Gary Vaynerchuk, an American-Belarusian entrepreneur, once said that no matter what you do, your job is to tell a story.
A story can be told in many ways. Words, of course. Bards and raconteurs have been entertaining crowds for centuries. And back in the late 1800s, George Eastman pioneered the photographic film, kickstarting the era of image capturing and introducing a revolutionary method to tell stories visually.
Video Marketing: Approach
Visual storytelling continues to the present day, albeit methods and video production services are, admittedly, far more sophisticated than Mr. Eastman could have ever imagined.
Today's approach to video marketing certainly relies on technology to make it possible to reach millions through video-sharing platforms like YouTube or Twitch, or social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
But all this technology would achieve little more than a very expensive string of moving images without solid storytelling.
Video production is technology and story in equal parts. In the video marketing world, one cannot go without the other. We recently published a lengthy blog post on video marketing tips. Today's piece focuses on the production stage, and how to use technology to tell a story that helps to promote and sell a product.
Video Marketing Timeline
In today's visual world, producing promotional video material is pretty much a requirement, if an individual, organization, or agency wishes to be noticed and remain relevant.
But the successful execution of a marketing video production is more than switching on the camera and shooting footage. The process needs planning, so setting a well-thought-out timeline will enable a smoother operation.
The timeline involves four stages:
- Creative planning
Let’s talk about these stages in more detail:
Every marketing campaign has a different target audience, and another goal, so different methods are required to achieve those objectives.
Here are the four key questions that should be answered when the marketing team meets to decide the campaign's course:
- Who is the target audience? Is the product or concept aimed at a younger demographic, or perhaps an older one?
- What's the best way to reach that audience? Younger generations are far more likely to consume video material on YouTube than older people, for example.
- What can you do to ensure that the final product is watched? You might have a good video, but it will be worthless if no one sees it. This is where distribution channels come in.
Many businesses jump to create the first video with a huge budget; remember that video marketing is not a game.
Video marketing strategy should be based on your flywheel and sales approach.
Each video you create should acknowledge your audience's pains and provide a solution. If you are looking for promoters of your product, your content should move through the journey of becoming aware of, estimating, and purchasing your merchandise. Discover the details of these stages on the infographic below.
Plan, plan, plan, and then plan some more. Things work out better with a lot of planning, and video productions are no exception.
Here's a comprehensive list of things that the Production Manager should consider during the Pre-Production stage:
- Overall costs - Careful budgeting is paramount. Money is usually limited, so use it wisely.
- The video production message - What is the main message that the campaign will communicate to the audience?
- Target persona - Again, who is the demographic being targeted by the campaign.
- Scripting & storyboarding - Having a visual representation of every scene, even with rough sketches, will make the shooting go far smoother.
- Equipment needs - Which hardware is required for the shooting. Video cameras, smartphones, laptop computers, lighting for dusk/night productions. List out every possible piece of equipment that you might need, and then some more, just in case.
- Scouting - If the script calls for outdoor locations, make sure you scout them well ahead of time. Some landmarks might be closed on specific dates, or certain times of the day, for example. You don't want to show up to the location and find a 'Closed for the day' sign, do you?
Producing a video marketing campaign is challenging, no doubt about that. But it's also very rewarding. There's no more satisfying feeling than watching the final product of the team's efforts play out on a computer screen, smartphone, or any other platform.
When and where to shoot the video are important considerations. Does the shoot require natural light, or specific landmarks, for example? Can it be done in a studio?
Nowadays, many ads are created on computer platforms almost exclusively, too, but all these factors are significant when creating a production schedule.
Sixty days or fewer. On average, this is the time span that production takes, from shooting to post-production. This period could be shorter or longer, of course, depending on the shoot's complexity and other aspects.
Having a production schedule makes it easier to plan and see where needs for more or different equipment might arise, for example.
Remember, better planning, better outcomes.
Post-production is the time to edit, refine, and generally improved the raw footage. It is the time to add special effects and other niceties that will make your video stand out.
Here are a few tips to get the best out of your Post-Production time:
Add relevant and suitable music - Not every video will require a soundtrack, but if it does, make sure it's appropriate. What this means is, consider the target demographic and choose music that will appeal to it.
Too many transitions and effects spoil the cut - It is tempting to succumb to adding multiple changes to your footage. It's easy, after all. Editing software enables this through a multitude of pre-set transitions.
Put together a rough cut before drilling down to timing issues - It's best to have a general idea of what the video will look like before getting bogged down in timing issues. These can be sorted at a later stage when you at least have an overall vision of how the story develops.
But adding too many of these will make your footage appear amateurish, so while some transitions are ok, too many will undoubtedly do your footage a disservice.
How to Write a Script for a Video
Remember Mr. Vaynerchuk's words? Storytelling is the lifeblood of a successful marketing campaign, and so a solid and tight script is the tool that delivers that success.
A script usually goes through several drafts, and every revision cuts out unnecessary words, refines the grammar, and creates a final, filmable project.
