Video production has grown to be a supertrend of digital communication. Understanding the planning, script writing and production of videos is starting to become a similar skill to creating PowerPoint presentations.
We've put together this guide to help people working in marketing and communications in their daily work regarding video. Of course, the internet is filled with many tutorials and guides on the technical and aesthetic applications of video production, but not so many that focus on driving results, which is what we'll cover with this guide.
We've split this guide to four parts, the first being an introduction to the usefullness of videos in marketing. The second part will cover the important aspects of result oriented planning, target audiences and purchase process, while the third one is about the planning, scriptwriting and production of videos. The fourth section goes over some lessons about how to verifying the success of the videos.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Where to start
- How to set goals for a video production?
- Different types of video and where to use them in the purchasing process
- Target audiences: defining buyer personas and how and where to reach them?
- The importance of media planning
- The script
- What is the video production process?
- How long does video production take?
- What is the role of the customer during the production?
- How much does video production cost?
1. WHY SHOULD YOU USE VIDEO IN MARKETING?
Videos communicate stories much more powerfully than still images, audio or text do on their own. Videos are also easier to recall than text or images - an important factor in today's content filled world. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that all types of video - from short-form TikToks to on-demand streaming series and movies - are constantly on the rise. Video is everywhere, and it is here to stay. Adding video to your portfolio of content formats will be a key ingredient for success in the years to come.
2. Planning a result oriented video production
2.1 Where to start
As all other content used in commercial settings, video too must be planned with the target audience in mind. Since you're investing money in the production, it's important to know what kind of results you want that money to turn into. Your plan should include notes about which channels you plan on reaching your target audience and inspire them to respond to your call to action of choice.
Contrary to popular belief, planning a video doesn't start from thinking about how the video should look and sound. Instead, you should be starting from asking "why" behind the whole project. Why do you need it, what message are you looking to deliver. Who is your message meant to reach and where should it reach them? Defining these is the first step to moving away from a "it works if it works" mindset. After this you will reach the "how" of the video itself as you decide on a video type and begin planning the content for the video.
💡 Tip 💡
Our Video brief -template helps you define your goals and to take into account all other aspects that must be planned before starting production.
2.2 How to set goals for a video production?
2.2.1 Purchasing process
A common framework for defining the goals for a video production - or the production of any content, really - is the purchasing process. By laying out all your existing and planned content based on which stage in the purchasing process it answers to you can fill out gaps where there are any.
The purchasing process is typically split into 4 stages: awareness stage, consideration stage, action stage and nurturing. Below are some examples of how different video types can solve problems in different stages of the purchasing process:
- Your target audience isn't aware of you and what you offer? ➔ Raise awareness with videos that communicate the core promise of your business, such as brand videos.
- Your target audience knows of you, but doesn't understand what exactly you offer? ➔ Get them familiar with your company with company and explainer videos.
- Your target audience knows you and what you offer, but they won't make a purchase? ➔ Increase your sales with an advertising video with a strong offer they'll find hard to say no to.
- Are your customers satisfied with their purchase, but won't really spread the word about you on the internet? ➔ Send them a video explaining how to best use the product or service to their benefit, along with a call to action for leaving a positive review.
A good rule of thumb to producing videos is that a single video should only attempt to solve a single problem. The more concrete your problem is, the easier it is to solve it with video.
2.2.2 Optional framework: SMART
Another framework for planning or clarifying the goal is the SMART-model. SMART stands for:
Specific. The video (or marketing action) needs to have a clear and exact goal. Without one all the time and money spent will be in vain.
Measurable. The goal needs to be something that can be measured. Only by measuring results can there be an evaluation if the video was a step in the right direction or not.
Attainable. The goal needs to be realistically attainable.
Relevant. The goal needs to support the business and be part of a larger whole. It also needs to take into account channel specific details - for an example on social media it's rarely useful to measure how many viewed the video to the end.
Timely. The goal should have a clear deadline, for example end of quarter or end of year.
A company has a new web-based service and they wish to find more users for it. They'd like 40 new trial users during the campaign which is set to end at the end of the next calendar month. They run the campaign with a video that describes the service and its features on social media. The video ad brings the users to a landing page where they can create their user credentials to try out the service.
Plan based on the SMART-model
Specific: We want 40 new test users to the service.
Measurable: We are measuring the amount of new test user credentials.
Attainable: We have the advertising setup ready for running the finished video as an ad campaign to a specific target audience on social media and a secured budget for running the ads.
Relevant: Increasing the amount of test users gives us valuable information for improving the service and giving us an edge compared to our competition. Some of the test users may even stay on the service and become real customers and evangelists.
Timely: We must gather the 40 test users through the campaign by end of next month.
2.3 Different types of video and where to use them in the purchasing process
Next we'll go over some of the most typical video types used in different stages of the purchasing process.
1/4 Videos for the awareness stage
If your target audience isn't aware of your brand, you're in need of content that boosts awareness. Brand videos are typically stunning in their visuals, entertaining to watch and packed with valuable information. They are an important tool for builing awareness as well as building up your brand image.
Brand videos are brought to the attention of the target audience via paid marketing. Of course you can also distribute the video via organic channels, but the meaning is lost as the point is to reach people who don't yet know you, while on organic channels the people who end up seeing the video will already be familiar with your brand.
Another type of brand video is branded entertainment, which typically simulates informative television show formats, such as cooking shows, talk shows and news. The idea of branded entertainment is to provide useful and valuable information which gets linked with your brand in a positive setting, improving your brand's image and position in the target audience's mind.
Explainer videos are slowly but surely becoming a popular video type used in the awareness stage. They are a relatively powerful way of communicating new concepts ot the viewer in today's digital environments. A well-made explainer video articulates the benefits of the product, service or concept quickly and clearly.
2/4 Videos in the consideration stage
Testimonials, interviews and demonstration videos produced for the consideration stage are usually longer than brand videos. They focus on answering questions which the target audience is asking from the internet. Videos in the consideration are similar to search engine optimized blog posts; informative, trust-worthy and depending on the topic, long-form.
Testimonial videos are one of the most leveraged video types for the consideration stage, especially ones that feature real customers or users. The power of testimonial videos comes from the very fact that the story is told by the person involved. If a sales representative told the same story, it wouldn't hold the same power. Testimonial videos work for many purposes, the most usual ones being customer and employee testimonials.
Interview videos give the company's expertise a face and a voice. Interview videos are great for answering questions that may linger in a customer or job applicants mind; what is working at this company like or how does this company develop their products and services, and who are the people doing it? Of course, not every employee is a good pick for an interview video. A common pitfall is to choose someone who is known to being talkative and social, even if those attributes don't necessarily translate well to performance in front of a camera.
3/4 Videos in the action stage
Tactical videos meant for driving conversions are one of the most popular types of video. Short and varied in their execution, tactical videos usually focus on communicating a single, clear sales proposition. These videos are most effective on viewers who are close to converting and simply need a reminder.
4/4 Videos in the nurturing stage
Returning customers are important, which means they need to be nurtured to ensure their return. A common tactic is to offer the customer instruction and FAQ-videos to help them get the best value out of their purchase. Depending on the product or service these videos could be anything - how to maintain the product so it stays in peak condition or tips and tricks for using the service even more efficiently. Videos in the nurturing stage are also very good for building a positive brand image. By providing value even beyond the point of purchase, you are building trust with your customers who may become your brand ambassadors down the line.
2.4 Target audiences: defining buyer personas and how / where to reach them?
Advretising platforms and targeting options for marketing
All advertising platforms can be split into two types; global or local platforms. YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok are examples of large, globally* used platforms, whereas television stations offering advertising options depends on the country and region.
The most important factor for deciding the advertising platform is the target audience that the video is meant to reach. Different demographics use and prefer different platforms. Some global trends are rather clear, such as that to reach citizens over 60-years-old, it is most effective to use television, while millenials and gen z's (20 - 40-year-olds) can be reached via different social media platforms.
