For the chief marketing officers of Fortune 100 companies, small tech start ups and everywhere in between, video marketing is fast becoming a critical part of their strategic mix. In a world increasingly comfortable with video content and able to consume it anywhere, more CMOs are bringing video making in-house.
However, product managers and marketing executives often see video creation as an expensive, precarious investment – one with huge potential, but a dark art nonetheless. Here are some of the pitfalls, tools, and best practices for creating marketing videos.
CMOs and product marketers love video because:
Video tells a better story: Think TED talks. Think that helpful video explaining how to use your new CRM or how to set up your Chrome device. Detailed, difficult-to-position messages thrive on the nuances you can convey in video.
You can capture the imagination: Use the multidimensionality of video to transport viewers to a better self in a better world.
Digital goes viral: There is enough connectivity between social platforms and news media now that if your video is truly helpful, or truly captivating, its reach will be self powered.
CMOs adopt video slowly or not at all because:
It seems risky: Short-form, non big-budget video is still fairly new for in-house marketing teams, which brings an inherent financial and quality risk.
It seems time-intensive: A clear vision, clear feedback, approval, and timeline management can become complicated when you have a buyer, a production team, creative, and project managers involved.
Financially, it’s all or nothing: Without an experienced in-house creator or negotiator, it’s easy to experience scope-creep and be forced to choose between an unusable video and a double-digit price increase. This can happen simply due to a misalignment in vision at the outset, or…
Advice for the modern, video-making CMO:
KISS – keep it short, sir: As CJ Cregg said in the West Wing: ‘I’m the Press Secretary, boo-boo, and I just don’t have that kind of time.’ In all seriousness, find your core message, and try to express it in less than 60 seconds. If you can’t, reassess the message, or break it into more than one video.
Create a toolbox: Cloud file storage providers like Box and Dropbox allow for simpler management of large files. Companies like Wipster offer a specialized share-and-review service with the same cloud perks. Your project will go more quickly and with less contention with the right tools.
Resource yourself: here are some helpful articles about making videos for CMOs and marketing executives:
Since the beginning of the year we’ve been closely observing how people use what we call Wipster’s ‘project screen’. That’s where you and your team access the various content that’s currently being worked on – it's about the closest thing we have to a typical 'home' screen, so it's an important piece of Wipster real estate.
Wipster’s new project thumbnail
Our users told us that the content they put on Wipster was being wrapped inside a user interface that made too much of itself. By the simple fact of their weight, colour and screen presence, the trimmings around the project screen thumbnails announced themselves as the most important things on the screen. This needed to change: the content should never play second fiddle to the interface, especially on a platform where visual people create visual media.
So we've made a few alterations. Now the work you put on Wipster is the center of the drama. It's the stage that everything else plays out on. It's very important to us that Wipster seems like a place that's created by you, not by us.
You also told us that now that Wipster works for teams of videomakers, the information displayed on the thumbnail needed to change. It's essential to know who created the work and when they did it; information we’ve now dutifully supplied.
Of course, there's a balance between this ambition and making sure things are always crisp and clear. The information we place on top of your work is lightweight and unobtrusive, never fussy or hard to navigate.
The next phase of our project screen overhaul will bring you our most-requested feature – the ability to organise your content into project folders. With that in mind, the new project thumbnails have been future proofed to work with the folder system we'll implement over the coming weeks.
When we bring new features to Wipster it's important to us that we do it the right way and for the right reasons. We've taken our time with folders not because they're difficult to create but because we want to ensure Wipster stays as simple and usable as it's always been. It's safe to say we're excited about what's coming up. Stay tuned...
New in this release
Completely redesigned project thumbnail
Redesigned top-level navigation
Users can now share directly from the review screen
So, you’re getting a video made for your company. This is an excellent start. Video can be an incredibly effective way for someone to understand what you are selling… as long as the video is well made, compelling, and makes sense. A lot of people tell me they are scared of videos because they cost too much, and as with many marketing activities, it’s hard to measure ROI. We’ve all heard of videos that cost an arm and a leg and ended up on YouTube with only seven plays. I’m here to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
These five principles will guarantee a perfect video, every time.
