Thursday, March 12, 2015

If You Aren't Closed Captioning Your TV Spots -- You Should!

If You Aren't Closed Captioning Your TV Spots -- You Should!

Like many of you, even though I don't need assistance to hear my TV, I often turn on closed captioning.  Sometimes there's someone in the room who's trying to read or talk on the telephone, or I want to catch all the words to a song being performed by a band on a late night talk show.  Whatever the reason, I find closed captioning very useful.  I think all shows should be captioned.  

For one thing, it's just good business.  An advertiser spends tens of thousands of dollars or more on every spot they run.  A quick search on the net shows a company that will do it for $15 for a 60 second spot, so adding closed captioning doesn't add much to the cost; but the resulting benefits are many.

Here's one that excites me:  Putting captions on your spots can add 10 or even 15 seconds to the amount of time your message is on the air absolutely free!  Here's how it works:  Next time watch TV with captions on.  You'll notice some commercials are captioned while others aren't.  When a captioned spot is followed by one that isn't captioned, an interesting phenomenon occurs:  The last caption remains on screen through a good chunk of the uncaptioned spot that follows.  

Can advertisers use this feature of closed captioning to their advantage?  You bet!  Instruct your captioning producer to make that last caption contain your brand name, contact info, whatever.  Then let it fly.  When your spot airs, that final caption can linger long after the spot has ended.  And that extra linger time might just give a viewer a chance to write down your phone number or address and get you the sale. 

Now imagine this:  Suppose your spot is followed by one of your competitors' spots that isn't captioned.  While they're going on and on about how great they are, there's your brand name superimposed right over their commercial.  How's that for a kick?  Talk about guerrilla advertising!

Closed captioning is also the right thing to do.  It's a welcome service to those who are hearing-impaired.  They'll appreciate it, and it encourages good will towards your brand, again opening the door to more sales. 

It can also keep you out of trouble.  Recently, there have been several lawsuits initiated against universities (MIT is one of them) that haven't been captioning their on-line courses.  The argument goes that without captioning, the courses become inaccessible to the hearing impaired; that's a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Nobody needs a lawsuit that can be prevented for fifteen bucks. 

But without even considering the possibility of lawsuits or the goodwill captioning brings, the added exposure time for your brand makes closed captioning something a smart advertiser shouldn't pass up. 

Until next time, 

Fred Pagano

Brown Cow Studios creates 
"High Quality Video and Sound Design at Terrific Value."  

How can we help you?  Get in touch with me anytime.

Monday, April 8, 2013

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Making a Video:
The Pagano Video Method

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Making a Video - The Pagano Video Method 

Question 5: What Do We Want the Audience to Do?

Welcome back!  We're almost at the end of our discussion of the five and-a-half questions you need to ask in order to make a great promotional video.  I call it the Pagano Video Method.  It works!

So far, we've created a back story, and we've learned about the company and product, established our goals, and learned something about the target audience.  With all that in mind, we move on to one of the most important questions:  What do we want the audience to do after viewing the video?  

Until you answer this all important question I can guarantee you one thing:  Your video won't get results. 

For an effective promotional video, there has to be something you want the viewer to do.  We've touched on it a little bit in question 3, which deals with intent, but now we want to get the viewer to take action.  We've already wowed them with our story, the benefits of the product and so on.  Now we have to tell them what to do. 

Possibilities include...  

  • Buy our product
  • Call for information
  • Visit our website
  • Tell your friends about us
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Write to Congress

You can even ask the viewer to check back next week for another video.  What you want them to do is up to you, but the important thing is you have to ask them to do something.  In marketing, it's known as "the call to action." 

If you're doing your job well, you'll have a script that's powerful, a video that's worth watching, and you'll have given the audience lots of reasons to act.  But they won't act unless you tell them what to do.  Tell them!

And with that, we've covered the five basic questions in the Pagano Video Method.  But there's one more -- an important yet funky half-question that we'll get to next time.  See you then!

Fred Pagano


The Pagano Video Method has worked for companies all over the world!  There's only one place you can get it -- that's from Brown Cow Studios of Boston.  Visit our website or call me personally at (617) 230-4019.  

