Thinking of shooting your own promotional video for your business?
I applaud you for taking the step into video marketing! You are keeping up with current marketing trends and that’s stellar! 81% of businesses already use video marketing and that number is growing every year.
Video marketing isn’t just for B2C businesses.
59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when video production was a costly, highly specialized process. However, you don’t have to be a large company with a massive budget to get started with video. Small business marketing is getting more and more access to video marketing tools to create their own professional-quality promotional videos.
Today, if you have a smartphone then chances are you own a sophisticated, high-quality video recording/editing/distribution device. It’s the future, after all. Small businesses can record, edit, produce, and distribute inexpensive promotional videos without ever contacting a full-scale production facility. So, is video production for business really as easy as all that these days? Can you really get a quality promotional video for your business without experience or putting a lot of work in? What does it actually take? Well, here are 25+ steps to making a promotional video for your small business.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
We know that so many of the videos online look off-the-cuff and spontaneous, but that is far from the truth! Trust us if they look good and are getting results, they are well scripted and shot, which takes planning, and….you got it, practice! The more time you spend looking through the lens (or at the screen), the better you’ll be at visualizing your shot before you shoot.
2. Set a goal
Know what the goal of your promotional video is before you set out making it. This will help you make script, tone, and directional decisions. Some promo video goals are:
- Educate the audience
- Drive sales
- Increase audience engagement
- Call to action
3. Plan your direction
Next, consider how you want to direct your video. When I say “director,” many people immediately go to the Hollywood film directors and think they don’t need a director. Of course, you can be your own director, but you still need direction. Decide how your video will tell the story. There are many different directions to employ, and you can combine them, as well.
4. Create a script
That’s right – put pen to paper (or thumbs to Notes) and get writing. Many people don’t think writing a script beforehand is necessary. They know the product, the goal, the tone, etc., and think they can wing it and get by. However, think about (or even go watch) an ad you really like. How long is it? Likely 30-60 seconds long. Now record yourself improvising your promo video. How long was it? 3 minutes? Longer? Were there many ‘ums’ and ‘ya knows?’ Writing a script helps you clarify your message and wording so that you can fit the whole story in a tight timeframe without the audience losing interest.
5. Build a storyboard
6. Based on steps 4 and 5 plan a shot list
It helps to have an outline of what you will be shooting and why. Are you telling a story? Are you trying to convince the world that your dog is the greatest singer of all time? Whatever the goal, if you think it through from beginning to end first, it will help your video be more cohesive and could help avoid annoying or costly roadblocks.
7. Hold the camera correctly (with two hands)
People like to actually see what’s going on in the scene, despite what some Hollywood blockbuster movies may lead you to believe. Keep the camera steady by using two hands. Or a steady cam rig. Or a gimbal. Or a stabilizer. Or just two hands. The last thing you want people taking away from your business video is a queasy stomach.
8. Set up the shot
9. Keep subject in-frame
10. Expect movement, even when none is necessary
11. Readjust your setup
Whatever it is you’re capturing for your video, keep it in the picture. If your subject is moving quickly, try to anticipate the movement and match it, rather than rushing to catch up. Also, try zooming out a bit to give yourself some more wiggle room in the frame.
12. Keep the shot in focus
13. Keep your eye on the shot, whether on a screen or a viewfinder
14. Keep the endpoint of your shot in mind
15. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is essential for creating a compelling promo video. If you’re panning the camera from point A to point B, have an actual point B to hit. If you’re telling a story, think about how this shot helps tell that story. If you’re making a video for your Facebook followers, or your boss’s birthday, think about your audience. Also, see steps 3-5.
16. Set up the lights
17. Turn on the lights
18. Balance the lights
19. Don’t get burned by the lights
Generally, a camera sensor can’t interpret the difference between light and dark as well as your eyes can. Some can, but if you own one of those, you probably aren’t reading this :). And if you do – can I borrow your camera? So, turn on the lights unless you’re really going for some kind of moody, noir feeling.
Try and keep the intensity and quality of light even. For example, if you’re shooting your weekly vlog at your desk – your head and shoulders should be lit evenly so that there aren’t areas of really bright and really dark.
Shooting video of your cat in the living room? Try to avoid that spot on the carpet where the sun hits directly; or, turn on the lights in the room to try and balance that spot out (we all know it’s her favorite spot).
20. Shoot in landscape, not portrait
You’ve heard this already, we know. First, in portrait mode, your video will be lacking all the space to the left and the right of the frame if you view it anywhere other than a smart device, which is a waste of resolution.
Second, because film and television are the standards, they influence how your promotional video is perceived in any format. Finally, it might just force you to use both hands :).
21. Keep it short
A picture is worth a thousand words, and video consists of a picture every 1/24 (or 1/30, or 1/60, etc.) of a second, depending on your platform and settings. So at 24fps, every second of video is worth 24,000 words. Most social platforms have upper limits – either file size, or length – and people have grown accustomed to absorbing information in quick, short, bite-sized chunks.
Something else to consider: video takes up a lot of space on your hard drive. If you keep your videos on the short side, then data management won’t be as much of an issue. If you’re shooting a lot, then you may need to think about where you’re keeping all those video files.
22. Pay attention to the audio!
Yes, this is about video. However, the difference between a good video and a great video is often the sound. As a rule of thumb, people will often tolerate videos with good audio and poor video quality, but not the other way around. Stand out! If you have a vlog, podcast, or webinar, invest in a microphone. Think about ambient noise, the distance the mic is from your face, acoustics, and movement.
23. Review your footage
24. Trim clips to be used
25. Edit clips together
26. Ensure lighting, sound and other elements match appropriately
27. Distribute your promo video
Ah, yes, the big empty void of the online distribution. Putting your promo video out onto the internet for others to see can be scary at first, but it gets easier with repetition. One major misstep people make is posting their video to social media calling it a day. If you’ve invested time and energy into your video, make sure that people see it! And not just anyone, make sure that it’s getting in front of your target audience. One way to do this is to distribute your video to your email list, social media channels, YouTube, and post to your website.
To reach beyond your current audience, use your video in online advertisements such as Google Display Ads, YouTube, and social media ads.
28. Don’t put yourself through all of this, contact Hot Dog Marketing to do the heavy lifting for your promotional video or business profile video!
Neil helps our clients tell their brands’ stories with photography and video. He comes from a long career as a multimedia producer working in corporate and high-tech environments. He’s turned his experience in audio and visual media and creativity into a valuable resource for Hot Dog Marketing’s small business clients.