Videos: Your essential step-by-step guide

Admit it …

You love watching crazy kitten videos. But “paws” them for a minute. Think about the power of videos and imagine how you could use them to captivate customers and prospects.

You don’t need to become an overnight YouTube sensation to get people talking about your company and what you offer. Irresistible, furry critters aren’t necessary, either. What you really need is a simple, well-planned idea and the time to execute it.

An example is this promotional video that The Simons Group just completed for Morrisey Associates, a national health care software company. The three-minute video shows how Morrisey Practitioner Performance Reporting™ (MPPR™) gives hospitals key insights about their doctors and features a customer interview that speaks volumes about the product.

Whether you’d like a video that’s similar in length and style to Morrisey’s, one that you shoot yourself using your smartphone, or your own wacky cat video, follow these essential steps for a production even Steven Spielberg would be proud of.

  1. Set a goal

Why do you want a video and what do you hope to accomplish with it? Do you want to build brand awareness? Educate customers? Answer common questions?

This is probably the most important step for creating a successful video. Without a clear objective, you’ll end up with an aimless production that doesn’t get results. Even worse, you’ll waste time and money.

In Morrisey’s case, the firm wanted to connect with hospital executives, who are often extremely busy and can be difficult to reach. The MPPR video gives them a succinct teaser into the product’s benefits and entices them to contact Morrisey for a personalized demo.

  1. Determine your audience and message

Identify your target market and what you want to share with them. What do you want them to do after they’ve seen the video? If you’ve established a clear goal for your project, you’ll be able to flesh this out quickly.

It’s better to focus on a small and specific group than to try to appeal to all of your customers and prospects at the same time. You’ll be able to customize the content to solve your group’s problems, which means you won’t have to invest as much to get the results you want.

Morrisey’s video is customized for healthcare leaders who are responsible for managing and evaluating doctors by explaining how they can use MPPR to improve quality and physician performance.

  1. Decide who will create the content

Morrisey relied on The Simons Group and a video production company to create the MPPR video, which was particularly important, given that the audience is top hospital executives. The team included a professional hair and makeup stylist, an experienced animator and voice-over talent.

Before you invest in outside expertise, consider your target market, the production quality you’re aiming for and your budget. You might be able to use in-house resources and film at your company to cut costs. Don’t forget, however, that you’ll need proper lighting and other equipment.

Bonus tip: Seek pricing from at least three firms. Be sure to include the full scope of your project so that you can compare apples to apples.

  1. Brainstorm topics

Whether you want to tell one or a series of stories, be sure the content is compelling. For example, you could:

  1. Demonstrate your products and services
  2. Shoot helpful how-to videos for your products
  3. Record customer testimonials
  4. Interview customers for case studies
  5. Give a tour of your facility
  6. Recognize award-winning employees
  7. Explain your internal processes
  8. Profile managers
  9. Record a question-and-answer session with the CEO
  10. Share customer product reviews

The more interesting your videos are, the more likely it is that people will share them, getting you more mileage for your investment.

A good way to start brainstorming topics is to think about the questions your customers ask and the problems they need you to solve, including problems they haven’t thought of yet. By providing videos that answer their questions and address their needs, you’ll build credibility and become their trusted source for information, as well as your products and services (hopefully).

Whatever you do, avoid overt sales pitches. No one likes those.

  1. Write the script

A video script is a chronological list of all the scenes, action and dialogue from start to finish. Be sure to account for all graphics, animation, photos, voice-over, music and B-roll (or filler) footage.

The script specifies what each person is saying and doing and when, and the visuals that complement those scenes. Use short, descriptive sentences for the dialogue and keep it conversational. Long, wordy sentences are difficult to film because you need more footage to illustrate them.

Equally important, be sure that speakers pause between thoughts so that if you have to edit the dialogue later, it’s easier to find a break.

There’s no right or wrong way to format the script. I prefer a two-column table, with video on the left and audio on the right. The visual components, including camera shots and graphics, go in the video column, while the dialogue goes on the right.

Here’s an example from Morrisey’s MPPR video:






When the script is complete, read it aloud at a natural pace and time it. Read it through once or twice more to be sure you didn’t miss anything and to verify the time. One- to three-minute videos are ideal. Allow yourself a little flexibility at the end in case you need to add or delete a scene or dialogue.

Take copies of the script with you on shoot day, but don’t let speakers read from them. They won’t sound natural — they’ll sound exactly like they’re reading from a script. Instead, give them bullet points of the key messaging and ask them to put the points in their own words.

Bonus tip: During the shoot, “interview” the speakers by asking them the questions that get to the answers you’re looking for. Rather than having the speakers face and talk directly to the cameras, they’ll be talking with you, which will look more natural and will help them relax.

  1. Create a complete storyboard

A storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold, scene by scene. It’s the best way to share your vision about what the video will look like and how it will come together.

Each frame is a specific scene in the video and includes what is being shown and what is being said, like this snippet from Morrisey’s MPPR video storyboard:







You might be tempted to skip this step and rely only on a written script, but don’t do it. You’re liable to forget a scene or leave out graphics, and fixing it later will drive up production time and costs.

  1. Keep it interesting

A variety of camera angles and movement are more engaging than straight-on shots with “talking heads.” Mix up the scenery; film speakers from various positions; shoot from more than one camera; and incorporate action like this video from SAP and this one from Gorilla Recruitment.

Animation, graphics and B-roll footage also help to amp up the interest level. Make sure these complement your messaging, rather than detract from it, however. There’s a happy medium between throwing everything in but the kitchen sink and operating on such a slim budget that you can only have one fixed camera shot in your entire video.

Bonus tip: Do you use photos in your marketing? You can incorporate images you already own into your video, stretching your creativity and budget. Rotoscoping is an animation technique that will bring your photos to life. Morrisey used this treatment throughout the MPPR video.

  1. Incorporate a call to action

At the end of the video, share next steps for your customers and prospects. What do they want? How will you help them get it? Do you want them to contact a member of your team? Sign up for a demo? Register for a webinar? Give them some direction, but keep it simple.

  1. Decide where your content will live and promote it

Whether your video features testimonials from customers, product demonstrations, behind-the-scenes interviews with employees or other content, you need to share it.

Your company’s website is the ideal place to put it. You can also post it to Vimeo, YouTube, LinkedIn and your business Facebook page.

Additionally, include a link to the video in your email signature, email it directly to customers and prospects, show it on a continuous loop at trade shows, and send it in an e-blast to your target market.

Your turn: Has your company created videos and what were the results? If you haven’t been able to turn your vision into reality yet, what’s holding you back? Let us know in the comments below.

About Dawn

Dawn is the senior editor at The Simons Group. As a grammar queen, she'd rather lose her wallet than misplace an apostrophe. Fellow copy ninjas unite -- you have an ally.

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