My business partner and I released a video “introduction” to our startup last week.  You can watch it embedded below.  

A common response to the video that we heard from people who we respect was this: it’s too long.  I’d love to hear your opinion on this in the comments.  (This post continues beneath the video embed.)

The common wisdom says that people have short attention spans, and that you need to keep things short and punchy in order to sell. 
In many circumstances, I agree with this common wisdom, but it’s more important to know your audience than to follow the common wisdom.  AlumniFidelity is a startup that helps schools of all kinds conduct modern online fundraising campaigns, and the audience of this video is primarily university “advancement” executives.  These individuals are: (1) very interested in the details of new products, (2) very proactive about discovering new technology that will help them do their jobs more effectively (because they are ethically responsible for conducting fundraising in a cost-effective way), and (3) they have (relatively) long attention spans.
The point can be made that AlumniFidelity has customers of all sizes and types, and some of our customers are volunteer-run nonprofits.  Those types of customers may prefer a video that is short and sweet, and omits a lot of the detail of the 10 minute video.
I agree with that, too, and I think the right move for AlumniFidelity is not to produce one video for ALL potential customers, but to produce lots of videos for each market segment that we serve.
PS – It’s also interesting to think about what David Ogilvy has to say on the topic of long writing.  He considered direct mail to be his “secret weapon,” and he was famous for saying, “The more you tell, the more you sell,” because he favored long copy to short copy.  Regardless of whether Ogilvy is correct that long copy sells more than short copy in all instances, his opinion reinforces the point that the answer to your question should be given to you by your audience. 

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Will Marlow is an online marketing and fundraising consultant.  He co-founded AlumniFidelity, which provides a Web 2.0 fundraising platform to colleges, nonprofits and secondary schools.   He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, and Bowling Green State University and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  He would love to help you market your business on the Internet, boost the fundraising numbers for your school or nonprofit, or sellout your next big event.  Email him at