This article was published in the October 2016 issue of ‘Marketer’, a SMPS publication.
In the late 19th century, a short film by Auguste and Louis Lumiere displayed the arrival of a train at a French station. Legend has it that audiences, unfamiliar with the new motion picture medium, panicked when the train approached the camera. Convinced that they were within inches of being crushed by the oncoming train, they rushed to the back of the exhibition room.
Centuries later, as we stream video over devices, record programming over DVR’s, Periscope industry events, and videoconference across the globe, we’re reminded that video is a compelling medium.
Recent studies indicate that 60% of people prefer video over text-based engagements. And it’s no surprise since the human brain is wired to handle visuals more efficiently than text – in fact, visuals make sense to us 60,000 times faster than text. It’s exciting research and interesting science, but what does it mean for marketers and their clients?
At a minimum, it could mean 65% conversion rate increases for companies that use video on their website landing pages and an average of double the conversion rate of sites that do not use video content.
We’re all savvier video consumers than the Parisians that rushed away from the image of an oncoming train almost 125 years ago. But the enthusiasm of our response is just as strong – we’re rushing toward, not away from, the imagery. The compelling nature of video is backed by some impressive quantifiable results. So how do you make the most of the medium?
- Approach video as a multi-step project with various stakeholders and roles. Identify all relevant stakeholders, from subject matter experts to production artists to executive leadership, to align everyone up front on the following steps:
- Define the goal of the video. What should it communicate, to whom, how and by when?
- Define what success looks like. How will you measure the project’s impact and learn from the effort to make future engagements even better?
Pioneers are forgiven amateurs. No one is going to look at the Lumiere film as an achievement in cinematic art today. Truth is, it’s pretty rough. But the film was at the forefront of a new medium, so expectations were low. Today, the prevalence of video has raised the bar significantly: even a 30-second narrative must meet the audience’s vaunted needs and expectations of quality. This is to say that while the medium is compelling, the message still matters – and nothing gets in the way of the message faster than a botched delivery. If you have a smartphone, you have the means to start creating video content. But remember that content comes at the hands of many collaborative roles. Unless you’re going to pioneer into a new visual style (assuming doing so has any bearing on the goal of the video), consider outsourcing the work to specialists whose output is more efficient and effective.
If you decide to dip your toes into the video pool here are helpful steps to get you through the process.
Understanding your message is paramount to creating a visual that your audience will connect with. Include in the script the format you want to use, which medium you plan to optimize, and hosting and posting requirements. Examples, a YouTube video will not embed in Facebook (it can only post a link), a Facebook video will auto-play without sound unless the viewer selects it to play audio, and an Instagram video is limited to 60 seconds and has a specific frame size.
Figure out your production logistics and execution. If you are interviewing individuals find out where you will be filming, if you can detour office traffic out of the background shot, and whether there will be other distractions happening at the same time. If there is an active project in the footage make sure you are abiding by safety regulations before showing up to film. And always get signed releases from individuals as well as owners before you starting filming.
Audio can be the biggest hindrance to a high quality video. Having the right equipment and knowing how to use is it will make or break your interviews. Creativity is a requirement during the audio mastering and editing phase after videos have been shot so make sure you have a clear understanding of messaging and when to bring in a soundtrack.
Editing videos is editing moving graphics. Effects may need to be considered, title segments, labeling, etc. Additionally, finishing of the video polishes up the final product and puts the exclamation on it.
Videos done well can be rich with content and drive home messages to a broad audience. Having a solid game plan for how to setup, shoot, and deliver your video can be the difference between a client watching it and a client acting on it.