Part 2 of a series.
In Part 1, we covered why online video is so popular and why it should definitely be a part of your marketing arsenal. Now in Part 2, we’ll explain how to plan and produce effective, informative and entertaining videos that will help you build awareness and generate prospects.
So get out your director’s chair, movie clapper board and megaphone, and get ready to produce some winning videos. It’s not nearly as hard nor costly as you might think, but it definitely requires following a process and, where possible, bringing in professional talent and some decent equipment to get the job done well. To help you, we’re including a free, downloadable Video Planner that will help you plan every aspect of your video creation and production.
Concept: How Will You Tell Your Story?
The first step in the video content creation process is determine the communication goal of each video:
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want to communicate to viewers?
- What action do you want viewers to take?
Next, what is your budget? If you are a large company with a sizable budget, you may well want to hire an ad agency and/or video production firm to help you translate your communication goals into powerful videos. If however you are on the other end of the budget spectrum, not to worry. Some of the most powerful marketing videos ever have been made by amateurs for just a few hundred dollars.
Your budget will dictate who does the shooting, who does the acting (your “talent”), who does the editing (your staff or dedicated professionals), and what kind of video equipment you’ll be using
Next, based on your communication goal and budget, determine what creative approach is most appropriate. It might be a very simple still-image slideshow with voice over and music, a “talking head” approach, a live action “man on the street” interview approach, a studio approach (like a newscast or talk show, with a studio set like the one used in Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” series), or a full-blown video production worthy of the short film selection committee at the Sundance Film Festival.
Finally, create your script and shot list, which outlines each scene you’ll have in the video. The script and shot list will be your production guide as you shoot and edit the video.
While an argument can be made that amateur video can be more raw-looking and therefore somehow seen as less “produced” and more “credible,” generally, viewers react much better to videos that maintain at least a minimum level of production values. These include:
- Video: Try to shoot your videos with a high-definition (HD) video camera, which is pretty much the standard today. A decent HD camera can be had for as low as $500. Good brands include Canon, Sony and Panasonic. Most today shoot directly to a built-in hard drive or flash memory, so you don’t have to deal with tapes anymore. And the optics (lenses and sensors) are much better than what you’ll find in either your smart phone or your point-and-shoot camera. As an alternative, many professional digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras (the kind with the big removable lens) now shoot amazing quality HD video too.
- Audio: We can’t over-stress the importance of having good, clean audio. Whenever someone is speaking, whether it is a host or someone being interviewed, or it is voice over (meaning, you hear someone reading a script while other video footage is shown), you’ll want to record the audio with a decent external microphone plugged into your camera. It is well worth the investment to purchase a wireless clip-on microphone kit, which can be had for around $500 and will deliver years of use. If there is too much background noise or hiss and the person speaking is hard to hear, the video will feel extremely amateur and unpleasant, which can only reflect poorly on your brand. Also, if you are going to add music to your video, first, of course, make sure you have a legal license to use it; and second, make sure it is at least a high quality mp3.
- Lighting: A poorly lit subject can convey almost as poorly as poor audio quality. If you don’t have a light kit, try to shoot in areas with good ambient lighting that allows the subject to be easily seen and avoids harsh shadows. Just doing this alone will allow you to achieve acceptable results in a majority of shooting situations. Light kits are the next step up and will give you more flexibility in where and how you shoot, but, they can be costly, and you will need someone who is trained in properly setting lights up to get good lighting results.
- Tripod: This one is obvious. Unless you have a very steady hand, it is best to shoot on a tripod to guarantee a shudder free shot, unless you are shooting fast moving live action which requires you to move quickly with the action and continuously vary your shooting angle. In that instance, you’ll want to remove the tripod and go to hand-held shooting.
- Editing: While the above points are critical to producing a video that is pleasant to watch and has impact, the real magic happens in the editing phase. Editing really is an art more than a science. Think of it as akin to painting. As a painter combines various colors, shades and textures to create a beautiful image that captivates the imagination, the editor combines the right pieces of video footage, each at the right length, arranged in an optimal order and artfully paired with appropriate music, sound effects and visual effects to create a seamless, perfectly paced video that tells a compelling story. In that sense, editors bring a story to life. We highly recommend having an experienced editor work on your video pieces. It can spell the difference between a video that bores and a video that gets millions of views on YouTube because it is so good — even though both were created from the same raw footage.
Make or Buy?
If you want to produce videos yourself, you’ll not only need to gain at least some experience with the production process (properly operating a camera, setting up lights, recording good audio, etc.) but you’ll need to purchase or rent the equipment you’ll need – camera, microphone, lights, and video editing software (you’ll have to learn to use that software too). On the flip side, with just a little searching you can find a reputable professional or team of professionals who can affordably produce your videos and deliver your story with quality. These professionals will have all the equipment already so you’ll only have to invest in their time.
You may also want to combine professional help for some videos with in-house capability for videos that require less stringent quality standards, such as video blogs or simple how-to videos. Again, it all comes down to the goals and budget of each video.
To help you get going on the road to producing great marketing videos, here are some resources:
- Video Planner: Compliments of ZUZA (just fill out the quick form to download »)
- Vimeo Video School: Learn the basics of video production. Go »
- OnlineVideo.net: Great how-to video articles. Go »
In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss where and how to present your videos on the internet. Stay tuned, and here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us.