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BtoB Marketing Video:
The Need to Upscale from Social Media

With the high degree of success of online video, new emphasis has been placed on the role of video for BtoB marketing messaging - but there needs to be an understading tha BtoB marketing video is different than social media video.

Before you rush out to put some more video on your web site or as part of your digital marketing or ABM efforts, it's a good idea to make sure you understand what's involved in producing a business video so you don't wind up looking like a social media poster, unless, of course - that's your market.

First off, for a business video - disabuse yourself of the notion that anyone can pick up a video camera and shoot video. That's OK for social media postings - but if your objective is to make a credible, professional impression - then there's lot that goes into producing even a short video clip. The more you know about these factors, then the better the chance that your next business video will wind up being what you expected, and not a point of embarrassment.

That being said, it is however, possible to make high-quality video for a very affordable cost - and video that can be updated and modified at low cost as well. But you need to know how to go about it.

There are two elements to quality business video: technology and skill. Let's take quick look at the technical aspects of how and why video is now so affordable, and then the skill items you need to know about if you're going to get a quality video.

In the last few years, both the cost and complexity of the technology to record and edit video has dropped dramatically - hence, the stage was set for the YouTube phenomena - or social media video.

However, the tools are only part of the process. The other part is the skill required to produce video that will give a professional impression (lighting, audio, camera technique) - or, more accurately, pleasing to the eye and ear. For the most part - this really hasn't changed. The more you know about the production of video, the more that you realize there is a tremendous amount of technical production detail that has to be considered in order to get a quality end product. Video cameras today can prevent some obvious technical errors - but are still no substiute for production skill. Most video viewers will watch a production that has technical errors and have a sense that something is wrong - experienced producers can immediately identify the mistakes and errors that video producer (or more accurately - the camera operator who is acting as producer) made - all usually due to a lack of skill and knowledge of the basics of good video.

A paintbrush in the hands of a house painter yields far different results than one in the hands of Michelangelo.

The point being that a video camera in the hands of two different operators with vastly different skill levels yields far different results.

Production Tips:

A second point to remember is that the newer technology has also allowed the process of making a video to change as well, but not every producer takes advantage of this. Some simply use the newer technology with the same size production crew as before - and hence the same-sized production costs. You see this more often with production houses than with solo or small video entities. The key to getting a business video shot for a reasonable budget is to use a producer who leverages the new technology for all it's worth - and does not try to shoot the same way it has always been done. A shoot these days can involve only one or two production people.

Start with the end in mind - most BtoB marketing videos are going to be three minutes or less - and you will probably want to produce more than just one video at a time (in other words, more than one message) - since most of the cost and hassle is in the set up for the shoot. That can take from half a day to a full day to get - don't expect to do it in an hour.

Perhaps the most important aspect of production is the pre-planning that takes place. The location, who will be on camera (commonly known as 'talent', regardless of on-camera experience), what they will say and how they will say it, and even the weather, if outdoors (in addition to inclement weather, both a very sunny day and a cloudy day create lighting problems). A lot these factors have to be evaluated and planned for in advance (including contingency plans) so that the amount of 'winging it' is at a minimum. This is the difference between a skilled video producer and an amateur - the amateur doesn't plan, shoots anyway, and isn't concerned about the final product.

Another aspect is who will be on camera. If you want the CEO - well, that's obvious. Usually, using staff is the least expensive and most credible option. However, not everyone is good on camera - and appearing good on camera is not as easy as it looks without either some pre-shoot coaching or off-camera coaching during the shoot. So do some 'screen tests' in advance if you have the least bit of doubt. As far as scripts go - forget it. (That is - scripts for the talent. Shooting scripts are a different issue.) Unless you are dealing with trained actors - most people can't deal with scripts, or scripted language. What you need to do is to get them to say what you want in a conversational manner - forgetting the camera. This is why your producer (or director) has to be able to engage them in a conversation on the subject at hand, or you have to use the interview format, in such a way that they forget they are being taped. With some practice, it's not quite as hard as it sounds.

Once the setup is finalized, do a lot of shooting - meaning multiple takes of the same shot or dialogue, and multiple takes with something changed. These can come in very useful once the footage is reviewed - and all the little things are noticed, like the CEO blinking their eyes. Always check the lighting and audio levels while on-site. Mistakes there are difficult to correct later. In one case we know of - the production crew found that the power outlets on site were wired improperly - causing all kinds of audio interference.

Experienced videographers also record a bunch of "B-roll" (both video and audio) - which is building exteriors, local background or scenery, office activities, noises, etc. Again, this can come in handy in the final edit.

We have seen mention of repurposing the audio track of a video as a podcast - not sure that would work very well. The two formats are different, and as Don Hewett (creator of 60 Minutes) said "The pictures support the words". If the words have to stand alone - then it shoule be produced as a podcast from the start. You may want to talk to an experienced podcast producer about dual-purposing video audio tracks.

The editing of the video is where all the pieces are put together - if it was shot according to plan and the editor was involved from the beginning (perhaps the same person who was the camera operator) - the editing process is pretty quick. If the editor is not up to speed on the project - then you can get some interesting results. Like the video looking good, but the core messaging (script) is out of context.

Something to remember is that video that is intended for the web needs to be encoded for web downloading. With formats like 4K - bandwidth and data requirements can change from the more typical HD. It's too technical to describe here, but you should make sure your editor knows the intended use and coordinates with your webmaster and social media staff.

This has been a once-over for how to develop business video for the web. As you may have gathered by now, it is a lot more involved than just picking up a camera. But then again - the results will show it.

2007-2019 Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved
The author has been a producer-director for almost 20 years, and has either directed, crewed or personally produced well over 100 productions, including 60-second PSAs, sports events, multi-camera theatrical productions, election coverage and as the director/co-producer for a multiple award-winning cablecast video series and was awarded Producer of the Year.

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