VSL (Video Sales Letter) Software: What Tools Are Best/Most Useful?

Profile picture of the author saleswriter101 by saleswriter101 Posted: 01/28/2013
Hiho Warriors!

For a VSL with text, audio and simple animation (like moving a still image into or out of frame) what tool(s) would you use?

(For PC (not mac).)

Powerpoint, Windows Movie Maker and Audacity come to mind ... but I'm not that up on it.

Do you know of anything better/more useful?

I appreciate your help very much!
-Scott
#best or most #letter #sales #software #tools #video #vsl

  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Mark Pescetti
    This is kind of cool.

    I had a 20 minute video done through this company: Text to Video Service - TypeVideos.com

    Powtoon is kind of fun.

    But if you want to make more pro looking vids...

    ...Adobe Premiere CS6.

    Honestly though...

    PowerPoint vids are crushing it.

    Simple, ultra ghetto PP vids are doing better than the pimped out VSL's
  • Profile picture of the author Gail_Curran
    Gail_Curran
    I use Camtasia instead of Windows Movie Maker, but otherwise, you've got it right. Camtasia is much better for synching up the audio to the text on screen (and you will need to make some adjustments, no matter how good you are at timing the Powerpoint slides).
    .
  • Profile picture of the author saleswriter101
    saleswriter101
    Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post
    Honestly though...

    PowerPoint vids are crushing it.

    Simple, ultra ghetto PP vids are doing better than the pimped out VSL's
    Just the help I was hoping for! Thank you.

    Gonna start looking for good examples of this. (If anyone wants recommend one or two that'd be super!)

    S.

    (Thank you, too, Gail... I'd heard of Camtasia but had forgotten all about it. It looks really useful.)
  • Profile picture of the author Gail_Curran
    Gail_Curran
    Here's one (no affiliation):
    Attraction Formula by Paul Janka

    .
  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    Daniel Scott
    Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post
    Honestly though...

    PowerPoint vids are crushing it.

    Simple, ultra ghetto PP vids are doing better than the pimped out VSL's
    In some cases, yes...

    But in other cases, no.

    As always, test for your own market.

    -Daniel
  • Profile picture of the author CopyWolf
    CopyWolf
    +1 for camtasia
  • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
    MontelloMarketing
    Powerpoint videos are still crushing it. In multiple markets I've tested this. If you've got the right message, powerpoint is the way to go.. especially on a budget.

    Here's a sneak preview of something I'm coming out with in the next few months. (no sales page yet or even an order link, so mods... don't worry. I'm looking only for feedback from my copy brethren.)

    I'd love everyone's feedback.

    It's a 5 minute video (for real)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Kgq...ature=youtu.be
  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Mark Pescetti
    Beautiful.

    Having done this mind-numbing, tedious work too many times already, you had me at your very first hyper-active, faster than the racing-snail-in-The-Neverending-Story word.

    Great stuff.

    P.S. Man you can talk fast.

    Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post
    Powerpoint videos are still crushing it. In multiple markets I've tested this. If you've got the right message, powerpoint is the way to go.. especially on a budget.

    Here's a sneak preview of something I'm coming out with in the next few months. (no sales page yet or even an order link, so mods... don't worry. I'm looking only for feedback from my copy brethren.)

    I'd love everyone's feedback.

    It's a 5 minute video (for real) Cash Video Generator - YouTube
  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    Bruce Wedding
    I'm really happy with the Video Scribe Desktop by sparkol.com if you want hand scribed VSLs, which I think outperform PowerPoints in some niches. For around $20/month, it's hard to go wrong.

    If you want PowerPoint videos, just write your copy in MS Word outline mode using a new Heading 1 for each sentence or group of sentences intended to be on one slide. Format your heading style the way you want it to appear in PP.

    Save As an RTF. Then open Powerpoint, select a background image, or plain white. Edit your Slide Master by dragging the title of the first master slide down into the center of the slide.

    Then choose "New Slide..." "Slides from Outline". Pick your saved RTF document and it will import them in, creating slides as it goes.

    I learned this when I did a VSL for Dan Caron's contest and it took some fiddling but works great once you get the hang of it. I've created 100 slide VSLs in minutes.
  • Profile picture of the author saleswriter101
    saleswriter101
    What a fantastic tip!

    Thanks very much, Bruce.

    Originally Posted by Bruce Wedding View Post
    If you want PowerPoint videos, just write your copy in MS Word outline mode... ...I've created 100 slide VSLs in minutes.
    @MontelloMarketing:
    "And I refuse to waste even a moment of your time..."
    That really made my ears perk up (and built my trust that you had something valuable to say). I like the speed of it, too... frankly I've find a lot of VSLs too bloody long and slow... it makes me click away. I especially dislike not being able to see how long a VSL is... most I've seen have no progress bar... anyone have an opinion on that point I wonder? It drives me bonkers.
  • Profile picture of the author Sean Fry
    Sean Fry
    Originally Posted by Gail_Curran View Post
    Here's one (no affiliation):
    Attraction Formula by Paul Janka

    .
    I created that one.

    Here's what I used:

    Audacity
    Keynote
    iMovie

    That's it. For VSL's, I record the audio track first in Audacity. I make HUNDREDS of mistakes typically, then I spend an hour editing out all the mistakes. Heh. I'm pretty good with editing because I used to make electronic music and stuff, so editing is fairly easy for me. Once the audio track is done, I'll add compression to the entire thing. This is very important because it will even out the dynamics and increase the overall loudness a bit. Then I export the track as a .wav or .aiff file. (Don't export as an .mp3!)

    (Tip: Use a decent microphone. I like the Blue Snowball. It's awesome for the price.)

    In my opinion, the second most important component of a VSL is the audio. The first is the copy, but the audio is a very close second. A lot of VSL's out there have horrendous audio. Either the sound quality is horrible or the narrator is horrible, or both. Another key is you want to make the audio sound like you're not reading the words on the screen...easier said than done, I know.

    Then comes the laborious step of making the slides. It helps to create a couple "master templates" to copy and paste throughout the whole thing to speed up the process a bit. Then I generally will go back and make sure that each new paragraph (or line) is set to appear only when the audio gets to that next paragraph. This is known as the "appear" effect in the "build in" section from within the inspector in Keynote. (You won't see this effect in the current version of the attraction formula video above.)

    (Tip: Keynote is better than Powerpoint. Fact.)

    Once that's done, I'll open up the audio file with quicktime, then hit keynote's "record slideshow" feature, hit play on the audio file, and then manually advance to the next line or slide using the arrow button, timed to the narration.

    After that's done, I save it, then export the recorded slideshow as a movie. This creates a super high quality .mov file, and if you use any animations they'll look perfect. It will record the audio as well, but only as a "scratch track." This is important however, because it gets fixed in the next step.

    Then I'll fire up iMovie, load up the movie, then import my master audio track, and then line them up so they match. Once they're all matched up, I lower the volume of the "scratch track" on the movie file to zero. Now the only audio that will be heard is my main, hi-resolution narration track when I export.

    Last step, I export as an .mp4 typically with some settings adjusted to be able to download quickly on virtually any internet connection.

    Whew! Sounds complicated, but it's really not. It is sort of a pain the ass though, I have to admit. But hey, consider the alternative....long form sales letters? Ha! Don't make me laugh!

    Originally Posted by saleswriter101 View Post
    I especially dislike not being able to see how long a VSL is... most I've seen have no progress bar... anyone have an opinion on that point I wonder? It drives me bonkers.
    Yes, it increases conversions by removing the controls and progress bar. Also, you are controlling the rate and speed at which the viewer is receiving your pitch -- they can't fast forward to the end to see the price before you've built enough value in the product.
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
    Jeremey
    Originally Posted by Sean Fry View Post

    Then I'll fire up iMovie, load up the movie, then import my master audio track, and then line them up so they match. Once they're all matched up, I lower the volume of the "scratch track" on the movie file to zero. Now the only audio that will be heard is my main, hi-resolution narration track when I export.

    Last step, I export as an .mp4 typically with some settings adjusted to be able to download quickly on virtually any internet connection.

    Whew! Sounds complicated, but it's really not. It is sort of a pain the ass though, I have to admit. But hey, consider the alternative....long form sales letters? Ha! Don't make me laugh!
    Hey Sean, first of all, great job on the VSL, when I watched it I was really impressed with every bit of it – especially the audio and your voiceover work (and the copy! LOL).

    Thanks for breaking all this down as well. I've been wanting to get into VSLs but didn't know really how to put it all together - this is great information.

    Here's a tip that may save you a few steps on the production side.

    I absolutely hate working with audio in iMovie. Aside from not being able to control any aspect of the placement of the audio track, the labor of importing the files and exporting them is really a pain in the ass.

    Something you may want to try that could save you some time –*if you have a copy of QuickTime Pro (the last version released I think was QT7 Pro, it's still being sold), you can open your mastered .wav file in QT. You'll see a "start" cursor and and "end" cursor on the bottom progress bar. Drag the "end" cursor all the way to the end of your track so the whole track is selected. Select All and copy that audio track.

    Next open the .mov file from Keynote in QT Pro. Do the same selection process with the cursors so you have the entire movie selected...drag the bottom "end" cursor to the end of the movie then slide the top "progress cursor" back to the start of the movie (00:00:00). In the EDIT menu select "Add To Selection & Scale."

    This will layer your final Audacity audio ON TOP of the .mov audio...

    Important step next step! Under the Window menu, Show Movie Properties. You'll see a list of tracks used in the movie - There will be two audio tracks. Deselect the original scratch audio track, then SAVE the movie.

    This will save the movie with your mastered audio track in place with no compression or change in format...if you want to export it as .mp4, you can do that as well and save yourself a generation from the iMovie process.

    It sounds complicated but it literally takes less than a minute to replace the scratch audio with your mastered audio and export your film in a high quality, streamable format.

    And it saves having to wait for iMovie to do all the importing, sliding around the track to make sure it lines up, then go through the tedious export process.

    Give it a shot, it may cut down your workflow a little!
  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    BrianMcLeod
    Great thread, gang.

    @Vin - I loved hearing YOU do the VO, pal. And, of course, the copy is blisteringly good.

    @Sean - very similar workflow to mine. Keynote FTW. Have you ever used Garageband for preparing your VO/Audio? Give it a try if you haven't.

    @Bruce - great power tip. I do the same thing with keynote, but I just copy the text to the clipboard and paste it into Keynote in "Outline" view. Boom... hundreds of slides in a second.

    @Jeremey - you've touched on a raw nerve for me. Apple has removed many little hacks like this over the last few OS iterations and it drives me bonkers. Quicktime is a fantastic media layer, with tremendous power under the hood - but Apple seems determined to make it "dumber" as time goes on. ARGH!

    Just a quick post to acknowledge some great shares.

    If I can find some time this week, I'll try to lay out a workflow/template for everyone here that wants to use Keynote to create VSL's.

    Brian
  • Profile picture of the author saleswriter101
    saleswriter101
    Originally Posted by Sean Fry View Post
    ... Sounds complicated, but it's really not. It is sort of a pain the ass though, I have to admit. But hey, consider the alternative....long form sales letters? Ha! Don't make me laugh!
    Wow! Thanks, Sean! Very kind of you to outline your process so completely ... it's very helpful

    (And thanks for responding to my question about no progress bars in VSLs. I have no doubt what you say is correct ... I must say though, I often click away from a VSL because it gives me no indication as to whether it's demanding 5 minutes of my time or 25 minutes ... if that uncertainty were removed somehow it'd be incentive for me to keep watching.)

    -S.
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
    Jeremey
    Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

    @Jeremey - you've touched on a raw nerve for me. Apple has removed many little hacks like this over the last few OS iterations and it drives me bonkers. Quicktime is a fantastic media layer, with tremendous power under the hood - but Apple seems determined to make it "dumber" as time goes on. ARGH!

    Just a quick post to acknowledge some great shares.

    If I can find some time this week, I'll try to lay out a workflow/template for everyone here that wants to use Keynote to create VSL's.

    Brian
    You are dead on Brian...I saw what they did with both QT and Final Cut Pro and basically made more expensive, dumber consumer versions of some very powerful software. FCX works for me as I don't do massive amounts of video editing and it's still more flexible than iMovie...

    The QuickTime Pro (v 7) is still being offered for sale, thankfully. I totally gave up on iMovie trying to dub audio, it's like attempting surgery with a jackhammer. The QTP solution is so much easier, as long as the audio master is in sync with your video timecode to start with. Just pop it in and save it.

    But as a producer who's used Logic for 7 years, I am just waiting for Logic X to be rebranded as "GarageBand Pro," so Apple can finally throw their last pro-level market base to the curve and finally hand over the pro audio market to ProTools. I'll hold onto Logic as long as I can though, LOL...
  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    Bruce Wedding
    BTW: You can do some pretty amazing things with PowerPoint animations. I'm pretty proud of my little promo video. It's not really a sales letter but demonstrates some capabilities.

    This was made entirely in PowerPoint, then recorded and produced with Camtasia with a free sound loop from playonloop.

  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    RickDuris
    Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post
    Powerpoint videos are still crushing it. In multiple markets I've tested this. If you've got the right message, powerpoint is the way to go.. especially on a budget.

    Here's a sneak preview of something I'm coming out with in the next few months. (no sales page yet or even an order link, so mods... don't worry. I'm looking only for feedback from my copy brethren.)

    I'd love everyone's feedback.

    It's a 5 minute video (for real) Cash Video Generator - YouTube
    This is a brilliant idea, Vin. I hope you do really well with it.

    I've been thinking about your project.

    I do have one objection point you may want to consider, and it may just be me.

    Personally, I'm very sensitive to people who see my work before its time. So if you, Vin are in the background and have access to these videos produced, I would be reluctant to use the service. It's nothing personal.

    I don't know whether my objection is worth addressing in your copy or not.

    Maybe it's just me being elitist or me being ultra-competitive, but I don't think so. Which is why I'm posting. Other prospects may have similar unvoiced concerns.

    What I know is as useful as a service this would be, I'd personally be reluctant to use it, knowing other people, other copywriters and marketers I don't know, would have access to my work.

    Obviously, there are several ways to overcome, maybe even turn lemons into lemonade.

    Food for thought.

    - Rick Duris
  • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
    MikeHumphreys
    Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post
    I do have one objection point you may want to consider, and it may just be me.

    Personally, I'm very sensitive to people who see my work before its time. So if you, Vin are in the background and have access to these videos produced, I would be reluctant to use the service. It's nothing personal.
    A similar issue crops up when a copywriter takes on a client project where they have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Some of my biggest hits, I can't share for this reason alone.

    If the copy is stored online, then there's a potential issue on who else can see it. I could see where it could be a conflict of interest as well (i.e. client has hired two copywriters to beat a control, and one of them owns the PP slide converter software).

    If the copy is just passed through (like water running through a colander) and nothing is stored online, then I don't see how it would be a conflict of interest.

    For me, I'd prefer a desktop app than online... that way I can use it on my laptop, even if I'm working someplace without internet access. But from a tech standpoint, I can see why running the app from a single location is much easier to update, secure, and maintain.

    My 3 cents,

    Mike
  • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
    MontelloMarketing
    Guys... the copy is totally private. I never see it at all. It goes from "machine" to email and it's out of my life. I couldn't afford to do this if I had to be involved.

    That said, I'm going to have a feature where you can send in the link to your completed video to be showcased on the page in a slider of some kind. Just a way to get a little free publicity.
  • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
    Johnny12345
    Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post
    I'm looking only for feedback from my copy brethren.)

    I'd love everyone's feedback.

    Hi Vin,

    Excellent concept. Here are a few comments for you to consider...

    1) First of all, the voice-over was GREAT. You might be looking at a second career as a TV pitchman or VO guy.

    2) I think you need better quality clip-art (the graphics looked a little washed out and I saw some compression artifacts). If you want this to perceived as a "quality" service -- rather than as a "cheap" service -- you may want to invest a few hundred dollars and have a good graphic designer create a "library" of common symbols such as hands, arrows, clocks, dollar signs, etc.

    3) You misspoke in one place: you said, "... might contain a hundreds of slides..."

    4) As far as it being a pay-as-you-go service, you should state that you did it that way so you could make updates and improvements without the customer having to continually download and install software. That way, it sounds like you did it for their benefit -- not yours.

    5) I think you need to make it clear that they are only receiving the slides -- NOT a finished, ready-to-upload video with voice-over already in place. (Or am I mistaken?)

    6) Taking point #5 further, as a consumer, I don't think it's believable that your video was produced and sent in 3 seconds (even though I'm sure it's actually true). "Believable" and "true" are different things. It's about perception... 3 seconds doesn't even sound long enough for a computer to process a high-quality video file. As a result, the perception might be that the quality may not be very good.

    I would probably say something like, "... and in less than 60 seconds..." -- rather than 3 seconds. Sixty seconds is STILL very fast, but it's also believable. No one is going to say, "Gee it sounds great, but 60 seconds is too long to wait."

    I hope the above provides food for thought.

    Good luck, Vin!

    John

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