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Twelve steps to video marketing savings

By Tim Cumming and Helen Pain, updated 19 Jan 2021

This guide assumes you've already worked through Video marketing: cost and return budgeting strategy. So armed with your approximate figures for purpose, we come to the big checklist - everything you wanted to know about price and savings, but were afraid to ask.

What you spend on video and what you get back are, of course, closely related. And we're not just talking about money - your time, and how you use it, is just as important. More than anything, try to remember that you're not really buying video, you're buying response. As the 2021 Gartner report on embracing marketing risk shows, facing risks head-on will drive up ROI.

Buy wisely, benefit freely

Here are 12 steps to video marketing savings that will take you a half day or so to complete:

Close up of a bull statue

The ultimate video savings checklist

1. Quantity

How much video should you buy? Put simply, enough to get your messages through to enough people to hit your chosen targets. That might be five two-minute explainer videos, making ten minutes total duration. The total number of minutes that you're offering to your audience will impact directly on the diversity of message and relevance that you can offer.

Do List

  • Planning: Map out your marketing and sales pipelines and see where you most want a video nudge, then prune with caution; messages conveyed both deeply and broadly enough in under six to eight minutes total (two minutes of proposition, two to four explainer and two of reassurance or convincing) is possible but rarely seen.

Time Taken: 30 mins.

2. Economy

Can you have just one video? Of course. Single videos generally need to be mighty to stand on their own and generate response, for example, to a detailed answer to a common and sizable problem that your clients have. On the flip side, the fewer videos you buy, the harder they have to work to generate response.

Do List

  • Single video: If you're considering just a single home page taster video that sets out your proposition, try to see it from your buyer's perspective. Will a taster alone make your buyer enquire? If not, what else could you support it with?
  • Budget: If your budget is tight, and you can only afford one good video, try a persuader video (designed to drive viewers to a specific action) or a convincer (designed to develop a sales lead), not a proposition piece.

Time Taken: 15 mins.

3. Capability

One of the biggest single factors of them all is finding out about the video company you intend to hire. Bigger, more high-end firms will largely give you more skills, planning time, reasoning, and thorough preparation. Smaller firms may tend to wing it more, focused on making, and have smaller audience winning expertise. Freelancers may be super-affordable for the creative part, but may leave you lacking in the planning, deployment and placement departments.

Do List

  • Research: Check out the portfolio and reputation of your chosen video company - this can be done online with relative ease.

Time Taken: 60 minutes.

4. Quality

What level of quality should you seek? The level that best matches your professional heft. Not technical quality, just the quality of your narrative, your story; the clarity and engagement with which it's expressed. Just as design communicates your worth, narrative quality communicates the reason to buy. That's important for every business.

It takes thought and care to express your proposition, process or customer experience, in a way that feels just right to the buyer. Sadly, blandness and caution are everywhere, such as in B2B services. A quality narrative will counter that, and help you to stand out. Generally, this is one area you really shouldn't scrimp on.

Do List

  • Storytelling Basics: Define and map out what story you want to tell; why you want to tell it; who will be in it (i.e. your CEO, investors, or the shop-floor employees, or all three); and what you want your audience to do with it
  • The Wow Factor: Discuss with your colleagues what is it that makes your company unique, and propels you head and shoulders above your competitors.

Time Taken: 60 minutes.

5. Animation

You might want animation, because it's faster, cheaper. Templated animation certainly is (for example, from build-your-own-video animation sites), and these may well help you get a clear message across at low cost. And, if you position on price, templated animation will help you convey that. It's great for explaining a complex or a new process, where live action or dramatisation will be too costly.

Custom animation isn't cheap, generally. You can sketch a figure of £20-£40 per second of custom 2D animation and £30-£70 for custom 3D animation, including story development, and original artwork or models. You can get this lower if you buy warehouse models or stock artwork. However, a word of caution; animation can help you to hide; it rarely builds trust because audiences aren't meeting your team or hearing your beliefs, ethos or empathy.

Do List

  • Message: Consider the message you want to convey: will an animation sell your company more effectively than showing the real thing on video?
  • Trust: Is trust more important than process? This is a useful question to ask, and if the answer is yes, it's probably best to avoid animation. And potentially save.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

6. Visibility

High visibility isn't just about website prominence or Youtube standout; it's also about search. Getting the right keywords and copy, transcript and thumbnails, in all the right places. Having a video sitemap. Ringing all of Google and Bing's nicely. And underpinning your overall SEO with new harmonious video SEO.

