Methods of marketing are constantly evolving, and video content has become an increasingly powerful tool for businesses to utilize in order to reach a larger portion of the client market. It is one of the most engaging and versatile methods of marketing available today, and, when used correctly, it can be one of the most effective means of communication.

There is a great amount of planning that needs to be done before you can proceed with producing a video. Proper preparation and execution of the entire production process is critical in delivering an effective product. Time is valuable to any business owner, and it can be a costly mistake if a video has to be redone because the proper steps were not executed. Here are the three steps for planning a video.

1) Define the goal

Defining the goal of the video is the first and arguably most important step in producing a video because every subsequent step should correlate to the overall goal. It is crucial to ensure there is a way of tracking the goal when defining it. If the goal of your video is to increase the number of incoming clients / customers, then a metric needs to be put in place to determine if the goal is being met. This can include tracking the number of views of the video or visits to a particular website page, having a dedicated phone number or email address specific to the video, or simply having people reference the video in an initial conversation. One of the many benefits of video content is the ability to track if it is being viewed, where it is being viewed, and how often it is being viewed. Decide on a goal that allows you to focus on conversions, which are the number of views that turn into actual sales. For example, if your investment into video marketing is $5,000, and each new client is worth a $500 profit to your business, then you need 10 new clients from the video to break even. Have these facts in mind when mapping out your goal. Regardless of what the goal is, it is critical that it is explicitly defined and tracked before the pre-production process begins.

2) Develop a concept and create a story

Videos have many different uses that include general business promotion, client testimonials, service offerings and educational content. If your goal is to increase the number of clients / customers for your business, then your concept may be to differentiate your company from others in your market. Your story should tell what makes you unique. One of the main factors in developing the concept for a video is to consider the audience and determine how to make an emotional connection with that audience. The emotional connection is valuable because it creates a connection between you and the viewer, which ultimately can lead to the viewer feeling a need for your services. Many times a business will have a large amount of content to be distributed to potential clients, and this is best done through several one- to two-minute videos. Research shows that 20 percent of people will click away from a video within the first 10 seconds if it is not engaging, and that percentage continues to increase directly with the length of a video. You run the risk of losing focus of the goal and content by making a video that is too long, along with decreasing the likelihood of viewers seeing the video in its entirety. As a marketing tool, it is important to maintain brand standards in any video and across all videos that your company uses. Brand standards go beyond your logo and overall appearance. They include how you want your business to appear and what markets you are targeting. You need to keep in mind all of these things when you are developing your concept and storyline.

3) Pre-production

There are many steps involved in the pre-production process alone. Pre-production is arguably more important than filming. If you fail to plan, then you are only planning to fail. Thorough preparation prior to a shoot date can prevent a number of problems from arising on the day of a shoot or during the editing process.
The cast | Who is going to be filmed?

It is always important to assign roles in a video ahead of time, whether a video is for promotional use or for client testimonials. It is most effective to feature those involved in the business rather than use a voiceover, as it creates a level of humanity that helps achieve the emotional impact mentioned earlier. Some individuals are more comfortable in front of a camera than others, so those being filmed should feel confident in their attire. A good rule of thumb for video content is to dress professionally while avoiding a lot of patterns.

The setting | Where are you filming?

Take some time to decide what area of your space would create the best setting for your videos. The setting plays a role in telling the story, so it should correlate to the message in some way. If you want to come across as a contemporary business, then you should film in a contemporary space. Multiple areas of your business space can be used, and many times the various locations help facilitate the movement of the story. The setting of the video is one of the main visuals of how your company is portrayed.

The content | What are you filming?

Some people prefer to have a script ahead of time, but this can also make people rigid on camera. It is best to review the topics that will be discussed in order to have a mental outline of key points that should be mentioned, but it is not necessary to memorize a script verbatim. You can write leading questions that will guide desirable responses. Free-flowing speech is more natural and engaging to the audience, and multiple takes can be shot to get the perfect footage.

The shot list | How are things being filmed?

A shot list acts as a checklist for the videographer and project manager on the day of the shoot. This allows the production crew to make sure every scene is captured in one day, instead of having to return for missed content. There are many different types of shots that can be used in a video. You can use head-on shots for interviews if you want to have a documentary style for your video. If you prefer a more commercial style for your video, then the interviews should be done with the speaker looking slightly away from the camera. Your video will be more engaging if you use multiple angles. B-roll is the supplemental footage that is used to breakup a long speech; it can be anything, from shots of your office to shots of team or client meetings. The b-roll should correspond with what is being said in the speech. For example, if you were talking about the community that you serve, then you can use b-roll of the city or surrounding areas; however, you would not want to use footage of team meetings or general office footage for that particular segment of the speech. It is better to have as detailed of a shot list as possible, whether an internal or external videographer is filming the content.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. A video can be a tremendous asset to your overall marketing plan, but it is crucial to do all of the work on the front end to ensure your video marketing campaign will be a success.

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Michael Mogill, President of Crisp Video Group has produced video content for major international brands, including Coca-Cola, Verizon and Red Bull, and has carved out a successful niche in the medical and dental industries. He’s also a member of Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.