15 things to consider when creating video content

George M. Hughes, Founder and Creative Director, Small Films

17th December 2021

written by George Hughes

The basics
Step 1: Assess your business objectives and desired outcomes
Step 2: Choose your channels
Step 3: Define the level of investment you are willing to make
Step 4: Set KPIs
Step 5: Set a timeframe
Step 6: Look for inspiration
Step 7: Create a briefing document
Step 8: Approach video production companies
Step 9: Review proposal
Step 10: Production planning
Step 11: The shoot
Step 12: Post-production and delivery
Step 13: Amplification
Step 14: Video optimisation
Step 15: The secret sauce

In today’s fast-paced digital world, the way businesses communicate with their customers is changing all the time. Trying to keep up with the latest trends can be exhausting. But one thing is clear, video has emerged as one of the most effective and popular ways for businesses to share their message with the world. Improved broadband speeds, 4G mobile data, the reduced cost of camera technology, and video professionals’ availability have all combined to make video accessible to anyone from entrepreneurs to enterprise businesses. When video is done right, it can have incredible results for companies, from increasing leads and generating more sales to growing market share and putting your brand in the spotlight. But embarking on a first-time video project or even mastering this medium can be intimidating for most business professionals. If you are reading this blog, then odds on you are either interested in using this powerful tool for your business or are already experimenting with video but are looking for better results. This short guide will help you get to grips with starting a video project and show you how to ensure you get a solid return on your investment.

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. It’s critical that you start thinking about video not in isolation but as an integrated part of your business marketing. Too often, businesses turn to video as a knee-jerk reaction, completing a quick-fire project in response to a change in the status quo. For example, “we’ve just redone the website, so we need a video” or “our competitor has done a video, so we need one too.” Video can be a costly endeavour if it doesn’t deliver a return on investment, so make sure you aren’t just doing a video for video’s sake but using it as part of a wider business strategy.

There are three parts to any successful video campaign; strategy, content and amplification. By having a clear plan, you will identify the objectives you are trying to achieve, the audience you are trying to reach, and how you will reach them. That strategy will inform the content you create, which must resonate with your target audience and be relevant to them. It also needs to be well-executed, offer value and have a great hook. Finally, you need to amplify the content to your audience through digital marketing or other distribution methods. If just one of these three elements is overlooked then there is a reasonable risk that your video won’t get you the results you hoped for. With that in mind, here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to embark on any video project.

STEP 1: ASSESS YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND DESIRED OUTCOMES

You wouldn’t hop in your car and start driving if you didn’t know where you were going. The same goes for video. Work out your end destination before putting petrol in the tank. What do I actually want to achieve with this video project?

Ask yourself the question. Is this video project to:

• Increase brand awareness?
• Deliver direct sales?
• Shorten my sales cycle?
• Explain a complex product or service?
• Generate publicity for my brand?
• Increase social media followers?
• Educate customers about your offering?

Whilst it may be tempting to list absolutely everything you can think of, from more sales to world domination, it’s best to focus in on a few key objectives that will move your business in the right direction.

Step 2:  Choose your channels.

Video in isolation is not as effective as when it is integrated into a business marketing strategy. A big part of your strategy should be thinking about amplification and how you are going to deliver your content to the right audience. Pick your channels of communication and design your video content with those channels in mind. Will you be sending these videos out to people via email marketing? Will you use social media, and if so, then which platforms? Will you use paid advertising on YouTube or Google Display? Could offline methods like posting video packs or playing videos at trade shows work? Think about your customers and their behaviour.

What is the best way to reach them, and what assets can I leverage already? If you have 10,000 followers on Instagram, this might be an obvious place to start. If you know your customers are too old to use Snapchat, don’t make videos for Snapchat. And if you have an email list, you intend to market to, then create your content with this distribution method in mind. Video content for online use isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on the content type and distribution channel, it can be different lengths from 6 seconds to 60 minutes. The format can be landscape, portrait or square, depending on where it’s being shown. And it can have sound, no sound or subtitles depending on its end-use. Knowing your final delivery method is critical before planning your video campaign.

>> At Small Films we also provide digital marketing services 

Step 3: Define the level of investment you are willing to make

Defining your budget sets clear parameters on the project’s scale and helps project managers limit expectations and mitigate unneeded costs. Ultimately a video project should provide you with a good return on investment – at least 10X if you work with a good supplier. So when looking to define your budget, consider the ultimate outcome you are hoping for and how much you are willing to pay for that. If you are looking for a 20% uplift in sales worth £100,000 then a £10,000 investment in video may seem more than reasonable. But if you are just trying to promote a small event you host every year, then this level of budget may not be appropriate. When it comes to video marketing, it isn’t just the financial investment that needs to be taken into account. You must also understand the requirements regarding the time and energy you are ready to put into the video project. Whether you are handling this video project internally or working with an external supplier, you will need to give your time to input on the creative and review the finished videos.

Step 4: Set KPIs

When getting to grips with a new and exciting video project, getting caught up in the smaller details can make it easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This is especially true as the project progresses. Setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is a great way to ensure you remain focused on what really matters to your business. These measurements will help you understand the overall success of your video project and give you a good yardstick to measure the success of future projects.

KPIs for your video may include:

• Sales close rate
• Leads generated
• Views
• Engagement
• Press mentions
• Cost per click (from ads)

Along with these very data-led KPIs, you can also set other markers of success. For example, “people now understand our product better”, “we spend less time explaining what we do”, “people have referred to the video in a positive light”, “we closed one big deal as a result of the video we created”, “we won an industry award.” Don’t underestimate how important these more anecdotal KPIs can be.

Step 5: Set a timeframe

Any project management book or course worth its salt will tell you that setting out on a project without a well-defined timeframe is a certain way to cause issues further down the line. A video marketing campaign needs a clear and measurable schedule. This will include a start and end date as well as any significant milestones that need to be achieved throughout the project. This can be achieved through many methods, including fancy project management software, an excel spreadsheet or even as simple as writing it up clearly on a whiteboard. Applying a clear and understandable timeframe to your video project is essential both for keeping everyone on track and ensuring the project keeps within budget.

Step 6: Look for inspiration

They say inspiration can come from anywhere, and whilst this may be true, it doesn’t hurt to add a little structure to get things moving quicker. Start your inspiration journey by getting your team together in a room to brainstorm. Ask each team member to come to the meeting ready with three ideas or concepts for video content that you can use to get the meeting started. Remember that any idea is a good idea. Never shut anyone down. Use your experience as a way to ignite creativity. Try exploring things that are happening in your company that could be the focus of filming. Do you have a new product you are about to launch or an event you are likely to exhibit at? Creativity can even turn something as mundane as moving office into some engaging and relatable video content. Look at events coming up in the calendar that could give you inspiration – the World Cup, Valentine’s Day, the Queen’s birthday. Explore the strongest selling points with your business and build ideas based on those. Look for examples of videos you like from competitors or other industries that can spark your imagination. Draw on these to come up with your own concepts. Think about the problems your audience is facing, and see if you can develop some ideas for a video that will help them overcome those problems. Fill that whiteboard up with ideas!

>> Check out some of our work to give you inspiration 

Step 7: Create a briefing document

Regardless of whether you are creating your video in-house or outsourcing to an agency, a clear, concise and easy to follow briefing document is going to help any video project run smoothly. For example, if you create the content internally, then a clear briefing document will help keep all the stakeholders on the same page. Similarly, if you are looking for an external supplier, then this document will save time and give them a clear picture of what you need. When creating your briefing document be as detailed as you like. However, keeping this document to just two pages will remain focused and on point.

In your brief, ensure you include the 21 following elements:

• Your business objectives.
• A description of your audience. Who is your ideal customer avatar?
• The core message. What do you want to communicate through the video?
• Your ideas for the ‘treatment’. How do you want the video to look or feel? Do you have any examples of pieces you have seen that might help convey this?
• The elements you hope to include in the video. For example, do you want a voiceover? Interviews with you or your customers? Shots of your product or service? Actors? Animation or motion graphics?
• The intended method of distribution.
• Your Call To Action. What do you want your audience to do after seeing this video, whether that’s making a sale, following you on social media or being directed to your website. This should be closely linked to the objectives and outcomes highlighted in step 1.
• An idea of your budget. It’s worth giving a rough idea of what you might be able to spend on your project. This will help set expectations and inform the production company’s proposal. You’ll often be surprised at how much you can get for your money. Think of the video production company using the analogy of an Architect. A builder can construct you a ‘generic’ house, but you need an architect to design and build you the ‘specific’ house that meets your specific needs. The video production company performs that role for your video project. Your budget pays for the expertise that brings all the complex elements together to produce the right video to communicate your specific business message.
• Your schedule and delivery deadlines. Does your video need to be ready for a specific event? Make sure you factor in enough time for the production process.

Step 8: Approach video production companies

Selecting the right video production company will not only save you a lot of hassle and stress, but it will also mean you get the best return on investment from your video project. Start by asking for recommendations from colleagues, friends and, look at companies you know who’ve completed successful video projects and ask them for referrals. Also, consider looking for specialist companies who deal in your particular industry or have worked with similar companies to you. You can find some great companies via Google or social media but check their case studies and references. Finally, brief two or three companies so that you can compare proposals, but don’t just compare based on prices. There is a delicate balance to be struck between experience, expertise and cost – a very cheap video is probably not going to represent your brand in the right way and may even have a negative impact on your business.

Step 9: Review proposal

Your selected video production companies will come back to you with a quote. If the brief was detailed enough, they may also provide an overall creative idea or angle (with examples to help you visualise), budget expectations for different options and a schedule.

