Video content for marketing

In this guide, we look at how to use video content for marketing. How do you define where you need video to support your business needs? We cover different ways to create video content from do-it-yourself to hiring a professional crew. And we cover some basic techniques to raise the quality of your video content.

Video content for marketing

How this guide raises your game.

1. Learn how to define your video needs based on the brand choice funnel.

2. Review basic needs on how to create video content including equipment, casting and location.

3. Read our top tips on how to use graphics and animation and what to consider with a professional film crew.

The average Australian watched over 25 hours of online video per month in 2019. This rose to over 48 hours a month with younger age groups.

This was driven by a number of factors. A growing number of streaming options like Netflix and Amazon Prime for example. Faster internet connections and access to more advanced technology.

And of course, with the continued growth of You Tube, consumers now have more choice of video content than ever before.

While we can’t turn you into the next Steven Spielberg, in this guide we can cover some key topics to help you raise your game with video content for marketing. 

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The role of video content for marketing

Video content can support you at all stages of the brand choice funnel. It can provide opportunities for your advertising, social media and e-Commerce. Video content can help you be more engaging and more interactive for your target audience. Video content can work to bring your brand identity to life. It can be a key part of your digital marketing activation.

But where do you start so that your video content for marketing does all these things in a way that appeals to your target audience? And obviously, how do you do it in a way that fits your marketing budget AND drives your marketing objectives?

Define your marketing objective

The first step to improve your video content for marketing and e-Commerce is to define your marketing objective.

What is it that you need video content to do for you? What role will video content play for your target audience? How will video content help support your marketing plan and your brand identity?

You should consider the brand choice funnel and where your brand activation that requires video content sits in the funnel.

The brand choice funnel - trust - aware - consider - trial - loyalty - repeat purchase

Trust

For new businesses, you need to build initial trust with your target audience. If your audience do not know who you are, what you do or what you stand for, they will not trust you enough to buy your brand.

So, if your marketing objective is to build trust, video content can be a great way to do this as you can use it to establish credibility.

For example, if your business is a manufacturer, you could consider creating video content of the production process. Or video content of how the materials and ingredients are made or sourced.

If your business is service oriented, you could use video content of the service ‘in action’. You can use video content to bring to life the experience the consumer will have from your service. Maybe it’s the ambience of a restaurant or bar? It could be the service you offer through a hairdressing, beauty or fitness session. 

There’s lots of opportunities to use video content to show that you offer a genuine product or service that others already use, as a way to build an initial level of trust.

Awareness

If your marketing objective is to drive awareness, then video content can be a great way to grab the attention of your target audience. It can make your brand distinctive and therefore more likely to be remembered.

The two most common ways to drive awareness using video content for marketing are advertising or social media content. Advertising is usually overtly branded, while social media content is usually more subtly branded or even unbranded. 

Video content – advertising

Advertising is a direct appeal to the consumer so they take notice of  your brand. It will be short, it will highlight your product or service and it will try to land one or two key messages. It will be pushed out to consumers through paid media channels, so that they see it several times. 

The aim is for consumers to remember your brand. And to create interest or desire, so that they do something. That “do something” could be many things. A website or store visit. An email or call to request more information. In some cases, it might even be a purchase. 

We cover a lot of the “how” to start advertising in our skill guide in the communication section. This includes how to move from your brand positioning to write a brief for an agency. And then how to move from the brief to the creation of an advertising idea. 

We also have a separate guide on how to evaluate advertising ideas. This includes criteria you can use and tips on how to research and get feedback from your target audience.   

But from a video content point of view, its important you can make the advertising both distinctive and attention-grabbing.  Most of us are exposed to multiple advertising messages all day every day. So, to avoid advertising overload, our brains filter out most the advertising we are exposed to. Which means most advertising is ignored or dismissed. 

Video content – social media

So, an alternative way to build awareness is to generate video content through social media channels. This usually means using You Tube as a channel. You Tube is is the biggest video content hosting platform with thousands of hours of new content appearing every day.

One of the biggest advantages of You Tube though is how easy they make it to share video content though your website and other social media channels.

