There's no quicker way to waste a marketing budget than aimlessly creating a marketing video. The little director inside of you screams with delight as you point your videographer this way and that, smugly shouting "Action!", or a carefully considered "Lets do one more take".
It certainly beats sitting at your desk staring at Adwords. But enthusiasm without strategy always ends in disaster. To judge the quality of video content, we first need to identify the problem it is designed to fix. As much as creatives will tell you art is subjective, when creating visual content for businesses and brands, a video first needs to be planned objectively for the business problem it needs to solve.
So why are you making a video?
To promote a new product? To showcase a new location? To target a new specific demographic? Each business problem requires a different creative approach and needs to be targeted to the intended audience. Which brings us to the first point on our list…
1) Am I targeting the end-user?
Creating video content without a focus on the end user is like loading up a mouse trap with cheese, without asking “Do mice actually like cheese?”. Fun fact…mice do like cheese, but after some rapid google searches, it turns out they much prefer chocolate. This is important! If you know your audience (aka the mice) prefer chocolate, then we can leverage their interests and tailor the video (aka the trap) to be most effective at attracting them.
If your videographer isn’t asking you who your intended audience is, there should be alarm bells ringing in your head. What typically follows is the videographer turning up on the day and shooting what they see, in a beautiful fashion, but shot based upon what they think is attractive, not the end user.. John Smith Videos LTD may have a thing for the colour red, yet your audience actively despises it.
Going a step further, and we’re getting personal now...
The video is not for you. It’s for your audience.
Unless you are the target demographic, your personal preference in music, colours, shots etc, won’t be indicative of what your end user responds to. You may know the brand like the back of your hand, but you need to be able to strategise and critique objectively with the intended audience in mind.
2) Does the beginning give context?
The opening 3 seconds of a video are vital to keep viewers watching your content, in fact according to FACEBOOK MARKETING STATS it’s now down to 1.5 seconds on mobile devices. If your target audience isn't immediately given a reason to stay, they won’t. It’s as simple as that. There's a world full of media out there just a swipe away. So how do we keep them? We give them context.
“Is this relevant to me?” is a question the viewer subconsciously asks themselves. If your brand sells non-stick frying pans targeting an audience interested in food, the opening shot needs to engage them with their interests. If the viewer feels the context is relevant to their interests their viewing length increases, as does the likelihood of them experiencing the full message, which increases the chance they will engage with your brand.
Another powerful tool in your arsenal is to provide context by leveraging the power of your brand itself. If your brand is well known and loved, it’s faithful followers will trust them to deliver information relevant to them. Immediately identifying your brand uses the power of framing to tell the viewer “whatever you’re about to see, trust us, it’s relevant to you because you love us.”
Take for example the incredible Cadbury’s Gorilla, in the air tonight advert. The opening shot is a cinematic redesign of their strap-line and logo. The marketing team at Cadbury cleverly utilised the prestige of their established brand to immediately provide context, and intrigue, holding their audience for 90 seconds of gorilla goodness.
3) Is the ending satisfying?
The beginning of a video is vital for grabbing attention, but in terms of converting a view into a click the end needs to... SLAAAAP (professional term). The way a video ends dictates whether the viewer engages with your brand or simply goes about their day. How do you want to leave the viewer feeling? Elated, moved, empowered, educated? The ending is an opportunity to incite an emotional purchase decision. It’s an unconscious feeling most viewers aren't aware of, and it’s something your video should take advantage of. We most commonly see this done badly with an abrupt ending to a video that leaves the viewer feeling deflated and uncomfortable. The sudden jolt and unexpected culmination creates an unconscious dissatisfaction that results in low engagement.
That doesn’t mean a satisfying ending should be mellow, it can be hyped, it can be emotional but whatever it is, it needs to feel complete. The user should expect the ending to happen and be led there through the music, graphics, call to actions, voice overs and on-screen talent.
In our projects I typically like to deliver this experience through music, and depending on the objectives, when looking for soundtracks my team regularly look for “soaring” music that introduces, builds to a crescendo and then brings the viewer back down to earth to finish. The music guides the viewer and we’ll match the visuals to the tempo of the music, using snappier shots at its height before slowing down the visuals to provide a complete experience.
Here is an example of doing just that with a brand video the good people at Everview created for Active Play Education, a children’s activities organisation with a focus on enrichment, not just fun.
4) Does it tell a story?
Every video should tell a story. Less ‘sit down young boy and listen’, and more in terms of a visual narrative told by the order and style of the shots selected. When videos aren’t planned they become sporadic and the narrative mirrors this, created with whatever footage was captured on the day.
It’s easy to shirk responsibility to the videographer in the hope that they come up with a Banger Video (another professional term), but again going back to forgetting the user, they tend to focus on picking the shots that are visually pleasing to them. A strong brand video has a beginning, middle and end, and the shots should reflect this.
Take aerial drone shots for example, these are an amazing way to start a video. They establish the scene, offering the viewer a compelling angle to take in the surroundings. A sweeping drone shot traveling toward the main focus of the video, acts as an introduction and leads the viewer in, whereas the same shot travelling away from the focus fairs better at the end of a video implicitly telling the viewer “We are leaving now, say your goodbyes”, mentally preparing them for a satisfying ending (see point 3).
Picking shots based on how they make the viewer feel is a much stronger position to encourage interaction. Introduce them to the video with eye-catching imagery to provide context, stimulate an emotional response in the middle, and provide a satisfying conclusion with a call to action that ignites … well... action.
5) Can the content be repurposed?
To round up this eclectic list we have probably the most common but easily fixed mistake we see marketing managers making. Every piece of content created should be repurposable. A single brand video can be crafted into multiple social media posts, teasers, content for future videos, testimonials and endless other applications.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, Instagram, Bebo (if you know, you know) every modern day platform loves video content, algorithms are built to find it and it’s the most effective way to get information across quickly. Especially for seasonal content, sometimes just filming a few variations of voice overs, shots and on screen spoken lines can result in opportunities to use the same content multiple times throughout the year.
When planning with your videographer or internal team, aim to maximise the marketing investment using their time to create content that can be repurposed for future campaigns.
And that’s a wrap, as with all success stories the magic happens in the planning stages - working tightly with your content creation team so they are aware of the end user, your vision, and the purpose of the video. Do this well and you’ll have a marketing video that grabs attention, elicits emotional responses and most importantly converts users to take action.
Until next time.