MTD videos: The good, the bad and the ugly
Making Tax Digital has inspired accountants and software vendors to unleash their inner Kubrick and spread the word via video.
Self-professed accounting video aficionado Richard Sergeant sharpens his pencil and rates the best and worst of the bunch.
Accountants making videos is a bit of a love-hate thing for me. On the one hand there is the baffling and wonderful and on the other hand the patronising and frankly boring.
In recent months video marketing has become a hot topic once again. An Any Answers discussion last week mirrored a conversation I had with some old accounting friends about the energy, effort, cost and reward of investing in videos for both social channels and websites.
Reactions it would be fair to say were profoundly mixed. But generally, the consensus felt videos are a tremendously good idea, great fun to do, and usually produced a fair amount of mirth across the office but not much else.
In trying to restore some of its reputation, I have searched YouTube and Vimeo for the one area that accountants have had an identifiable need to talk to their clients about in recent times: Making Tax Digital.
The MTD videos vary in quality from Citizen Kane to Plan 9 from Outer Space, but even accountancy's video Razzies should help you storyboard your Making Tax Digital blockbuster.
Is it my eyes or your production?
Accounting firm Streets has put a lot of thought into this video, and I admire its simple factual approach. It’s well delivered, professionally done, unobtrusive and mercifully short and even has some nifty visual effects that render the presenter completely blurry. Perhaps it’s the artistic statement we need for MTD, but this effect caused my eyes to wonder where I should focus. It is a shame that it has only clocked 21 views since March.
Don’t fear the autocue
This one starts well for the big boys of Deloitte, and the agency responsible for the opening animation should be proud. Albert Fleming from Deloitte’s tax team talks us through the digital submission requirements under HMRC’s Making Tax Digital for VAT, but he becomes progressively terrified of the autocue as he does so. At 850 views, it proves that size really doesn’t matter.
“Oh my God, you killed the paper tax return!”
In my top five without doubt is this wonderful comedic effort by HJP Chartered Accountants, which manages to turn digital tax submission into a parody of South Park. It includes some rather risque allusion to exactly what MTD might stand for, all without Kenny getting it in the end too. Still only 154 views, though
No dread, no view
BR Accounting and Business Services caught me hook, line and sinker here. With the hashtag #MTDready I was convinced I was about to get the reggae version of conforming to HMRC standards. But instead, we are treated to a considerable artistic feast. Someone had a lot of fun putting this together (obviously minus points for the music in the end), and for what end? Three views.
But can the vendors do any better?
The right tool for the job
This well crafted promotional push by BTCSoftware for fits the bill and is sterling work by a fine local agency. I can smell the storyboard from here, and tweaking and perfecting the subtle twists to match form with content. A classic from this multi award-winning provider, but with views currently at 213, it hasn't won the eye of the accounting profession yet.
Action thriller, eyeball stealer
QuickBooks goes full out action production on this Linkedin advert. I love it. The thrills, spills, and complete lack of detail. With 2.8K views, all you need to know is that MTD is easy “even in the back of a taxi doing donuts”.
What did I miss?
Xero takes a short and sweet approach, answering specific questions in under 40 seconds. The presenter doesn't hang around, which I have to confess completely threw me. Oh, hang on we’re off! At 3.4K views, I suspect many watched it at least twice just to grasp what’s going on.
Wake up at the back!
In contrast, Kashflow went with the Lynyrd Skynyrd live version of Free Bird long format. I’m afraid I struggled to get past 2:05 minutes. Perhaps the whopping four-plus minute run time is to blame for its slim 265 views.
For my money, and those seeking identifiable ROI, Tax Optimiser shuns the high production values but gets a verifiable sales lead (see the comments) while blistering the pack with a mighty 4.8K views. Tax Optimiser shows that homespun gold can be just as effective.
The only winner
Inevitably, the star prize goes to HMRC who like the proverbial casino always seems to win when it comes to MTD. “What is compatible software?” It’s the question many of us have pondered over the last 18 months, and for this reason, the video has racked up an unassailable 61.5K views.