Customer Success

Lights, Camera, Action! How to Plan a Video Shoot

November 19, 2010

When you think about social media and content marketing strategies, it’s likely that tweets, case studies, blogs, Facebook pages, and industry article creation come to mind pretty quickly.

Clapperboard 2

But what about video?

It certainly fits into the realm of the content marketing revolution. In fact, it’s quickly become one of the most powerful tools for reaching and interacting with customers. One particularly interesting recent case involves Old Spice and its “Old Spice Guy” character.

As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi points out on his blog, at one point this summer, Old Spice’s YouTube channel was the most visited in the United States in terms of total views. That’s pretty significant exposure and interaction with the product’s customers (and potential customers). Since beginning its video campaign, Old Spice has benefited from thousands of online mentions and a 1,000 percent increase in Twitter followers.

So, how does the content marketing strategy for a male hygiene product correspond to your business? Old Spice’s approach, tone, and humor might not gel with your customers, but their use of video could.

The key is to make sure that you do it right. Just like written content or audio podcasts, video content must be well produced and relevant to the consumer. Old Spice hired a marketing agency and an actor for its videos, but you don’t have to go that far. In fact, you can often leverage your own employees or customers to create compelling content that will connect with the people you’re hoping to reach. Hiring a video production crew is a good idea, however, if you don’t have the capability or resources to do it on your own.

How to Budget For the Shoot

Of course, before any company begins to put a video production plan in place, the first question invariably becomes how much it will cost. The answer — as vague as it sounds — depends on a lot of variables.

Russell Sparkman from the Content Marketing Institute wrote a great article on how to plan a video budget. Here are a few of his suggestions:

  • The decision about how much to spend will depend on the purpose, intent, or objective of the video.
  • Budget will be affected by whether a company needs Low Production Value (LPV) or High Production Value (HPV) video. LPV videos generally are filmed in-house and sometimes by a company’s own staff. They’re no-frills and minimalist, but serve a specific purpose that doesn’t require a fancy look and feel. HPV videos, on the other hand, resemble the Old Spice series. They often require a videographer and sometimes involve a production company.
  • LPV videos can cost very little. HPV videos can cost a few thousand dollars per finished minute. Decide what the value of HPV is over LPV for your company and your project. If high production value will make a difference, it may be worth the investment.

Sparkman’s article discusses both video classifications in much more detail, including providing an example of each video type.

Prepping For the Shoot

OpenView’s been working on a video creation project for the last year and it has leveraged relationships with customers, coworkers, and a couple of great video production crews in the Boston area that have helped make the job much more efficient. Here are some of the planning steps we followed:

  • Identify a solid video production crew that can take care of the setup, filming, and post-production work. In the Boston area, we’ve used Maverick Productions and D2 Productions.
  • Narrow your focus to a set of topics that are the most important for you to cover now.
  • Develop a list of participants you’d like to interview on camera and identify the main points you’d like to cover in each video.
  • Write interview questions ahead of time and develop prompts to guide your participants throughout the filming.
  • Stick to a rough schedule to follow on the day of the shoot. Each session may range from five minutes to an hour, depending on the topic and the participant.
  • Communicate the plan to each participant in advance to ensure that they feel comfortable speaking on camera and communicating your message.
  • Have participants sign video release forms before you begin recording.

If you have efficient processes in place, a team prepared to execute the video shoot, and willing subjects that are prepped for their interview, I think you’d be amazed how painless it can be. For example, in a recent video shoot with Pulizzi, I was able to record 48 videos in two hours. Each video was about 60 seconds long and here are a few lessons we learned during that shoot.

  • Have a discussion with your on camera principal (OCP) that’s about the same duration of the ideal length for the video prior to getting in front of the camera. If the OCP is unsure of the ideal length, you may end up editing a lot of extra, unneeded footage later.
  • Be sure that your OCP is comfortable in front of the camera and they understand the subject of the video. Less experienced participants may require more coaching and downtime during the shoot.
  • Have fun with it. Recording 48 videos can be arduous, so find a way to lighten the mood and brighten spirits during the shoot.

If your participants and interview subjects enjoy their time on camera, they’ll probably be willing to help you out with your other content marketing projects. The more well-rounded and relevant your content is, the more likely it will be to connect with your customers.

Don’t Forget to Edit

Of course, once the shoot is over you have to do something with that raw video. You can’t just release it on your website and hope it makes its way around the web. Start by editing it down to easily consumable segments. We used 60 second clips, which makes it easy for the user to view it quickly and not get bored by the content.

There are numerous video editing companies and services out there that are relatively inexpensive. If you don’t have the budget to pay someone, don’t fret. There are a lot of easy-to-use video editing applications on the web, like YouTube’s barebones editing service. With it, you can join clips and add transitions, breaks, and soundtracks. All of that is enough to at least make your video compelling from the second the viewer presses play.

Want your video to go viral? Online business consultant Andrea Kalli offers up 10 ways to make your video a viral sensation on her website. Among her recommendations: keep it short, use fast edits and transitions, and resist the urge to make a commercial. The video should be informational and captivating, not pitchy.

Distribution Strategy

Now it’s time to get the video in front of your consumers or prospects eyes. In order to do that, you need to do much more than simply post the video to your website or blog. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Social Network: Use services like Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon to distribute your video. TubeMogul is an excellent resource too, helping companies distribute video content by sending it to video sharing sites for you.
  • Newsletters: If you have a company newsletter that you send out to your customers and prospect, include a link to your videos or embed them directly in to the newsletter.
  • YouTube Channel: If you plan on creating a series of videos, consider creating a YouTube Channel. It stores all of your videos in one convenient location and provides a central place for users to find your content. Mashable published a great article with 10 tips for creating a great branded channel.

That should have you covered. They key is to not take shortcuts. As with product development, sometimes a bad video is worse than no video at all. While not every company has the budget to launch a video initiative like the one Old Spice put together, your video content creation doesn’t have to be big budget to be highly effective.

Like almost anything else, successful video campaigns require smart strategy and execution. If you have that, you can tap in to a fantastic resource for engaging your customers.


Corey was a marketing analyst at OpenView from 2010 until 2011. Currently Corey is the Owner of <a href="">Prep Obsessed</a> and was previously the Marketing Manager at MarketingProfs.