Don’t waste money on corporate video
10 tips for commissioning better video content
Are you new to working video in a marketing or communications role, or just want to get a better return on your video spend? These are our top recommendations for getting more from your video projects.
1. It all starts with a good brief
Be really clear about what the video is for, who the audience is and what you want them to know, feel and do after watching it. If the video agency you’re briefing is clear on all this, it’s much easier for them to work out a creative solution that fits your budget. Creative thinking beats production values every time. Now write a quality brief and ensure you have a thorough conversation about it before asking for a proposal.
2. Be tight on the brief but loose on how you expect it to be answered.
If you are overly restrictive then you could be cutting yourself off from breakthrough solutions.
It can be tempting to create a plan yourself (especially if budgets are small) and prescribe everything for your chosen production team to save money. Obviously the project might be following a set design or series, or you have a very fixed scope that needs to be followed, but the chances are you’re handcuffing the creative process and making the production team’s challenge more complicated by listing what you want, without the expert knowledge of the production process they’ll have. Video creatives spend their weeks making and watching content, they should know a creative approach to fit your needs better than you will.
The more details you provide the more chance they have of producing something that’s successful. Think of it like a new building, you’re not doing the designing, you’re telling the architect what you need.
3. Brief with your brand in mind.
It may not be a ‘top of the funnel’ brand ad that you are creating – but it does need to be in tune with what the brand is about. Share everything you have. Involve the production team in your overall brand thinking and direction.
Your brand is everything from your font, logo, to values and mission. If you can share all of this as part of the brief you’re giving the brief even more context, as well as insights on your brand’s look and feel. If your company values are ambitious and punchy, the proposals can aim for that, but if they’re conservative and unflashy no time will be wasted on graffiti graphics and a grime soundtrack. And don’t forget the physical assets either, if you send your brand guidelines and logo over at the briefing stage, you won’t receive all the emails asking you for them when the project starts.
4. Stakeholders – less (fewer?) is more
Committees never make great – you know that.
The bigger your organisation the more people are likely to be interested in what you’re making. Do what you can to reduce the number of people who need to sign off what you’re doing. Try and get the bulk of the stakeholders to sign off the brief at the start, and find out who absolutely needs to be part of the production process when it starts. Slimming down the stakeholder group, as much as possible, will speed everything up and ensure your budget isn’t eaten up with costly reworkings to satisfy stakeholders who are out of touch with the project.
5. Storyboard. Storyboard. Storyboard.
Make sure you’ve asked for it. Make sure you’ve debated it. Make sure you (and your stakeholders) have agreed and committed to it.
Every project will be better for having a storyboard, however short, and even if it’s a written one. Knowing what the visuals will be, what each scene of the animation will look like, or what the shot will be and which part of the script it matches to, is the crucial element in the project. Not only is it the story of what happens, the production team use it as the reference for everything they do, and as the client you are clear what they are going to make. Getting agreement on this from everybody involved is essential to meeting the budget and schedule, and not least getting the video you want.
6. Make even your basics brilliant
Not all your video projects can be jaw-dropping spectacles of wonder.
Video is so ingrained across the marketing mix that you’ll probably need to be commissioning work from short, basic explainers or talking heads through to the grand ‘hero’ films about your company. But that doesn’t mean the quality should drop. Consider the ‘three buckets’ model for your content, if a video is a very short text explainer or talking head soundbite, does it do the basics brilliantly? Does it feel slick and professional?
Check the core elements – are they all on brand, are the audio and visuals as on point as they can be? If it’s not the right place for humour or risk taking, does it match your brand values and feel like something you’d be happy to show to a room of senior management?
7. Keep talking
Your brilliant brief was a good start but it doesn’t end there.
Any size of project will benefit from a kick off ‘hopes and fears’ session, whether it lasts 30 minutes or three hours. Get on Zoom, or better still go and meet in person. As the client you can set the background, say what you’re worried about, what hasn’t worked before with other companies and how you like to work. Read everyone’s body language, share some jokes, say what you don’t want, start the relationship. You may be speaking to each other every day for at least a few weeks. The better you all understand each other, the better your chances of a great video.
8. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Every video, however prosaic, should be approached with the knowledge that it will affect the reputation of your company. So treat every video as an opportunity to burnish that reputation – in however small a way. – Also an opportunity for lots of new content, not just the finished product (see diagram)
Video is the most exciting and powerful format available. So every project is an opportunity to create something great, it’s also putting your company and brand into motion, expressing your brand with visuals and audio. So don’t mess it up! Whether it’s a basic to be done brilliantly, or a game changer, you can affect your company’s reputation.
It’s also a great opportunity for creating a lot of effective content, even the simplest of projects can generate a lot of assets you can use across the marketing mix.
9. Schedules and deadlines are your friend.
Like all creative work, videos are never really finished, you just run out of time. That said, keeping to an agreed schedule ( the production agency should provide this based on your timeframes) is a big help for a smooth and successful outcome. Knowing when you need to review and feedback on drafts and sticking to these means the producton team and line up their schedules and resources to ensure you get the work on time and to the agreed budget. And a deadline also helps with momentum and keeping your project ‘front of mind’ with production team. Most productions, especially explainer animations, require production teams to immerse themselves the subject matter so they’ll know the project inside out. But when productions are delayed this specialist knowledge can start to be forgotten and has to be picked up again, which takes time. Delays on the stakeholder side can also have knock-on effects on the production schedule as the planned windows are missed, and availability of the different production elements (editors, animators, sound designers etc) changes.
And if a project drags on for months (or even years), it can be hit by changing costs, your own marketing objectives, brand values or even trends in video and culture.
10. How’s your video doing?
It’s done, uploaded. So what now?
Once your video is up on your website or YouTube, the hard work is done and you can stand back as the adulation pours in. But metrics matter and stakeholders will want to know their ROI. So make the most of the analytics offered by your website (if you don’t know how to get them – harass your IT team), hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo and your social channels. As well as numbers of views, you should also be able to find out watching time, and when viewers tend to stop watching. Word of mouth is also important, so as well as your stakeholders views, share it around internally and externally if possible, and ask for honest feedback.
Get in touch
If you’d like to have a chat about how to brief better, spend your budget more effectively, or even some ideas for a new project please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form below for a quick response.