Many startups quickly find themselves in the position of needing video content. Why? Scroll through your social media feeds for 10 seconds in the morning and you’ll see how video content dominates.
Video is king because it’s often more dynamic, engaging and “fun” than written content. It’s bar none one of the best ways to pack a punch and deliver your message. This is why website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product online after watching a product video (KissMetrics) and why 59% of executives prefer video over text (Forbes).
We typically see that the first video(s) that a startup wants to produce are one of the following:
- Explainer video: explaining your product/service at a high level
- Testimonial video: your customers talking about why you’re so great
- Company Culture Video: you and your employees talking about why you’re so great and why others would want to work there
- Crowdfunding video: Explaining your product with specific aim to get funding
The first three are great tools which we recommend any company (startup or not) create as assets for their website and social media, especially because they can be leveraged in many places.
The chief problem for startups is that even when they have someone who is marketing-savvy on the team, they often have no idea how to produce a video, how much it should cost, or even where to begin.
Having helped to lift hundreds of videos off the page and into reality for startups, I totally understand how overwhelming it can be. That said, here are some common-sense actionable tips to approach making your video:
- Know why you are making the video: Simply put, if you don’t have a clear strategic goal in mind for producing the video, you’re going to be starting off in a muddled, confused place and end up with a piece of content you don’t know what to do with. Ask yourself why you’re making the video and what you want to get out of it.
- USE A CREATIVE BRIEF!: Adding on to that point, it’s essential that you complete a robust creative brief as you start your project. A creative brief is an organizing document that outlines the key objectives, creative direction and references that are essential to producing a good video that’s in line with what you have in your mind. Writing one takes a bit of upfront work, but can prevent SO MUCH hassle and headache later on. We created a template for completing a creative brief that you can use here.
- Understand if you can produce the video in-house vs. outsourcing: Some videos are surprisingly easy to produce yourself, such as testimonial talking-heads interviews or simple content for social media posts that doesn’t have to come across as super-polished. These days, even an iPhone and a simple editing tool are often enough to create passable video content. It’s also worth checking if anyone on your team has experience with video production and editing, as many people have dabbled at one point or another. As a general rule, we recommend staying away from plug-and-play automated video making platforms, since the results are often very cookie cutter and amateur looking. That said, if you really are on a shoestring budget, you can check out platforms like Promo, Animoto and PowToons. As you start to ramp up your video production, you may decide that you need a dedicated in-house person or team to produce video content for you. There is a lot of cost-saving and efficiency to be had in doing this, when you get to that point.
- Have a sense of your budget: If you’re just diving into the world of video production, you probably have no idea how much a video should cost. However, you do probably have some sense of how much money you can devote to video--which, if you’re a startup--is often not a huge sum. You shouldn’t expect that you can produce an Apple-quality TV commercial for a few thousand bucks. That said, it is possible to get a great, professional video even with a modest budget. We’ve created a simple price estimator tool that should help give you a good baseline cost for your video, if it helps. Caveat: this is for typical online marketing video, snot TV production.
- Find the right videographer to work with: No easy task, obviously, but there are ways to quickly find the right person to produce your video. One of the easiest is asking for referrals from friends and colleagues who have made videos before. One major question you should think about is whether your video needs to be produced locally, or if it’s location-agnostic. If you need to film it in your own offices or in a specific setting, obviously you’ll need videographers from those locations. If it’s animated explainer or a branding commercial, for example, you shouldn’t feel limited to using videographers or animators in your local area. Like other industries, the web has democratized video production in exciting ways. On our site, you can find the right videographer to work with by inputting your video type, budget and industry and watching relevant examples from our network of top videographers. The price tag is also included, so you get a better sense of the costs. Once you find someone you want to work with, you can start chatting with them through our site and manage the project and payment directly online. This is an exciting space and there are many other sites out there that can also help you source a videographer, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Storyhunter. Each site has a different “flavor” and way of doing things.In the same way that we don’t recommend working with automated movie making tools on the low end of the budget spectrum, startups should also typically avoid working with huge production and ad agencies who have high overhead and markups that quickly balloon budgets out of reach.
- Figure out what you’re going to do with your video after it’s done: Too often we see startups produce beautiful videos that they then let languish on their homepages or YouTube page. You need to have an actionable plan for how you’re going to use and promote your video content. Paid marketing via YouTube and other channels is one option, though probably one out of reach for many startups. We’ve created an easy checklist of ways you can promote your video content for free.
Producing a video often seems like a daunting and mysterious task for startup founders and employees, especially when you’ve never done it before.
But as video content continues to “eat the web,” it’s becoming increasingly crucial to be able to produce engaging, informative video content that explains and “sells” your products and services. It can be too tempting to focus exclusively on your product and not how it will be messaged and broadcast, even if it’s just to investors or in presentations. Video (when done right) is a gift that keeps on giving, as the assets can be repurposed and leveraged in a variety of ways.
If you have any questions about video production, feel free to reach out.
Here’s a few examples of the four main types of videos startups make to give you some inspiration!
1. Explainer Video:
This one is short, pithy and funny and explains the product at a high level without getting too technical:
2. Testimonial Video:
This one is a compilation of 10 testimonial videos put together, but you can see the high quality and the focus on the client (instead of on YOU) which really sells your product/service in the most effective way:
3. Company Culture Video:
ZenDesk takes a risk with some absurd copywriting, but ultimately, comes across as a fun, eccentric and interesting company to work for:
This crowdfunding video has it all— a good founder story, expert credibility, amazing product shots that really give a “gee whiz!” factor to the product. A little long but so cool and compelling it makes you want to reserve yours immediately: