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2 March 2016 Video learning

Marketer's Guide to the Corporate Video Production Process

Jumping into corporate video for the first time? Or brushing up on the video production process? This guide will teach you how to plan for success.

Using video for corporate messages is very powerful. The way to get the most out of your content is to plan for success before you even think about picking up a camera.

Skeleton have years of experience creating powerful corporate video & content marketing strategies for clients like Boots, Samsung & Experian

We can help you plan for success:

Tell us about your project or call us on 0845 003 7720

Guess what? Great video marketing isn't just about cameras and microphones.

It's mainly about planning, forethought, and a kick-ass strategy.

So here's where you're at: you need video as part of your marketing strategy, but aren't sure where to start.

Put down the camcorder and relax.

Whether you're:

I promise we'll get through this together.

This massive guide will walk you through, in detail, the 9 steps you need to take to achieve awesome things with your video content (or, how to stop worrying and learn to love video planning).

Plus, you can download it in the form of a free checklist to work through at your own pace.

Whether you're working with an experienced video agency (full disclosure: we are one) or a freelance filmmaker, or producing one piece of video content or many, the steps to successful video are always the same.

I'm going to show you the whole process from start to finish.

Ready? Let's jump in.

 

Warning: this post is pretty epic. To jump between sections, just use these links.

1. Video Objective2. Target Audience3. Core Message4. Video Strategy5. Video Production Brief6. Creative Approach7. Script & Storyboard8. Analytics & Hosting9. Market & Promote

 

Download the Video Production Process checklist

 

Icon for Video Production Process Step 1Step 1: Decide on Your Video Objective

What's the first step to doing anything in marketing?

Working out what you're doing it for. Your end point.

Surprise, surprise (or not really), it's no different with video.

Before you do anything else you need to come up with an objective for your video content. Why do you want video in the first place? What are you aiming to achieve?

Don't fall into the trap of wanting to create video for all the wrong reasons.

Here are some really, really bad reasons for wanting video (look, you're not a robot, they might be part of why you want video, but they shouldn't be the only reasons):

  • You just feel like you need video
  • You want to be able to show off to your friends and family
  • You're jealous because everyone else has video
  • You don't think your marketing efforts are really awesome until they include video

Why are these reasons so terrible?

Well, they're not firm goals. There's no way to measure your success against them, because there's no way to measure how much less jealous you feel or how much more awesome your marketing is with video (at least not objectively).

That means you're setting yourself up for failure before you've even started.

If you want to create video and your only motivation is one of those goals I listed up there, stop right now. Cramming your objectives into a video-shaped box is doing it all backwards.

Let's set you up for success instead.

Video is Form, not Content

You need to remember that video itself isn't content, it's form.

What the hell does that mean?

Well, content is basically what you want to say. Form is how you say it.

Video is just one way of getting your message across. You could also express that message through an infographic, some copy, or a funny GIF (effectiveness may vary per format).

That means video isn't limited to a certain type of content, message, or topic.

In other words, video is more flexible than a ferret doing yoga. You can say anything through video.

So rather than thinking: We should create a video! It could explain our services! it's better to think: We should explain our core services to potential customers! and then work out the best way to express that content, whether that's through video or otherwise.

It's good to work from content towards form. It's bad to do the opposite.Basically, start with your content first, rather than your form.

In practice that means you should know what you want to achieve and what you want to tell your audience before you even start to think about if video is the best way to get there.

Controversial? Maybe. But it's the right way to do it.

And that's why these first few steps of the video production process (AKA the planning) are so vital.

Okay. Let's move onto actually setting out your objectives.

i) Identify Your Business Situation and Issues

First, bust open a new Google or Word document. We're going to fill this bad boy with the reasoning behind your video objectives.

Your objectives are most likely to blossom naturally from a problem, weakness, or opportunity for your business.

That's why you may want to do an up-to-date SWOT analysis of your business first of all.

