Questions: The Most Important Part of Our Video Process
It's no secret that great planning is key to the success of any project, and video production is no different. In the video world, this is known as pre-production, and it includes the scripts, storyboards, pre-visualisations etc. that you're probably familiar with.
But the stage of the process we're talking about comes before any ideas are committed to paper. It happens as we get to know you, your company, your objectives, and your obstacles. The most important part of our process is asking the right questions.
Taking the time to find clear answers to these questions means we have a concrete foundation for the rest of the creative process. They give us everything we need to produce not just a great video, but the right video, delivering the right message to the right people in the right way at the right time.
After all, it's important to remember that it is possible to make what looks and feels like a great video, but isn't the video you need.
You don't need to know the answers to some of these questions right away, but the important thing is to start the discussion. We're here to faciliate that process.
1. What is your product or service?
It sounds so obvious, but we need the same understanding and appreciation of your product as you do if we're going to communicate that through video.
If you're offering a new technical innovation, we need to understand exactly how this changes the game and how it's positionised in the market. If you're offering a personal design service, we need to know your core values and what makes you unique.
What problem does your product or service solve? We'll aim to love your product or service as much as you do, and this will be reflected in the video content.
2. Who is your target market?
This is really an extension of the first question. Who will be watching this content? When we know precisely who we're talking to, we can use the right language and press the right buttons. We can craft a story that piques their specific interests and addresses their concerns.
Are we talking to the children or the parents? The account managers or the marketing manager? Are they currently using an alternative product or is this a fresh solution? What are they interested in? What are their problems? Are there preconceptions? What is their story?
Too often, when there isn't a clear picture of the audience, the message becomes diluted and vague. Getting the right message to the right people becomes a shot in the dark.
3. How are we trying to change behaviour?
While it's possible to find a glittering array of statistics about video being the future of online marketing, it's easy to forget that every video, just like any good piece of communication, should have a purpose. The goal is always to change the behaviour of the audience.
It could be as simple as, "We need the people who see this to clearly understand the value proposition," or as specific as, "We want people who see this to get in touch for a free consultation."
If the only impetus to make a video is that everyone else is doing it, you probably won't see a return on your investment.
4. With that in mind, what is your message?
Now that we have a good understanding of what we're trying to achieve, we can start figuring out what the audience needs to see and hear to make that happen.
There's a natural tendency to say too much, but by considering the audience profile developed in question 2 - their interests, concerns, preconceptions etc. - and the change we are trying to make, we'll usually arrive at a message that is specific and simple.
We like to think of Steve Jobs pitching the iPod in 2001. He didn't say, "This is a pocket-sized, 5GB MP3 player with an intuitive menu system." He said, "The iPod. 1,000 songs in your pocket."
Messages like this sound effortless and simple, but they're not easy. They involve thinking carefully about the gap between what you're saying, and what the audience is hearing.
5. Finally, how are we going to get the message to them?
If the questions so far help to determine the content or substance of a video, this question has the most direct influence on the design. It determines what is and isn't going to work in our quest to get the message across.
There's a completely different dynamic between a video popping up on someone's social feed and a video being shown in a seminar environment. In the case of content marketing, we're trying to reach people organically.
Context determines the type, length and pace of a video, and how much information the audience can process. Even if the message is clear and the content is good, not knowing how a video will be viewed makes it much harder to connect with people effectively.
Where can it go wrong?
As straightforward as these questions seem, many video productions get underway without clear answers. And it isn't difficult to see why these videos don't produce the desired results. So where does the process go wrong?
Firstly, there can be a small breakdown in communication between the client and the producer. The answers are often so engrained in, or obvious to, the client's company that it can feel like an unnecessary step to vocalise them. But this is a fault of the producer, not the client. It's the producer's job to start this conversation and to listen.
And secondly, there's often a lot of excitement that comes with making something cinematic. We certainly think so. But with everyone eager to get the camera's rolling and see results, it's easy to bypass the all-important questions stage. The irony, however, is that you won't see results without answering these questions.
Where to from here?
With those questions answered and a clear purpose, it's time to get creative. The next step is to brainstorm a series of thoughtful ideas that tick the boxes above. When a concept feels right, we'll develop this futher into an outline, then a script, and then a storyboard. You can read more about our process here.
The unique opportunity to combine moving images, voice, music and graphics can result in something very powerful. We're ready to work with you, your marketing or sales team, your inhouse production team or your agency to produce smart video content that produces results.
Whether you just have a few ideas floating around, or you feel you're ready to start shooting, we're here to talk.