Video presentations for B2B companies are no longer the luxury sales tool they once were. The world learns visually more than any other way, and visitors to a company’s website are more engaged, easier to convert, and remain longer when there’s a video to play. Product demonstrations, explainers, and webinars are among the most popular videos in the B2B community, and they need not be expensive to produce. What’s more, the ROI from video with audience-focused content is much higher than any other marketing activity if the right production steps are taken.

Simple, self-made company videos like whiteboard presentations where two employees stand in front of an actual whiteboard and explain a concept of some kind are the most inexpensive to produce. They can also be very effective in conveying key messages over a series. If tagged and titled properly, they can be a boon for a company’s website in terms of SEO. Unfortunately, they can also suffer from poor production values, reflecting similarly on the company’s products and services. On the other end of the spectrum, a video with high production values that covers a variety of topics in a single sitting might come off as highly impressive, but fail to really connect. In both cases, the losses are rarely offset by the gains.

Most companies want a well-produced video that conveys their message successfully across a variety of mediums.  To accomplish this requires the careful consideration of a great number of factors, but there are four main questions to answer before even beginning the production process.

  1. Do you have a script? Countless productions over the years have begun with a passionate need for a video but no succinct idea about what it should say. The default was always a video that explained the company’s capabilities and showed off the company’s facilities in an upbeat, attractive manner. It’s easy to see why most companies feel the need for such a thing, but too often these sorts of comprehensive visual overviews duplicate the work of the website and rarely do visitors need to hear your company’s story at your pace rather than theirs. Users jump around a website depending on what interests them and it’s impossible to guess what they’ll want to know first outside of your main selling proposition. Taking the time to write a script and at least a rough storyboard helps prevent the decision to “shoot everything” which always leaves holes in the edit and distills a company’s purpose and story down to its simplest form, increasing impact. Ideally, you want to focus on the specific thing that makes you special and which also matches the needs of your audience. Once you’ve figured that out, decide the best way to convey that single, special thing to that audience with – and this is important – much better things to do. Build out from there if you must, but longer is almost never better.
  2. Does the vision for your video have to include footage of your facility? Location shoots will drive up your production costs more than any other factor, especially if the video company you hire has to travel a considerable distance and is instructed to shoot “as much as they can”. Manufacturing plants, IT tech centers and the like are often in out-of-the-way low rent locales, and no offense, folks, many of them look exactly the same. Often, they’re a little messy and I don’t know how much your average employee loves to have their picture taken (they loathe it). The results can backfire if your location isn’t vitally important to telling your story and supporting your message. These days, there are graphical wonders that can be done to existing imagery that was paid for when your website was developed. Similarly, stock footage and clever graphics can make an even stronger impression and increase retention. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars shooting a bunch of footage that will only distract viewers from the important information you want them to retain. So, shoot the place silly if you must…but only if you must.
  3. How are you going to use the video? Another default response is “Everywhere!”. It’s totally understandable to want to wring out every drop of your video’s promotional power, but with the multitude of devices that play video files you can never design one presentation that perfectly fits them all. For example, how often do you watch blockbuster films on your iPhone? It works in a pinch, but you’re still missing a lot of detail and production value designed for larger screens. Conversely, large font explainer videos can lend an obnoxious tone to proceedings if you’re blue-toothing to your home entertainment center. There is a way to optimize video elements to work on most devices, but it helps to know where the video will be shown most often and who will be seeing it. In some cases, audio may be critical to proper messaging. In others, it’s a waste of time. There are other environmental factors at play as well, like needing a presentation with a very loud visual impact that loops at a trade show that would virtually assault viewers in a delicate meeting atmosphere. Figure out the job, and then design the tool. Sure, you can hammer a screw but it’s really not the best way to get it into the wall, is it?
  4. Do you have an approximate budget? There are ways to accommodate almost any budget, but it’s helpful to know what you want to spend and allocate a certain percentage of that number to the various stages of the production. Not only will you get a more balanced presentation, you will also have resources left over for inevitable reshoots, re-edits, and ongoing promotional activities. Videos are a lot like websites: they’re not set in stone. You can add to them, rearrange them and stick access to them in lots of places you may not be able to plan for in the developmental stages. Elastic budgets are nice, but they can also delay production by opening the vision up too wide and sending decision-makers into endless rethinks. Tighter budgets make for tighter messages and tighter rollouts. That’s not to say that what constitutes a tight budget is the same for every company, but limits can be useful for signing off on the particulars and getting it working in your marketplace.

There are dozens, sometimes hundreds, of micro-decisions that transpire during the production of a video, but if you know what you want to say, how you need to say it, where you’re going to say it and how much saying it will cost, you’ll thank yourself dozens, even hundreds, of times along the way.

– S. Norton

Scott Norton has produced dozens, even hundreds, of video presentations of varying lengths and budgets for B2B companies in the industrial, high-tech, and manufacturing marketplaces. For more information on producing a video for your company, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation or simply fill out our short contact form.

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