Lights, Camera – and Cut the corporate video mistakes

by Martyn Greswolde*
The message that YouTube is the second largest search engine and that Google has a dedicated search results video tab is finally getting through, with organisations of every size, in every sector now recognising the power of video.
Strong video content helps attract and engage prospects. It can define a business, its products and services faster than any number of still images or paragraphs of prose. But there are pitfalls for the unwary according to corporate film maker Martyn Greswolde of Fresh Mint Films.
Your video is a reflection of your brand and must have personality. It must look and feel professional and showcase the values you take pride in as an organisation. And while it’s true, technology allows almost anyone to make a corporate video, not everyone can create a film people will want to watch, understand or respond to.
A few of the most common corporate video mistakes include:
Too much information
Overloading the video with information, cramming in years of your company’s history into edited footage won’t help. It will hinder as it will make what people are watching visually crowded and, for some viewers, overwhelming.
Instead of including a long overview of your company history, piece together a story about the service or product you want to present; or the team that delivers the service. Ask yourself what is most relevant to the core of the story you want to tell?
Making a video for the sake of making a video!
If you don’t have a plan for your video, it will fail. Ask yourself; what’s the strategic purpose? Why are you making it? If you don’t know the answers, go back to the beginning and start with a plan.
Identify an issue you can address with a video, or message you want the video to convey. Maybe your video could demonstrate the benefits of your product compared to traditional solutions; or explain a new use for old technology; or a project you have successfully completed. Just have a clear purpose that’s obvious to every viewer.
The video is too long – 90 seconds max!
The ideal length of your video is shorter than you think. In the digital age, with shorter attention spans, research shows that 20% of people will switch a video off after 10 seconds if it doesn’t engage them.
After a minute 45% of your remaining viewers will have stopped watching and 60% after two minutes. The ideal length for a corporate video is between 30 and 90 seconds, so aim for 60 seconds and deliver your key message early!
Not long, but it’s still enough time to build a compelling, focused argument for any product or service, without overstaying your welcome. Shorter run-times hold your audience and help distil your messaging.
Not keeping to one key single message
You do not want to overwhelm your audience with every piece of information about your company, its history, its mission, your product range and staff experiences.
Your viewers won’t remember anything of worth. Use a corporate video to get one clear, single message across. It is better to have one highly effective and engaging video about one aspect of your company that viewers will remember than a video that gives heaps of information, but loses the audience.
It’s obvious, but if you have more than one important point to make, use more than one video to make it. And keep on making short, concise videos.
No clear call to action
You must help viewers understand what they are supposed to do having watched your video. Ask them to visit your website, if the video is hosted off-site; ask them to talk to a salesman if your video demonstrates a product; remind viewers you have other videos to enjoy – whatever you do tell them what to do next or you might lose a valuable lead or sale.
Include a link at the end of the video that takes the viewer directly to the right page on the site, or connects to a contact form. Give your audience clear directions, don’t ever leave viewers wondering what to do next; make the call to action relevant to the video content, clear and persuasive.
Not playing to the audience
Do not just make videos you want to watch. Never forget your video is designed to engage, inform and entertain your target audience. Do not focus on the features of your product and ignore its benefits, or film your CEO talking about how great the organisation is. Both would turn viewers off.
The content and style of your video must reflect your target audience, their needs and interests. You may have to refine your message to appeal to a smaller group who are more likely to respond to your video, but this is much more valuable than simply throwing out a generic message.
You need to make sure you’ve identified and know exactly who your target audience is. Do some research to understand what kinds of video they like watching.
Using your own people
If you need to have someone on camera talking about your organisation, your service or a particular product, don’t assume someone confident in the office can be just as good in front of the camera.
Staring at the lens and following a script can be stressful for professionals, so expecting one of your service engineers to show viewers how to use a product might not be the best idea if you hope to make an informative video engaging.
A film maker will always help you hire any professionals you might need, from voice-over artists to hand models.
Not being prepared to listen
Although planning ahead is essential when deciding you have a real need for video, to help get your message across, it’s also important to listen to the professionals. An experienced corporate film maker will help visualise your ideas, but if they say it will not work, be prepared to re-think your approach and take advice on what might work better.
If you are too set in your thinking, you might just end up with a beautifully shot, well-crafted, professionally lit blockbuster that says nothing to your audience. You will feel great until the sales figures are reviewed.
A professional, experienced corporate film maker will give you more than just technical competence; they can help you create and sell an idea, delivering it the form of an engaging film. It’s the difference between two minutes of pretty pictures and 120 seconds of strategic, persuasive storytelling.
*Martyn Greswolde, owner of Fresh Mint Films, is an experienced film-maker, with a genuine understanding of the impact video has on the marketing efforts of organisations of all sizes and complexity.