by Hal Landen

(Originally published in Sales & Marketing Executive Report)

Happy clients are the best way to build a solid production business – a far better way than any advertising. And just a few happy clients that keep coming back to update and duplicate older videos, producing new videos and spreading the word about you will eventually add tens of thousands of dollars to your annual income.

One key to producing client-pleasing videos on a small budget is planning.

  • 1. In video this plan is called the script. It is a complete blueprint for the production and editing of the video. It describes every visual and audio element just as an architect’s plans specify every detail of a building. Great buildings, movies and videos are all made on paper first. So whether you hire a script writer or do it yourself, take the time to get the script right before you spend any time or money producing a video.The length of your video is another element that is determined in the script. In marketing videos, shorter is better so try to keep it under 2 or 3 minutes. Your video should be clear, concise, and compelling. Save more detailed information for a web page or printed fact sheet.
  • 2. Since the audience is the only reason to make a marketing video, it’s quite important to define the target audience including their concerns and aspirations. Then list a few main benefits – show how your client’s company can solve problems, save money, or improve the lives of this target audience. Every element in the video must build on these benefits rather than merely describing the features of a product or service.
  • 3. Plan the distribution of the video before you produce it. Plan on uploading it to the client’s YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and other social accounts. Embed the video in the client’s website. A video can also be shown at trade shows as an “endless loop” and used in one-on-one meetings. Link to the video in newsletters, press releases, email signatures and articles. A widely distributed video helps both you and your client. If international distribution is a possibility, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to produce a foreign language version if the English version uses an off-camera narrator and text testimonials rather than people who speak on-camera.
  • 4. Study the best TV commercials and marketing videos that promote a similar product or service to the one you’re promoting. Adapting the styles and techniques of others is a time-honored tradition in filmmaking. Just don’t infringe copyrights by reproducing any of the content of other films. One successful technique that is easily adapted to the low-budget video is the series of short testimonials. Rather than hiring actors, ask satisfied customers why they like the company.
  • 5. If your client has attractive publicity photos, consider using them in the video. Some very effective videos and films have been constructed entirely from still photographs. One catch — a photo can appear on the screen for only a few seconds.
  • 6. Learning to research and use keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most valuable things you can do to promote a video. Google Adwords and Bing Ads allow you to try sample advertising campaigns for particular keywords without spending money. Using the best keywords in the title, tags, descriptions, and other metadata fields of a video will make an enormous difference in how search engines find the video. Nearly as important as the keywords is the thumbnail which represents the video. For more information see Marketing With Digital Video, Chapter 11. The book shows how to produce business videos.
  • 7. When filming, always shoot a lot of close-ups. On the small screen these close-up shots are generally more compelling than wide shots. The growth of smart phones and other small devices mean that more people will watch your video on small screens. Close-ups are also a lot easier and cheaper to light, arrange and shoot.
  • 8. Like script writing, good editing makes a major difference in how successful the video is for both you and your client. Keep the show moving and always directed to the most important viewer – your client’s clients. Ruthlessly eliminate anything that’s weak. Remember, shorter marketing videos are generally better than longer ones. Keep your client involved in the editing process just as you do in the scripting process. A professional narrator and just-the-right music are essential.
  • 9. Motion graphics and animations can add a lot to a video, but can also be expensive to produce. So if the budget is tight, concentrate on a telling a story that addresses the needs of your audience.
  • 10. Let the press know about the video. Think of a compelling headline the video portrays. Local Business Helps County. Send every appropriate local journalist a well-written press release announcing the video you just produced. Send them a link to the video and offer them a DVD. Be sure to include information about your client. The story is about the client. This will help your business and your client’s.
  • 11. Even though I only promised ten tips, I want to give you one more – Never promise more than you deliver. ALWAYS deliver more than you promise. Your clients will keep coming back to you for years to come.The above is distilled from the course Professional Video Producer, item #77