It will depend on your platform of choice how detailed your targeting can be. Social media platforms, along with YouTube, tend to have very precise options for not only age and region, but also interests and when the users are active. Television on the other hand is less detailed; you pay for a certain amount of plays during a specific time slot, on a specific channel. Whether or not you reach your target audience via television will depend on how well you know their watching habits, as well as your budget. Certain time-slots will always be more expensive than others.
*Some exceptions always exist, but all of the 3 mentioned platforms reach almost every country and region in the world
Why define a target audience?
➔ Your video campaigns will produce better results, when the content is truly valuable to the customer
➔ Your incoming leads are more likely to purchase because your offer matches their need
➔ Growing the size of your existing accounts becomes easier and churn is reduced
➔ You have a better understanding of your customer's challenges, needs and wishes and you can answer to them with your marketing
Understanding your target audience can help in for example:
➔ Planning video content
➔ Choosing distribution channels
➔ Content planning
➔ Positioning within your market
➔ Developing your marketing and brand
➔ Figuring out your unique sales propositions
➔ Developing your products and services
➔ Creating content for your website
➔ Improving your sales materials
➔ Decide on themes and tactics for your marketing
2.5 The importance of media planning
Regardless of your goal and target audience, it's important to define the distribution channels and formats before production. Some channels, such as YouTube, will be better for reach. In general, social media channels tend to be the best for driving website traffic because that is what the users have become used to. Some demographics, such as young Gen Z's, can be reached the best via TikTok and Snapchat. For B2B campaigns you might want to utilize LinkedIn where you can target people based on their job titles and industries.
Once you know your main distribution channels, you can decide on some crucial details regarding the video: should it be landscape or vertical, or perhaps you need both versions? 6 seconds, 15 seconds or even a minute long? YouTube bumper ads can only be a maximum of 6 seconds, while television ads can be longer since the viewer cannot skip them. TikTok and Snapchat offer a lot of ad types, but almost all of them are in vertical format.
Once you have clarified your distribution channels and what limitations they set on your video, you can finally move onto planning the video's content.
3. SCRIPTING AND PRODUCING VIDEOS
3.1 The Script
Once the goals and the target audience are clear, it's time to start building the video's script. And even though there are many different ways to build one, all scripts have one thing in common - they are build to communicate an idea.
The importance of having an idea
An idea is a topic or insight around which the content is built. So at the same time, it’s the beginning of everything and on the other hand only the beginning. Good ideas are extremely important, but at the same time worthless if nothing concrete comes from them. One of the most important features of an idea is its power to inspire action. A good idea first motivates the screenwriter and then the team to do their best to bring it to life.
Good idea is often recognized by the fact that you don't need more than a sentence or two to explain it. A good idea causes a nice little tickle in your stomach and excites people hearing about it to take it further. Good ideas also consider the context. The better the scriptwriter understands the target audience and the publishing channel, the more likely it is that the recipient welcome it.
In the scripting phase, it is also important to know the distribution channels and formats to be used, so that the video corresponds to the viewing culture and expectations of the selected channels (e.g. on Facebook, videos are often watched without sound).
A good, comprehensive script considers all aspects of the production. However, some video types don't benefit from a plan that is highly detailed. For example documentary videos create emotion through authenticity. By following a tight script it is likely that something interesting is lost in the process.
With large-scale productions like brand films, a detailed script is a must. With fictive productions you usually have a bigger production team and the more people you have the more there are places for misunderstandings. A detailed scripts communicates the idea you are bringing to life in a way that is as unequivocal as possible.
In today's digital, content-filled world people are filled with expectations regarding the content they're faced with. If your audience is expecting to see a video discussing a specific topic, your video should answer that expectation. If your content answers the viewer's expectation, they will watch most if not all of it.
Expectations are nowadays connected heavily with the distribution channel and format of the video. Have you ever went to TikTok to find analytical videos about the world economy, or entered a movie theather to watch DIY-instructions for fixing your bicycle on the big screen?
People will skip, or at least want to skip, content that doesn't match their expectations for the channel they're watching it in. Which is why the distribution channels need to be taken into account as the script is being written. Every channel comes with their own individual set of expectations, and if you break those expectations, you will be wasting your efforts.
