Thinking about creating a video for your business? Despite what the TV ads may suggest, it takes a lot more than just waving an iPhone around. Here's a comprehensive step-by-step guide to ensuring you get the right result
You know the benefits, you know you want to do it, so what’s stopping you from taking the leap into creating video for your business?
Often the exact steps you need to take to make effective video content a reality are unclear. When you feel in the dark it can be hard to say yes to video, even though you know how vital it is today for businesses looking to raise awareness of their brand, engage with their audience and gain more customers.
Video isn’t the big scary monster it’s often made out to be. It’s more similar to other types of branded content than you might think — just with its own quirks and peculiarities.
This post will guide you through the corporate video production process step by step, with tips for every stage, so you can tackle video for your business with confidence and clarity.
Video isn’t the big scary monster it’s often made out to be
Step 1: Planning & Strategy
- Solidify Your Objectives
What do you want to achieve? It all starts with your goals for your video content.
Whether you want to use video to increase conversions on your website or grow your social following, you need to decide on video objectives that are specific and measurable so you can track your progress.
If you're struggling to define your goals, try thinking about problems or issues in your business that could be solved with video.
Every video project rests on your understanding of your target audience
It’s important to be clear and realistic at this early stage. What’s an ambitious yet achievable objective you can test, learn from, and use as a stepping stone to better content in the future? Video isn’t going to solve all your problems overnight, but it is a powerful new tool to help you grow your business.
- Decide on Your Core Message
Every video project rests on your understanding of your target audience. So before you even start thinking about what you want to say to them, make sure you really get them.
Your videos are ultimately made to be watched and enjoyed by your audience, not you. Whether they’re young professionals or retired pensioners, you need to appeal to and engage them if your content is to have any chance of success.
So, keeping your video objective in mind, think about the following questions:
What do you want your audience to do after watching your video?
What do you want them to think to take that action?
How do you want them to feel to put them in that mindset?
Your videos are ultimately made to be watched and enjoyed by your audience, not you
For example, if your objective for your video content is to increase sign-ups to a free trial, you'll want your audience to... sign up to that free trial after watching. You might want them to feel excited, and to think that your service will help them to organise their busy schedule.
You need to boil all this thinking down into one thing your audience need to know that will encourage them to think, feel and act that way. It should resonate emotionally with them and be true to their values and beliefs.
This will become the core message of your video content.
- Build a Video Strategy
The next step is to create a solid strategy for your video. This involves planning a number of things, including:
- How multiple pieces of video content will work together to achieve your goals
- How you will create your video content — in house or externally
- How you will target your audience and distribute your video so it reaches them
- How you will reuse and repurpose your video for improved ROI
- How all of this will be achieved within your budget and deadline
- Basically, a good strategy is vital to the success of your video content.
That's a lot of pressure, but don't feel overwhelmed. Building a strategy for video is very similar to building a strategy for any other kind of campaign. You’ll need to create the usual kinds of material: distribution plans, timelines and briefs.
Start by writing a video brief for each piece of video you wish to create. It should collate all the research and planning you’ve done so far, about your objectives, what you want your audience to feel, think and do, and your core messages. This is the key document that will be used throughout the production process to ensure your videos stick to the plan.
If you've already decided to work externally to produce your video, an experienced video agency can be brought in at the strategy stage to help you put these plans in place.
Step 2: Pre-Production
- Develop the Creative Approach
Taking your video brief as a starting point, it's time to come up with a creative approach. Essentially, this is the idea or concept behind your video content.
The aim is to build upon your understanding into your target audience, and use this to create an interesting and engaging way of presenting your core message that will help achieve your objectives.
As with any kind of brainstorming, this process should begin with lots of potential ideas that are then whittled down to only the very best. Any and all ideas should be permitted initially, no matter how outlandish or unusual they may be.
A creative approach to video can be almost anything, but the best:
- Take inspiration from other successful videos.
- Are unique and memorable enough to stand out.
- Reflect a true insight into the target audience in question.
- Are not afraid to be different or strange, if the approach fits the brief.
That's the key: whatever creative approach you decide on, it must be backed up by your video brief and overall strategic plan.
- Create a Script and Storyboard
The creative approach picked in the last step should heavily influence the writing of the script and creating of a storyboard for your video content.
After all, these documents will serve as the blueprint for your video. Everything that makes it into the script and storyboard at this stage will almost certainly make it into the final video content too.
Any great script needs to:
- Be human and natural
- Be engaging, interesting and emotive
- Be interesting to your target audience
- Be simple and easy to understand
- Be short, sweet and concise
- Sound good when read aloud
- Get across all the necessary information
Convey your core message:
A script can also include information about specific locations, actors, props, and actions if that level of detail is necessary — for example, if you are hiring actors to dramatise a scenario.
A storyboard isn’t always necessary, but if you have a particularly visual idea you may want to be able to picture how it will look. A storyboard can give a clear visual portrayal of lighting, colouring, framing, transitions and many other aspects of film. This can be achieved through drawing, stock images, or even stock footage.
Your reliance on a storyboard during the production depends on the type and complexity of the video, as well as personal preference. Many videos simply use a detailed script when it comes time to film.
