What’s your video setting out to achieve?

Video does one thing really well, and that’s to disseminate certain information with minimum effort from the viewer. So, for example, if you wanted to find out what a company is all about, it can be easier to watch to a two-minute interview than it is to read a 400-word article. Or if you want to demonstrate how to unscrew a blue widget successfully, a video can be worth a thousand pictures, each of which in turn can be worth a thousand words. Of course, some people can’t (or don’t want to) watch video, so it’s always important to annotate or even transcribe the story alongside. But overall, video is a welcome addition to our marketing communications armoury.

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Like any marketing initiative, however, a video needs to have a purpose. Too many videos are made for the same reason that companies go to sparsely-attended exhibitions, or buy front covers on little-read magazines: to satisfy a pushy MD or sales director. In this case, videos are normally ordered “because we need one of those too”. They’ll end up as one of those three-minute corporate puff pieces, with an actor narrating over close-up shots of electronic components being assembled, to a soundtrack of “dynamic” synthesiser music. Or they’ll even be like the one above.

Your video might have cost five thousand quid, but nobody will ever watch it all the way through, except those forced to do so while waiting for a seminar to begin.

If you started out by saying: “What’s this video setting out to achieve?”, like you do with a press release, for example, you’d commission something quite different. You’ve probably only got the chance to put over one or two messages – so work out what they’re going to be, and how a video can make it easier. If it can’t do so, don’t make the video.

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