Want to learn to write snappy advertising copy? Sure you do!  
Download your FREE COPY of Fred's Advertising Clinic today 
and learn the tricks the pros use! 


Copyright 2013 Fred Pagano & Brown Cow Studios of Boston.  All rights reserved.  This copyrighted article may be redistributed provided all text, credits, and this copyright notice are intact.  Please let us know you've linked to us.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Making a Video
The Pagano Video Method Part 4

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Making a Video:
The Pagano Method: Part 4 - Audience

Welcome back! 

In our previous articles, we've looked at the first three questions in my method to producing a great promo video.  As a result, we've built a back story for our product, learned about it, and decided what we want the video to accomplish. 

Now it's time to learn about the audience. 

Question 4:  Who are you talking to?

Question 4:  Who are you talking to?
Your video won't be effective if it doesn't make a connection with viewers.  If it's a sales video, it won't be effective unless it addresses their needs.  To connect with viewers and address their needs, you've got to know your audience -- not just who they are, but what they care about. 

There's no set formula to figuring out this stuff.  Although there is plenty of audience research available, determining who your audience is and what they care about takes thought and insight. 

Let's do the easy stuff first.  As a business person, you should be keeping data on your customers.  So you probably already know lots about your customers' demographics:  Their age, gender, occupation, income, and so on.  Demographic information forms the base layer to your video approach by supplying key facts about your audience.  If the product to be featured in your video is an expensive luxury car, then a video that appeals to high school students won't do you any good.   Your video needs to appeal to people with high incomes.  That's basic marketing. 

Then there's psychographics -- the attitudes and beliefs of your target market.  What do they believe in?  Do they believe in showing off their success?  Are they more modest?  Do they care about the environmental impact their purchases make?  Or do they just want to have fun?

Let's say the expensive luxury car that's the star of our video turns out to be the biggest car on the road, a giant SUV.  From the list above, which group(s) do you think will be interested in it, and which would not?  I'd say the guys who want to show off their success would be interested in the 2013 Guzzler, and possibly also those who just want to have fun.  Given the car's gas consuming nature, the Greens aren't going to like it very much. 

Many of the videos I produce involve heavily regulated industries.  They may be my client, or my client may provide services to these industries.  At the moment, I'm working on such a video, and I've been thinking a lot about the people who work in this industry.  What are their concerns?  How did they get into the business?  And how do they feel about recent calls for even more stringent regulations? 

Well, I think these people are proud of their work.  They're responsible.  I suspect they're quite nervous, maybe even scared that increasing regulation might drive them out of business.  

So the video I'll make for my client will appeal to the audience's attitudes.  We'll respect their pride, and acknowledge their responsible behavior.  We'll relate to their love for the product, and even try to allay their fears.

In the end, we'll produce a video that speaks directly to the needs of the audience.  We've taken the time to learn who they are and what they care about.  That's step four to creating a successful video. 

Next, we'll talk about The Pitch as we explore the fourth question of the Pagano Video Method.  See you then!



Brown Cow Studios of Boston helps businesses of all types
tell their unique stories.  What's your story?  Let us tell the world.
Call us at (617) 230-4019 or visit


Copyright 2013 Fred Pagano & Brown Cow Studios of Boston.  All rights reserved.  This copyrighted article may be redistributed provided all text, credits, and this copyright notice are intact.  Please let us know you've linked to us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Making a Video: The Pagano Video Method, Part 3: Intent

The Pagano Video Method - Part 3:  Intent

In this edition of BullShots!, our multi-part series on the five questions to ask when you want to make a great video continues.  These are the questions I ask my clients to consider whenever we talk about videos.  I call it the Pagano Video Method.

So far, we've asked two important questions:  1) Who are you? and 2) What's your product or service?  The answers help to give the video a back story or history.  The back story probably won't make it into the video, but does provide useful background information that influences the message, flavor, and feel of a video.  

Today, we move beyond the back story and talk about intent.

Question 3:  What do you want to do?

"Well, I want to make a video!"

