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5 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Video

So, you’ve decided that you want to produce a video, but where do you even start? Hint: It’s not the script, or even a brainstorming session. Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What are your business goals, and how do they tie into a video campaign? Not sure? Here are 5 questions to help get you pointed in the right direction.

1. Who’s your audience?

Would you talk to your grandma the same way you’d talk to the bro curling a 50-pounder next to you in the gym ? I hope not. There is a time and place for certain language, and that is especially true for videos. To be successful (we’ll talk more about what success is later) you need to be talking to the right people, in the right way.

One great example of content that has been created for the right audience is the often discussed Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercials. Check it out here:

While the Old Spice body wash is made for men, it’s interesting to note that research showed that, at the time, women were responsible for over 50% of body wash purchases.

The creative team knew if they could influence women to purchase Old Spice body wash for the men in their lives, they could potentially increase sales and get the brand back on top. Sure, it seems like a huge risk to talk to women about men’s body wash, but thinking creatively and creating content they knew would engage women (and men) paid off. When you really know your audience, it has the potential to open new doors you would never think to travel down otherwise.

2. What’s your message?

Have you ever heard the phrase “When you say too much, you say nothing at all?” No? You’re right, I made that up. But I find myself sharing this idea with my team and (sometimes) clients who want to pack as much as possible into a 1-2 minute video, which inevitably dilutes the power of the video’s message. Often times, you’re paying more money for video content, so it only makes sense to want to include every single benefit and feature to get the most out of your investment. But a singular, focused message is essential if you want to produce a video that converts.

A phenomenal filmmaker once taught me this simple structure for condensing a message into the most clear, concise, and accurate statement possible:

I want to communicate (persuade, inform, remind) audience, message so that results.

This is how an established NYC hot dog vendor might create their messaging statement:

I want to persuade millennials in New York City that Vinny’s Dogs are the juiciest dogs you’ll find in the city so I can build a larger customer base.

From that statement we can now understand exactly what Vinny wants to accomplish with his video. It’s worth noting that nowhere in the messaging statement have we mentioned what kind of video would be best to deliver that message. Focus on messaging first; then, we can determine the delivery later.

3. What are your requirements?

You, as the client, are the content expert at the beginning of the project. You, or your marketing team, know what works and what doesn’t for your product. If there’s anything worth mentioning within the video, now is the time to bring that up.

Are there certain words or phrases that you’ve found resonate best with your audience? Phrases to exclude? Are there brand guidelines to follow? Are you planning on using this video as a 30-second TV spot? Required time constraints, video quality, where the video will be distributed, branding, etc.—these requirements are helpful to know upfront to plan around and work into a concept.

4. When does the video need to be completed?

Bear with me as I point out the obvious. Knowing when the video needs to be finished will tell you how long you have to get it done. It gives a starting point, from which to work backwards to determine where and when all the other moving pieces fit in. Things like script writing, casting, set design, and post production can take several weeks each, so it’s important to know how much time you have to work with.

Now the point less obvious to some: the deadline can also drive the quality of the video produced. A video involving international locations, 10+ actors, and a few vintage WWII tanks will require a lot more time to produce than a single actor talking about the product on the table in front of them. If you have 4 weeks to deliver a video or 4 months, the two end results are going to look and feel a lot different.

5. How will you measure success?

This is one of the most important questions to think about, and oftentimes one of the hardest to pin down an answer for. The first qualifier of success in many people’s minds is virality; get it in front of as many eyes as possible! While this is great (most of the time), it may not actually be the best for your business objectives.

You want measurements you can compare over time. That might be views, it might be conversions on a landing page, or it may just be sentiment of a product on social media. As long as you can track it (and preferably have been tracking it for a while) then that’s a good place to start when determining how to measure success.

Bonus Question:
Do you have any examples of videos that are similar to what you’d like to create?

Seeing examples not only gets your wheels turning, but it also helps further communicate what you have in mind and, in a way, visualize your expectations. It doesn’t hurt to have a few examples to look at and explore what you like about each and talk a little more in depth about what it would take to produce a video similar in scope and vision.

There are so many more questions to answer when developing an idea for a video or digital campaign, but these five six questions should be enough to get a nice discussion going with you and your production team. Have any more questions you’d add to the list? Add them in the comments below.

Tim Carter

Tim is the Director of Video Production at 97th Floor, and as such believes that video is the ultimate marketing tool. Don't believe anything anyone else tells you.

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