This type of content is usually much less overtly branded than advertising. It is designed to pull consumers toward your brand by offering them a service or benefit, rather than overly trying to sell.   

You Tube iPhone - video content for marketing

So for example, common video content “pull” techniques include  “how to” educational video guides. How do you cook a particular recipe? Or use a particular beauty product? Or work with a particular piece of software for example. 

When you ‘help’ a consumer though with this type of video content for marketing, this ‘helping’ makes consumers feel more positively towards you brand. So that when you do want to buy something, you are more likely to consider the brand that helped. 

Or you can create entertaining video content that relates to broader experiences around the product. This type of  video content is usually based on humour or dramatic situations. It’s  often driven by insights into how consumers use your product or service. 

These social media videos aim to drive awareness through uniqueness and therefore shareability.

Most social channels place a lot of emphasis on shareability of content, so you can use these types of formats to create awareness, by encouraging your consumers to share the content. 

Consideration and trial

Both these educational and entertainment type videos also work well when it comes to driving consideration and trial. In these cases though, you are likely to need to feature the brand identity more heavily.

For example, if it’s a brand that focuses on durability, you would want to show video of the content being put under pressure to show how it stands up to extreme conditions. 

If it’s a brand that focuses on the quality of an experience, you would want to show video of the care and attention that goes into the product or service itself. So that consumers understand why it’s a high quality experience.

With this type of content, it’s rarely the video content on its own that does the job.

It’s the accompanying brand storytelling, copywriting and call to action that influence and persuade the consumer. We’ll come back to how these all link together later in this guide. 

Loyalty

And finally, when your marketing objective is loyalty, it’s a helpful option to use video content of genuine happy, satisfied customers.  

Can you ask your happiest customers to record a video testimonial for you to share how well you met their needs? It’s a very common technique used in a lot of advertising and on websites. It also links back to the original marketing objective of building trust to win new consumers. 

But, also when you ask your most loyal consumers to become involved in your video content, you also build their loyalty. They will have a much deeper connection to your brand identity as they become spokespeople and ambassadors for your brand. 

But take care to use genuine customers. People are very sceptical of staged video content or fake reviews.  If your marketing objective is loyalty, the more “real” you can be, the better.

Video content for marketing – storytelling

So, once you have a clearer idea of the objective of your video content, what’s next? What you need to do now is work out how you deliver that objective. And here, you would really want to develop your story. 

In the same way that films start from an idea and a script, your video content for marketing really needs to have a basic idea and outline of the story you want to tell. 

We have a whole guide to brand storytelling on another part of the site if you want to explore this topic more. But in terms of video content for marketing, these are some of the key elements you would need to consider for your story. 

Young Girl reading book

Is your story to educate or entertain?

We already covered how your video content can be educational or entertaining. But now you need to relate these styles to the story you need to tell. 

Education driven video content tends to work better for consideration and trial. It is designed to build the credibility of the brand. It needs to position the brand as an expert or better than its competitors to solve a particular need or benefit.

This means you need to take a very factual approach. You want clear instructions or guidance in the story to teach people ‘how’ to do something. With educational content, you want people to ‘think’ differently after they see the video. 

Entertainment driven video content tends to work better for awareness, since it typically has broader appeal and tends to be more like to be shared with others. 

You have more creative freedom with an entertainment approach. Your tone can be humorous, dramatic or just unexpected. Entertainment plays much more in to emotions than logic. Your entertainment content needs to make people ‘feel’ differently.

What’s your story arc?

At the simplest level, a story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Most people learn this basic story structure at school. But you often see video content produced that completely forgets this basic rule. 

Consumers have a vast amount of choice when it comes to online on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s very easy for them to scroll past your video content if it does not have a strong beginning.

It needs to be thumb-stopping so that you engage the consumer’s interest in the first 2 to 3 seconds. If you don’t do this, your video content will not be seen.  

The video content also needs to come to a satisfactory end. This ending needs makes the consumer feel like they have usefully spent their time. You should also include a call to action. This helps the consumer know where to go next. 

