Usually marketing departments discuss commissioning a video project for a long time before it actually gets a green light and a budget. When it does finally get commissioned there can often be a rush to set filming dates and an editing schedule. But, no matter how urgent the need or tight the schedule, strategy should not be skipped. This is the foundation that the entire video project will be built and has a huge impact on the success of the video. Even if there is a tight deadline, there is still time to discuss, document and communicate these core building blocks of the video. Effectively communicating these will enable you to produce a video that accomplishes real business objectives and keeps all stakeholders happy. That is because the key members of the video team (writer, director, cinematographer, editor) will base many of their creative decisions on their understanding of this strategy.
Often, a video is commissioned because someone at the top says something like, “we need more video”. That starts the wheels moving and budgets are allocated, tasks are assigned, RFPs are sent out, and shoots are scheduled. However, far too often we have seen the lack of a clear business objective associated with the video. What is the specific business objective for this particular video? Are you looking to generate leads? Drive e-commerce? Increase perceived value of a product or brand? Are there specific audiences you are trying to attract?
Once you have an objective we also highly recommend deciding on a way to quantify success. How will you know if you have accomplished your objective? As digital marketers ourselves, we feel strongly that each video should have some type of conversion setup within your analytics. If it is being watched on your website, the conversion could be a form-capture for newsletter signup, whitepaper download, appointment setting, length of time watched, etc. Or it could be a set time spent browsing your site after watching the video. As with all form capture, keep the information required to an absolute minimum to encourage engagement. If it is being watched via a Facebook, Instagram or YouTube ad then the conversion will most likely be clicks to the landing page and subsequent form completes. But decide ahead of time how many conversions you are targeting.
Plan for Distribution
Too often distribution gets discussed AFTER the video is already made. Clients often think of video as a single thing that gets sent out into the world through various channels. However, that ignores the fact that each channel has a unique user experience. Ideally each channel should have its own version of the video tailored to that particular channel. For example, a video that is being watched on your home page should be a different edit than the one being used in your YouTube channel. This is because a user on your website has already established a level of interest in your company and is looking to find out more. However a user who stumbles upon your video on YouTube while viewing a similar topic does not have that same level of engagement with your brand. Therefore the edit has to grab their attention immediately.
A similar example would be that the video you add to your Facebook feed should be different than the one you are using for a Facebook Ad. That is because again, the follower in your feed already has established a certain level of engagement whereas the viewer of the Ad has not.
Another example would be that in channels like Facebook and Instagram, the volume is often muted by default and therefore thought has to be put into adding subtitles or editing it in a way where the point is made without needing voiceover or interview audio.
Often clients think that this will significantly increase the cost since instead of making one video you have to make multiple. However, in reality it only adds a small percentage to the overall budget since the various versions do not require starting from scratch. Especially if the versions have been built into the script, production and post-production planning. For example, if the cost for editing one video is $3,000, the cost to make 3 channel-specific versions could be $3,600. For that additional investment you have videos that can be much more impactful in accomplishing their objective.
Target customer analysis is marketing 101. However, too often this gets ignored when planning the video. Instead of thinking of this as being a video created for all people, think of your specific target customer and what would appeal to them. What do they already know about your
industry? Product? Brand? What level of production quality are they used to? For example, if you are selling B2B manufacturing equipment, the target customer might not be expecting lighting and set design to look like an Apple commercial. However, if you are selling fashion apparel the audience might have a much higher expectation when it comes to how sophisticated your locations, lighting and talent look.
Another major consideration when producing the video will be where the audience is within your sales funnel at the time of watching. Are they just starting to explore options or are they about to make a final purchase? Again, this could open the door to creating several versions of the video based where they are in the funnel. Your main objective could be to produce a video to build brand awareness for those making early contact with your brand. The plan might be to have one shoot day to accomplish that. However, if we add just a few additions in the script, we could still spend just one day shooting, but now have one version for those new to your brand and another version for those who are already customers. This is especially powerful if your lists are segmented. Another application would be if you are using Google AdWords and have various landing pages based for different markets. In that case we could make minor tweaks and have a landing page video unique to each ad.
As an insider it is very difficult for you to keep your message simple. You simply know too much. Often our clients have so much that they want to say in their video that the result can be a video with no clear takeaway message. Often we see clients get caught up in going through the motions of creating a video while forgetting to be clear about what message they want the user to takeaway.
For example, a client comes to us and says they need some sort of “About Us” video to highlight their experience and their position in their industry. One traditional way to go about that is line up interviews with the CEO and VPs and other key stakeholders. Add in some b-roll of people working in the office, signs in the lobby and presto! You have an About Us video. Except for the fact it will be boring and probably full of vague marketing speak.
We usually ask, if there is one message an audience member takes away, what do you want it to be? How will we prove to the audience that you are unique? That should be the key message we weave throughout the video. We also look for ways to “show” instead of “tell” that particular message. However, we can’t do that unless we have a clear marketing message written out as the basis for the video production.
Even if you only had time to write 1-2 sentences for each of these elements it will go a long way in getting everyone on the same page and ensuring the right creative decisions get made. It will also enable you to get the most ROI out of your video budget.