How to cut BIG COSTS out of BIG VIDEO

Ok – so we all know that millions and billions of people watch videos on Youtube. And we know that more and more people are watching video on Facebook and other social platforms like Twitter and Instagram. But there is so much noise around what we should all be doing to create video that the question remains: how can brands create video cost effectively to reach their audience.

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Start with a strategy:

I recently read a blog by Hubspot (who we use and really like) that gave some good advice around what to do about video marketing. Here are their top strategy tips:

·      Create product videos

·      Share your brand’s story

·      Re-use webinar presentations

·      Leverage YouTube ads to increase awareness

·      Expand on popular blog posts using videos

·      Answer FAQs in short videos

They are all good ideas. But the question remains – where do you start? Because it looks like a long list many managers will simply veto it as too expensive. But if you were to do some of it, the question remains: how can you do it on an affordable budget without putting the rest of the marketing spend at risk?

The first thing you need to think about is the cost of production. That’s right – not the media spend, but the cost of the creative. There is a vast difference between the cost of production of a Youtube vlog and a TV ad. Ultimately they are the same thing – branded content that imparts a message to a chosen audience.

But when it comes to production, you have to decide what is “good enough” for online video.

The production process doesn’t need to be so complicated

The old adage that “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM” applies here. You could go and ask your agency to hire the best there is and you will end up with great quality content that costs a fortune. Or you could ask the intern to give it a shot on his iPhone because you overheard him talking about a friend of a friend who just became a Youtube sensation. Or you could empower your team by breaking down the production process and looking where you can reduce costs when push comes to shove.

When making a video, there are some simple truths around production and making your videos “good enough”. I don’t really want to teach you to suck eggs on this one, but the reality is all you need to do is these 4 things:

1.      Form an idea and a brief

2.      Film the content using a video camera (by that I mean hire someone with the expertise)

3.      Edit the content (by that I mean hire someone with the expertise)

4.      Approve the content for distribution

Of course – you can spend as much money as you want on each of those 4 stages. Or you can spend very little. And those that are new to the game – or those that don’t understand the workflows well enough – often overlook the most costly and most underestimated stage of the production workflow – the approval process.

The Approval Process

Review and approvals are the biggest unknown cost of all production. It’s when a manager steps in and says he doesn’t like the opening shot. It’s when the brand manager questions whether the logo is big enough. It’s when the editor adds a graphic in an unknown font. It’s when someone watches the content through and the overall feeling is “meh”.

The approval process involves time and people. It can add days if not weeks to the simplest of videos. Why? Because the tools and processes people use are out-dated, antiquated and way more painful than necessary.

Here are the most common options being used today:

1.      Most of the production houses I know still favour meetings. This is great – but should be reserved for high-end TV or film productions and only for the very last approval. Just think of the real cost of getting 5-10 execs and the production crew into a room for an hour – it’s not cheap. I’ve known productions to go through approvals 10-20 times on simple 30 second ads – it’s crazy.

2.      Most of the low end is handled using free tools like Wetransfer, Dropbox memory sticks and email. That’s all fine until you start doing any sort of volume. Or if you have more than 2 versions and everyone starts downloading different versions on to their computers until it gets so confusing that no one knows who said what and then the finger pointing starts.

Video Asset Management platform

Now there is a third option for those that want to scale their video marketing: video asset management platforms. Some are good, some not so good. Some can deal with a multitude of formats, most cannot. Some are cloud based allowing for ease of access, most are not. What’s really important: choose a video asset management platform with a really easy to use interface and make sure you have easy access to multi-format transcoding.

(Why, I hear you asking, is formatting so important to the approval process? Because formatting allows whichever editor and camera operator you hire to collaborate with you regardless of their preferred format. It means you can take in anything and then spew it back out on any platform and there is nobody in-between to tell you that you can’t do that because of some technical hitch. Think about it – how many of you reading this can tell stories about distributing the wrong version of an ad? Or not being able to transcode a video into the correct format?)

What’s more, it’s key that you get yourself a system that is cloud based, that specialises in video and is able to deal with assets other than video. Why create a great approval process around video if you cannot extend it to HTML5 banners and PSDs and other files. You don’t want a different approval process for each piece of marketing collateral that you create.

The results will be clear:

·      reduced friction

·      better workflows

·      an empowered team

·      a better experience for your bosses and clients

·      significant time and money saved

By integrating a video asset management tool into your production processes you can easily save 75% of the time and energy that it takes during the approval process. It’s the biggest hidden cost when it comes to video production and often the most commonly overlooked.

So if you are looking to up your video production, start by thinking how to streamline the approval process to free up the time and budget you will need for creating more videos.

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