Once upon a time, video was a shiny new tool afforded only by the savviest of marketers. But thanks to technology and 5G, those days are long gone. Video is finally the democratized soapbox we all need. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned communications pro, here are 10 steps every business should consider before embarking on a video campaign.
1. Make a Mission Statement
This is a clear and high level summation of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can see this as the canned answer for running by your CEO who just signed off on your budget. For example, “Through a quarterly video shoot with our top analysts, we’re looking to elevate our research with video content to increase viewership, attract new customers and elevate the firm’s standing in the industry.”
2. Terms of Success
It’s essential to decide on how and when you’re measuring the efficacy of your content. Some measures of success include increased sales, user engagement, views and capital return. Frequency can be measured on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis, depending on the nature of the project. An important distinction to keep in mind is that B to C (Business to Consumer) content is typically geared towards a large audience while B to B (Business to Business) is aimed at attracting the right audience. Which leads us into the next point…
3. Identify your Target Audience
Who are you trying to reach? Describe them, identify who they are, where they are located geographically, and how they access content. How old are they? Are they male or female? Are there any specific income brackets? For example, if your target demographic is Generation Y, it’s probably not in your best interest to distribute on Facebook or Linkedin, where you’re more likely to reach their parents and grandparents. Instead, go where they are!
4. Make a Budget
Budgets are almost always a negotiation between what the client wants and what they’re willing to pay. Before requesting estimates, determine a sustainable budget based on your business needs and communicate that in your RFP. This way, you can base your vendor choice on merit, trustworthiness and skill rather than arbitrary numbers. One mistake I’ve seen many potential clients make is relying on vendors to determine pricing. The problem with this is that there is a tremendous range of scale when it comes to video production. Cameras and lighting range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. Are you recording on a basic cinema camera like the Canon C300 or the Arri Alexa? Are you going to have styled cinema lighting or a basic lighting setup? Not to mention hair, makeup, wardrobe, insurance and union vs. non-union talent. Where along this spectrum your production falls needs to come from client needs and budget. This way, producers can work backwards and create a plan to fit within those parameters.
5. Find Comparables
Don’t reinvent the wheel. No matter how novel your approach may be, there is something comparable out there so use it to your advantage. It’s not uncommon for creatives to draw inspiration from existing work. I often use links as references to share with clients and my team members. This is especially important when a client expects champagne tastes on a beer budget. It’s important to clarify what is achievable at each price point.
6. Streamline Direction
Too many chefs spoil the broth so select a unified voice from your organization as the main point of contact between your company and the video production and post-production teams. That person should be the gatekeeper who communicates all decisions and direction. Lack of leadership will have an impact on budget, as it invariably leads to duplicate work and additional edit hours.
7. Distribution Strategy
This hinges on many factors including the type of content, length, message and subject. There’s an ever-changing myriad of platforms to choose from, and within each platform you can choose whether to embed or upload directly. For example, some might choose to host video content on Youtube and embed the link on social media accounts. Others choose to upload directly into those platforms, bypassing a separate video hosting source. Some of these choices are based on logic and others are based on trial and error. For example, a finance client of mine started off using Vimeo and then soon switched to uploading content directly to Linkedin, which is where their biggest audience was.
On a film set, it’s said that you never really finish, you just run out of time. The same can be said for any video project. Every phase from pre-production to your shoot day and editing requires a time cap. It has to be on a calendar and communicated to your team members, partners and vendors.
9. Measure Success and Failure
There is value in both! Learn from the mistakes and use the wins as your guide for what warrants repeating. Your plan should be flexible and reactive, so as you continue on your road to harvesting your own crop of content gold, the benefits will increase over time.
10. Be Strategic
Think long-term. No matter how much you want your premiere video to succeed, the first iteration of your campaign is the guinea pig. Look at it with a critical eye, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and keep facing forward.