m putting it out there.
So they are able to see other videos that we’ve made, sponsored content. Later on we put the videos up on Youtube, Facebook recently has become a really good way to spread videos and get attention, people obviously are spending time there. So instead of having people need to go to your site, it’s a way to reach them where they’re spending time already.
And then, unfortunately, it’s like rather a challenge. I think you just gotta, you know, get your videos up everywhere, you know. We’ve put them up on the AOL license or content, and then Amazon and Dailymotion and so we kind of just syndicating the videos afterwhile, they might end up everywhere.
I think, there’s always that temptation like “No, I’m gonna make something brilliant, I’m gonna spend all this time writing a perfect script and I’m gonna have a perfect crew and we’ll spend a lot of money doing this shoot we’re gonna do all this.”
When there’s sometimes you better opt to making something cheap and put it out to the world and, you know, if the idea’s good you’ll get that feedback that will tell you “Oh, this is really good, it’s worth more investment, it’s worth more time”.
And I think sometimes that’s a mistake that I’ve fallen into which is trying to create a masterpiece and spending, you know, too much time planning and trying to shoot stuff with a big budget while I’m supposed to “Okay, what’s the cheapest, quickest thing I can make?” and put it out to the world and see if people pick it.
Versus someone who’s like “I’m gonna put out a new podcast every week for two years regardless regardless of you know.. That’s just the thing I’m gonna do and recognise that it might take 6 months to pick up some traction or even a year before people really start to notice it”.
But having that sort of weekly or daily or weekly or monthly or whatever regular sort of edition where you’re picking up steam all long. You’re sort of a train that keeps going as supposed to, just making one stop and picking.
That’s all you need to do. It’s not easy, it’s hard. I think, there’s so much media out there right now that I think there’s some real power in sort of sticking around and being sustainable and just kind of going after the same people slowly over time and building organically.
You know, that’s where you’ll have an email list or social media following just sort of keeping your name at the top of people’s minds. It’s easy to forget. Just cause it’s easy to forget. If you’re making something really good you can put it out there, but when it’s out there and done that just kind of recedes into the background.
And I always tell people, like, the heavier the plug, the product mention, the less likely people are to share it. So, it’s trying to create that balance where you’re mentioning the client and you’re getting their message across but you’re also doing it where it’s embedded into an episode when it feels organic and natural and not too heavy and not too over the top.
And the rest of video is funny and it feels like it fits in. I think we’ve done a good job with that. We’ve had a lot of times people say our sponsored are some of their favorite episodes, which is what we’re going for.
We don’t want it to be, like, you know, our viewers like “oh, great, this is one of the sponsored ones, it’s gonna suck.” It’s like a lot of times they are just as fun or even funnier than the regular episodes. Also, it gives us a little more budget to play around with.
Sometimes we can do, you know, more interesting things on the sponsored episodes. And yeah, I think it’s similar to what I was saying before — you’re just telling your clients, like, what we do that’s gonna be human.
What can we do that’s gonna make you sound like like, you know, funny and real people, and like you get it, for the lack of a better term, as opposed to what so much marketing does which is people stand up and be like “we’re the best, we’re number one, you need to use us, we’ll change it”, you know. And it’s like this whole sort of facade of something that comes across as kind of phony.
So, I think there’s a way to reach people that’s a little bit more organic and human, and funny, and you know, hopefully we help our clients do that.
But the idea that you can just, you know, guarantee a viral video is really tough unless it’s a bunch of cute dogs playing pranks on each other while girls in bikinis jump around in the background, you know. It’s something like that, I don’t know.
If someone watches 2 seconds and then turns it off, is that as valuable as someone who watches, you know, 40 minutes of something. I think we started to realise now that a lot of metrics we’ve used for attention and engagement and views and clicks and all that stuff sometimes doesn’t have real values.
I think that’s what people start to realize in the next few years and how to measure that sort of thing in a way that’s more productive, I guess.
And within like a month it got millions of views and was really blowing up in a way that was great to see. It was sponsored video, but people were responding to it. It was one of, if not the most popular videos that we’ve ever made.
And this one that we made for a sponsor. It’s great when you get to collaborate with a client in that way and then also your viewers really dig into.
I don’t know, I think people also are aware that there’s, like, a lot of noise out there, and that comedy is a great way to sort of break through the clutter of all this other content of people being serious and talking about how they are the best and their product is essential and all this other stuff.
Or you can come in with a sense of humor and you’re gonna see yourself apart from a pack. So I think people are seeing value in that way.
And that sounds like they’re in cave somewhere. Get a good audio, get someone who understands, like, boom mics or something where you can actually hear people. Well, and then again, to go back to sort of like the actual developing an app model, just, you know, be willing to fail and put stuff out there and iterate a lot and, you know keep making stuff and you’ll get better.
We work with a comedy club Vistia where we host all our videos and they have some great tutorials on their site targeted at, like, tech companies or startups or small businesses who are trying to make videos and sort of teaching them of here’s what you can do and how you can do it simply.
That’s a good resource to check out and see vistia.com. Try everything else. Just start making things and you’ll start learning right away. Oh, this didn’t work and this didn’t work. You know, keep doing it and that’s how you get better at something.
Like, there can be sort of two different… Maybe, you don’t need one video that does everything for your company. Maybe you have one video, series of videos that’s more serious, that explains what your product does for people already know about it.