Of course, but to what end?  In other words, what's the intent of the video?  What purpose will the video serve? 

Here's a quick quiz:  Of the three possible answers below, which one(s) refer to intent?

  1. I want the video to show my skill as a dentist.
  2. I want it to show my beautiful new office.
  3. I want people to understand why I'm the best at what I do. 
  4. I want a wedding video.
  5. I want a video for my kids to send with their college applications.
  6. I want a video to put on my web page.

If you answered both one and three, you're right on.  The other responses don't speak to intention.  Response two refers to what should be on the video.  Four tells us what sort of video the client wants, but says nothing about its purpose. 

Response five gets a bit closer, but it's still off the mark because it doesn't speak about the intent of the video -- it refers to the reason for making a video, but not its actual purpose.  Number six is way off the mark.  A video of a dog barking would suffice, but it wouldn't make sense on a dentist's home page. 
But number one, "I want the video to show my skill as a dentist" and number three, "I want people to understand why I'm the best at what I do" both discuss the video's intent.  That's important, because it guides us to the story of the video. 

For example, the video showing one's skill as a dentist might have content showing the dentist filling cavities or examining x-rays.  It might show him or her in a classroom learning the latest techniques, or might not even have the dentist in it at all -- it could be testimonials from patients.  Each of these approaches fills the intent of the video, to show the dentist's skill.

To achieve the intent of number three, showing why the subject is the best at his or her profession, might show the client's trophy case full of professional achievement awards, or perhaps actually being presented with one.  It could show clips from newspaper reviews or thank you letters.  Perhaps it shows the client tackling a difficult problem, like designing the world's longest suspension bridge.  While each of the stories is different, the intent is the same. 

So before committing to an investment of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for that video for your web site, ask yourself:  What do I want to do?

Next time in BullShots! we talk about your competition.  See you then!



Learn more about my method.  Call me anytime at +1 (617) 230-4019,
or drop me an email:


For more useful information, be sure to visit the Brown Cow Studios website:


Copyright 2013 Fred Pagano & Brown Cow Studios of Boston.  All rights reserved.  
This copyrighted article may be redistributed provided all text, links, credits, and this copyright notice are intact. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five-and-a-Half Steps to a Great Video: The Pagano Video Method
- Step Two

Five-and-a-Half Steps to a Great Video: 
The Pagano Video Method - Step Two

Welcome back!

In our last installment of this series, we looked at the first step in my method for creating a great video.   We started by borrowing a page from the actors' handbook and began to create a back story.  The back story, you'll remember, is a trick actors use to give their characters depth, personality, and the motivation that leads them to their current situation -- a moment in time we experience as a movie, play or TV show.  It's the story behind the story. 

Step Two: What's your product?
In this installment, we continue building on the back story by asking another key question that this time will give us knowledge about the main character in the video.  That main character is your product or service:  The star of the show.

What do we know about the star?  At this stage, not much.  From the exercise we completed in Step One we know about you and your business, but the star of our show -- your product or service -- is still an unknown.  So now let's learn about your product or service. 

Question Two:  "What's Your Product?"

"Pizza Boxes." 

I have to admit, if this were a real conversation with a real client, I'd be grinning right now.  The idea of making a video with pizza boxes as the star would never occur to me.  I haven't really thought much about pizza boxes at any time I can remember.  Sure, I've thought a lot about the pizza.  But the box?  Not so much. 

"So tell me about pizza boxes…"

"Well Fred, you'd be surprised at the variety of pizza boxes.  They come in many different sizes and shapes."

"Shapes, you say?"

"Yes-- there are square ones, of course, but there are also octagons, round ones, and some that are wedge shaped, for single servings."

"I've never seen a round pizza box."

"They're fairly new to the market, but they're catching on.  You see them more in high-end pizza restaurants." 

"Why mostly in high-end shops?"

"It's because gourmet pizzas are gaining in popularity.  The operators want to show off the uniqueness of their product, and one of the best ways they can do that is with a box that's unique.  You wouldn't put a diamond ring in a cardboard box, and the gourmet pizza purveyors feel the same way. 

