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If you’re an experienced digital marketer, then you know that when it comes to content, video is increasingly more important. Whether it’s on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook, consumers love video. And not just on social media, either. Emails are opened 7% more when they have the word “video” in the subject line.

So if you aren’t producing it, you’re way behind the curve. Don’t believe me? Check out these video statistics:

  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day.
  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer Internet traffic.
  • YouTube is the second most trafficked site, after Google.
  • 81% of businesses use video in their marketing strategy, a 63% increase since last year.
  • Users spend 88% more time on websites that have videos.
  • 97% of marketers report that video helps users understand their products or services better – and also helps to increase sales.

1) Figure Out Your Audience

Whether you want better insights from Google Ads or a more targeted video, figuring out and defining your audience is the first step in any content-creation process. But don’t fall into the trap of assuming that all your customers want to see the same content.
Defining an audience is a complex process that includes building buyer personas, which are simply detailed descriptions of your ideal customers, written as though they were real people.
After all, your audience is made up of more than just one customer with one interest. The group of people you’re targeting is likely to have overlapping interests that you can exploit when planning your video content.
Every business, regardless of who they’re targeting, should have a buyer persona document that looks a little like this:

2) Make Your Message Crystal Clear

Although the importance of knowing your audience and narrowing down a target market is critical, clearly defining your message is just as important.
Your business likely offers different services or products, not just one, so you’ll need different videos for each of these. For example, you might need:

  • An explainer video to give basic customers a product demonstration
  • A more complex product demo for your upper management or B2B customers
  • A powerful TED Talk-type of message from your CEO

Don’t try to explain what your company does, sell your products, and bring up a case study all in the same video. A tailored video with a specific message and a specific goal will be much more effective in the long run.

3) Set a Realistic Budget

Once you’ve defined your audience and your message, you need to set your budget. Failing to work out the financial costs during pre-production is a good way to inadvertently go over budget. Plus, vagueness means that it’s impossible to manage expectations.
Some elements of video creation are more costly than others, which could lead to you over-promising but under-delivering — especially if you’re planning to go above and beyond with your video content by including voice-overs or third-party interviews.
If you’re thinking of cutting costs by whipping up a quick video on your smartphone with your employees as cast and crew, keep in mind that when it comes to brand perception, a poor-quality video is worse than no video at all:

The benefit of working with a good production company, like us ;), is that we value our work. We produce the highest-quality content within the financial constraints you’ve outlined.

4) Write Your Script and Revise It. Then Revise It Again.

The written video script is a key part of pre-production that’s most commonly understated.
Contrary to popular belief, not just anyone can write a script. Often, someone on the team will dash off a script and think it’s ready to execute without several rounds of critiquing and revising. It’s important to get input from other members on your marketing team who speak to customers individually.

5) Create Your Video’s Branding Elements

Traditional in-your-face TV infomercials and blatant calls-to-action have almost been replaced by a smarter, subtler brand of business video.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t room for friendly reminders of who you are. Greetings and sign-offs are an important part of video pre-production tips because subtly promoting your business can push your audience to complete the goal you’re working toward.

6) Put Your Best 8 Seconds First

Thanks to disappearing messages and smartphone-induced ADHD, the average attention span is just eight seconds these days. That means most viewers will click away from your video in as long as it takes to have a sip of coffee if their attention wavers.
Fortunately for video producers and scriptwriters everywhere, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The first eight seconds of a video is a perfect reasonable amount of time to capture the viewer’s attention and let them know what they can expect from the rest of the video.

7) Choose the Right Run-Time

Although conversion and completion metrics shouldn’t be the end-all when it comes to determining the length of your video (hint: your message should make that determination), the final run-time will affect your overall completion rate.
As you might expect, there’s a direct correlation between video length and viewer drop-off:

Shorter videos tend to have better engagement:

  • If a video is less than 60 seconds, over two-thirds (68%) of viewers will keep watching until the end.
  • If a video is over 20 minutes long, only 25% of viewers will finish it.

Generally, videos that are 2-4 minutes long perform best and will have more people watch to the end. But if your video supremely engaging, time is not as critical a factor.
Keep in mind that the length of a video generally varies depending on which stage of the marketing funnel you’re creating content for. The lower down in the funnel you go, the longer (though still focused) your video content can be.

8) Form a Personal Connection

The last guideline for effective video script writing is to be transparent and authentic.
Video marketing is a very effective type of content marketing, and the ultimate goal of content marketing should be thought leadership. In other words, you want your viewers to see you as an expert and place trust in your brand — not just about your own products and services, but about everything.

Authenticity is a great way to get your audience on-board with your brand and start building those personal connections that are so important for sales.

9) Create a Production Schedule

Now that you’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to think about when and where you’ll be recording the video. This is your production (or shooting) schedule.
You’ll need this document to make any kind of judgment call on whether your video project is going according to plan and to manage the time expectations of stakeholders.
Your video production schedule should include key information, such as:

  • Location
  • Scene/shot
  • Equipment
  • People needed
  • Contact info
  • Date and time

A production schedule is a one-stop-shop for all your production questions and concerns and should be updated regularly and shared with the entire team.

10) Overestimate the Time You’ll Need

As a rule of thumb (particularly when stakeholders are involved), it’s always best to under-promise but over-deliver.
One of the best ways you can do that is by not giving yourself a razor-thin window of completion, especially if you aren’t very familiar with video production workflows.
Underestimating production time is just as bad as overestimating resource capacity.

11) Choose the Right Location

There are few decisions you can make with a more resounding impact on the production schedule than whether you want to do your shoot at a studio or on location (like a beach, for example).
While it may not seem like a huge deal at a glance, it certainly is for your budget.
Shooting on location involves travel and equipment transportation costs and the whim of the elements (like weather). You’ll need to be aware of these costs and include the location details in your production schedule.
You should definitely visit your filming location prior to the day of the shoot. But even if you do decide to shoot in a studio, you should still visit it beforehand to get a full understanding of the space you’re working with.

12) Secure the Best Talent You Can Afford

Often, the narrator in large-scale business videos will be someone from the C-suite. But you might want someone who can get the job done better, quicker, and build stronger relationships with your audience, too. That’s when hiring professional actors can come in handy.
If you want to shave a bit more off your budget and identify a long-term talking head for your videos (especially if you want to start a company vlog), keep in mind that there could already be someone in your HR, sales or marketing department who’s just waiting to shine.
To find these people, send a company-wide letter inviting interested people to take part in a quick interview or even audition with the script you’ve put together. Every company has its fair share of interesting characters, and one of them might just fit the camera perfectly.

Where an actor or paid hire might study the script and play well, nothing compares to someone who lives and breathes your brand message every single day.

13) Remember: Video Marketing Is a Must in 2021

If you’ve reached this point and are questioning whether the video you’re planning is worth the effort, don’t lose faith — and remember that video marketing is worth it!

The stats don’t lie:

  • 97% of marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service
  • 76% say it helped them increase sales
  • 47% say it helped them reduce support queries
  • 76% say it helped them increase traffic
  • 80% of marketers say video has increased dwell time on their website

Go Create Your Successful Video!

As you can see, there are many things to consider before hitting the “record” button on your newest video marketing campaign. Always make sure you’ve got the basics covered and know the purpose of your video.
If you haven’t added video marketing to your mix, the time is now. Offering your potential consumers a more personal way to interact with your brand will help them to see you as more than a company — and that will translate to higher awareness and engagement and, more importantly, more sales and supporters.

Our team at Milestone Films will guide you through the entire Pre-Production journey 🙂

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