In between this beginning and end, you need content that keeps the viewer’s attention. It needs to be long enough to land the desired messages. But not so long that the viewer drops out. 

Script and storyboard

Preparation is important. You will raise the quality of your video content when you take time to prepare. You should draft a script before you move ahead to the shoot itself. And you should draw out key scenes in a storyboard format. 

This script and storyboard process lets you work out rough timings. It’s your plan that helps you define requirements ahead of time. Read the words from the script out loud and time it. How long does each scene need?  Think about how the different scenes will fit together. You want to produce a cohesive overall story.

In general, you should aim for ‘more’ in your first draft of the script / storyboard. First drafts normally run longer than the final edit. The chances are you will shoot and record more than you need. That’s a good thing. When you move to edit your video, it’ll be easier to cut stuff out later, than go back and re-shoot and add in new content. 

Content timing

You should be especially careful of the length of the content and where it will be used. Consumers expect advertising to be short and snappy. There are often pre-specified time slots on TV for example. 15 second or 30 seconds are the most common timings. 

Paid advertising on many online channels is also often pre-specified. You Tube’s most popular advertising format is a 6 second video slot for example. 

For video content for educational or entertainment purposes, you have more flexibility on the length of the video. But bear in mind the attention span of your audience. It’s better to aim shorter rather than longer in most cases. 

With your script, you should also aim to have several run-throughs. Seek feedback from others. There’s a big different between what reads well on paper and what sounds good when said aloud.

In written form, you tend to use more formal language and longer sentence structures. Spoken sentences are shorter and more direct. So use this to your advantage to make your script tighter.

Don’t be afraid to edit your script several times over so that it ‘sounds’ natural when spoken out loud.

How to create video content for marketing

Now that you know your marketing objective and have an outline idea of the story you want to tell, your next step is to actually create a video. How you do this will be very much down to the quality level needed for the video, your own level of expertise in video making and how much you want to spend on the creation of the video content. 

You basically have three options. Firstly, you can can shoot your own video content. Secondly, you can use software tools to create animated video content from your graphic design elements or other brand assets. And finally, you can outsource your video content for marketing to a marketing agency or professional film crew. 

Shoot your own video content

If you are willing to be flexible on the quality level of your video content or you are working with a low or non-existent budget, the simplest and fastest option is to shoot your own video content. This could be something as simple as recording from the webcam of your computer or shooting a video from your mobile phone, but here are some pointers to consider. 

Video cameras

When it comes to the equipment you use to shoot video content for marketing, you get what you pay for.

If you use the webcam on your laptop for example, these are designed to stream video online. This normally requires a reduction in file size and therefore a reduction in resolution / file quality. You can end up with a pixelated effect.

These webcams typically only work where you only need to shoot a short talking head video. And where you are OK with a more “natural” feel. 

 

Photography Kit

Mobile phone cameras

Most if not all mobile phones now have video recording capability, and technology has seen significant advances in recent years. Look for the resolution that the mobile phone camera offers. 1080p has now become the standard, and higher end phones are now capable of shooting in 4k

Mobile phone video cameras have some key benefits. They are easily portable and easy to use. It’s also easy to share the videos and send them to video editing software.

Extra features like image stabilisation and zoom capability can come in to play, depending on your needs. Shooting a talking head video straight into a quality mobile phone should be relatively easy to do on most mobile phones.

But if your story needs you to record action shots from a distance, this will be more of a challenge for your mobile phone.

Dedicated camcorder or DSLR cameras

If you want to step up a quality level, you can choose to buy a dedicated camcorder. Or shoot video through a DSLR camera. These will significantly raise the quality of the video that you shoot. They will have better quality lenses and more features. But obviously, they also come at a cost.

These can be a better option where you need to create more of a premium or quality feel to your video content. Or when you shoot video content regularly enough, that you can justify the cost. 

Professional or broadcast cameras

Your final option is to invest in professional or broadcast quality cameras. While these obviously create the highest quality of video, they also come with the most expense and the highest complexity to use.

