By Neil Davidson, My Web Presenters

There’s a reason homegrown, low budget videos go viral more often than huge advertising campaigns with big budgets.

The advent of social media has given the user control. Control of what to watch, what to read, what to listen to — essentially, what to consume. It’s now easier than ever for people to share their opinions, videos, podcasts, ebooks — anything — with the rest of the world. And so it’s easier for people to find what they really want — authentic things made by real people — and not just consume whatever’s put in front of them, a la TV.

And, not surprisingly, what people do NOT want… is to be sold to. Sure, people want to buy things, but they do not, under any circumstances, wish to be sold to. And the internet and social media helps dramatically, because people no longer have to sit in front of the television, being fed a particular message at a particular time, regardless of whether it’s something they’re interested in or not. People can now find out what’s going on in the world for themselves — they can go elsewhere to find what they want. So cheap selling tricks don’t work anymore. Instead — trust, honesty and authenticity reign supreme.

Let’s compare a few videos that have similar offerings, and figure out what works and what doesn’t:

Would you trust these ladies to help get you fit?


… or this guy?


Shopping channel ads like the one above are positively prehistoric in today’s digital world of conversation. In a place where people don’t have to rely on shopping channels for late night entertainment, but can instead seek out what they’re truly interested in, forced sales pitches like these are on the way out. However, in the second video, we get the impression that Steve Kamb really wants to help you. He’s not trying to sell you anything — although he does run a wildly successful fitness business — he just wants to help, and he enjoys doing so.

Would you rather learn how to market your business from this guy?


Or this sassy chick? (Warning: contains swearing. Quite a lot of swearing.)


The irony is that the first guy pitches himself as the real deal, authentic, “anti-guru” — but that’s precisely the opposite of how he comes across. You feel as though you’re being sold to, and it leaves you feeling cold. No promise to make millions is worth anything if it’s unbelievable. Whereas the girl in the second video has just switched the camera on her iPhone on, because she can’t wait any longer — she just feels so compelled to share this information with you, without making any sales pitches. You might think the first guy is more successful — but Ashley Ambirge runs a hugely successful marketing and copywriting business.

Do you trust this, er, robot’s business advice?


Or Marie Forleo’s?


No prizes for guessing that Marie’s videos are slightly more successful than the robot’s. Seriously — why would anyone trust advice from somebody that, actually, isn’t even human? (And, more to the point, who thought making that video was a good idea?) Marie injects a little humour into her video — always a good thing — but more importantly, she speaks from the heart. It’s clear if you watch any of Marie’s videos that she does what she does because loves it, and because she wants to help people.

Have you noticed a theme? Helping others. That’s right — a true desire to help others really shines through and gives your videos an authentic touch. So when you’re putting your next video together, don’t think about how you can make more money — think about what you can do for others and the money will follow, because you’ll actually be providing something valuable.

Even McDonald’s is now making an effort to come across as more authentic, rather than simply relying on its huge following and pumping out ads that reinforce the brand. In this video, they get a real live person (not an actor, as far as we know), and kill a huge objection people have to their food:


McDonald’s has made sure to include the fact that they’re using an independent lab to prove their point, again addressing another suspicion people have about the disingenuous nature of giant food corporations.

It takes a very clever marketer to present themselves as genuine if they’re not. So, of course, the easiest way to come across as genuine is to actually be genuine — so stop trying so hard, and just be you. Be you, and people will trust you. People will want to buy from you, because they won’t feel like you’re trying to sell anything. And let’s not forget our core message: people want to buy from other people, not from businesses. And real people make mistakes, say things they’re not “supposed” to say, and laugh often and loudly — things you wouldn’t find in a hammy or corporate video.

So cut out the ham, and be real.

About the author
Neil Davidson is the Founder of My Web Presenters, who are a leading video production company specialising in video spokesperson videos. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos. They also write an online video blog with clear, practical video marketing tips.

The Digital Marketing Show is taking place in Excel, London in November – visit www.digitalmarketingshow.co.uk

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