Making your company’s first video may seem like a daunting task. How long should it be? Who is the target audience? Should it be a custom piece or driven entirely by stock video? Yes, there are many questions.
The good news is most of them can be narrowed down by following these five simple steps. Having been part of over 2,000 videos in my career, I’ve learned a lot about best practices and, believe me, a small amount of upfront legwork will make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for you and your team. Okay, let’s get started!
STEP ONE: RESEARCH YOUR MASTERPIECE
The very first thing you need to do is: Search, search, search! Get on Vimeo or YouTube and look for inspiration. Also – and this is a hidden gem – ask your colleagues on LinkedIn and Twitter to share which videos they love and why. You might be surprised by how many great examples are shared and it’s very likely you’ll learn a trick or two with how they are finding their favorite videos. Once you’ve done some solid poking around, aim to find 2-3 videos that speak clearly to the tone, look and style that you want to drive your brand.
Next, ask yourself why they resonate so well with you and write these reasons down. This is particularly helpful when trying to communicate with your agency or video production partner what you liked so much about the selected videos. In my experience, even though the videos you’ve chosen may seem entirely obvious as to why they are so great, it’s a good idea to write down your thoughts so there’s no misunderstanding what motivated you to share them in the first place.
But that’s not all. The final thing you need to do with Step 1 is to ask yourself, at a ball park estimate, how much did your selected videos likely cost to make? This is a good gut check question to ponder because you will arrive much sooner at your desired destination by being honest with yourself first before sharing your preference with others. And why is this?
Well, put simply, if I were to receive a nickel for every time a potential new client shared an Apple commercial with me and said “this is EXACTLY what we want!” I would have retired a long, long time ago. I love Apple too but they also hold the title as the most valuable company in history (source) and have a pretty solid advertising budget.
The main point here is, be practical in your expectations and you will likely be pleasantly surprised how hard your video production partner will try to knock your socks off.
STEP TWO: CREATE AN OUTLINE
Most of us have access to Keynote, PowerPoint or occasionally, even a bar napkin! One of the best things you will ever do to get closer to making your video a reality is to write down a basic outline of what you want in your video. This can be one or two slides that list the items you would like to cover. Here’s a basic example of what you might write:
– Want a 3-minute and 60 second version of video
– Would like a fast-paced music track driving it
– Would like a brief quote a or two from interview with our CEO
– Describe the products we offer and the markets we serve
– Mention our geographic locations
– Video needs to also be in Spanish
– Need video completed two weeks before XYZ Trade show
So the simple list above tells me, the video producer, what you likely need to pull off your project with flying colors. My responses to each of these questions are italicized below:
– Video Lengths (Will videos share content? What are the audiences for each)
– Music Track (Do you want custom or licensed music)
– Interview with CEO (This means we are doing some custom filming)
– Core Products/Markets List (Who is writing the script? You or Richter Studios?)
– Geographic Locations (A custom animation or stock content can address this)
– Spanish Version (Are you providing translated text or are we?)
– Trade Show Date (I’ll create a schedule to show key deadlines we need to hit)
As you can see from some of my responses, having this outline answers several questions that you might not have considered (and as a side note, it will also help you receive much more insightful recommendations from potential video partners when you’re ready to move forward with your project). Also, the beauty is you’ve now made great progress in being able to communicate to others what would likely be in your video, even if this is just a first pass. Having this basic outline, or initial roadmap, will suddenly make things much more real and it encourages others to help fill in the gaps. For example, your colleagues might add:
– Should we have a few other key personnel interviewed as well?
– Which new product(s) might we want to highlight?
– What parts of the video might we want to update at a later time?
As you can see, even having a very basic outline written down helps get your first project off the ground and moving in the right direction. Start writing your outline!
STEP THREE: CREATE A MOCK VIDEO
Nothing will sharpen your focus more than testing out some of your ideas for yourself. So how can you do that? Well, that’s the fun part! Take your smart phone or tablet and spend an hour or two capturing some video and photos that speak to the kind of content you would like in your video. One great way to do this is to buy iMovie ($4.99) for your iPhone or iPad to edit your concept video. Let your colleagues know this is just a test and have a little fun doing a mock interview with a few of them. You can even add music tracks and mock voice-overs as well. Just think of how amazing that is: Using a $5 dollar app and your smart phone, you can create a concept video. Simply amazing and…..lots of fun too!
Once you’ve got a decent amount of content captured, Apps like iMovie make it incredibly easy for you to test out your idea. And herein lies the beauty of this approach: Before you try and conquer the universe with your first great video, try and fight a few creative battles on your own first. At the very least, you will gain a much better understanding of what’s involved and also what you do and don’t like. Even better, it will also serve as a great “outline” to share with your potential video production partners.
STEP FOUR: ESTABLISH A BUDGET
Oh no, the dreadful “B” word. Yes, as crazy as it may sound, videos do cost money to develop. I’m going to keep this step simple and relate some of my own experiences on the matter. First, working with clients that are comfortable sharing what their budget is, or at least a potential budget range, allows me to provide them with meaningful recommendations. I can’t stress this enough. Second, having a specific budget in mind enables you to manage expectations on your end. Remember, those wonderful Apple commercials can not only send the wrong message to your potential video partners but, even more importantly, to your internal team. As the famous saying goes, if you consistently under promise and over deliver, you’ll move up the ranks much quicker. And third, it’s never a bad idea to ask your video partners to provide you with a couple of estimates to consider. You might find more value in one option over another and, if you hadn’t asked, you might have missed out on a really great approach for your first video.
STEP FIVE: SOCIALIZE IT!
Before you run headstrong into your first video effort, give some thought on how you want to promote it through social media. I’m not talking about organic, non-paid for posts but actual promotions you spend a few dollars on. Believe me, it’s not as complicated as you might imagine and you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Most social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and many others, make it very easy for you to build modest campaigns to share your video with the world. In fact, with nearly every one of them you can set a daily dollar limit. You might be surprised with how many new followers come onboard in a given day or week. However, you’ll never know for sure unless you experiment a little.
I think it’s important to talk about advertising because we now live in a world where everyone can be a media buyer. Instead of depending on someone else to find your audience, you can connect with them yourself, beginning with your first video effort. And you know what? It’s wicked good fun! I wish this had been possible 15 years ago but it is now and it’s incredibly empowering to take ownership in connecting with audiences on your own.
In closing, I’ve witnessed way too many spectacular videos never see the light of day because they were kept as internal-only pieces or used strictly as part of a sales presentation. In my opinion, this is a tragedy. Sure, in some instances, it doesn’t make sense due to the audience you’re targeting but, often times, there’s a massive world out that may love what you’ve put together and want to learn more about your product or service. You’ll never know until you try!
So, are you ready to make your first video? Share your feedback and comments below.