1: Know what you like
If you were getting a dining table made, would you go to a carpenter with no idea of what style of furniture you like? Would you ask them to ‘just make what they think is right’ and then wonder why the table is nothing like what you imagined? Instead, you’d probably look at a ton of different dining tables, get a folder of reference images together, and have a discussion with the carpenter about how the table will be used and what style the rest of your house is. Carpenters and video makers are both craftspeople: the more videos and other imagery you can provide as reference material, the clearer the videomaker will be about what you are trying to achieve and the happier you’ll be with the final outcome.
*Tip: Watch a lot of videos that do a similar job to what you want to achieve. *Tip: Collate reference material of videos and other imagery you like (and for contrast, feel free to also include examples of what you don’t want).
2: Hire the right videomaker
This may seem obvious, but a lot of videos are simply made by the wrong people. To continue the craftsperson metaphor, you wouldn’t hire a metal worker to make a wooden dining table. In video there are many styles and techniques (check out my post on Motion Graphics), so you need to match the video maker with the desired outcome.
* Tip: On Vimeo search for ‘showreel’ and the style you want, eg ‘animation’. When you find some work you like, go ahead and contact that person or company to see if they’re available. * Tip: Unless you intend on starring in the film yourself, your videomaker doesn’t have to be in the same town as you!
3: Set a clear brief.
I can’t stress this enough. Most people who are unhappy with their video didn't clearly articulate what they wanted, or didn’t confirm that their brief was understood. You need to be crystal clear on what the video is trying to achieve. Examples: ‘explain our product’s core feature’, ‘show our wonderful customer service by demonstrating the friendliness of our staff’, or ‘show how we are better than our competitors’. A good video has ONE clear message. Don’t worry, it’s still up to the videomaker to come up with how they will achieve your goals. * Key tip: Set the single message, outline the look or feel that you would like, set a tone that you’d like the video to be in (funny, heartfelt, full of attitude) and always state why, so the videomaker can own your decisions.
4: Set a schedule with clear milestones
Many a video project has fallen off the tracks due to a lack of clear timings and expectations. Set a project start date, dates for work-in-progress reviews and the date for final delivery. Explicitly state and agree what is expected at each step, with technical requirements as well.
Here’s an example.
June 1st: Start production.
June 14th, 3pm: Video maker to deliver work-in-progress (WIP) #1 as low-res online video. Video should be at full length, at rough state, fully fleshed out for timings, message and music/VO.
June 16th, 9am: Client to provide feedback on tone, style, timings and message strength.
June 20th, 3pm: Video maker to deliver WIP #2 as an online video at HD. Video should be locked down in message, style, tone and audio.
June 21st, 5pm: Client to provide minor feedback around fonts, colours, small bits of timing.
June 25th, 3pm: Video maker to deliver final file as hi-res video at HD. Video should be 100% complete. Expect approval, or list of mistakes to be rectified for approval.
June 28th, 3pm. Deliver final hi-res file for distribution/dispatch. Expect final signoff.
* Tip: Be super clear with each other on what is going to be achieved at each stage.
5: Clear communication about progress
One thing that will slow you down and result in a video you’re not happy with is a lack of communication. If you don’t understand a choice your video maker has made, or you don’t feel the direction they’ve taken is the right one, speak up immediately! You don’t want to get to a later stage WIP that should only be about minor tweaks, and start questioning the whole premise of the video. You’ll soon be give two options: ‘more money’ or ‘it’s too late’. With a detailed agenda and milestones, it will be very clear what level of feedback you are expected to be giving and when. And don’t forget to praise a job done well: remember that video makers are putting their hearts on their sleeves for you. Congratulate fantastic work, and the work will get even better!
*Tip: Communication is key; when you’ve set the times to communicate and both parties are open and honest, the magic will happen.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself – video is a fun medium, so show people a good time! When the video is finished make sure you have a proactive plan for getting it in front of your audience.
Next time I’ll talk about how to get an audience for your video.