Do's & Don'ts of Making a Great Video for Your Business
March 5, 2017 | by Amyn Kaderali, Co-Founder of Reservoir Creative
So after months, maybe years of trying, you have finally convinced your boss that the company could use a great promo video to take your marketing efforts to another level. Once it’s done, you’ll show it on the company website, at trade shows and conferences, and on Youtube. It’ll be accessible everywhere and make a great impression on everyone who sees it. Your boss is excited and so are you. You’re going to be supervising this amazing video and everyone in the company will know you delivered in a big way. But… that’s much easier said than done. You have a limited budget and timeframe in which to pull it all off beautifully. Pitfalls abound. So what should you do? And what shouldn’t you do?
Lucky for you, there are lots of professionals (like us) offering commercial video production services. We’ve worked with dozens of clients of every stripe. We’ve seen the good and the bad. So here is some advice for you, “the client,” when you embark on this mission to make a corporate video:
1. DO understand the rule of “Cheap/Fast/Good.” The saying goes that you can only have two of the three. Want something Cheap and Good? It’ll take a long time. And something Cheap and Fast probably won’t be very good. Need it done “yesterday?” Well, to do it right is going to require more money (i.e. Not Cheap!) This rule never fails and, unfortunately, applies to pretty much anything in life.
2. DON’T think making a promotional video is easy. It’s easy to make a lousy video (just shoot it on your phone, for instance!) but quite challenging to make a good one.
3. DO know what you want to communicate. What’s the primary message you want to convey?
4. DON’T try to put too many ideas into one video and DON’T make this video just a visual “list” of your key corporate “selling points.”
5. DON’T take hiring the right video production company lightly. Your co-worker’s husband may have a fancy video camera but that doesn’t mean he knows how to put together a great video that captures the essence of your company and delivers a compelling message to the viewer.
6. DO use references. Ask your friends in other companies who they can recommend. Look at reels on the companies’ websites. Find other corporate videos you like and ask who made them. Get in touch. Get them to send you a budget.
7. DO know what your ballpark budget is and DON’T be vague about letting the vendor know the range of budget you have in mind. It’s very helpful for a video producer to know the parameters of what you can spend so they can help you make something good without skimping or overspending. Nothing is more frustrating than a prospective client asking for a quote without giving any sense of how much they are willing to spend. Is this a $5,000 video or $50,000? It makes a huge difference! If you give the bidding companies the courtesy of a “ballpark figure,” you will actually get accurate bids. Because if you don’t, someone’s $5,000 bid may sound great on paper but really involve one day of shooting, an out of date camera, no microphones and one light. (Cheap and fast, but not good). But if you say, “We are looking to spend between $17-25,000” then the producer knows to give you a realistic budget. They know they may not win the bid but at least they gave you a bid they felt was accurate and could deliver something you would be proud of. (Here is a very helpful article to check out).
8. DON’T micromanage. Your job may be in marketing but put some faith and trust in the person or company you’ve hired because they know how to actually make a video and (most likely) you don’t. Many of them went to film school and have been doing this a long time. Embrace their talents and ideas. More often than not, you will be glad you did.
9. DO spend time on an outline with your video director/producer. Try to nail down the message and “story” of the piece before you go out and shoot. This will save you money because you can be strategic and shoot what you need. In fact, in some instances, you can even write out exactly what you want each sound-bite to be and give these lines to your interviewees to say so you get exactly what you want.
10. DON’T feel you need to know everything. Focus on what you want to say and be open to ideas on how to get that message across. Admit when you’re not sure. Ask questions. If you’ve hired the right company, they will want to help you. They take pride in their work and want to make a great video for you.
11. DO: Look online for corporate videos you like (and one’s you don’t). Show them to your video director/producer so they have a better sense of the aesthetic that appeals to you. There are countless ways to film an interview, for instance. Do you like it when the subject looks straight into the camera, slightly to the side, or totally profile? Do you want two cameras shooting different angles? Do you want to see the whole room in a wide shot or are you more interested in a nice closeup? Showing samples of what you like will spark a constructive conversation, generate ideas and also help the producer-director know exactly what kinds of equipment (and how much) he/she will will need.
12. DON’T have too many “cooks in the kitchen.” Instead, have one point person on the project who communicates directly with the production company. That should probably be you. We understand that our corporate clients often need to gather feedback from multiple parties: the boss, the co-worker, the head of Marketing, etc. That’s fine but, instead of overwhelming the producer with conference calls and emails with dozens of “reply alls” from everyone involved, it’s better to have the video producer serve one master: you. Filter/compile your notes from your committee/group and deliver them as one document. Be the person who answers your producer’s questions about specific notes.
13. DO try to shoot as much as you can in a day. Hiring a video crew to shoot one interview per day over several days will cost a lot more than shooting all the interviews in one day. (This may be an obvious point but you’d be surprised how often it happens). If there are free hours in the day between interviews, have other things for them to shoot, like “B Roll” of the company’s offices, workers, the building, signage, manufacturing processes, etc.
14. DON’T skimp: It wasn’t an accident that those other promotional videos you saw online and liked so much were really nicely shot, featured attractive people and sounded perfect. Real money was spent on renting good cameras and lights and hiring a good location sound mixer, cinematographer and grips to set up a great set in a short amount of time. That woman in the video with the perfect hair and skin probably spent 45 minutes in a chair with a hair and makeup person. Hire one and your CEO will look great on camera too. Skimp and you may have a shiny, sweaty interview subject with hair sticking out in the wrong places. The camera will capture it all. Forever.
15. DO budget for color correction, music, motion graphics and a proper sound mix. Editing can take awhile and by the time you have a cut you’re happy with, you probably just want to be done with the piece and get it out there. Take a deep breath. You’ve come this far. With a little more time and money, you’d be amazed what can happen in post production. Music can add heartfelt emotion or energy to a piece that felt slow. Color correction can bring shots that seemed dull, flat or too dark back to life in vibrant, vivid ways. And a great sound mix will ensure that all the sound, music and effects are blended together at the right levels to ensure that anyone viewing your video on a laptop or iPad or big screen TV will hear what you are trying to communicate.
Keep these suggestions in mind as you move through the process and I'm very confident you will not only collaborate on a great promotional or advertising video for your company, you will even ENJOY making it!
Looking for help planning your next promotional video or digital marketing campaign? Reach out today and let's get the conversation started.
About The Author:
Amyn Kaderali is an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Reservoir Creative, a commercial video production company with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Find and connect with Amyn on LinkedIn.