- Plan and Schedule the Shoot
This is the last hurdle before filming itself can begin.
In this part of pre-production, everything related to the shoot of the video is organised and scheduled.
This long list of planning includes:
- Scouting and securing a location
- Getting a crew together: directors, camera operators, lighting and sound technicians, runners
- Casting actors or presenters (either professionals or people on your team)
- Organising all equipment
- Ensuring makeup and costume is present if needed
- Acquiring all necessary licenses and permissions
- Putting in place contingency plans if anything goes wrong
- Writing the call sheet, or timed plan of filming
Generally this process should be handled by an experienced producer. If you're working with a video agency to produce your video, this is the step you'll need least involvement in.
Step 3: Production
- Shoot the Footage
On the actual days of filming, you probably won't need to be present — unless you're appearing in the video, of course.
Film shoots are best left to the professionals.
The reason you create such a detailed brief and script (and storyboard) is so that the director knows precisely what they're doing on the shoot. Nothing is left to chance. However, if you or a representative wishes to watch the filming take place, this shouldn't be a problem.
The director will ensure that:
- Everyone appearing on camera is relaxed and gives their best performance
- The video is well-lit, well-shot and well-framed
- Enough footage is filmed to make the editing process as easy as possible
- The script and storyboard are followed closely
Have faith in the director, the producer and the crew. This is their speciality, and they will deliver to a high standard.
Step 4: Post-Production
- Edit the Video Content
Once all filming is complete, it's time to begin editing.
This step will need to be handled by a skilled editor. They will examine many hours worth of footage and select the best takes to use in the final video. They then cut the film together according to the script and storyboard, so that your core message shines through. At this stage any generated graphics or other special effects that are needed will also be added.
- Are as short as possible while containing all the necessary information
- Are cut in a way that makes the video easy to understand and follow
- Are visually interesting.
- Use B-roll to liven up long shots
- Get across the core message of the video brief and script
- Include a Call to Action to encourage your audience to do something
During the editing process you might want to request alterations or revisions. Be sure to agree this beforehand with your editor or the video agency you're working with, to avoid misunderstandings.
When giving feedback on your video, be clear, specific and ensure everything your request stays on-brief. Always allow a reasonable amount of time for your changes to be made.
- Mix Music and Voiceover
It's not only the visuals that make a video great. Audio must be accounted for too.
A good edit must work specifically with the music of the video to achieve the overall desired effect in the target audience. Sound effects and other noises can also be added to create a more realistic and engaging sound mix. A voiceover won’t always be necessary, but if you’ve chosen one it must work with the footage just as well as any music.
Any music or voiceover included in in your video should:
- Complement the mood and tone of the video
- Help to get across your core message
- Be appropriate for your target audience
- Match the pace of the edit
Generally you'll have to buy a license or pay fees for the music you want in your video, as well as pay a professional voiceover artist, which a producer can also handle.
Step 5: Final Touches & Distribution
- Host Your Video and Set up Analytics
Once you're happy with the final cut of your video, it will need to be hosted online so it can be shared and distributed according to your strategy.
Depending on your plan of distribution and your budget, you will have several options when it comes to hosting your video.
- Hosting the video on a paid platform like Wistia or Vidyard, with access to advanced analytics and optimisation
- Hosting the video on a free channel like YouTube or Vimeo, with fewer video metrics and less control
- Self-hosting the video on your own server
Generally it's recommended to host your video content on a paid platform where you have full control over how and where you it is distributed. This will also allow you to more accurately measure the success of your video and ensure all the right video metrics are in place.
If you've decided to host your video on a paid hosting platform like Wistia, the measures of success you want to track will most likely already be in place. However, if you're hosting on a free video channel like YouTube you may have to use a separate analytics tool to find the data you require.
This is a vital part of the whole production process, so don't just assume you'll be able to track what you need. If you can't measure the success of your video content, you'll never learn from your experience so you can make improvements in the future.
- Distribute and Promote Your Video
We've reached the final step. At this stage you can at last begin to distribute and promote your video according to your video strategy.
As always, keep in mind your core message and your target audience.
You'll need to market your video where your audience will see it, and in a way that makes your core message clear. This should all tie into your larger marketing strategy for other types of content.
There are many ways to distribute your video, and they will vary depending on your audience.
Some of the most common are:
- Social media seeding on sites where your target audience spend time
- Using video SEO to optimise for relevant search keywords
- Reaching out to your audience's key influencers to help spread the video
- Engaging in PR to promote your video content
- Paying for ad spend to show the video on television or in cinemas
- Incorporating the video into your email marketing
And that's it — you're done. Now the video has been spread to your target audience, it's time to use analytics to determine the success of your entire campaign ready for the next piece of video content.
Now you know the steps it takes to produce a corporate video, you're ready to dive into your first video project without fear.
As long as you’re organised, work with professionals where you need to and do the best you can with the aim to improve every time, you’ll be well on the way to smart, strategic and effective video content.
This article was written for AVTE by Jonathan English, who is Managing Director at Skeleton Productions, a video content agency helping businesses and brands to supercharge their marketing with compelling, strategic video. He has 15 years' experience in building businesses, video projects, and relationships with clients.