Joel Ackerman's top tips for successful marketing videos

Posted by Gareth Davies on 4 Dec, 2013
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Gareth Davies talks to Joel Ackerman, writer and director of the Poo Pouri viral video advert and creative content director for Orabrush. In this article get the latest tips on how you can effectively produce and market web videos for your business.

Gareth Davies talks to Joel Ackerman, writer and director of the Poo Pouri viral video advert and creative content director for Orabrush. In this article get the latest tips on how you can effectively produce and market web videos for your business.


Unless you've been living under a huge rock for the last few years you’ll be aware that web videos have become a powerful part of online marketing.

If you can get web videos right, they can be a big game changer. Get them wrong and it can be a costly, empty experience. And unfortunately most businesses, big and small generally continue to get video marketing wrong.

So what do people really need to do to make better web videos and increase their chances of success?

I believe answers to many of the common pitfalls can be found in my eBook Videotastic! However recently I had the pleasure to speak to Joel Ackerman, an LA-based TV writer and director who shared 7 web video secrets with me that I can now share with you.

But before we dive in, a little bit about Joel…

He’s produced some of the most successful entertaining product videos on YouTube.

In the last few years he’s helped amass nearly 200k subscribers for Orabrush’s YouTube channel, and his recent video for a product called 'Poo Pourri’ (which he wrote and directed) has received over 20m YouTube views and over 1m FaceBook shares in a matter of weeks. Yes 20m. That’s like the same as all of the population of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Norway watching your advert!

It’s no surprise that these ads are now being written about in the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail and Washington Post to name but a few.

A TV/Film writer, filmmaker, marketer. Joel’s style is like Woody Allen meeting David Ogilvy. He combines entertainment with marketing, and it’s all carefully wrapped into a solid business objective.

With no further ado, here are the video tips Joel has used to such great effect.

Create a compelling message and make powerful claims

Firstly understand the unique selling proposition (USP) of the product or service. Once this is clearly defined, the next step is to construct the claims to get people’s attention. You do not want to be another ‘me too’ company you want to be unique.

"Focus on the messaging or selling points of what’s going to make the video convert viewers into buyers. Really focus on that to find the valuable information that will help sell the product. For example with Orabrush when people discover that 90% of bad breathe comes from the dirty tongue they are all the more motivated to buy a tongue cleaner. We added powerful claims too, like ‘stop the stench of your bodily odour at source and save your relationship’. That’s a powerful claim."

Make a ‘conversion’ or ‘engagement’ video

These are the 2 main types of video a business will want to make. Conversion videos are designed to drive sales, whilst engagement videos can work well to get people to subscribe to a YouTube channel.

Conversion video

These are designed to turn viewers into buyers. They can be sharable, but the upside is if a video converts to sales, it’s also possible to scale up paid advertising.


"We want to bring money in the door and to get people to buy the product. I wrote the 'Bad Breath Test' as a conversion video. It was the 2nd video we made and really started it all for Orabrush. The product wasn’t even in stores early on, but we achieved full retail distribution from the online presence."


Poo Pourri conversion video, with over 20m views.

Engagement video

Orabrush decided to create a web series called ‘Diary of a dirty tongue’. This web video series was designed primarily to promote the YouTube channel. The style is entertaining, but it also uses subtle messaging. The videos specifically make a call to action to subscribe to the channel.

Understanding the difference between the two is important. You don’t want to invest all your budget into engagement videos, if your primary business goal is sales.


Orabrush’s ‘Diary of a dirty tongue’ engagement video (200k channel subscribers).

Get inspiration from outside your niche

Joel is a firm believer that it’s difficult to come up with original ideas if you spend too much time looking at what others do. Go outside your niche, try and get inspiration from other places.

"I feel like it’s hard to come up with something fresh if you’re always consuming other people’s material. My heroes are Woody Allen. Filmmaking influences: Woody Allen. He’s just so prolific, and his humour is smart. However when it comes to Advertising my Dad, Jim Ackerman is my hero. I learnt my fundamental marketing principles from him as a kid, when I used to help him out."


Collaborate with a professional entertainer

Marketers and business owners do not need to try and become entertainers overnight. Joel strongly believes in hiring a pro. Find someone with plenty of experience. A professional entertainer can bring extra pizzazz to your video. Whether that’s more energy, humour or credibility.

"If you were trying to market Ice Hockey for example, should the marketer try and train to become a professional ice hockey player to make a video? Or should they hire a professional ice hockey player and teach them to sell the product instead? If you’re wise you’re going to choose the latter."


Do not try and make a viral video

Obsessing about going viral can be the death knell for web videos. The aim should be to make a conversion video or an engagement video, and ideally make it sharable, but videos do not need to go viral to be a success.

"If you’re thinking about making a viral video you are looking at the wrong end of the equation. Focus on creating a conversion video and a successful campaign. Going viral can’t be in the back of your mind. You need to shelve those fantasies because you’d be focusing on the wrong end of the equation: on distribution not returns."

Orabrush and Orapup are great examples of videos that haven’t needed to be a viral hits to be hugely successful. Almost 200k channel subscribers and 1m products sold is testimony to this.


Entertaining engagement videos for Orabrush

“With Poo Pourri I had a stinking suspicion it would be successful. But that’s because it was a good conversion video that was sharable. We weren’t aiming for a viral video”.



The idea is important, but if you have a great idea and poor execution it won’t likely be successful. Unbeknown to Joel until very recently, US brand Cottonelle® had already created some video adverts that were not a million miles away from the Poo Pourri concept. However their execution of the idea was simply not as good. As a result Cottonelle’s videos have not achieved the same sort of attention as the Poo Pourri video has.

Test, track and iterate

Yes that’s right, apply the same principles you would for optimizing a website, landing page or paid search campaign for that matter. Look at the entire sales funnel and in a word - optimize!

For video this could mean filming two variations of a conversion video to test for the best performer.

Or edit a more v less risqué version and analyze both. Another option is to highlight different features in two separate videos, or test different calls to action.

When it comes to running tests it’s possible to start small then scale things up. YouTube’s analytics program can also give you some great insights.

"We use YouTube Ads to run small scale tests to see which video is getting more engagement from users. If you’re getting a lot of thumbs up and positive comments, you can soon see if you’re on the right track."


YouTube analytics can offer useful insights into your video (random data example)


When you have your best version that is proven to either convert to sales or subscribers, then launch that version. Undertake the usual things such as emailing bloggers, doing PR, sharing on FaceBook, Twitter and so forth. However sometimes this decision will happen sooner if many people start sharing a version of the video. There were a few versions of the Poo Pourri ad being tested at the time it went viral. In this instance the public decided hands down which version they liked, and started sharing it.


These steps are central to how Joel has produced and marketed scores of successful web video ads. It’s a blend of great creative ideas for the content mapped to clear business goals and implementing marketing fundamentals. To recap:

  • Create a compelling message and powerful offer based around your USP.
  • Decide what type of video you’re creating. Is it conversion or engagement?
  • Look for ideas outside your industry.
  • Think like a marketer and collaborate with a professional entertainer.
  • Forget going viral, instead focus on your business goals.
  • Start small, test multiple versions with ads and find your best version.
  • Use PR and social media to promote your winning video.

"My advice for folks is to really focus on the messaging. Differentiate from competitors, by understanding the features and benefits of your product or service. so you can make powerful offers. Then test, iterate and execute it well."

For more information visit Ackermania Creative or email Joel.

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