What Business Video Producers Can Learn From Movie Trailers

What can we learn from movie trailers?

In some of my previous blogs I’ve talked about using Facebook’s autoplay feature to entice an audience to watch your full video and therefore engage with your company or product. Today I’m going to write about what business video producers can learn from movie trailers. I’ll be looking at release strategy, story telling and editing and how movie studios use these to maximise their return on the investment of video marketing.

...a business video is a movie that entices the viewer to buy a product or service Click To Tweet

Every film release is, in business terms, the launch of a new product. That doesn’t mean that the marketing model has nothing to teach us for other purposes. We’ll see when we look at the story telling and the editing that there are good lessons to be learned for all business marketing videos. What it does mean is that the video marketing strategy used is ideal for new product releases. let’s start by taking a look at the strategy.


I’m a huge film fan and I spend far too high a proportion of my life watching films and the trailers for films. My analysis of the release pattern of film trailers leads me to think in terms of three distinct stages of the marketing strategy.

  1. Tease
  2. Reveal
  3. Exploit

This strategy is designed to draw viewers in. The purpose is to build excitement and word of mouth. The purpose is to sell tickets. The production and release of the several trailers that accompany a movie release is planned and executed over several months leading up to the film’s release. The drip feed of excitement and information across time is what builds desire for the film.


The first trailers for any film will be shorter, vague and purposely obscure in places. The point is to show you a little and make you want more. The tease raises excitement amongst the audience. It raises expectations for how thrilling or moving the film will be. It gets people talking about what is to come.

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After the teaser, or teasers there are often several for big releases, there comes the first trailer. This reveals more of the plot and is longer, with more action or drama. The purpose here is to fulfill some of the promise of the trailer while further tantalizing the viewer for the main event. There can be several main trailers. Perhaps each focuses on a certain character or on a certain aspect of the story but the purpose is always the same. The purpose is to engage the audience and draw them into the world of the film without revealing the vital elements of th story. If the viewer wants to find out what’s happening they have to see the movie.

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Next comes the exploitation stage. As the film’e release approaches there are mini trailers and TV spots, 10-15 seconds perhaps 30 seconds, just to remind people that the film is coming, to give them the sense of excitement they got from the early trailers. Then there is the final trailer, released with much fanfare, to wet the appetite of the viewers one more time. The final trailer has something never seen before and is an invitation to be shocked or surprised. It reveals that the viewers presumptions about the film, based on previous trailers, maybe completely wrong. It leaves the viewer desperate to see the film.

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Trailers are mini movies in their own right. Creating them is a special skill. The purpose is enticement and to that end there is a methodology in the editing. Dramatic scenes, or action scenes, are shown but without the pay off. In the trailers above we see a building collapse and James bond leap towards safety, but we don’t actually see what happens. We see speeding cars but not the end of the chase. We see snippets of a fight but not the winner. In the main trailer we see a person thrown from a balcony but not who it is or what happens to them. We see people moving closer but not the kiss. It is true to say that while companies differentiate between teasers and trailers they are all designed to tease. What is common to all trailers is the building of desire in the viewer. This is the sole purpose of trailers and indeed the sole purpose of all advertising. The key difference between trailers and adverts is that the visual element of the trailer must end before the pay off so that the viewer wants to watch the movie, but a business video is a movie that entices the viewer to buy a product or service so the pay off must, in some form, be part of the advert.

For me movie trailers teach four very clear lessons for all of us who produce or use video marketing.

  1. Plan your campaign
  2. Build desire
  3. Edit for effect
  4. Be bold

Your business is worth selling, and worth selling well. If you don’t believe that you’ll never make other people believe that. Your advertising is all about building desire and building a relationship with your customers. Be confident in your advertising and establish the worth of your business. There is no better way of adding value to your business reputation than video marketing and if we can take a final lesson from the world of movie trailers it is that even the worst films have great trailers, so if you have a good business surely it deserves the best marketing you can give it.

As always, good luck with your video marketing and if you have any comments or question please add them to the comments and I’ll try to reply as soon as I can… just don’t expect an answer this coming Monday night. I’ll be at the pictures watching James Bond, obviously.