Disclaimer: I’m am not a professional video producer. If you’ve read my blog for a few years you’ll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams’ strategies. While video has been a part of our mix for a few years, I’m working to utilize it more as a strategic medium to display positioning and messaging. If you’re more advanced in video, some of these tips may seem a bit simplistic.
I’m a fan of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain on the food and travel channels. I like how their shows use unique camera shots and interesting script to make you want to jump on a plane to a new location or run out and try a new food. They’re storytellers. But, they have camera crews, the best equipment, $$$, and people to professionally produce these shows. Well, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I want to use video in marketing but I don’t have the budget dollars for a professionally produced video every time and our equipment comes in at around $1500 – $2000. I also don’t want to produce something that could negatively impact our brands due to low quality or that looks like it was produced in the basement. So, is there a middle ground?
Absolutely! Here are key steps you’ll want to consider as you get your start in producing video content:
- Have a Strategy: Why are you producing this? What is the end goal? Content marketing is not just a buzz word, but rather a necessary reality. Content is key and video is another way to present compelling content to your target audience. But, there has to be a purpose just as there would be a purpose to writing a white paper. Every aspect of producing this video should be done with your main strategy in mind.
- Know Your Equipment: Our equipment consists of a DSLR, a boom mic, portable light, wireless mics, tripod, and camera/accessory mount. We purchased quality equipment within our budget. We also got together as a team and shared what we know about the equipment. This was key as we wanted a systematic approach to shooting the videos as it won’t be possible to always have the video experts with us in the field as we shoot. Know your camera settings, how the equipment is setup, and know some basic sound and lighting strategies. (Yes, despite all this I still shot some key scenes without the mic on!).
- If All Else Fails, Revert to Simple: This is important – especially if you’re like me. In my mind, I was going hit the field and BE the Andrew Zimmern of corporate video. But, in reality, I quickly discovered my limitations – both on camera and off (those guys are very talented at what they do). Don’t let that stop you. Remember, we’re sticking to our goals which is to present content, messaging, and positioning for our brands. Sometimes, extravagance can draw the viewer away from the core purpose. I’ve found keeping it simple can produce the right result. Plus, trying to produce over what your capabilities actually are only increases the chances of a less professional outcome.
- Script It: This seemed both obvious and wrong to me. I certainly don’t want the people on camera to look like they’re reading or have memorized a script. I want to humanize our companies through personality and creativity in presentation. Not make us look like robots. But, without some outline scripting, we would be in trouble. There has to be a structure and boundaries to what is said on camera. Going back to building off of a strategy, you want everything said and done on camera to represent that core strategy. That’s why it’s important to lay out in words what you want to say and convey. Practice from those scripts until you and the team feel comfortable. Then, dump the paper script and be yourself.
- Storyboard It: Storyboarding is the funnest aspect for me as this is where you really start to feel like you’re producing a video. This is where you sit in the viewers chair and imagine what they want to see on the screen to stay engaged and absorb your content. If the viewer is going to take the time to watch your content, they’re going to want to watch a story unfold. This means shooting secondary footage – or B-roll – to show while commentary is in progress. This means showing the viewer how you came to be where you’re at and why you’re talking about the topic. We took out a large white board and drew little pictures that represented the scenes we wanted to produce. I snapped a picture with my Droid, sent it to Evernote, and I was ready to go.
- Be Flexible: Where you’re shooting the video will never be as perfect as what you draw up in your mind. You also don’t have an advanced crew going to stage the scene for you (if you do, you’re reading the wrong article). This is where you roll up your sleeves and turn the setting into what you need. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to practice the flexibility ahead of time and plan for anything and everything. For instance, I was in Florida recently shooting an introduction to one of our companies and we planned for the perfect opening set outside the front door framed with Florida-like trees and plants. What we didn’t plan for was the strong winds the three days I was there. The audio was going to sound similar to those crazy reporters that stand outside in the eye of a hurricane! Instead, we found a setting inside that helped support our goal which was to present the company as a high-tech company. We shot the opening in their state-of-the-art training facility which positions them as thought leaders and having the ability to train customers on their technology.
- Keep it Short: Attentions spans are shorter and your target audience has other pieces of their day demanding their attention. I typically find we almost need to cut in half what we want to convey in the video. Remember, you can always have a Part I and Part II. I think 3-5 minutes is pretty good for a corporate video piece. Depending on your purpose and intent, there are always situations where it can be longer.
There is obviously a lot more to producing a video and I plan to expand on a few of these points in future posts. But, this should give you some things to think about as you plan the plunge into video marketing. Also, if you have tips and tricks of your own, please leave them below. I’m sure readers would appreciate more insight!