It’s hard to be in business these days without feeling the need to have a video (or multiple videos) of some kind. But where do you start? What should it be? How much should it cost? These are all questions I work out with my clients before we press that little red record button so that when I deliver their finished video, it achieves what they set out to accomplish.
Here are the ten most important things you should decide for yourself, or with help from a professional, before you get started.
1. Why do you want to make a video?
If the answer is, “Because someone told me I should,” I’d very much recommend holding off until you feel it’s something you want to do for yourself and your business. Yes, video is super popular and a very useful marketing tool, but doing something because you feel obligated won’t bring in a positive result and will probably just leave you feeling sour about the whole experience. If you’re not ready, wait. You’ll know when it’s time.
2. What do you want to make?
Most people start with an idea, then after answering all these questions, end with something different. However, it’s helpful to have a baseline of what you want to see in the end, whether that’s a straight-forward commercial or a more nuanced “explainer” video that feels more like a documentary. Look around at your competition and see if you can find examples of videos you like and try to remember what you enjoyed about them.
3. What do you want it to achieve?
Do you want to educate your existing customers, bring in new ones, build or change your reputation? It’s essential to have a goal in mind to decide the tone you want to set for your finished video. If that’s bringing in new customers, that’s going to feel very different than a video that teaches your existing customers how to get the most out of your product or service.
4. How much should you spend?
Video production ranges from free (produced by your nephew on his phone) to many thousands of dollars (from production teams of twenty people). There’s a solution within your budget, no matter the size. However, it’s important to know what you’re comfortable investing in this project before you start reaching out to professionals, if anything, just to make sure you’re looking for the right help at the right cost. There’s no wrong answer, but there’s also no real standard rate. Every filmmaker charges a different amount based on their experience, their availability, their equipment, and more.
5. DIY or Hire a Pro?
If your answer to number four was $0, then you’re probably leaning toward a more DIY solution, and that’s ok. Depending on your idea for content, that may be just fine, or possibly even better than hiring a professional. No matter what, you’re making an investment. Either with your time to learn the equipment, software, techniques, and other elements of creating a video, or you’re investing your money in hiring someone to help you. In the end, it’s your decision, so you want to choose what’s most comfortable for you.
6. Should it feel “Personal” or “Professional”?
The answer to this may depend on your budget, or it may be more about your taste. A “professional” video is going to feel very polished with fantastic crisp sound quality, beautiful clear focus from a high-quality camera, and editing that feels perfectly timed. A “personal” video may look more like a moving selfie with the person on screen talking directly to the phone in their hand with no editing at all, and to be honest, that can sometimes be better.
Imagine a real estate agent. If they’re trying to sell an expensive house, a super polished video tour of the home with gorgeous lighting and beautiful music will do the trick. But what if they want to get buyers and sellers to trust the agent and want to work with them over anyone else? Maybe they’ll stick their phone on a selfie stick and film themselves walking through lots of houses to give clients a better idea of who they are to build a client-agent relationship before they ever even meet. Anything is possible with the right idea. That’s why it’s so important to know what you want to achieve.
If you're planning a series of videos, you might want to learn more toward a "personal" vibe as the cost of producing consistent "professional" videos can add up quickly, although not as much as you'd think depending on what you want.
7. What will you do with it?
The answer can’t just be, “put it on youtube.” I promise you no one will see it. You should have a plan of where you want to put it and how you’re going to track its progress. For most of my clients, their videos are something they host on their website, so when people hear about them and visit, they’re greeted with an entertaining and/or educational video to get a better idea of that product or service.
8. How long should it be?
Knowing what you want to do with your video can also change a lot about how it’s made. For example, videos on Instagram can only be 60 seconds long. If your goal was to create a video ad for that platform, you immediately run into that time limitation. For a more detailed answer, I’m going to refer you to my other post, "How to Choose the Perfect Length for Your Video" about the various lengths of videos and why it should be a conscious decision.
9. Who’s going to be in it?
Not everyone enjoys being on camera and that’s ok. Depending on the kind of video you want to make, you may not need anyone on camera. However, if you’re a lawyer and want to create videos to get clients to hire you, you’ll need to decide some solution that lets clients see your face and hear your voice. If you’re a retail store, it might be better to film some of your more articulate customers giving a testimonial of sorts.
10. What should it say?
The answer to this is often deeply personal for each client, or at least it should be. Just saying, “Come buy my product!” doesn’t help anyone. You want to send a message to your viewers about who you are, what you do, and why you’re the person (or provide the product) they need. That being said, every video needs some kind of call-to-action, something that lets the viewer know what they should do next. Otherwise, the video ends and they think, “Oh, that was nice,” and then they tune out. Always make sure there’s either a soft or hard sell, or more information available, or a website to donate, buy, register, etc. that is both easy to do and incredibly beneficial to both business and customer.
I hope you’ve found the answers to these questions helpful and I strongly recommend writing them out for yourself and answering them in your own way if you’re considering a video project. Even if you’re not, give it a try. You might surprise yourself with a great idea and run with it.
If you have any questions or would like to review your answers with me for feedback, or your answer to question #4 was to hire a professional and are reaching out to start the process, feel free to contact me here.