How To Tell a Story in 30 Seconds or Less

August 1, 2019 ยท 5 min read

Video is an important part of your content marketing strategy. However, attention spans arenโ€™t what they used to be. Whether youโ€™re showing a video ad on Facebook, Instagram, or on a landing page, your audience just isnโ€™t down to sit through a 10-minute presentation.

Video is one of the most important tools in your content marketing toolkit. Short videos? Theyโ€™re even better. Letโ€™s take a look at some numbers, according to Hubspot:

  • 56% of all business videos are LESS than two minutes long
  • However, videos under 90 seconds long see an average retention rate of 56%
  • The longer the video, the lower the retention rate. By the time you hit the 30-minute mark, retention rates have crashed to 10% or lower.

But how much does a 30-second commercial cost? Depending on the quality of your commercial, time spent shooting, and the cost of production, a 30-second commercial costs over $100,000 on average.

Since TV ads and ad time can be so expensive, creating a marketing video with a platform like is an effective way to drastically cut costs, save tons of time, and streamline the entire process. Itโ€™s also much easier to accurately target and track your desired demographic with a marketing commercial.

The truth is, you can make beautiful, professional, and engaging videos with ease. However, your goal should be to convey the information quickly, like an elevator pitch. The more direct and concise you can be, the better your audience will retain the information.

If video is a factor in your content marketing strategy (and it should be!) you should become familiar with how to tell your story quickly to get the most out of your content. While your video doesnโ€™t HAVE to be 30 seconds long, a short approach is often the most effective.

But a 30 or even a 40-second video doesnโ€™t seem like a lot of time, right? How can you possibly say all you need to say in such a short window? Believe it or not, the most successful Facebook video ads are within the 30-60 second range. That time also includes the closing portion of your video which should be used to display your branding, logo, and company info.

Still need some help? Here are a few tips:

Develop an elevator pitch

If your video content marketing is going to convey the value of a product or service, then you should work on perfecting your elevator pitch. The idea is that you should be able to sell your product to a complete stranger in the time it takes an elevator to travel from the 20th floor to the 1st floor.

That time span? Roughly 30-60 seconds. In this frame you should be able to hit all the key points of your product or service. Why it exists, what problem it solves, why your company does it better, etc. So now you are wondering how to tell your story in 30 seconds? The goal is not to give a history of your business with all the ins and outs. Rather, to provide enough information in a 30-second video to generate interest from the audience and get them to a place where theyโ€™re interested in learning more.

Perfecting an elevator pitch is a great tool for entrepreneurs looking to woo investors or potential distributors. In the video content marketing sense, perfecting your elevator pitch allows you to plan a clear and concise way of pitching your product. You can then use that as a guideline for creating your video content: subtitles, narration, ad copy, headline, call to action, etc.

Make it about them

Your company may serve a diverse group of customers, but your videos donโ€™t have to. When it comes to content marketing, itโ€™s important to tailor the content to the intended audience. If you have several product lines you should create campaigns out of each of them and tailor your 30 seconds story message to that segment.

A toothpaste company may make a whitening toothpaste, a tartar control toothpaste, or a toothpaste specifically formulated for dentures. These are three distinct products with distinct target audiences. What may work for one does not work for all.

Segment your audience as well as your video content marketing strategy. Create 30-second videos for each target group and tailor the message specifically to them. The pain points of a customer in need of whitening toothpaste are not the same as one with dentures. Speak to that audience specifically and you can share your story in a way that is quick, targeted, and relevant.

Have a plan

Even though creating a beautiful marketing video is easy, you should still have a plan before getting started. If youโ€™re telling a story, itโ€™s important to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like any story, these three pieces are important. The only difference between the story youโ€™re telling and others is that yours is shorter. Thatโ€™s it.

Start off with an introduction to what youโ€™re speaking about, make the middle a place to convey information on the value of your product or business, and close with a call to action and a way for customers to learn more.

Beginning. Middle. End.

When in doubt: keep it simple

Whether youโ€™re creating a brand story or advertising a product, your marketing videos should be able to quickly and simply convey a concept. This is not the time or place to try and cram as much info in as possible.

Ask yourself: what is the message I want this video to convey? How will my 30-second story ideas engage my target audience?

For many advertisement videos, this will be an exploration of the problem the customer has and the solution your business provides.

There may be a tendency to try and fit as much into your video as possible. After all, the more information the better, right? Wrong. Businesses are publishing an average of 18 videos per month. Why? Because they have a lot to say and a lot of 30-second stories to tell.

Moreover, they know that the key to content marketing is to be current, consistent, and active. Eighteen 1-minute videos are more effective than one 18-minute video. This allows you to have more than one piece of content to share with your audience in addition to being able to tailor the specific message of each video.

30 second commercial ideas

Now that you are all ready to create short videos, where should you begin? We have compiled 30 second commercial examples that can provide you with inspiration and help you brainstorm your own ads. Whether you are looking to tug on your audienceโ€™s heart strings or make them laugh with funny commercial ideas, these successful videos will point you in the right direction.

The Friendly Neighborhoods in Wahpeton is an emotional 30 seconds story that portrays the warmth and acceptance of the community:

Another heart-warming video is the Folgers Home For Christmas, which establishes the feeling of family and home:

If you are looking for comical 30-second story ideas that will make your audience remember your messaging, check out the Snickers Mr. Bean video:

Content Marketing Gold

With 30 second ads as a focal point of your content marketing strategy, the sky’s the limit. Donโ€™t be afraid to be creative and have a little fun with it. As long as youโ€™re keeping your message clear, relevant and relatable, you should have no issue telling your story in short order.

Donโ€™t worry if your videos seem short. As long as you follow the above guidelines, you can create amazing video content that will help in your online marketing efforts. And hey, even if they are a little short, remember the first rule of show business:

Always leave the audience wanting more… CTA 1


Head of Content at * * * Storyteller by day. Content consumer by night. Habitually inspired.

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