Often, professional video producers hire in such equipment rather than buying it. You may want to consider this as an option. But to be honest, these expensive options are usually best handled by professional film crews as we’ll come on to later in this guide.

Sound recording

Your other main equipment consideration will be sound recording.

Often the less expensive video options like webcams and mobile phones will not have great sound recording options. A mobile phone’s microphone for example will struggle to pick up good quality sound unless you are in a quiet environment. 

There are a number of quality microphones and audio recording devices from brands like Rode and Sennheiser. These are relatively inexpensive ($100 – $250) and can make a huge difference to the quality of your sound recording.

Microphone

You can choose between lapel mics, shotgun, boom or studio microphones depending on your sound recording needs.

You should also consider the location where you will film. Will there be a lot of background noise? When you film near a busy road or in a busy cafe or bar for example, it can make it difficult for your main sound to be heard.

It’s usually much better to record sound in a ‘controlled’ environment. Either a studio or a quieter location where you can manage the acoustics better.

Set the shoot up

If you watch the credits at the end of a movie, you can seen that often hundreds of people are involved in making a cinema quality release movie. There are many tasks involved in creating video content.

But if you are in business, you obviously have to work to your budget. And you can learn from the credits, that there are some basic requirements that apply to all film and video content.

Casting

Who is going to be in your video content? Will you be the face of your brand? Or will you hire in professional actors and actresses? If you are shooting video of ‘real’ customers, how will you make the choice about which ones to use? 

Whoever appears in front of the camera on behalf of your brand should be someone who brings the brand identity to life. How they talk, what they wear, the type of language they use, should all be considerations for who you cast to appear in the video. 

Your cast should be able to give a positive and relevant image of your brand.

You should also consider how they come across on camera. Do they come across as natural? Or do they seem stiff and uncomfortable? Do they have a strong accent that will be difficult to understand? It’s all about creating the relevant impression you want for your brand.

You should ask your cast to read through the script. Listen to how they handle it. Professional performers will likely have good suggestions based on their experience and expertise. They can help you make the language sound more natural.

You will likely want to rehearse more complicated parts of your video. And be prepared to do several takes to get the best version. 

Location

Where will the video be shot? Location is important. It can add cost and complexity to the shoot.

If you are filming in a studio or at your premises, this has the advantage that you have more control over the location. You can manage background noise or unexpected interruptions more easily. 

But if you film in a public location, then it gets much more complicated. For filming in public locations, you need to check if you need any permission or licenses to film.

If members of the public appear in the background of your video, do you need their permission? How will you control background noise or interruptions if you shoot in a public space? 

Graphics and animation 

So once you’ve filmed your raw footage, your next challenge is to edit together the footage into a single cohesive video.

Here, technology comes into play, with editing software and the options of using either or both graphics and animation builds. 

 

iMovie screen grab used in video content for marketing

Graphics can help a lot with comprehension and also reinforces the key words of your message. If you have bad sound quality or you have a cast with strong accents, you can graphically add in subtitles using video editing software. You can add titles and credits to your videos to make them look more professional.

iMovie

There are many different video editing software tools available. iMovie is one of the most popular. It comes as standard for Mac users and can be used to create fairly professional short-form edits. 

You can easily paste in and then click and drag scenes around the timeline. It has an easy to use interface, even for beginners. You can cut together different scenes, crop the length of scenes and manage the transition between scenes relatively easily. The software makes it easy to add titles and text and other effects over the video content. You can also import and edit sound directly into the stream.

Imovie also has a good choice of export options whether you want to export directly to You Tube or into different video formats like mp4 or .mov file formats. 

We’re less familiar with the Windows equivalent (Windows Movie Maker). But we have seen many poor reviews of this software online. You may want to consider looking at alternatives if you are a PC user. 

Adobe After Effects

A more sophisticated option would be Adobe After Effects which will give you many additional features to edit together your video content. There is more of a learning curve to using After Effects than with iMovie.

But it can certainly add an extra level of professionalism to your video content for marketing. 

Animation 

A further option from a software point of view would be to look at animation for your video content for marketing. Adobe for example offers programs like Adobe Animate which is a dedicated animation creation software. 

