Okay, you’re ready to get into content marketing. You’ve got a plan. You’re going to make a video that’s interesting and provides something useful to the customer, and you’re going to make sure that your product and brand are present—but not overpowering. You’re absolutely on the right track.
Now, it’s time for the jump-off. The idea is a starting point, but what comes next? Let’s fill your toolbox with everything you’ll need to create some great material.
First off, get that idea out of your head and onto paper (or, perhaps more accurately, a Word document). Writing out that script will teach you quite a bit about just how far that idea will take you—you’ll notice the gaps, the missing connective tissue, and so on, and start revising and tightening your script.
You’ll also feel the strongest parts of your idea come through, which is equally valuable. It’s often claimed that the best feedback is constructive, not affirmational; this isn’t entirely true. Scripting your idea will help you put the most heft behind the clearest, strongest, most audience-enticing moments.
Let’s fast-forward through the scripting, to the point where you’ve reached a final copy that has cut through its problem areas and optimized its best moments. What comes next?
The next elements you’ll need depend on the format of your video. Are you using whiteboard video for your content marketing? Then you’ll certainly need a whiteboard, a filming station, markers, and of course, an artist (or artists), to name just a few of the prerequisites. And that filming station certainly isn’t a one-piece scenario, as it involves a camera, lighting, the board itself, and more. It’s safer to plan to spend more, and need more time, than it is to assume that things will be simple, cheap, and quickly sourced.
If your video is live-action, you’ll need actors, a set (be it complex or straightforward, and one that you can reliably use for the duration of the shoot), and again a good degree of equipment. This will include a suitable camera, lighting, sound gear, and personnel versed in the art of filmmaking. Depending on your set—indoor, outdoor, day or night—there’s one more tool you’ll need: environmental awareness. Is it freezing, and you can only shoot for ten minutes at a time? Does the time of day mean that the sun’s movement will cast your shot into darkness? Does the wind render audio recording difficult? These things may sound simple, but can truly overturn your chance at a good shoot for live-action video.
So far, I’ve only discussed the tools (human and otherwise) required for the actual production/shoot portion of whiteboard and live-action video. Keep the post-production process equally top of mind. This means editors and editing software, and is absolutely not a step you can afford to skip or underserve. There’s an old debate in film study about whether cinematography or editing are more important to the final look and success of a film, and there’s a reason it’s still going on: neither is truly, accurately more important. You can’t edit a quality picture using bad shots, and the best captured images will fail if edited haphazardly. Value each of these tools equally to succeed.
Now, let’s move on to what might be called ‘traditional’ animation, differing from whiteboard (and certainly from live action) in noticeable ways. One of the most significant additional tools you’ll need for traditional animation is time. It’s simply a longer process. Digital animation doesn’t perhaps take as long as hand-drawn, cartoon animation a la Disney, but they still will take longer than whiteboard, and frequently longer than live-action.
Now, we come to something that applies no matter what kind of video content marketing you’re creating: compliance. Make sure that you’ve cleared your plan with your superiors, legal department, and any other stakeholders who need to approve your script and final video. This step should happen almost immediately after script finalization; the only reason it arrives late in this article is that it’s not quite a tool. But it is the vital step necessary to ensure you don’t waste your time acquiring tools, be they personnel or equipment. Don’t doubt that the sting of denial at the post-production stage is a painful one.
Now, I haven’t gone through a lot of product names or equipment specifications here, which might be a bit confusing—why would I talk about ‘tools’ without calling out any of the best ones? I’ve proceeded this way for a few reasons. Primarily, I’m interested in conveying the scope, not the technical specs, of video content marketing. It’s more important, at least as you begin, to know how many different balls you’ll need to juggle than to be absolutely certain which type of ball is superior. I’m focused on catching and throwing in rhythm, first and foremost.
Secondly, I’m avoiding product endorsements and the like as I believe there are an abundance of sources that can tell you which cameras are best for which uses, which lighting rigs will provide the best indoor setup for a small room, and so forth.
Finally, I think the most revelatory and important parts of your toolbox when creating video content marketing are the human- and process-related elements (those relating to editing, location scouting, and post-production). When I talk about the amount of personnel on a live-action set, I’m not just trying to get you to think about how much you’ll pay them, or scheduling issues—I’m hinting at the fact that you’ll need to get along with these people.
It’s a social enterprise as much as it’s a goal-oriented one, and you need to approach any video shoot with a mind ready for compromise, active listening, camaraderie, and a willingness to change plans according to others’ needs. Even in a smaller group, like whiteboard video production might often be, the same is true: respect, fairness, forgiveness, and frankness are as important as the technical skills you bring to the table.
You won’t accomplish great video content marketing if you drive away your co-creators, as they are as important as the tools they hold and use. So be cognizant of your set, your equipment, and your collaborators, and be absolutely sure before you involve anyone to any significant extent that you have clearance from any and all stakeholders before you enter into the project. With these considerations in mind, you’ll have everything you need to create great video content marketing.
What do you think are the most important tools in video content marketing? Do you agree that compliance/approval is key, or would you rather try something and see what your superiors think of it? Would you say that the precise equipment is of paramount importance, or would you describe the people involved as the crucial element?