Many companies develop videos to help tell their stories. What is the very first step companies should take when they think about developing a video – outside of hiring you?
Every video project starts by understanding the needs and wants of the audience. If that isn’t known, the first step is to find out. What will capture their attention, gain their interest, and convince them to care about a product, service or brand? Once an audience is understood and dissected for possible appeal, then the power of video – with all of its tools, such as tone, style, music, sound design, motion graphics, text, live action storytelling, etc. – can be creatively applied to crafting a video that delivers the right message to a defined audience.
What other things should companies consider?
Effective video comes from understanding the audience and deploying good design based on the application of appropriate video components to the delivery of message.
Video hates detail, but loves to entertain and provide content. The task is to shape the content to what video does well: storytelling, creating excitement, providing context for content, and engaging an audience through the crafted use of designed sound and moving images.
For example, unless we really are attracted to an automobile, we don’t want to know the engine specs or turning radius. But, once we’re attracted to the automobile, we may very well want to locate and read the specs. Video introduces and attracts. Print is great for delivering the detail.
Once armed with the message, audience profile, budget, and channel of delivery, then the video designer/writer can address issues of length and video components. Budget always matters. Is the marketing effort best supported by on-camera and voice talent, locations, make-up, and motion graphics? Does budget demand an economy of message? And length – total running time – must be appropriate to the interest of the audience and the channel of distribution. Online video needs to short and sweet; one minute, two … maybe, three tops.
Healthcare can be a very complex subject matter that can take a lot of time to understand, but most communications professionals suggest that videos be no more than 90 seconds long. How do you tell a complete story in such a small length of time?
A lot of information can be conveyed in a short message. Research shows that actual comprehension takes at least 37 seconds. A 30-second TV spot is more about creating brand and excitement for a product or service than it is for telling a complete story. Conversely, a two-minute online promo or a one-minute eBlast offers a variety of complete and compound storytelling opportunities – “cause and effect” or “need and solution.”
The key is to begin the storytelling at a point of agreement with your audience. For example, “We all want to increase productivity and lower cost.” The story that follows starts as a journey in common and arrives with a product or service that expands possibilities for what the audience has already agreed to. In so doing, they learn how to improve performance or enhance joy. If the storytelling can use more examples or further explanation, then breaking the storytelling into multiple video modules can allow for both brevity and extended storytelling.
When should a company choose to do a live-action video and when should they rely on an animation?
Video is a cool medium. It needs warmth whenever and however it can be implemented to help an audience feel. Messages that deal with the human experience cry out for warmth that comes from smiles, tears, love, touch portrayed, challenges met, and the passages of living; the push and pull of the human condition.
In contrast, motion graphics and motion text can deliver content quickly, but not the warmth that breeds conviction. Music will help, but not completely. Healthcare marketing communications typically needs the warmth that can come only from portraits of the human condition; testimonials and live/work interactions appropriate to the message.
What are the biggest pitfalls of developing a video?
I’ve always been amazed that the most effective video – those delivered with power and persuasion – seem like it must have been easy to create. Yet it wasn’t. It was carefully crafted and honed to hit a specific target. It took all the steps of audience profile, allocating an appropriate budget, supporting the production effort, and remaining true to the original purpose, goals and objectives of the project.
In my experience, pitfalls are avoided when a project team comes together and keeps the project on schedule and on target. Pitfalls germinate when the client loses interest, changes project team members, or fails to provide the necessary project support internally. The greatest pitfall is the introduction of approval from someone not involved in the project. If final approval is needed from above, then the team leader needs to manage the expectations.
Video has clearly become an essential part of storytelling for companies. What do you see as the future of videography?
The technology of video is changing at lightning speed. The ability to create meaningful, edited video on smart phones is here. The availability to use purchased footage from video libraries is enhancing production quality and lowering cost. Cameras are better and cheaper every 18 months. Motion graphics are already able to sample the human form for use in live action sequences – in fact, two of the leading actors in this year’s Oscar nominated films have been dead for years. Impactful custom music scores can be produced in minutes from easy-to-use software and tracks. Samsung has just developed wallpaper that doubles as a video screen.
Video is now the first-tier media and, in the future, will continue to proliferate across the digital landscape. Leading companies and organizations will be those that embrace video, organize it, archive it, recognize the value of easily accessing its video assets, and embrace it to build brand, nurture employees, prepare for change, share their history, and attach context and humanity to its products and services.
Well-crafted video allows people to feel, learn and have joy. Which is incidentally, the same as the purpose of life.