Whether you decide to go that in-depth or not, you need to ask yourself how your business and its marketing efforts are doing and where your strengths and weaknesses currently lie.

Go ahead and fill this into the template or your document.

Be as detailed as you can, but don't worry about getting every single thing down. This doesn't need to be War and Peace. It just needs to give an accurate view of where your business is at, where it's acing things, and where it could improve.

For example, you might note that your business is doing well at generating traffic to your site, but having a hard time converting that traffic into paying customers. Note it down.

ii) Pick Your Problem

Call me Ishmael, because it's time to find your own Moby Dick.

From the information you've filled out, decide which of the issues facing your business you want to try and fix.

(Or which opportunity you want to go after.)

Following on from the example above, you might choose to improve the poor conversion rates on your product pages. Whatever it is, write it down.

iii) Link it Back to Strategy

Now's the time to make sure your chosen issue fits into your overall business or marketing strategy.

Do you have any wider goals currently in place that your video content could contribute towards?

Hint: the answer should be yes.

You want to be certain that whatever videos you create tie into your bigger aims and are relevant to where you're heading as a business.

So write down which higher-level goals your video content will feed into.

For example, by tackling poor conversion rates you might be helping to meet your business goal of generating 200 new customers this year.

iv) Construct Your Objective

Okay, it's time to get that objective down.

Keeping your problem or opportunity in mind, turn it into an objective that will also help achieve your bigger goal.

Most importantly, you need to make sure your objectives are SMART.

That means:

  • Specific (not vague)
  • Measurable (ideally containing statistics you can track)
  • Achievable (realistic considering the circumstances)
  • Relevant (tied into your wider business goals)
  • Time-bound (within a set deadline)

So if you've got a bad conversion rate on one of your product pages, your objective might be:

To improve the conversion rate on our product page to 3% by March.

v) Specify How You'll Measure Success

This is something people often forget to do, but it's so key to track how your video content is performing.

Be sure to note down specifically what numbers, statistics, or video metrics you'll need to keep an eye on to see how and when you hit your objectives.

And use the exact figure that you're aiming to achieve, so there's no room for confusion.

In this case we would specify:

We track the conversion rate of our product page. By March we want to achieve a conversion rate of 3%, which is 2 percentage points higher than our current conversion rate of 1%.

Add this to your document too.

vi) Make Note of Your Stakeholders

Finally, write down anyone who might need to be aware of or sign off on your video objectives.

This might be a Marketing Director, the owner of the business, or your direct superior. Or all three.

Whoever will need to know, it's pertinent to start getting them involved now. That way you won't come up against any surprise roadblocks further down the road.

And if you're lucky enough to have sole control over your video content, leave this part blank!

Some Common Video Objectives

Okay, I've shown you the process you need to follow to come up with your objectives, but you might still be struggling for inspiration. Well, the truth is: video can be used to achieve almost anything.

At the end of the day your objectives are going to rely heavily on your marketing strategy and the overall aims of the business.

But to help get you started, here are some of the most common objectives for video:

  • Converting leads
  • Increasing sales
  • Improving user engagement
  • Raising brand awareness
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Providing customer support

Don't feel limited by these. Video content can reach any goal, if done right (and thank goodness that's what we're doing here).

 

Icon for Video Production Process Step 2Step 2: Research Your Target Audience

As a marketer, you know your target audience like a close friend you don't call often enough.

That's pretty lucky, because your audience might well be the single most important aspect of your video content. And you're going to have to get to know them even better to do this thing right.

If you haven't done enough research into your target audience, there's no way you'll be able to create video that appeals to them and engages them. That speaks to their heart.

In practice that means going way beyond simple demographics like age, gender and location.

It means getting to know your audience as people.

Reinforce Your Personas

You probably already have detailed marketing personas to represent your ideal customers.

We're going to build on this and make sure you have enough primary research to really pinpoint your target audience and understand what makes them tick.