Maybe you make a funny video or something more comedic that’s shareable for people who’ve never heard of your product so that you get in front of people
And we try to make a video actually funny and we try to, you know, integrate the plug or the brand in the way that seems fairly organic and not just like something that makes no sense. And we work with our clients on, you know, script approval and we make sure that it’s something that seems like a line with what they say.
It takes a little bit more time on a front-end to make sure that it’s collaborating in a way that everyone’s happy with. I think you can see it in a final product. It feels fairly seamless about how we integrate the different products we mention into the show.
If you’re someone like Gary V, I mean that’s how he started out – with just shooting selfie videos and just throwing them up online, but you know, if you’ve got a message or a content that is valuable to people that can be good enough.
For what we do exactly more of a production, more of shooting with a crew and lights and cameras and actors and makeup and scripting beforehand and editing afterwards. That’s certainly for us more of a production, but I think you get a different quality of product from that.
And from a film-making perspective I like stuff that looks good and looks professional and I think that helps, you know, people taking more seriously too in a way. So, it kind of depends on the goals and what you’re going for.
I think you can make something for fairly cheap and it might look cheap, but that could be a good way to at least test out your ideas and what you have to say, you know, and get your performance going and then, you know, proved.
But yeah, I think we were lucky the first couple videos we’ve made went viral. I guess, like, the biggest thing that we had at the time we were launched was the mystery around who was doing it, and why, and was it a joke or is this for real, and what was happening, cause that was a big part of the attraction at first was people seeing, you know, a Radimparency video and being like “Is this serious? Who is behind this? Why? What is going on here?”
And I think there was a lot of value promotionally that we got from that at the time that people sort of guessing and not sure what was happening. So in the beginning we’ve got a lot of big names in the tech world tweeting about it, you know, like, Tim Farris, Steve Case, the founder of Foursquare, the founder of Basecamp.
And I think at that point, when those people all were talking about something, that starts picking up traction, so we luckily at the very beginning kind of got out of the gate and spread pretty far and were able to start selling advertisers within a month after releasing our first video, so it was a pretty lucky sequence of events. And I think that would be difficult to replicate.
You know, like I said, we have a collection of sort of ideas or stories we think are funny from the real tech world, different concepts that are kicking around all the time coming up with the idea that we want and then from there it’s collaborating.
Like, sometimes I write the episodes on my own, sometimes I work with other writers that we have. And we start up with a treatment which is sort of like “okay, here’s the idea behind the video and make sure that’s got point”. Then, from there we move to the actual scripting phase, which is, like, actually writing a script for the whole episode.
Couple of things that I mention to the people is that we usually write too much, so everyone, so if you want, like, 2-minute video, we might write something that’s actually 3,5-4 minutes long.
That gives us the option to edit down later. You know, kind of shoot too much and edit down to something that’s pretty funnier at the later point. Also, the script is sort of like the worst case scenario. Like, everyone we work with is comedian and they are really funny.
And we do encourage people to improvise, you know, figure things up in a moment. So I think a lot of the funniest stuff comes from letting our cast, who is really funny people, you know take things in different directions. And then from there, we move to the editing phase.
And that’s usually, like I said, editing something that too long and then sort of chopping it down a lot of times of there’s, you know, improvisation along the way, it might be “Okay, there’s 5 different options for what this line could be.” Which one is the funniest? Which one actually sets up what’s gonna happen in the rest of the episode?
And from there… You know, there are usually 2 or 3 rounds of editing and then we’ve got a finished product, and we put it out. So, it’s usually about 2 to 3 months from, you know, the origin of the idea to the final video being delivered.
Sometimes, for people like that it’s not about getting tons of views, it’s just more about how it makes their company look. For others, it’s about sales. So it might not be like they need to, you know, get millions of views from just the general public a , they want someone to buy their products or to at least know about their product, then it’s gonna be worthwhile for them.
So if it’s sponsored episode, it definitely depends on the client and what they’re going for. For me personally, like, I just wanna make something that I’m proud of, that I think is funny, that shows up what we can do, that, like, our team enjoys making and feels like they spend theory time working in something that is worthwhile and, like, enables us to make more stuff in future that we’re proud of and think it’s good.
So, it’s… Each video to me is sort of like a calling card, like “Hey, here’s what we can do for someone else”. Like we wanna do a good job since someone else gives us money so we can make a video for them or we can make a show or we can do something else in a way that makes this whole world we are building kind of sustainable.
So, here’s one of my biggest pet peeves since, like, first releases, whether they have a behavior like a CEO. So clearly a sentence that no human being ever said out loud. I see this all the time in a tech world, where we have, like, analytical people, who plan everything.
Sometimes you just can’t write it out with fancy language. And yeah, that might sound important and make you sound smart, but just gonna make you sound like a robot, and everyone in a room is gonna be like “yeah, but that’s not a real sentence that anyone says”.
So think about how to talk like a real human being is probably, like, the biggest think. And then I think also, that’s something from a stand-up, is you gotta open strong and close strong. So, like, make sure, you hook people in the beginning.
Like, in first 10-20 seconds people are just judging you based on, like “Okay, who is this person? Where are they coming from? What’s this gonna be like?” So, kinda answering that will do. And then close it strong, because usually how you end is the thing that people remember about you.
And we also have a great director who directs mostly episodes. He’s got a great crew he works with like camera- and sound-people. and the writers are mostly people featured on the show or rather comedians. It’s been really fun for me being able to, you know, work with talented people who are doing good stuff but maybe aren’t getting as much exposure as, I think, they deserve.
So being able to cast them and stuff and give them a place where they get to kinda show what they can do. That’s been a fun part about the show, too.
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