12 Pre-Production Tips to Create a Successful Business Video
Is your business taking advantage of video?
With all of the stats and case studies that prove its effectiveness, video content has established itself as a highly successful content delivery method across many marketing platforms.
The statistics don’t lie:
97% of marketers say video has increased user understanding of their product or service
76% say video increases sales
47% say video reduced support queries
76% say video increased traffic
80% say video increased website dwell time
78% of people watch online videos every week
55% of people view online videos every day
By 2021, online videos will make up more than 85% of all consumer internet traffic
The truth is, video production is not an easy task or an affordable one. Many teams set out to include video into their marketing strategy but struggle with costs, and don’t always understand the process involved.
Why? Because the most significant part of the video production process is what happens before the camera starts rolling.
Pre-production, or the preparation and logistics phase of a video project is where most of the magic happens - long before you hit the “record” button.
Here are our top 12 video pre-production tips to ensure you get the most out of your video.
1) Define Your Audience
Defining your audience is the first step in the pre-production process. It is a complex process that includes creating audience personas. Your audience is made up of more than just one customer with a single interest; the group of people you’re targeting is likely to have varied interests that need to be considered when planning your video content.
Narrowing down your video viewers into personas - rather than a generic audience - will help you create a much more targeted and effective video in the long run.
The reasoning for this is simple: writing with one specific person in mind allows you to tell an authentic and relatable story – focusing on what they find entertaining or exciting, and how the product or service relates to and can help them.
2) Clarify Your Message
While the importance of knowing your audience, and defining a target market is critical, understanding your message is just as important.
Businesses are made up of many moving parts, and they will likely need different videos for different purposes. For example, you might need an introduction video to give potential customers an idea of the services or products that you offer, a product demo/how-to video to help instruct your audience or a motivational talking head message from your CEO.
Don’t try to roll all of these in the same video. A tailored video with a specific message and goal will be much more effective in the long run.
3) Determine Your Budget
Once you’ve outlined your audience and your message, you need to set a budget. Failing to gauge a budget at the beginning of pre-production is a good way to go over budget.
Some elements of video creation are costlier than others, which could lead to you over-promising but under-delivering. If you’re thinking of cutting costs by whipping up a quick video on your smartphone with your employees as the cast, keep in mind that for brand perception, a poor-quality video is worse than no video at all.
The pros of working with a good production company are that they value their work. Providing a budget before you commission a video allows production companies to produce the highest-quality content within the budget you have available.
(Optional) Write and Revise a Video Script
Christian Bale – or Batman as you might know him in his professional life – once said: “I only sound intelligent when there’s a good scriptwriter around.” His words are a testament to the power of a fantastic script.
Your script needs to grab attention; it needs to be clear and concise. It’s where the big decisions are made. The thought of writing a new script from scratch can be quite daunting, and it’s even worse if you don’t have much writing experience.
Taking the time to get professional input - whether that’s from professional video scriptwriters or the video marketing agency you’re working with - at this stage of pre-production is an extremely worthwhile investment!
4) Include (subtle) Call to Actions
Smarter, more subtle nods have almost replaced the more traditional blatant call to actions, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a place for friendly reminders. Subtly promoting your business can push your audience to complete the goal you’re working toward.
So how do you land a subtle call to action?
The answer is simple: Plan the video as you would normally, without mentioning any calls to action. Then, when the content is coming to a close, ask your viewer to take action - whether that’s by visiting your website, clicking a link, or making a purchase.
5) Get to the Point within 8 Seconds
In a world of disappearing ‘stories’ loaded up with stickers and filters on Snapchat and Instagram, it’s essential to know that most viewers will click away from your video after the first eight seconds if their attention wavers.
Why? Because the average attention span is just 8.5 seconds (which is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish, by the way).
Fortunately, the first eight seconds of a video are just enough to include a brief introduction, placement of branding, and what will be included within the video.
6) Decide Your Ideal Video Length
When it comes to determining the length of your video, the total run-time will affect your overall completion rate (the percentage of people who watch until the end). As you might expect, there’s a direct correlation between video length and viewer drop-off.
You’ve got up to two minutes to hold your viewer’s attention, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. If you’re making short videos, you don’t need to stress about the difference of a few seconds. Just keep it under 2 minutes.