First of all, let's do some digging into a few places you might not have thought to look before.

i) Quora

First, head over to Quora.com. Type your business offering, product or service into the Quora search bar.

This might take a few tries to get the most useful results, but keep going.

For example, if you sell analytics software you could try 'analytics software', 'tracking software', 'analytics', 'business analytics', etc.

A screenshot of Quora search results.Make note of the questions that seem like ones you could answer with your product, service or expertise.

(You should probably keep a list of them in a new document, as we're going to be adding to this.)

This gives you a great indication of two things:

  • The most common problems your target audience face that you can solve
  • And the way they naturally phrase and consider those problems

All of this is precious evidence towards how your audience think and what really concerns them.

ii) Reddit

Next we're going to delve into Reddit for some more real questions asked by real people.

Like on Quora, type your offering, product or service into the search bar to the top right of the page. You'll get results something like this:

A screenshot of Reddit search results.

Click through to any subreddits (the results at the top) or single posts (the results at the bottom) that look like they might have potential.

You can also click to view more of these results to squeeze yourself further down the rabbit hole.

You'll probably find better results from the subreddits, especially if you hit on ones that are tailored specifically to your industry or niche, but sometimes you'll get lucky with the single posts too, like the post from the Analytics Consultant I found above.

Scan through the single posts to find questions or comments that are interesting, and add them to your research document.

A screenshot of a Reddit thread.

Do the same with the subreddits. Here you'll be able to browse posts and click through any that you think could reveal more insightful questions or comments.

Be aware that most subreddits are a mixture of links to articles and personal posts.

You can spot the personal posts, which are more likely to be natural questions, because their title will be followed by (self.subredditname).

A screenshot of a subreddit.

Make sure you've got your finds noted down, because the next part is going to require actual human interaction (!).

iii) Interviews and Feedback

This is probably the most important step of the process, and hopefully you'll already have done parts of it before.

Now we want to get up close and personal with real people (who belong to your target audience) to ask them what their biggest problems are related to your offering, and how you can help solve them.

Here are some ways you can go about getting this information:

  • Take your customers out to coffee and conduct an informal interview
  • Ask questions to your audience on social media
  • Send out a survey to customers or leads asking for feedback
  • Speak to sales and/or support about the most common questions they have to answer
  • Search social media for conversations or questions about your industry

And here are some questions that may be helpful for prising answers out of your target audience:

  • What's the biggest problem you encounter at work/home regarding X topic/industry?
  • What skills and abilities do you use every day?
  • What do you wish you knew more about?
  • What are you responsible for?
  • What does it mean to be successful for you?
  • Where do you go to learn new things?

Obviously, you'll need to tweak those questions a little based on your business and the product or service you offer. But you get the idea.

Generally the more open-ended the questions the better. Don't box your interviewees into a corner, but let them grapple with the questions in their own way.

(Pro tip: often the way they answer the question can be just as illuminating as what they say.)

Pull Out Common Threads and Insights

It can be hard to keep track of all this qualitative data, but you're going to want to make a note of the most important points in your research document.

Now what do we do with it?

A little bit of data analysis. A little bit of sleuthing. A little bit of clever guesswork.

(Put on your Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat if you want.)

Look back through your notes. Can you see any common themes, or repeated answers, running through them? Try to identify the commonalities that tie your target audience together.

These should be real insights into why your audience act or feel the way they do.

For example, in the samples above we found that lots of people were concerned about improving their analytical skills.

Whatever you find, add these discoveries to your existing marketing personas, either by attaching your research document or pasting the information directly into your persona profiles.

You should phrase what you've learned about your target audience as a whole as if you were describing a specific real life person:

Business Owner Brian worries that he's missing out on key insights from his Google Analytics data, and is constantly looking to learn more about how to analyse his business performance.

The more you can describe your target audience like real people, the less likely you'll be to forget that they are real people, and the easier you'll find it to connect with them through your video content.

Finally, this is one of the best guides I've read to really fleshing out your marketing personas.