Leverage the power of stories
One thing is true regardless of channel: you will need the power of stories. Regardless of content, we expect it to follow some kind of story arc, the most usual and well-known being the traditional story arc.
The power of stories comes from the fact that for all of history, humans have used stories as a tool for sharing knowledge, for entertainment and for education. It is a structure so ingrained in our being that we don't need additional tricks for understading a story.
A story, at its' simplest, is a collection of cause and effect taking turns to reveal some truth about the world. The most common version is a story with a beginning, a climax, and an end. In marketing this structure is usually presented like this:
- Beginning: a scene with a relatable problem for the target audience is set. This could be a character being puzzled at leaky pipes or organizing their home.
- Climax: the character tries out the proposed solution to their problem. They find it to work as a solution.
- End: The character is pleased with having the problem gone.
A good script is capable of beginning at the very last moment of the story where the problem can still be understood. As an example, the ad above could have also started with brewing the coffee so that the despair and tension would grow every second, until at the middle-point we would witness the character opt for their despaired attempt. This would be a logical structure, but would it be interesting? After all, which setting creates more expectations: to see a person brew coffee, or to see them pour coffee directly into an envelope?
Since the beginning of a video rather directly decides if your video will gain any views, the climax is mostly taking the role of keeping the viewer's attention and to answer to their expectations. To ensure this, your script should be conscise with a relatively fast pacing. In the example above, after an entertaining beginning we reach the climax through the "we have a better way", accompanied with a buildup in the music. The ending comes with equal haste; the new, post-solution world is showcased with a character drinking coffee with a pleased expression.
3.2 What is the video production process?
The production begins with receving a request from a customer. The request is examined and conceptualized into a full-fledged production. The foundation for the planning comes from the customer's needs, their target audience and the effect they want the video to have on the viewer.
The target audience and goal of the video guides the decision for choosing the distribution channels and relevant formats for the video. Once these are clear, they will support in the scripting because different distribution channels and formats will set limitations on the video and its' storytelling.
During planning it is of course important to know the total budget for the project, because the budget also sets limitations on the production. Some customers might already have an idea of what the want included in the video, which will save them some costs during the scripting phase. If the script is made from scratch however, it is typically done with several drafts. These drafts are variations of the script which are sent to the customer for feedback and discussion. Drafts can go through several iterations before the final one is agreed on.
The script is then turned into a production plan that holds the information for all the details; where the production will be done (a studio, an outdoors location etc.), props, costumes, actors and so on. The production plan can be updated all the way until the shooting starts. If the production is very detailed and specific, a storyboard may be made to accompany the base script and plan.
After shooting the video moves to the editing phase, where the first editt is a so called raw edit, with only the relevant cuts, storytelling and a rough version of the video's soundscape. The raw is sent to the customer for approval, and once it's been approved, it goes through the color grading phase and the rest of the graphical elements and sounds are added in. This version is also sent for approval so that there is no extra work once all the different distribution versions of the video are edited.
Unlike one might think, the process doesn't end with uploading the finished versions to the distribution channel and running the ads. Once the ads have started running, it's important to analyse the results. Analysing all the data the videos produce in their respective distribution channels is an imporant part of the whole process for understanding the video's successfulness. Was the beginning of the video interesting enough or did the video get skipped? How many of the viewers watched until the end? Going through all the details will provide insight on what works, what doesn't and what could be improved in the next production.
3.3 How long does video production take?
Straightforward productions, like interviews and how to-videos, can be finalised with a very fast schedule, whereas productions that require a lot of preparation, staff and creative scripting can take several weeks or even months, depending on their scale. Several approval phases will also lenghten the production. If the schedule is tight to begin with, it's important to be open-minded and understanding about the problems the tight schedule will cause. Keeping the atmosphere on the set relaxed but focused on the task at hand is the key to managing a tight schedule.
3.4 What is the role of the customer during the production?
In most production the customer's role in the production is focused on providing insight about the target audience and the main goals for the video. It is the customer's duty to brief the production company about the production and to ensure that the production plan matches with the given brief. If the production is shot on the customer's property or requires materials such as logos or graphical elements, it is the customer's duty to ensure the coordination and delivery of these materials to the production company.
