I have an 11-year history as a video producer and video editor, working with small businesses, nonprofits, corporations, and creative agencies. Over the years, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I hate to see anyone spend money and time because they think they “need a video” but then not have a plan for how to use it to help their business.
Here are some things to consider and some questions you should first ask yourself, before you ever call a video vendor:
What is the one thing that a video would be best at communicating for my business?
In my mind there are only three good reasons to create a video for your business:
- To inspire
- To make a connection
- To show how
Does quality matter?
You can likely guess where my bias is on this; I believe that yes…quality matters. But you need to ask yourself this question and really think about it. Think about what you’re trying to give your audience and the level of quality that would be needed to achieve it. You may not need the highest quality video to provide your audience with real value.
Think of all the Tasty food videos from BuzzFeed, those are not high-quality videos. Instead, they’re simple, functional, consistent, and inexpensive (and crazy engaging).
Beyond functionality, you’ll need to think about your brand image. If you’re trying to earn trust through your personal brand, you need to think about how the videos you produce represent you. If your video is poorly lit or it’s hard to hear the audio, that’s a representation of your brand. So, make sure the size of your project matches the size of your budget.
Why am I making a video?
Whether you decide that you can get where you need to go with a lower quality, but thoughtfully executed video, or that you need to spend some money on a brand quality video, the most important thing you can do at this point is ask why. Why are you making this video? What do you hope it does for your business?
Your goal might look like:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Building your email list
- Building your social following
- Getting new customers
- Helping current customers so that they stay customers
- and a bazillion other possible things
Whatever your goal for your video is– define it before you spend any money on video.
Who is the video for?
Who are you making this video for? Is it prospective costumers? Current customers? Or a broader group of people? Who are these people? What are they like and what do they care about? Define your audience early on in the process.
What’s the concept?
Once you have a better idea of who you are creating video for, what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to help your business—start brainstorming your concept. You can bring in a video professional at this stage, but frankly I think it’s too early. You are the expert on your business. The heart of the video should come from you. Additionally, if you bring in a video professional too early, you will have a very awkward budget conversation that you’re not ready to have because you don’t really know what you want yet.
Have fun, run some ideas by your staff, by your family and by your friends. Hearing things out loud will help.
How will I make it happen?
You may decide to produce your video yourself or hire someone, whatever you decide, make sure you don’t lose sight of why you’re making the video. If there are any major changes in the concept, go back and ask yourself if it still answers your why and if it still speaks to your audience.
Is this about me? Or is this truly about my customer?
*Avoid the “I’m Awesome” laundry list.
The biggest risk at this stage is that the execution of your video starts to skew in a self-serving nature.
Example: You decide that in addition to answering that question that all of your customers have about how to get their lawns to bounce back after a scorcher of a week, that you also want to mention all of the awards and associations you’re a part of and how credible you are.
Stop. That’s not the point of this video or part of the same story. This example video is meant to answer a common question among lawn owners everywhere. That is it. To do this well, that should be the only focus of the video. Your credibility will shine through when you provide value, you don’t need to hit them over the head with it.
How will I keep my production under control and within budget?
Simple is always better.
Say you had a vision for this really cool special effect where you’re going to showcase some of your customers’ dogs and they’ll be “talking” on camera.
Take a step back, think about your budget. This kind of effect is very costly to do well—is it the only way to achieve what you’re trying to achieve? Undoubtedly it’s not. Your video professional should be able to help you work out other options at this stage.
What is your promotion plan?
So you produce your awesome new video, within budget, representing your business just the way you imagined. It provides value to your prospective customers and looks great. Super. Now what?
In my experience, this is the step where (if all else goes well), organizations fall down. They produce a video and then throw it on their YouTube channel and expect results. You need to be WAY more proactive.
Go back to the step where you defined your audience. Think about those people again. Where are they? How do you normally talk to them online (Facebook? LinkedIn? Email?)
Then look back at what you want the video to do (Facebook Likes, Leads, Newsletter Subscribers). Is there a way your audience can do that thing with the way you’re sharing the video? There needs to be.
Example: I have a video and my main goal with it is more Newsletter Subscribers.
Here are four steps I could take to help achieve my goal:
- Decide where it lives: To get more newsletter subscribers, I would probably choose to put my video on my blog, I’d use YouTube and then embed the video in a post with more context. This means that when I share the blog post, people are coming to my blog to watch the video and hopefully finding more of my helpful or inspiring content. Building a positive relationship with them. My signup form for the newsletter would be easily accessible on the blog or from the post. This leaves me in a place where I need to get people to the blog where they can watch the video
- Look internally: My fellow employees, donors or investors for the organization, and family are obvious supporters. I’d try to make sure that they are the first to receive my video and I’d ask them to watch and share to get the ball rolling.
- Focus on the most important channels: Next, I’d look at which channels provide the best access to the audience I’m trying to reach. So, in this case, I’d probably use social media and maybe insert in an existing email nurture campaign.
- Track and promote (until the video is irrelevant): I’d keep an eye on these channels and see if the video seems to be doing especially well in one of them. If it is, I’d try to throw some extra effort in that area, either with money or reaching out to my network to ask them to share. Keep promoting this video and learning from it. One of the worst things you can do is set it out to the world once and then never talk about it again. Most importantly, I’d track newsletter subscribers to see if my efforts are causing a bump. If not, I’d try a different way to promote the video and see how that works.
These are four ideas, but there are many different ways to go about promoting your video. Make sure you evaluate your resources, discuss with your team and make a promotion plan before you release your video so that you can coordinate all of your efforts.
Video can be a great tool for any business as long as you can define who your audience is, what you want them to get out of your video, and what you want your video to do for your business. Don’t try to tackle too many goals with your video. Aim for one and your video will be a lot more successful (and more engaging).