Do List

  • SEO: Do you have this in place? Have you factored this into your marketing at all? It's worth saying that, if you're not serious about SEO, don't even think about doing this. SEO is a long game, and it's costly. This is a potential saving area.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

7. Reach

How many people do you need to reach? Handy tip: 'as many as possible' isn't really a viable answer. Just put two numbers on it - viewings and responses. Responses to measure against your goal. And viewings to work out the response rate, which is a measure of the relevance of your message.

Do List

  • Calculate: How many people would you like to reach? 100, or 100,000? How many of those would you like to reach out to you? These numbers will guide any decent video marketer on the amount of placement work that your project needs. If you're not seeking a measurable response (er, why?) this feature can be dispensed with.

Time Taken: 30 minutes.

8. Graphics

Infographics can add static, statistical weight to a video, while motion graphics are pieces of animation or digital footage which create the illusion of motion or rotation - they look fancy and like animation, they can explain processes effectively but struggle with storytelling.

Do List

  • Refine the amount of graphics work: this kind of work can add much to cost. It's great to clarify or reinforce points with graphics, but simple and affordable often works as well as beautiful and sophisticated in this context.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

9. Editing Pace

The cut rate, i.e. the average duration of a shot, directly influences the amount of work an editor has to do. A pop video is usually around 50 to 60 cuts a minute. A fast-paced business promo might be 30. A typical explainer, perhaps 12-15. And an emotional advert or poignant convincer might be six to eight. In short, there's room for savings if you've an appetite for slow pace.

Do List

  • Pacing: Discuss and agree the pros and cons of pacing with the video company, and how it fits in with the story you wish to convey.

Time Taken: 30 minutes.

10. Locations

Where you position yourself, your colleagues, and your employees, can give viewers a sense of your workspace and how effectively you operate within it - this is where the magic happens. It can also present logistical headaches, especially where time and budget is concerned, such as organising transportation and people's diaries.

Do List

  • Cut the number of filming locations: If you're having remote-filming done, this isn't an issue at all, but if you're having local filming - at your workplace or key premises - costs can climb when they move beyond a single location.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

11. Interviews

Interviews will bring out the honesty and integrity of the interviewee, and if you can hold down the number of filmed interviews, you'll trim a little budget here. But it's small. Consider the impact of having multiple participants, in shorter, more succinct, interviews.

Do List

  • Add extra interviews to boost the visual variety: Show the 'stick of rock' effect - you're all aligned in your ethos and beliefs, all the way through the whole company. Worth bearing in mind that there's a minimal saving on offer.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

12. Richness

This is one of the hardest parts of cost-cutting because you need a clear sense of what you're cutting. Dropping from 12 to eight shot types can stifle a promotional film, making it look lifeless or wrong. On the other hand, if you've got an intimate exec profile, that number would work well. The visual richness of films - the variety of shot types - is always reducible, but it needs deft creative handling. Five surprisingly visual B2B marketing hacks for easing out of lockdown will give you further ideas.

Do List

  • When in doubt, ask: always worth checking with your video firm to clarify what needs cutting in order to maintain the quality of the piece.

Time Taken: 15 minutes.

Red button and machinery

Getting a quote

Now you know the bounds of your project, and which economies you're prepared to make to get maximum value, you can call around and ask for quotes. Remember to stay shrewd - and, below, we explain how to watch out for under or over detailed proposals.

The over-detailed proposal

To get you to price, many video firms will earnestly take you through a step-by-step process to define a brief first. Any video firm worth its salt will want to inspire you, demonstrate thoroughness and clarify all the deliveries. In all honesty, that's a fairly lengthy process and at the initial stages of scoping a price, you're probably just not ready for all that.

A further problem is that building the brief over several meetings allows your video firm to gently talk you into a larger project than you need. Many will avoid the marketing consequences of the video's business purpose because they're limited to production alone, lacking the skills needed to deploy or place your videos. Firms making bland videos that remain unseen and ineffective is a sad consequence of buying badly.

The under-detailed proposal

At the other end of the scale, you may be drawn to others who may just ballpark you to win the contract quickly, and if you're budget oriented and happy to go along with that, they'll work to it. It's a weird way of working though. You're always collaborating with a feeling that nobody really knows if you're over or under-spending.

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