Blog | Hugh Kennedy 02.14.18

Five Questions to Ask Before Producing Your Next Marketing Video

A website without video content in 2018 feels like what the relatives of U.S. immigrants used to quaintly call a “dead letter,” a nice note from the New World without any money inside. Even the New York Times has acknowledged a post-text future, which will be ruled by audio and video.  

Data just supports the obvious. More video is uploaded every month than U.S. TV networks have shot in the past three decades. And a more relevant statistic for marketers: adding video into a marketing mix boosts online transactions by 31%.

While we’re awash in a flood of video content and it’s an essential ingredient in every marketing mix, why do so many organizations struggle to scope and execute video projects appropriate for their goals? Maybe because the right answer can range anywhere from a three-minute video shot by an intern with a handheld camera to a :45 second masterpiece with a large crew that runs into the six figures. That’s a spread wide enough to challenge the best marketers.

We produce dozens of videos each year for our clients, and before we begin shooting or spend a dollar in production we like to ask our clients (and by extension, ourselves) these five questions.

1. Is your video disposable, or is it a major cornerstone of the brand?

There’s a big difference between recording a thought leader at an industry event for the website and creating a video that launches a new brand or launches a new market. The first may have a 30-day shelf life, and the other may be the cornerstone of a yearlong communication strategy. We see endless confusion when people don’t make this distinction. Invest accordingly.

2. Have you budgeted for a great idea?

If you want to change minds, influence buying behaviors, or create an emotional connection with your brand, you need a conceptual idea, which means you need a script, which you means you need a scriptwriter. A well-crafted script that works within your budget and schedule also defines the locations where you will shoot, the talent you need, and even the music. If you can’t see the idea in your head and know why it will work, you’re not ready to go into production.

3. What’s your distribution strategy?

Once your video is shot, will it be seen on Facebook, at a trade show, on a mobile device, or on all of the above? Tip: regardless of your strategy, make sure it looks good on a phone and a tablet. Are you interested in having it queued up as pre-roll on a news network? If it becomes viral at any level, have you thought about how to promote it, or to extend the idea, through social channels? We have seen several cases where clients have asked for a corporate video, then liked it so much they asked us to re-cut it for local TV markets where they had a large employee presence.

4. Who are you competing against?

We don’t mean the obvious competitors in your marketplace, although they matter, too. We mean who will you be competing against for your audience’s attention? Sure, every brand is a storyteller, but do you really think you can steal your audience away from Netflix during primetime, or anytime for that matter? Even if you can’t match the competition’s production values, you can still zig when they zag and do something completely original. We recently turned an upstart brand into what looked like a major player versus much, much larger competitors by snagging all the external screens at a major metropolitan convention center on the weekend of the industry’s largest show.

5. When is enough enough?

The floor is you and your iPhone; the ceiling is a Hollywood extravaganza. And there’s a slippery slope between the two. Amateur or union talent? Exotic locale or a local city block? Stock music or rights to a Rolling Stones song? The answer is whatever it takes to do the job: no less, no more. Your first enemy is boredom. Your second enemy is wasting time and money on production values that no one cares about. YouTube proves every day that a simple idea, well executed, can steal the thunder from the biggest commercial production.

We’re all in the video business today. No longer an occasional event, videos increasingly make up the fabric of all our communications. Every brand and marketing manager needs a set of principles that can guide them through the realm of infinite possibilities. If you want your brand to create change in the market, your video assets need to come along for the ride. If the latest prognosticators are to be believed, in fact, video may be driving the train.

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