However, for many companies, ideas/concept creation and scriptwriting is a big part of the overall scope of work. It relies on a detailed understanding of the client and their target market. So, depending on the project, don’t be surprised if some suppliers are unwilling to provide creative ideas until an agreement has been signed. Once you have all the proposals, you can then choose the best fit for your business, budget and objectives.

Step 10: Production planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Without solid planning across every step of the project, there is a great scope for inefficacy, ultimately increasing the potential for the project to fail. Knowing which aspects of planning need your attention will go a long way to ensuring that all potential pitfalls are considered and mitigated. For example, if you create video content internally, make sure you plan the shoot carefully. Create an hour-by-hour schedule for the day and allow contingency time for any issues which may occur. If you are working with an external supplier, your video production company will give you a detailed production plan and schedule once they have the green light. This should also include a consultation meeting and regular reviews of progress.

At this stage, they will also begin work on a script or storyboard for the video and start planning for the shoot. They will carry out location research and venue booking, props finding, actor or voice over casting where necessary, and all technical aspects of the filming. To ensure success, they will undertake rehearsals or run-throughs where necessary and will keep you involved and consulted throughout the planning process.

Step 11: The shoot

When working with a video production company, they will organise everything on shoot day (or days) for you and will have all the necessary filming, lighting and sound equipment in place
and ready to go. If the filming is taking place at your business location and requires staff members, they will work hard to minimise any disruption by shooting at quiet times or out or hours if possible. They will also provide a detailed schedule to ensure that people aren’t kept hanging around. If you are creating video content yourself, think about all the elements you will need from location filming permissions to release forms for any contributors you film. Try to scout the locations you will be filming ahead of time to assess lighting and sound requirements. If you are filming in public, then make sure you have public liability insurance in place.

>> Read our blog on Local vs London Video Production Company. Which is Best?

Step 12: Post-production and delivery

A lot of the physical work has been done up to this point. However, the project is far from over. Now it is time for the magic of post-production to bring everything together and create the finished project for delivery. After the shoot, the video production company will edit the footage to produce a rough cut of the video. At this point, you will be provided with an opportunity to give your input through the editing process, and after tweaks and amendments have been made, a final cut will be produced. The video will then be formatted and duplicated correctly according to platform requirements within the agreed schedule. If you are editing the footage yourself, make sure you have the right permissions to use all of the footage, imagery and music in your finished video.

Step 13: Amplification

Creating video content is just one part of the equation. Amplification of that content is absolutely critical if you want it to be seen by the right people at the right time. At this stage, you must consider how you will get your video content out there. There are many options for amplifying your content, and it’s often a good idea to try a mix of different things. However, it is worth considering exactly who you are targeting before deciding on the best method for amplification.

Ask yourself:
Where does my target audience spend time (YouTube, Instagram, Blogs)?
Where does my business already have a strong presence?

Once you have answered these questions, you can decide how you will actually amplify your content.

Some options include:
• Email marketing
• Direct use via your sales team
• Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn ads
• YouTube ads
• Google display ads
• Uploading to your website
• Displaying on site (office, store, event)

Step 14: Video optimisation

In the same way that an artist’s work is never done, video content offers opportunities to optimise over time. The joy of creating video for the online space is that you can gather detailed analytics on audience retention. Some professional production companies like ours can manage optimisation and testing of video content for social media platforms on your behalf. In essence, this means assessing the value of one video over another or tweaking a video to improve or optimise its audience retention rate. This aspect becomes particularly important when running paid advertising campaigns online, where much greater ROI can be gained from just a few minor tweaks.

If you are creating the video yourself, then don’t think of it as being completed and never to be touched again. Your video is an organic creation that can be constantly moulded to improve its quality and effectiveness.

Step 15: The secret sauce

Thus far, I’ve provided you with a practical guide to getting the most out of a video project. However, I haven’t yet dug into the secret sauce that makes the most successful videos. The truth is, there isn’t an exact formula for creating an overnight viral sensation. The very nature of human behaviour means that sometimes the stars align with just the right combination of factors to be a hit with people, and sometimes they do not. But here’s what you can do to make sure your videos have the absolute best possible chance. When you interrogate the video, you are planning and the final video campaign you have created, ask yourself whether it meets the following criteria on the next page.

IS IT STRATEGIC?
Do I have specific objectives in mind, and have I kept true to those?

IS IT RELEVANT TO THAT AUDIENCE?
Will they engage with it because it speaks to them and no one else?

IS IT TARGETED?
Have I understood the audience I am trying to reach and focused my energy on them?

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Have I got a central concept, hook or purpose behind my video that makes sense for people?

HOW IS THE EXECUTION?
Is the video engaging with good storytelling? Is it appropriately formatted with consistent branding?

IS IT VISIBLE?
Have I done the hard job of getting this video out to people via my marketing channels?

If you’re looking for a video production company to support you with your next project, then do get in touch with the Small Films team. We offer a wide range of video production services