Don’t put your video horse before your video cart.
We know it’s exciting to think about music and animation and drones and all that fun stuff, but too often people start planning the details before they know why they’re making a video in the first place.
When we first sit down with clients we ask them nine questions to truly understand the context and goals of their video. The answers are always interesting and often surprising (even to the client!), and they shape all creative choices for the project. Those questions are:
1. What emotions do you want people to feel while watching the video?
The best thing about video is its remarkable power to elicit emotions, and any good marketer knows that emotion is much better at influencing behaviour than information is. So what emotions should your video create in the viewer? Excitement? Amusement? Relief? Awe? Empathy? Positive emotions are more common but it is okay to use negative emotions too (for example fear is central to anti-smoking campaigns).
2. What is your solution?
This one should be fairly easy: it’s your product or service. How do you solve the audience’s problem? How is your solution better than your competitors’?
3. What is the audience’s problem?
A shared, common problem is what makes your audience your audience. The problem could be simple like “hunger” or it could be specific like “tool maintenance costs”, but there will always be a problem. What makes your audience’s life hard? What stresses them out?
The better you can define your audience, the more you can tailor your video to please them. Is your audience young or old? Male or female? Expert or amateur? Busy or bored? Online or offline? Your audience will influence many aspects of your video: duration, pace, look and feel, distribution channel and much more, so work it out. And be specific.
4. Who is the audience?
Seems obvious, but it's too frequent that businesses create a video without speaking to their audience, and instead focus just on their business. What does your audience want to see? Talk to them.
5. What do you want them to do at the end of the video?
Beyond just the CTA (call-to-action) at the end of the video, this answer should affect your whole approach. If you want viewers to share your video on social media, entertainment should be your top priority. If you want viewers to buy a complex product, then explaining it might be more important than entertaining the audience.
6. What is your “brand personality”?
Your video should reflect the vibe of your company. Is your company quirky like Google? Sophisticated like Mercedes-Benz? Funny? Minimalist? What kind of language do you use? What style of imagery? Look at what your brand has done in the past and be consistent with it (but better, of course).
7. Who are your competitors and what are their videos like?
Research your market. Know what competitors are doing and don’t copy them by accident (or on purpose, which is even worse). Is there something to be learned from their mistakes? Can you see what has worked for them and what hasn’t?
8. What do we have to work with?
Consider what you have at your disposal. Do you have great people who could be the face of your video? Do you have a cool warehouse we could use as a location? Do you have happy customers who would give a great testimonial? Does your uncle own a boat that we could film on? Think outside the square and maximise the resources you have.
9. Have you seen any reference videos in a style that you liked?
Considering all the answers above, hunt for videos that match the tone, pace and genre of your project. Concepts like humour and beauty can be very subjective, so having examples to talk about helps everyone get on the same page.
If you have answered all of the questions above, congratulations: you just wrote a brief! Good briefs make good videos by sparking the creativity of everyone involved but also keeping it focused in a useful right direction.
Good work – now you can start thinking about music and animation and drones (if they fit your brief!).