"Customers like them too.  And the really interesting thing is that our research shows, over and over, that just putting a pizza in a premium box means an operator can charge two, three, even five dollars more for the same pizza.  Just because of the box, which only adds about 25 cents to the cost."

Eureka!  We've discovered the star power of the pizza box.  Spending an extra 25 cents on the box brings in up to $4.75 in extra income.

Had we not taken the time to learn everything we could about the product, we wouldn't have gotten this extremely important bit of information  Is there any question that we'll be talking this fact up big in the pizza box video?  You bet we will.  It's a gem!

When you're planning for a video, be sure to learn everything possible about the product involved.  It's the star of the show, so make sure you give it the star treatment.

Next time we mark the halfway point in the Pagano Video Method and ask yet another key question in the pre-production process:  What do you want to do?

See you then!

Fred Pagano

Don't want to wait for the next article in this series?  Learn more about the Pagano Video Method and how it can help you produce great videos direct from the source.  Contact Fred Pagano at Brown Cow Studios today!  


Copyright 2013 Fred Pagano & Brown Cow Studios of Boston.  All rights reserved.  This copyrighted article may be redistributed provided all text, credits, and this copyright notice are intact.  Please let us know you've linked to us. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Producing a Video:
The Pagano Video Method

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Producing a Video: The Pagano Video Method - Part Two

Who are You?

The Pagano Video Method-Question 1:  Who are you?
Question 1 in the Pagano Video Method:
Who are you?
Welcome back to my multi-part series, 5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Producing a Video:  The Pagano Video Method.  These are the questions I ask my clients when they approach me about producing a video.  The answers provide insight into the client's goals, needs, and purpose, and help me as the producer to make intelligent choices during the production process. 

Although I'm concentrating on corporate videos in this article, the five-and-a-half questions of the Pagano Video Method can be applied just as effectively to your home videos about vacations, birthdays, and even your kids' college application videos.  The five big questions are always the same. 

Question 1:  Who are You? (Part One)

We kick off our five-and-a-half questions with what I think is the most important question of all.  It's so important that we ask it twice:  Who are you?  Though this question may seem  simple, and you might think you already know the answer, don't be so sure.  Take the time to answer it and its sub-questions completely.  You'll gain valuable insight. Here's why:

When actors prepare for a new role, they often create a backstory for their characters.  Although the script might describe the character Julie as "a confident, pretty, single woman in her 20s who is trying to make a living as an artist," actors know this description isn't detailed enough.  They compensate for the lack of detail by creating their own story about the character they portray.  This backstory could go back as far as the character's childhood and may describe where they grew up, their family, personal style, and even key incidents in their lives:

Julie is a 20-year old brunette.  Most people would consider her pretty, but she wasn't always so.  She grew up with a hooked nose, a rather large one at that, and it always made her self-conscious.  She was a plastic surgery success story, because following the operation she had two years ago, she began to like herself more, others found her more attractive, and the dreaded "Mama Hooknose" taunts she had endured through childhood ceased ... 

Wow!  That's a lot of information we didn't have before.  Now we know that Julie's confidence is due to an action she took two years ago -- getting plastic surgery.  We also know that before the surgery her peers teased and taunted her for her funny nose.  They even called her "Mama Hooknose."  None of this is in the script, but it will come out in the actor's portrayal of the character.

The back story gives actors knowledge they need to make the characters come to life.  It's a window into why the character thinks and acts a certain way and what its little foibles and personality quirks might be.   Though Julie is a confident young woman, something inside might still bristle whenever someone tells her that she has an excellent sense of smell. 

And so it is with video.  To make a great video, whatever the subject matter or purpose is, we need an answer the question "who are you?"  We need your back story. 

So, who are you? 

To answer that question, we ask more questions:

  • What business are you in? 
  • How long have you been at it?
  • What's your primary service or product?
  • Who uses it?
  • What other products or services do you offer?
  • How did you get involved in this business?
  • Who are your competitors?  The biggest?  The up-and-comers?  The one who most makes you nervous?
  • What successes have you had?
  • What have you done that hasn't been so successful?
  • What problems are there?
  • What opportunities exist?
  • What do you value?  Customer service?  Profits?  Providing a service or product that improves people's lives? Something else?
  • What is your mission?
  • And finally, can you describe your company in fifty words or less?

