Two years ago, I had the opportunity to head up to Whidbey Island for the 2nd Annual Content Marketing Retreat. The event (launched and coordinated by my buddy Russell Sparkman) was a great success with plenty of fantastic guest speakers on a myriad of topics. After a year off, Russell is back at it again this year with the 3rd Annual Retreat next month focusing on the essential components of strategic video storytelling. It should be no surprise that video consumption is continuing to skyrocket and serve as a critical tool within any savvy content marketer’s toolbox.

I recently connected with Russell to ask a few top of mind questions around video’s role in the content marketing mix. Enjoy the discussion below and come on out to WA to join the Retreat if you can!

Content Marketing Retreat

What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to properly budgeting video?

For the newly initiated, sticker shock is often the first challenge to overcome. The response is consistently “we can’t afford to do video.”

But that’s often because they’re taking a narrow, short-term view of the use of video.

It think it’s important that businesses today equate money spent on video as a capital investment that’s going to provide return on investment over an extended period of time, especially when it’s planned and applied strategically.

If a business (or non-profit) understands the long term value of many types of videos, then the process of arriving at a budget that fits the
project can begin.

When it comes to video, money buys the three-legged stool of Time, Creativity and Tools. The bigger the budget, the more time, the more creativity and the higher the production value of the tools that can be used. As budgets come down, you begin the process of making compromises on any one of the three legs of the stool.

As a budgeting framework, you can think of budgets in terms of “costs per finished minute.” Generally speaking, videos can range from $1000 per finished minute, up to $5000 per finished minute.

However, due to variables in time, creativity and tools, this means a one minute video could be as much as $5000, or a five minute could
be as little as $1000.

I’ve written a blog with more information about High Production Value vs. Low Production Value videos for the Content Marketing Institute, which can be seen here: How to Plan a Video Budget.

Are shoestring video budgets really possible?

As for whether or not shoestring video budgets are really possible, the answer is “yes,” as long as the decision to produce a shoestring
budget video is made based upon a strategic reason.

Knowing that a shoestring budget is all that’s available will force compromises in time, creativity and tools, or overall production

So, as long as this is understood, and the final “on a shoestring budget” video strategically aligns with an audience type and audience
need, then videos can be produced on shoestring budgets.

Examples that come to mind are simple how-to videos about a product that may be taped by an employee, with a consumer-grade
video camera on a tripod, using an on-camera microphone, in an office and then edited in iMovie.

But, if your video requires scripts, narration, multiple cameras, a video/audio crew of more than one person, post processing in Final Cut Pro, with motion graphics, and so on, you begin to emerge from the shoestring budget category and into the realm of larger budgets.

Vine and the six-second video. Content marketing fad or tip of the spear for how brands will incorporate more short-form video into the mix?

Great question, and it’s one that gives me the opportunity to emphasize the role of content strategy first, before decisions about platform.

If your video requirement, based upon your content strategy, is to provide detailed information about a product, service or cause in order to get people to make a decision, then Vine is not the most likely candidate.

However, if the strategic imperative is to communicate something about a brand in a way that is offbeat and quirky, and is suited for delivery as a 6 second video, then Vine is the way to go. And it’s worth mentioning that the teen and young adult demographic is larger on Vine, which is another way to make a judgement about whether Vine’s the right approach, or not.

Comparatively, if you’re selling highly complex products in the B2B marketplace, Vine probably wouldn’t be the right approach for reaching a middle-aged purchasing manager.

You’ve planned to make a stellar video, great. What are three key strategic considerations marketers should consider around distributing and promoting this video?

My answer is based on the assumption that we’re talking about videos that are meant to inspire, inform and influence an audience to buy or support a particular product, service or cause.

If so, then we know that virtually everyone goes on a “buyer’s journey” through similar stages or phases of Awareness, Consideration and Decision.

The first decision then becomes about which stage the video is being produced. A video meant to generate Awareness of a product, service or cause may be very different from one created to help someone arrive at a Decision.

Secondly, based upon which phase of the buyer’s journey you want the video to reach a target audience member, you can then make strategic decisions about types of videos. Is the video going to be off-the-wall funny and creative in an attempt to capture attention, generate shares and likes, etc., or is it going to be deliberately didactic because it’s instruction about how to do something?

The answers to these questions influences everything from budget to production values, to size of production teams, and more.

Thirdly, you can make distribution decisions about platforms. Awareness generating videos might have their best home on YouTube, due to size of audience, discoverability through search, etc. However, a video that is part of a step-by-step instruction might be better served on a platform such as Brainshark.

What’s the best brand video you’ve seen in the past year?

Hands down, Chipotle’s Back to the Start.

Whenever a brand makes a statement about a value that’s more than just selling their product is a great starting point, in my opinion (as long as they strive to authentically live that value). So, I appreciate what Chipotle’s done here, from that point of view.

Additionally, I appreciate this video because of its character development, skill in storytelling, beautiful and compelling animation and choice of music (Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s The Scientist).

Is it effective?

Here’s a great case study (in video, of course) about the Chipotle video, and the successes they’ve had with it:

What are 3 great resources you recommend following for video marketing insights?

A very comprehensive website devoted 100% to online video marketing.

Content Marketing Institute
Most comprehensive info on content marketing, of which video is a major component.

Get Seen: Online Video Secrets To Building Your Business
By Steve Garfield
The most comprehensive book on the topic so far.

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