Whilst there’s no doubt that video is shaping up to become the dominant medium on the internet, creating a professional and slick looking marketing film is not an easy task. Whether you opt to commission a video with a production agency, or look to create your video content strategy and productions in-house, or with limited outsourcing, this guide will give you an idea of the various considerations and steps involved in the process, from planning to activation.
Whilst many of these steps will not apply or be needed with types of lower budget video content such as product demos or vlogs, they will all come into play if you are looking to create a big standalone brand or promotional production.
1. Audience profiling: All great video content strategies should start by getting a firm understanding of who the intended audience is and what kind of content they are seeking out.
2. Content audit: An audit of your existing content and content strategy will help identify content gaps and offer up an existing framework upon which to build upon.
3. Competitor research: Understanding what your competitors are doing right (or wrong) will give you invaluable insights into potential creative and tactical approaches.
4. Activation planning: All video content needs to reach its intended audience if it is to stand a chance of success. Activation planning will identify the channels and distribution tactics that will achieve this.
5. Establishing brand personality: The success of any brand film will ultimately come down to the kind of emotional response you can provoke in your audience. Knowing what content to create means defining your brand image, as well as your audience. This will then inform creative elements such as style, tone and emotional approach.
6. Success criteria and video metrics: There are a lot of video marketing metrics out there that will help you establish ROI and ascertain success. The last stage in the planning phase is to identify which you will be tracking.
7. Creative development: Depending on the nature of your marketing film (a how to video will be very different from a big brand film after all) this will include script writing, art direction, shot lists, interview questions, etc.
8. Casting talent: Whether it’s actors, extras, presenters or even your own employees, sourcing and casting the people who’ll be in front of the camera is all part of the creative process.
9. Asset and graphic creation: Whether for a dedicated animation or for graphics that augment live action content, it is important to consider what assets you need to create ahead of time.
10. Storyboarding: A storyboard helps everyone involved visualise what the final film will look like. It is not only a very useful aid for client signoff but will also be used by the director, art director and others involved in the post production process.
Video Pre Production
11. Production management: Many productions will be complex affairs with a variety of props, actors, set components and equipment involved. The production manager will act as project manager, coordinating everything from packing and transportation to lunch breaks.
12. Scheduling shoot dates: There are a lot of logistics involved in some video productions, especially when filming on site or in multiple locations. Shooting scheduling has to be thoroughly planned and signed off in advance.
13. Locations and permissions: Some locations will require permission for you to film there and these need to be sorted beforehand, along with all appropriate health and safety regs and red tape.
14. Directing and filming: The production phase will be overseen by the director who is ultimately responsible for translating the signed off brief and storyboard onto film. Whilst some clients will want to be present on set during this stage (which is inevitable if filmed at their offices or on site) the director will have the final creative say over the shoot.
15. Art direction, set building, props and styling: If your shoot has an art director they will be involved in signing off all sets, props and costumes pre-shoot in realising the creative look and feel of the production during the shoot.
16. Talent and crew management: Location filming can involve a lot of people from crew to cast and all these people need to know where to be and when. These individuals will all need to be fed and, in some instances, be found accommodation.
17. Photography: Taking behind the scenes photographs or even footage (whether that’s of what’s going on behind the camera or in front of it) will give you additional assets you can deploy across digital channels along with the finished film itself.
18. Lighting and sound: Lighting and sound are essential elements in creating a compelling looking film. On a professional film set there will be dedicated sound crew and lighting technicians to do this.
Video Post Production
19. Editing: A typical film shoot will produce many tens of hours of footage and it’s then the job of the editor to go through this and stich it together into one final cut. There are many stages to the editing process and there may be involvement from an art director, as well as the client, who may want to see individual sequences.
20. Motion graphics and animation: During the editing phase, any animated sequences are added to the final cut. This could be anything from a simple logo animation, kinetic typography or merging animated environments, backgrounds, props or even animated characters with live action footage.
21. Sound recording and music editing: The visual impact of a great marketing film will be lost if you can’t get the sound and music spot on. Soundtrack will have been agreed and set during the planning phase and it is the job of the editor to cut the footage in such a way as the soundtrack and effects compliment the imagery.
22. Voiceover recording: A lot of marketing films contain voiceovers and these now have to be recorded. If your film features animated characters that talk, then this stage is pretty fundamental and will involve a director to get the best out of your voiceover artists.
23. Colouring and grading: Professional looking marketing film is the result of technical expertise and proper post production. The act of colouring and grading will ensure your video has a consistent look and tone that is appropriate to your marketing message.
Activation strategy can be split into three distinct elements, optimisation, asset creation and pushing content to audiences.
24. Integration into digital channels: Your video needs to be properly integrated into all your digital assets, whether that’s your website, YouTube channel or email marketing campaigns. This requires thought as to description wording, screen placement, embedding and on-page calls to action.
25. Keyword optimisation: As well as pushing your content to potential audiences, you should also be optimising your video to maximise its search presence. This should entail proper keyword research to inform properly optimised descriptions, titles, meta when placing on YouTube and other social channels.
26. Promotion through social channels: Social channels, along with email, will likely be where the majority of your viewers will come from. Well planned social media promotion can put your video in front of potentially huge audiences but it’s vital you have done your planning to identify who these audiences are and whether you’re creating content they’re likely to watch.
27. eCRM to target markets: Electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) systems can help you not only target those prospects you have contact information for, but accurately understand the omnichannel journey they take as customers. This data will be invaluable when it comes to refining and modifying your campaigns.
28. Paid media for target regions / groups: Organic activation may require supplementing with paid promotion across social and other digital channels. It’s likely that you’ll want your content to be seen by people who aren’t currently customers, prospects or fans. Paid promotion, using a platform like AdWords to create a TrueView campaign for your video to be promoted on YouTube, will get it in front of viewers you may not have reached through organic means alone.
29. PR with traditional media and bloggers: It may be appropriate to engage in PR with traditional media to create more attention around your video launch. Blogger outreach will also help promote it amongst targeted readerships.
30. Track and measure results: During the planning phase it’s important to identify metrics and KPIs to monitor performance. Depending on your marketing objectives, these could include views, watch time, social shares and correlating it up to CTA related actions like click through rate, increased enquiries, brand mentions, etc.