Always bear in mind that, while striking images are useful and necessary, it is the underlying message that matters and will be remembered most.
Setup - Equipment & Studio
Time to gather and take stock of the video hardware. This is the fun part. Cameras, lenses, mobile devices, drones, and any other video production equipment. All these elements are part of modern video shoots.
Having the right equipment for every shoot might sound like an obvious concept, but just what is the right equipment? Shooting a sports campaign will probably require a different shooting approach, say, a wine tasting ad.
Ideally, a Production Manager should be in charge of determining and providing the right equipment for every shoot. The person in this role will coordinate the shoot, rent equipment if needed, and ensure that all production aspects go as smoothly as they can go.
The provision of video equipment depends on many factors, but the available budget is probably the most prominent. Professional cameras and other devices are relatively expensive stuff, so the Production Manager should draw a realistic production plan with a realistic budget.
Video Marketing Templates
You can find anything on the internet these days, from vintage bottle openers to video marketing templates.
The latter facilitate the creation of video material quicker, and arguably, more effectively.
Templates are ready-made footage that can be plugged into your production, using many off-the-shelf tools. Intros, credits, special effects, overlays, and many more templates are available out there. Some for free, some at a premium, but such diversity and ease of use go a long way to smooth out the production process.
So you've shot the video. The cameras have stopped rolling, and everyone's gone home to enjoy a warm meal after a hard day shooting in wintery conditions.
The million-dollar question is: Now what?
Shooting the video is only half the job. Nobody knows that the footage exists apart from you, the actors, and the technical crew. Assuming that you've done all the post-production stuff, that video has to get out there. It has to do the job that it's supposed to do, which is to raise awareness about your product, concept, or whatever it is you're promoting. It needs to create a buzz.
The Road to the Out There: YouTube and Facebook
Nowadays, there is a more or less clear route to get noticed, which involves social media. A lot of social media. YouTube and Facebook are probably your first ports of call. But the problem is that these are very crowded markets. To put this into perspective, on average, about 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Around 5bn videos are watched on the platform every day. While it does have a good chance to be watched by some, your video has an equal chance to get lost in this quagmire of video material.
To address this problem, it pays to be aware of YouTube trends.
Trends give you a good indication of what's relevant right now. Check out the YouTube Trending page to see what's hot, what's culturally acceptable, and desirable? What is going on in the world? And how does your video relate to that? Keywords and metadata play a huge role in this game. YouTube video promotion is perhaps one of the best ways to get your material seen by a large audience in a short period of time, but to achieve that, precise keywords and metadata are crucial.
Here are five methods to promote your material through YouTube more efficiently:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - YouTube has a search algorithm that helps the platform find and index stuff. Make sure you use tried and tested SEO techniques to target your videos to the right audience.
Include ranking factors - YouTube works in mysterious ways, and it's hard to tell what helps some videos rank higher than others. Take these factors into consideration, though:
- Title and description tags
- Video length
- Level of Engagement (Comments, Likes/Dislikes)
- Description tags
Keyword research - It's tempting to include as many keywords as possible, thinking that this will open up new markets. You'd be thinking wrong, though. Including keywords is of capital importance, of course, but they have to be the right keywords. Researching what works and what doesn't for your target audience is equally as important.
YouTube Video Format
The ultimate goal of video marketing material is to go viral. To spread far and wide across the world, and to be seen by millions. This is no easy task, but adequately formatting your material is the first step of this journey.
Performance: Measuring Success
Every marketer wants their campaign to be successful. Some will be, some will not. Determining how successful a particular marketing campaign is not an easy task, as 'success' in this context is not a black and white concept. Can a video be deemed to be successful by how many viewed it, or by how many people purchased the product in question, for example?
The key to understanding how successful a campaign is by setting specific and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Marketers can avail of a wide range of analytics and marketing tools to track the set KPIs.
There are six crucial KPIs that can be measured to rate success:
- Engagement - How long does a viewer remain watching the video.
- Rate of play - How many times is the video played.
- View count - How many times was the video watched. This particular metric is peculiar because 'watched' means different things on different platforms. For example, on Facebook, a 3-second viewing means that the video is 'watched,' while YouTube requires 30 seconds for the same thing.
- Click-through - How many times did the video lead to a click to a website or other platforms. This applies if the video features a Call to Action.
- Sharing on social media - The more times the video is shared, the higher the engagement and the distribution.
- Conversion rates - How many leads or customers did the video generate.
But video marketing does not end with the production and distribution of the material. The team needs to analyze, collate, and interpret the data generated by the video's performance (or lack of).
Analyzing this data will reveal the level of engagement generated by the video, for instance. Marketers can extrapolate a lot of information out of this: Viewers' demographics, such as viewing habits, preferences, etc. This is precious knowledge, as it will help to create more streamlined and targeted campaigns ever with a narrower scope in the future, which is likely to deliver a more precise and more relevant message to the consumer.