During shooting it is desirable, but not mandatory, for the customer to be present. The main value of the customer being present during shooting is in the event of on-the-fly changes. Being able to discuss the changes as they're encountered and to agree on the follow-up actions is important for ensuring trust and a smooth partnership in production.
Once shooting is done, all the planning and discussions will finally take shape as the customer gets to see the first edit. If the result doesn't please the customer, it is on them to gather all comments and to compile them into a list that can be acted upon.
3.5 How much does video production cost?
The price for a production depends on several variables. The amount of production staff, time spent on the script, days needed for shooting, the studio or location for shooting, possible rental equipment, 3rd party staff such as actors, voice actors, makeup artsists, costumers - everything requires its' portion from the budget. Some costs are also dependant on where the final video will be shown, because some actors' payments and the royalties for music will depends on the distribution channel and volume of impressions.
The customer's budget is usually the biggest limit when an offer for a production is being formed. Some video types are less expensive by default because they require less pre-production and staff, such as customer testimonials and product demonstrations. More story-driven videos, like brand videos, are usually at the higher end of the budget spectrum.
4. Metrics of video success
As you plan the production and its' goals, you should also think about how you plan on measuring success. If you opted to use the SMART-framework, you'll already have some idea of a measurement for success. Common metrics are reach (amount of viewer's reached), impressions (how many views the video gained) and the amount of completions (how many viewer's watched until the end). These common metrics aren't always the best for measuring if the video helped drive business goals forward. They're usually paired with some other metrics, such as landing page views, conversion rates and completed purchases for a better view on the effects of the campaign.
4.1 Metrics based on different campaign goals
Once you've set the goals as covered in chapter 2.2, you will have a clearer view on what your metrics could be. Revisit your main goal; are you after brand awareness, increasing sales or improving customer experience?
Increasing brand awareness with video
Brand awareness is best measured with reach, and more specifically how many of your target audience members did you reach. Reaching the wrong people can hardly be called an achievement. Besides reach, you can keep an eye on the number of people who watched further than 3 seconds. Taking a look at where most viewer's drop off is also a valuable insight. The reactions to your video are also valuable information.
Influencing opinions with video
People both inside and outside your target audience have an opinion on your brand, regardless of how you've communicated yourself to them. When your goal is to influence these opinions, it will take a longer time to see the results of your labor. A common way of measuring opinions is a simple questionnaire, collected both before and after your campaign. The important questions will be has the respondent's opinion changed after the campaign, do they see your business any differently compared to your competition?
Increasing sales with video
With sales, the most important metric are conversion rates. After seeing the video did your target audience convert by leaving their contact information, subscribing to your newsletter or reading that blog post you shared? Reactions are also useful when measuring campaigns meant for sales, but the conversion rates will always be the most important.
Improving customer experience with video
When aiming to improve customer experience, you have to first think about whether or not your content will even be of use to your customers. Easy places to start are questions and problems that are frequently handled in customer support, such as how-to-use instructions. Customer experience is another goal that takes a long time to show changes.
As we briefly mentioned in chapter 3.2., a video production doesn't end at the distribution stage. Analysing the results of your campaign is a crucial step in moving towards result-oriented video marketing. The harsh truth is, your first video campaign is unlikely to provide you with mindblowing results. Getting the results you're after will require several campaigns that each learn and improve on the one before.
But what are the key details to look at as you plan the next video campaign?Impressions and view rates won't tell you anything about how well the video itself performed. On most platforms, you are paying to have your video shown to users to begin with. To gain any insight about the video itself, you'll be looking at thumbstopping, retention and activation rates.
Thumbstopping is the amount of viewers who stayed with the video for at least 3 seconds.
Retention is the amount thumbstopped viewers who watched until the end.
Activation rate is the amount of valuable actions taken, such as ad clicks or conversions.
With these keys in hand you should be capable of beginning your journey with video marketing without major mishaps.
Don't forget to grab our Video Brief template - it's free!