The platform you are posting to will also affect video length. Instagram, for example, caps video length to 30 seconds before you are forced to post to Instagram TV, with a cap of one hour.
7) Create (and Follow) a Storyboard and a Shot List
A storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold, shot by shot. It’s made up of several squares with illustrations or pictures representing each shot, with notes about what’s going on in the scene and what’s being said in the script during that shot.
Just as a video script is an essential pre-production tool, a storyboard is invaluable as an efficient way to visualise the shoot before it happens. Why? Because the storyboard takes the script and verifies that it is possible by taking the images in your head and putting them on paper.
It can also help to answer questions like:
• Where does the light come from?
• What does the location need to have for the production to work?
• Is there a location in mind?
• What tools or props will each shot require for them to look and feel the way the script intended?
Just as a storyboard is the scene-by-scene breakdown of a video, a shot list is the shot-by-shot breakdown of each scene. A great example is seen below.
Shot lists include specific details— like camera placement and lighting direction—making this document the ultimate pre-production planner.
Shot lists usually include:
• Scene number
• Shot number
• Shot description
• Actors involved
• Props needed
• Extra notes
So, make sure this is on your pre-production to-do list (after crafting your storyboard). Covering these two areas with help from your producer and videographer will save you tons of time during production.
8) Create a Production Schedule
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to think about when and where you’ll be recording the video. This is your production schedule or a shooting schedule.
You’ll need this document to make any kind of judgment call on whether your video project is going according to plan and to manage the time expectations of stakeholders.
Your video production schedule should include key information, such as:
• People needed
• Contact info
• Date and time
A production schedule is a one-stop-shop for all your production questions and concerns and should be updated regularly and shared with the entire video team.
9) Overestimate the Time You’ll Need
It’s always best to under-promise but over-deliver. One of the best ways you can do that is by not giving yourself a narrow window of completion, especially if you aren’t familiar with video production workflows.
You don’t want to rush through one section of your storyboard because you haven’t allocated enough time to film it, and potentially need more time to re-shoot.
So, if this is your first time working on a video or if you still feel you aren’t very experienced, give yourself more time to work with to prevent unforeseen scheduling, shooting, and post-production conflicts wreaking havoc with your entire plan.
10) Decide on Locations and Visit Them Ahead of Time
Shooting on location involves travel and equipment transportation costs. You’ll need to be aware of these costs and include the location details in your production schedule.
Outdoor shots, for example, need to be scheduled based on the type of lighting you require and should be flexible in case of intemperate weather.
Visiting locations ahead of time also gives you the chance to preview each “scene” and update both your shot list and storyboard with actual, accurate pictures.
11) Determine Your Equipment Needs
Knowing precisely what equipment you’ll need for every shot in your shot list should be something that you have set in stone long before the first camera starts rolling.
Understanding the basics of a script, storyboard, shot list, and even production schedule might be easy, but knowing why a Canon 90D wide-angle lens steady camera is the best choice for a specific 3-second shot is not so intuitive.
Ideally, equipment needs will be managed directly by a Production Manager, who will coordinate equipment distribution from your shot list. However, for smaller projects, the videographer should be the one making the call.
It depends on what type of video you’re creating, the scope of the content, your budget, etc.
12) Have a Call Sheet
Regardless of whether you decide to go with professional actors or in-house representatives, one of the last spreadsheets you’ll need to prepare is the call sheet. This all-important sheet includes the contact information of every member of the film production crew and the actors.
A good call sheet will answer all the basic “who, what, where, when, and why” questions at a glance and is practically invaluable when it comes to keeping organised, calming nerves, and managing expectations.
Remember: Video Marketing Is Worth It
If you’ve reached this point and are questioning whether the video you’re planning is worth the effort, don’t lose faith and remember that video marketing is worth it!
• 20% of what they hear
• 30% of what they see
• 70% of what they see and hear!
There are many things to consider before hitting the “record” button on your latest video marketing campaign. Always make sure you’ve got the basics covered, know the purpose of your video and have the equipment you’ll need to make a solid start when it comes to filming.
The sooner you start using video in your marketing, the sooner you can leverage its power to establish thought leadership and trust to attract, qualify, and convert new customers to your brand.