This software started life as Shockwave Flash before being bought out and renamed by Adobe. With animation, you can create video content without any actual “shooting” of video content at all, as for example in some of our own advertising. 

Adobe Animate home page in video for marketing content

Three-brains advertising using Animate

So, for this advertising for example, we had a script and a storyboard to create a 15 second advert to appear on social channels and website. In terms of complexity, the tool is more complex than iMovie, but less complex than After Effects. 

If you already have good design or illustration skills, you can pick up the basic principles of animation on the tool in a couple of days.

How to set up and manage the different “tween” animations for example.

Or how to set up the five basic text animations like moving, scaling, fading, rotation and masking

But obviously, for longer and more professional animation jobs, you will want to hire professionals.

There’s a learning curve on how to add more complicated and sophisticated animation. You need to spend time practising and using the software.

If you already have access to the software through an Adobe Creative Cloud license, it’s a helpful tool to use. But, unless you’re prepared to invest the time to learn the skill, you will more likely outsource most animation requirements to a professional animator.

Adobe Animate Screenshot of Three-brains advertising

How to work with a film crew

The easiest way to work with a film crew is if you already use a marketing agency to support your marketing. Often,  the marketing agency will have their own team who can shoot video. Or more likely, they will have a network of contacts of freelance video producers and film crews who can do the job required. 

If you are on a low budget, you might be able to find a local college class willing to take a project on as a learning exercise. But in most cases you’ll be working with an agency or with a team of professional freelancers.

Film crew

Write a brief

With all the steps we’ve described previously, and also the other elements of your marketing plan, you should be able to put together a communication type brief for the film crew. At a minimum, you should outline where the video content for marketing will be used and for what purpose.

Your brief should give the film crew an idea about your target audience, brand identity and communication objectives. 

It should cover the media channels where the video will be used, whether is advertising, public relations, social media, websites or online stores. 

Communication brief - blank template

This will help the film crew understand your needs better and make it more likely you will get video content that you are both happy with. Professionals will be able to come back with recommendations on casting, location and script that will deliver a higher quality impression on screen than if you do your own video shoot.

Video content ownership and usage

And finally, make sure the brief and / or any legal agreement specifies who ‘owns’ the final video content and where they can be used. 

Do you as the client have ownership of the video content to use in perpetuity for all purposes? Are there any limitation rights on the usage of the video content? If you have added music for example, is this license-free or do you have to pay an additional fee to the owner of the music license.

When you get the opportunity to work with a professional film crew, we recommend you take the chance to ask lots of questions. It’s an opportunity to learn from others who do it for a living.

It is also likely there will be a lot of involvement and engagement in the editing process. Don’t be afraid to ask to see multiple versions or edits. If the crew has shot a lot of footage or something is not working for you on the video, looking through the extra shots can be very helpful. After all, you have paid for it.

Final thoughts on video content for marketing

Creating great video content for marketing can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing armoury. And while it has relatively low barriers to entry, there’s definitely a lot to learn in terms of producing quality output. When you start, you should aim to keep it relatively simple and build up your level of knowledge as you go. No-one starts off with video content as Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, and it’s normally where people have been over-ambitious that things go wrong. 

It’s worth spending time looking at popular video channels in your category on You Tube to see what works and what doesn’t. There are thousands of successful You Tube channels that are a simple as “talking head’ formats, where the presenter is expert, passionate or both about a subject, and these can pull in thousands or in some cases millions of followers. 

It’s worth having in mind what makes great video content when you work on key areas of communication activity like advertising, social media and websites. These are the most common areas where video content for marketing makes a difference. 

Three-brains and creative skill development

We believe the best marketing and e-commerce activation pulls knowledge from many areas of the creative world. But most marketers or e-Commerce managers don’t get trained in creative skills. So there’s a huge opportunity to raise your game by having a good level of knowledge of key creative skills like video content for marketing. You can create lot of value for your business when you can grow your own skills or know how to get the best out of professionals.  

If you want to raise your creative game through creative skills development, contact us or read more about our coaching and consulting services.

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