Making a great promotional video can bring your message, your product and your company to life. So why do so few videos take advantage of the medium’s strengths?
1. Get the most bang for your buck!
You’re going to shoot a training video? Multipurpose it. Design it so it can be shown to customers as well. Use it as an intro video to kick off your next big meeting. Turn it into a web commercial to spice up your website, and be sure to tag it for organic search purposes. This will provide a huge return on your initial investment. Finally, be sure to post it on YouTube and send it to everyone you know. If it’s original or funny, it may go viral.
2. Nail down a strong concept
Don’t make the mistake of settling for a boring concept, or developing your ideas on the fly. If you’re stuck for ideas, do some research: Go on the web, watch as many promotional videos as you can, and identify ones that you like. Don’t copy them—that never works—but ask your producer to use them as inspiration for creating something fresh and unique for you.
3. Be realistic with your concept
So, you just saw an episode of Lost and want to set your corporate video on an exotic beach locale? It may be a brilliant idea, but it may not be realistic. Be open to a collaborative solution that may work much better given your goals and budget. (BTW: Be sure to read our article “How much does it cost to make a video?”)
4. How long should your video be?
You don’t need Gone with the Wind to get your point across. The best corporate videos are short and sweet and really grab your attention. A 15-minute video can feel like an eternity. A two-minute to five-minute video with higher production values will be far more effective.
5. Brochure text is not a video script
Don’t assume that informative brochure or PowerPoint text will be an effective video script. What looks good on the printed page often sounds stilted or incredibly dull in a video. Read the script out loud to others and get feedback. Chances are it will need serious tweaking by a professional scriptwriter. Or, chuck it altogether in favor of a fresh approach.
6. Casting the right company spokesperson
Should you use your staff or hire professional actors? There are pros and cons to each choice. No one knows your business like those who provide your services or sell your products. But don’t star your CEO or any other staff member if they aren’t good on camera. If you’re not sure how they will come across, shoot a quick “screen test” using a small camera and available lighting, and then look at the tape objectively with your producer.
7. As the client, be responsive to requests
The producer may ask you to provide assets like logos, photos, products, brochures, or PowerPoints. You’ll certainly need to give feedback on scripts or rough edits. And you might need to secure company locations or make your staff available to participate in the video. Try to be responsive or production may get slowed… way… down…
8. Should you shoot in Hi Definition Video?
If you are considering showing the video in HD, then YES—shoot in HD. If not, then there are pros and cons to this question and no simple answer. HD is wonderful, but it may increase your costs, requiring additional crew and equipment and post-production resources. Furthermore, the crystal clarity of HD can be stunning, but it can also be unforgiving, revealing every flaw in skin, every paint chip on the wall. Ask your producer whether or not HD makes sense for the job at hand.
9. Know your audience
What is the purpose of the video? Sales? Awareness? Information? Entertainment? Who will be seeing it? Where will it be shown—on the web? At a meeting? On a DVD? This information is critical when designing a concept and delivering a message that your audience will enjoy and relate to. Younger sales staff or customers often respond to humor that senior management just doesn’t get—but if it works for the audience, don’t argue with it.
10. Don’t forget the script
Finalize the script before production begins. Is the information accurate and up-to-date? Will it fly by your legal department? Will it serve your purposes? It’s much easier to make changes on a word processor than on location with a costly cast and crew hovering nearby, or in an expensive post-production suite.
11. Enjoy the process
View the project as an educational experience, and one that can be a lot of fun. Ask questions. Watch examples of videos you like, and discuss with your producer what makes them effective. On the day of the shoot, eat good food on the set. Play your favorite music during breaks. Don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details that your producer knows how to handle. Creating a good atmosphere during production enhances creativity and leads to enjoyment that ends up on the screen.
Producing a promotional video is challenging, fun, and extremely rewarding. Do your homework, but keep an open mind when you start production. Most importantly, make sure you hire a professional that has a track record of producing the kind of video you want. Then, let them take the lead and work together to create your vision.