Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like TED talks? Me neither. It’s where I turn when I want to learn from fascinating people who aren’t afraid to shake things up. It’s one of my favorite spaces online to get inspired, especially when it comes to exciting ideas about video making.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at what the smartest people have to say about how we relate to the world around us, with reference to our businesses, video marketing, and engaging with our customers. Some of the ideas you can implement into your video marketing strategy almost immediately, others will inspire you to reconsider your approach to video.

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce

In one of the most-watched TED talks on marketing, author Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates how understanding customer preferences – rather than telling them what they want – will increase sales.

Gladwell encourages us to diversify what we offer, and to celebrate that. Understanding that your product can’t be all things to all people is key to a successful video marketing strategy. It’s an approach that opens the door to exciting, varied video marketing campaigns that speak directly to highly targeted audience. By embracing your customers’ tastes, you can talk to them, rather than at them.

Sheena Iyengar: How to Make Choosing Easier

Is there ever such a thing as too much choice? Is it better to increase your customer base with a wide range of options? Or perhaps the best way is to focus on developing and selling the perfect product. Sheena Iyengar shares her own research on the dilemma of choice. I won’t spoil it, but it’s clear that the number of options your business offers has a direct impact on the success of your marketing efforts:

Iyengar argues that less is more, when it comes to choice. But, doesn’t this contradict Malcolm Gladwell’s message (see above)? We’ve included both viewpoints in our list, as they will help you put together a video marketing strategy that embraces the points made by Iyengar and Gladwell. Carry out research to understand exactly what your customers want, produce a range of highly targeted videos showing them a small number of options, and let your audience deal with the detail at another time (perhaps on the website).  

Kevin Allocca: Why Videos Go Viral

This is one for any videographer who’s ever wondered how some of the videos online ever went viral. They break all the rules of good video making, they’re annoying, they don’t share anything interesting, you really don’t want to remember them… But somehow they’ve got millions upon millions of views! Trends manager at YouTube Kevin Allocca has the answers when it comes to the best way to making viral video:

Seth Godin: The Tribes We Lead

Every brand needs to tell a story. It should be compelling, possibly humorous, maybe a tearjerker, and definitely memorable. If you haven’t got an interesting brand story, it’s going to be difficult to make good video. So before you pick up a camera, watch this TED talk. It’s a persuasive account of using your marketing skills to promote your brand ethically while changing the status quo:

If this speaks to you, then a good idea is to work with ‘real people’ – as opposed to actors – to share your story. Our blog post The Best Way to Make Authentic Videos gives you lots of great advice. But, even if your brand doesn’t give back on a day to day basis, what’s important for videomakers to remember is that when it comes to grabbing your viewers’ attention, a good idea will always appeal to them.

Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

If you’re considering rebranding your organization – or helping a client rebrand theirs – this is a must-watch. It’s a 16 minute lesson in changing the perceived value of a product. Or, to put it simply, if you can persuade your customers to change how they regard a product, they’ll want it:  

It’s not always necessary to make massive changes to the product or service you’re offering. (Of course, that’s assuming there are no serious flaws and that you understand your buyers.) Instead, use video marketing to enable your audience to see it differently. The conclusion is uplifting: “We need to spend more time appreciating what already exists, and less time agonizing what else we can do.” It’s all about seeing the value in what has already been creating, and tweaking it a little. If this sounds like advice that would make a difference to you, continue learning with our blog 8 Scriptwriting Tips for Online Video.

Renny Gleeson: 404, the Story of a Page Not Found

Your website will have glitches from time to time. Even if your tech team is usually quick to pick up on errors and fix them, you’ve still missed out on vital time connecting with your customers. In this short TED talk, Renny Gleeson sees this not as a missed opportunity, but as a chance to tell them more about your brand. The slideshow of funny 404 pages is unmissable! By using the 404 page as a creative space to host video, you can make your brand memorable for all the right reasons:


With the expertise of the TED speakers, you can develop a deeper connection with your audience. A carefully executed video marketing strategy will enable you to influence your viewers to regard your brand as trustworthy, knowledgeable, and human. Here’s a recap of the most important points:

  • It’s easy to start considering your buyers in terms of a ‘customer base’ and to make videos for customers rather than people. But, no one wants to be thought of as simply a buyer. Instead, think of your audience as individuals, with a range of preferences.
  • Don’t give your viewers too much choice. You might want to use video to share all of your products, their amazing features, and the differences these will make to the audience. This will confuse them. Keep things simple in video and use your website for the detail.  
  • By all means, inform yourself about the best way to make popular videos, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Sometimes a video that’s completely unexpected, that breaks all the rules, is the one that goes viral.
  • A good story about your brand will always get viewers’ attention.
  • If you’re rebranding, don’t forget the great aspects of your brand. Not everything has to be changed! Use video to focus your viewers’ attention on what’s amazing about your brand.
  • Use every opportunity you can to make your audience love you. Error pages are a golden opportunity to engage with customers.

Have any TED Talks had an impact on the way you make video? Share them with the SproutVideo community below or on Twitter