You can probably think of many more questions to ask yourself that will drive you to answer the big question, "Who are you?"  Ask them!

When you're done, you'll have your backstory.  Though it may not overtly come into play in the video that introduces your new widget, the knowledge of who you are will be there, lurking in the background and influencing a myriad of factors that go into a successful video -- specific word choices in the script, camera angles, background music, even whether you are best served by animation or live action. 

That's the first question in the Pagano Video Method.  It's not limited to just corporate videos, either.  You can apply my method to videos about your wedding, family vacation, Aunt Edna's 70th birthday party, or anything else.

Learn your back story.  Ask the big question, "Who are You?" 

Come back next week for a discussion of the next question in the Pagano Video Method, "What do you do?"

Thanks for reading!
 Fred Pagano


Don't want to wait for the next article in this series?  Get it from the horse's mouth:  Learn more about the Pagano Video Method and how it can help you produce great videos direct from the source.  Contact Fred Pagano at Brown Cow Studios today!  


Copyright 2013 Fred Pagano & Brown Cow Studios of BostonAll rights reserved.  This copyrighted article may be redistributed provided all text, credits, and this copyright notice are intact.  Please let us know you've linked to us


Thursday, February 7, 2013

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Producing a Video:
The Pagano Video Method

5-1/2 Questions to Ask Before Producing a Video:  The Pagano Video Method

I love my business of creating great videos and sound designs for business.  It's hard work, and I often put in long days and work well into the night.  But I love it, and that's why I do it. 

It can be frustrating sometimes, however.  One of the biggest frustrations is when my client's aren't clear about what they want in a video.  Sometimes the only thing they know is that having a video is a good idea.  They're not sure of the message, the desired result, or what they'll use it for. 

They depend on me, a creative professional, to flesh out the answers and get them on the right track.

In response, I've developed a set of five-and-a-half questions -- they're part of what I call the Pagano Video Method -- that every client should answer at the beginning of a video project.  Together, these questions create a roadmap to a successful video.  They cover everything from the basic purpose of the video to its style and flavor.  They help crystallize ideas, generate new ones, and lay the foundation for scriptwriting.  One of these questions is so important that we ask it twice -- or one-and-a-half times.  You'll find out why later on.

When the answers to the five-and-a-half questions are clearly thought out, the direction of the video becomes clear.  We've got the information necessary to begin production of a great video that accomplishes its purpose.  By this stage, things are often so clear that the video almost writes itself. 

The end result is a more effective video and a happier client. 

So, what are the five-and-a-half questions? 

1.  Who are you? (Part One)

2.  What do you do?

3.  What do you want to do?

4.  Who do you want to do it?

5.  How do you convince them to do it?

5-1/2.  Who are you? (Part Two)

They sound pretty simple, don't they?  They are, but they're powerful too.  Because without clear answers to these questions, its nearly impossible to create a video that works. 

Over the next few weeks, we'll look at each of the five-and-a-half questions that constitute the Pagano Video Method in depth.  We'll look at some real-world examples and scenarios, and put the method to work creating a mock script. 

Come back next week for the first question in the series ... "Who are you?"  It's not as simple as you might think.  In fact, we ask it twice ...


Don't want to wait for the next article?  Learn more about the Pagano Video Method and how it can help you produce great videos direct from the source.  Contact Fred Pagano at Brown Cow Studios today!  


Brown Cow Studios produces high quality video and sound designs.  To learn how we can help you, visit


(c) 2013 Brown Cow Studios of Boston -- All rights reserved.
This article may be redistributed provided all content and copyright notice is intact.  Please let us know you've linked to us.


BullShots! is written by Fred Pagano, and is published by Brown Cow Studios of Boston.

Your host is Brownie T. Cow, our beloved mascot (that's her on the right).

Our goal is to provide useful information and commentary about all things media. If there's a topic you'd like us to cover, please drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you! Be sure to visit our website, too: