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From the Trenches – When to Break the 3-Minute Rule with Videos


I’ve been using videos for our dealership since 2009 when I saw a seminar by Jim Ziegler at NADA.  I was very impressed and went back to Chicago and bought a video camera.  Since then, we’ve put up over 2,700 videos on YouTube.


The best practice of 3 to 5 minutes for a video is well known and has a firm foundation.  But it’s not gospel.  Let me explain.


In my mind, for dealers, there are basically four kinds of videos that you can make for your dealership and varying lengths that are acceptable for them. 


  • Branding videos – very short, maybe 1 minute max.
  • Conversion videos – 2-5 minutes
  • True Walkaround Videos – 3-8 minutes
  • Instructional Videos – whatever is necessary


Branding Videos are basically advertising your store or product and services.  Customers have a very low tolerance and acceptance for them because they are “push” marketing similar to TV commercials.  Need I say more?  These should be very polished and you probably want a professional involved.


Conversion videos are videos created and sent to customers by a salesperson on a specific vehicle because "a video is worth a thousand photos".  It allows the salesperson to introduce him or herself, plug the store, and ask for the appointment.  The customer wants to see that car and is willing to watch a little longer.


True Walkaround Videos are not directed at a particular customer.  They are intended to be useful to those researching a particular model.  Consumers who are researching want to see as much as possible about a particular vehicle so they can compare it to competing models.  They will watch the entire video if it provides what they are looking for.


Instructional Videos teach something and the complexity of doing so can cause varying lengths of time.  Consumers understand that.  Something simple can be taught very quickly but some things take longer just to get through the steps.  The consumer will follow along based on their interest.


There are exceptions to every rule.  The real key is whether you are providing the entertainment factor or are providing the information that is being sought by the consumer.  A customer that is looking for detail will not appreciate it if you skip over those details to keep your video short.


Best practices are there to be a guideline, not a rule.  Always practice being a consumer and that will tell you when to go beyond best pratices.

Visit with me at AutoCon2012 on September 6th!



Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 551

Tags: AutoCon, AutoCon2012, Best, Branding, Conversion, Gorham, Media, Practices, Social, Tom, More…Videos


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Comment by Ken Beam on August 28, 2012 at 4:45pm

Thanks Tom.................... I always enjoy reading your posts on here.

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 28, 2012 at 3:47pm

Steve, you are right about that.  It was a long time ago but sometimes we would turn a regular length song into a 20 minute jam and the audience would love it.  Radio a that time told musicians it wasn't best practice, but as Ken Beam said below, if it's entertaining or information the customer needs or wants, let it go as long as it takes.

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 28, 2012 at 3:43pm

Thanks Ken, I've seen some of your longer versions and loved them.  You are both entertaining AND informative.  Great combination!

Comment by Ken Beam on August 28, 2012 at 9:49am

In my opinion, there are no rules in regards to the length of videos............ as long as the content is informative, interesting with a splash of entertaining...........

Shorter version;

OR longer version;  (33,300 vies in 4 months)

Like I said, just make the videos "right" content-wise.............. and you`ll be good to go!


Comment by Steve Davern on August 28, 2012 at 6:33am

Hey Tom, your a music lover so you know the length of the song doesn't matter if the content is good. The Doors took a lot of crap for "Light my Fire." They were told is wasn't radio friendly. It still sounds great 40 years later.

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 26, 2012 at 5:22am

Jason, thank you!  I love your phrase "Insights of Information, Education or Entertainment"  I really believe motivation is key.  What is the purpose of the particular video and what is the viewer searching for?  When they are the same, time is less important than discovery.

Comment by Jason Manning on August 25, 2012 at 7:54pm

I have discovered that there is no real time limit to Insights of Information, Education or Entertainment.  Those three categories are just wide open for truly talented people to portray their thoughts and insights in videos.  My favorite presenters...I just can't get enough of.  The only true time there is a limit is when you are advertising directly at the consumer.  Of course, we usually stop the video because we, as presenters, have our own time limits.  The viewer will accept that.  Have you ever seen a long documentary?  Have you ever watch Band of Brothers?  I got sucked into that series several times over.  Some presenters can captivate their audience forever.  Others should limit their time making videos.  The limitation is based on talent.  

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 24, 2012 at 3:45pm

Tom, you and me both. Everytime I congratulate myself on being a pioneer, I find myself catching up.  It's a fast moving world.  If we make it fun and a constant learning experience, it's possilbe to be ahead of the game.  I love ADM because of the people I meet and things I learn everyday from people like you!

Comment by Tom 1TeamSynergy Wiegand on August 24, 2012 at 3:00pm

Tom, you were an early adaptor and now a top master of inbound marketing.  You are way ahead of the curve now.  I thought I was ahead of the curve using Video Email back in 2007.  Yet, already the future is here with live video broadcast feeds with multiple participants engaging face to face from these smartphones in our hands reeling in these early adaptor customers.  I'll likely remain a neophyte in this fast changing digital age, yet hanging around here I learn much from guru's like you!  Thank you, Sir!

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 24, 2012 at 11:35am

Marsh, thank you!

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