After nearly 12 years, and hundreds of projects, my team and I have encountered every potential misstep that you can imagine when producing a video. But, there are a few common offenders that crop up far more frequently than others. It is these widespread pitfalls that I’d like to address today, in the hopes that I can keep you from falling into them. I have done my best to keep these items relevant to businesses producing videos in general, whether internally, or with the assistance of a video production company such as mine.
Not Defining the Scope
The foremost pitfall that we see businesses falling into is the universal urge to cram a video full of every last conceivable detail pertaining to their message. The consequence of this is an overlong video, causing viewers to drop off before they’ve come across all of the essential information. When this happens, your purpose is left unfulfilled–all of that time and money spent on producing your video gone to waste. Thankfully, if you are willing to put in the brainwork, this pitfall is relatively easy to avoid.
During the planning stages, it is important to not only hone in on the mission of your video, but to carefully consider the audience that you are reaching out to. Notice that I said “the mission,” not “missions”. Your video needs to have a single resolute focus, with everything that goes into it driving implacably toward this focus. It could be to sell a prospect on the benefits of your specific product versus the competition, or to share the storied history of your organization, but it can’t be both.
And, how do you narrow in on said focus? Consider your audience and your end goal. Who are you seeking to reach? What do you want them to do once they have viewed the video? As with so many things in life, specificity is key here. Clearly identify the audience that you want to attract. What is their age range? What socioeconomic bracket do they inhabit? What common struggles do they share? Once you have this information, you can construct a consistent voice that speaks directly to them — a voice that they can relate to.
Having planned carefully, you will now have a map to guide you through conceptualizing your message. A map that will lead you on a journey from point A to point B by the most economic and engaging route, ensuring the effective delivery of your message.
Involving Too Many Stakeholders
As the old adage goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth.” This isn’t something that I need to sell you on, it’s something that you’ve experienced any number of times throughout your life. We’ve all suffered too large a committee when trying to make progress, and been hobbled by the outcome of too much democracy.
While it is advisable to include a variety of voices during the initial stages of brainstorming, retaining that chorus throughout concept development and execution is a recipe for disaster. Your core creative team needs to be small to develop a common language for the course of the project. Without this, misunderstandings abound through too many discrete goals. Everyone involved is going to have a personalized vision of what form the project should take, and unifying these ideas is going to prove a formidable task as the group grows larger. Save yourself the misspent time and frequent frustration by creating a small, core unit.
From a production company’s perspective, points of client contact that exceed a few key people make progress daunting. More than once, we have been on location and had two different client representatives give us two opposing directions. When this happens, one of two outcomes arises. Either time is wasted pursuing conflicting goals, or time grinds to a halt as various team members coalesce to determine the correct course of action. Trust me, production days are never long enough to begin with. Shaving off valuable time due to misunderstandings only enhances the risk of not getting everything, or that everything you do get isn’t up the the level of quality that it could be.
Neglecting to Confirm All the Details
You can never be too prepared when it comes to producing a video. And while you might not be taking this to the extent of storyboards, shot lists, and lighting breakdowns; there are some critical items to keep in mind. Here, I could provide a litany of what these items are, but honestly, this is dependent upon your specific project. More insightful, I believe, will be to share a hypothetical situation that perhaps isn’t always as hypothetical as it should be.
Let’s say that you are a large manufacturer gearing up to shoot a video of your facility. You’ve apprised your team on the date and time of filming, and have asked that all areas be cleaned and organized. But have you told them what your expectations are regarding wardrobe? If you are envisioning them wearing company branded attire, have you made certain that they have what they need, and, if not, that you have a plan to provide it for them? Don’t do this and you risk the only person capable of running the particular press showing up clad in a Metallica t-shirt from 1995. And, while the areas have been tidied up, has someone been tasked with walking through and making certain that all safety requirements are being adhered to? You don’t want to have to throw out footage because a pallet is leaned up against a surface that it shouldn’t be.
Everyone might be dressed appropriately, with their areas orderly, but perhaps the products you want featured haven’t been collected. You have product on hand, but it doesn’t illustrate the variety of your services, and now you either have to pause the process or set-up a second shoot day to pick up what you’re missing. All of these issues can be avoided if you are willing to put in the time upfront to ensure that you are as prepared as possible
Prep for Success
Something I forgot to mention, producing a video for your business is actually fun! The purpose of this post wasn’t to scare you away from the venture, but to safeguard you from abject failure. The worst possible outcome is to enjoy the process, only to have that enjoyment tainted by a final product that falls well below the mark. Consider the above advice, and you should meet success at all stages of the production process.