"I I want to make a video about ‘X’, and my budget is ‘Y’… when can we start?” This is a question often heard throughout the marketing industry – and understandably so, as video is one of the most versatile and profitable digital marketing tools out there. If done effectively, the value can greatly outweigh the investment.
However, I would caution those who begin with assigning a budget to their project before they’ve fully developed their strategy. I’m not saying more is more when it comes to budget, sometimes less can be more, but understanding the relationship between the story, strategy and cost will allow you to budget for video content that yields successful results, no matter the scope of production.
Next time you want to create a video, first begin with an understanding of the story and how best to tell that story before deciding where to allocate your dollars. Depending on your brand, audience and objective, an effective video can come in all shapes and sizes. The right execution depends on several factors and with the affordability and accessibility of smartphones, DSLRs, all the way up to cinema cameras, the possibilities and costs can vary.
Here are some important questions to consider when deciding on the type of video you want to create, and the scale of production required to produce it.
Why am I making a video?
A great place to start is by mapping out the fundamental purpose of your video. Is it for brand awareness, to convey information or to sell a specific product or offer? Your audience won’t connect with your purpose unless they can connect with your narrative first. Outlining the “why” behind your video will help you clarify your message and begin crafting the story you want to tell.
What is my story?
People connect with stories that help them survive, thrive and/or find a tribe that they can connect and build a relationship with. They are looking for protection, acceptance, love and bonding – everything outside of that is just noise. The clearer your message and the more your story echoes these values, the more authentic and impactful it will be. This also feeds into how big you want to go with your production and your overall strategy for distribution. Donald Miller’s book Building a StoryBrand sets the stage for deep-diving into this framework, and I highly recommend giving it a read if you are looking to clarify your message and create content that people respond to.
Who is my audience?
What type of video content and viewer experience is your audience more receptive to? Do they respond positively to basic and simple content, or are they moved by artistic visuals and high-quality cinematography? Are they looking for unrehearsed and unpolished, or elevated and flawless? Knowing how your audience likes to be communicated with will help you reach them on a deeper level and leave a lasting impression.
Where will this video be seen?
A glossy, highly produced video on a platform like Instagram may not perform well against the smartphone content that is commonly shared amongst its viewers. It can stick out and scream nothing more than “THIS IS AN EXPENSIVE ADVERTISEMENT,” causing your audience to lose that connection and hit the skip button. Make sure your video aligns with your brand’s values and the platforms you are using to share it.
How will this video be watched?
Over 80% of people browse their social media channels on mute. So, does that costly music license, sound design or voiceover work make sense for your project? Perhaps more emphasis on storytelling using compelling visuals could spread your dollars much further and make a much larger impact. The opposite goes if your content is competing in a space where sight and sound are required to draw attention, like broadcast media or live events for example.
A brand that does an excellent job of utilizing a variety of video production scales to tell captivating stories is Nike. The story always comes first, and their products play a supporting role in the larger picture. Here are two examples that showcase a large-scale production and a smaller production that carry the same weight when it comes to telling captivating, compelling stories. These stories paired with the perfect execution is what draws you in and keeps you watching until the end.
To summarize, there is value in all sizes of production, and there are great examples that show both being highly effective. It’s more about how your production aligns with your story and less about fitting it into a set budget.
I encourage you to go through these questions and drill down into how your story will resonate with your audience while staying true to your brand. This will allow you to allocate your marketing dollars wisely and create highly effective video content that is worth the investment, no matter how big or small it may be.