5 ways to guarantee a tremendous video

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.