If you're not yet 100% confident in the detail of your personas, I recommend you work your way through it.

The truth is, until you feel like you understand what your audience most desires, what they're afraid of and what their biggest problems are, you probably won't be successful at engaging with them.

So don't be scared to get close... really close.

 

Icon for Video Production Process Step 3Step 3: Work Out Your Core Message

You've got your video objectives, and hopefully now you feel even more in tune with your target audience. 

It's time for the big one: to decide exactly what you want to say to that audience

This falls at the intersection between what you want to achieve and what your audience wants to know.

Your core message is the intersect of a Venn diagram between you and your audience.

That's why the basic rule here is to keep your main objective, as well as your target audience, in mind at all times. Our example objective was:

To improve the conversion rate on our product page to 3% by March.

And here's what we discovered about our target audience:

Business Owner Brian worries that he's missing out on key insights from his Google Analytics data, and is constantly looking to learn more about how to analyse his business performance.

So how do we get from that to your core message?

What Your Audience Should Feel, Think, Do

You want to achieve your objective, obviously.

In that case, what action do your target audience need to take to make it a reality? And what state of mind will lead them to that action?

In other words, what do you want your target audience to:

  • Feel?
  • Think?
  • Do?

Let me give you an example. If we want to increase our conversion rate on our product page to 3% (and considering what we found from our research) then we want our audience to:

  • Feel: invigorated, excited to get started
  • Think: our product will offer more in-depth analysis and training than Google Analytics
  • Do: purchase our analytics software

Boil Down the Core Message

Next we have to work out the one thing your audience need to know to encourage them to feel, think and act that way.

I strongly suggest you focus on a single core message. The more precision you have on what you want to say, the less diluted your point will be.

Think of your video content like a laser, dividing your video between different messages is like separating the laser into different beams. Each message becomes weaker overall.

But if you leave the laser as a single beam, your message emerges far stronger.

So what's your core message? What do you need to get across to your target audience so they will think, feel and do what you want (this is less evil than it sounds)?

You basically have to infer this from everything you've discovered so far.

In our example, our core message would most likely be:

Our analytics software offers in-depth analysis, detailed reporting, assistance and training, to a higher standard than Google Analytics.

Got it?

Back It Up With a Message Map

You might find it useful to use a message map to structure your core message, as best explained by author, speaker and general user of words Carmine Gallo.

Basically, the message map is a deceptively simple tool that helps you refine and strengthen your core message. It works in any medium, but I particularly enjoy using it for video.

Your message map is going to look a bit like a spider who's been in a tragic accident. Something like this:

An empty message map.

You want to put your core message in the big circle at the top. In our example this was:

Our analytics software offers data and support that is better than Google Analytics.

Now you want to back that up with three or four sub-messages that support your core message, like a little backing group for your main star.

Underneath, add any specific details (like statistics or examples) that reinforce your sub-messages.

Here's what it might look like when you're done:

A full message map.

The idea behind the message map is that you can explain the entire thing in as much detail as you want, depending on the amount of time you have.

When it comes to video, this helps to keep things open and means you can base the length/complexity of your content on your audience and objective too. We'll get to that in a bit.

Is Video the Right Format?

Now's the time for a bit of an existential crisis.

Remember what I said about video being a form, or way of expressing your message?

So far we've been assuming that video is the form you want to use to get across what you want to say, but now let's make sure.

Here's what we've worked through:

  • Your objective
  • Your target audience
  • Your core message

Keeping all of those in mind, are we still certain that video is the right way to:

  • Achieve your objective?
  • Reach and engage your target audience?
  • Express your core message?

Don't freak out at this stage. Because video is so flexible, it can be used to accomplish almost anything. It's pretty much impossible that you've managed to find a goal, audience and topic completely incompatible with the format.

However, just like any format video has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you might realise that another form of content could be more effective.

If that's the case, then go back to the drawing board and make damn sure your for


Lydia Cockerham

Written by Lydia Cockerham

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