Video Marketing

Co-operative social networking is a win-win

Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks
Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks

by Debbie Bateman

I’m sure that you know how important networking is for connecting with potential customers. When we need a product or service, we all tend to ask someone we know for a recommendation. The advantage of this approach is that it gives us confidence in the quality of the product or service being offered. If the person we know was satisfied, we believe we will be satisfied too.

It used to be that word-of-mouth spread by phone or face-to-face contact. Nowadays it spreads by the internet and the message reaches an exponentially increasing audience. Thanks to social media for business, satisfied customers can share recommendations and business owners can share their expertise with a huge audience.

The key to sharing expertise and winning new customers is to provide value-added content. It demonstrates your expertise and it makes people happy because it solves a problem. Video is a great platform for this purpose because it grabs people’s attention.

But what is value-added content? If you figure out what your customers need to know and give that information to them, you are providing value-added content. For example, a lawn care service might explain how to remove fairy rings. A roofing company might explain how to tell when a roof needs replacement.

Customer recommendations and value-added content are good, but what if your marketing budget is limited? You may think that you can’t afford videos. The driving force behind all social media is people helping each other. The same force can be used to expand the budget available for video and the number of people who will see the video. If businesses that market to a similar customer base combine their resources and create a video that is shared on all of their social networks, the reach of the message virtually explodes.

Let’s look at a simple example. A butcher shop wants to highlight the quality of the meat it provides. Local chefs want to showcase the wonderful meals they prepare at their restaurant. They decide to join forces for marketing. The butcher shop provides the steak and the chefs prepare a meal—all of this is captured on video. You can almost taste the steak it looks so good. Both businesses share the video on their social networks. The message reaches more people. Both businesses gain new customers as a result and they both were able to stretch their marketing budget. Talk about a win/win.

Here are a few other potential matches:

  • a cheese shop and a wine shop
  • a business offering kayak tours and a nearby resort
  • a photographer and a wedding planner
  • a realtor and a landscaper
  • a childcare service and a yoga studio

There are hundreds of combinations. You already know which businesses fit best with yours because you already network with them. Share the cost, fun, creativity and adventure while increasing your social reach. Let’s find someone you can team up with and together we can create that next great video sensation.


Video Production Visual Storytelling

What is pre-production and why should I care?

Pre-production counts
Like a glassblower we pre-plan our productions

People tend to associate video production with pointing the camera and shooting scenes. They think about location, lighting and who will appear on camera. All of that is important. Yet, the work that comes before the shoot is every bit as important.

The work before the shoot is referred to as pre-production. During pre-production, we imagine the end result in increasing detail with input from you at each step of the way. By the time that we show up to shoot the video, we know exactly what we’re looking for and why it’s important.

We begin with a needs analysis. What do you expect your videos to achieve for your business? A video that looks good is fine and dandy, but the real test of success is whether the video helps your business achieve the intended results. For example, an irrigation supply store might bring in new customers by showing how their timing device saves money. A resort might attract new tourists by showing them a day-in-the-life of a visitor.

Once we know the business results that you need, we suggest creative ways of shaping that message into a story in a brief document called a treatment. The treatment helps everyone begin to visualize what the final video will look like.

With a clear agreement on the best approach, we detail our plan of attack. This comes in the form of a storyboard or script. Again, we check with you to make sure the content is accurate and serves your business objectives.

Then we create a shot list and a schedule, so that when we show up at your business we are as efficient as possible. This reduces the impact on your business.

By the time the pre-production work has been completed, we will have shot the entire video in our heads many times. We will have refined our approach and given careful thought to how we might best tell the story visually. More importantly, every aspect of the production will have been planned to meet your business objectives.

Visual Storytelling

What is a story and how do I know when I have a good one?

StoryGreg Nuspel

Our lives are awash in stories. You can’t have a decent conversation without coming across at least one. Spiritual practices are shared through stories and so are current events. We love stories in movies and books. We learn to read sitting on our parents’ laps listening to stories.

Anyone would think with all these stories it’d be easy to create a good one. Christopher Booker has an excellent book called “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories”. Ronald Tobias seems to disagree; his book is called “Twenty Master Plots and How to Build Them”.

We could spend a lot of time arguing about how many plots there are and never begin to learn how to create a single one. My screenwriter, Debbie, loves these books. She can’t get enough of them. Any time we watch a movie or read a book, she tries to pigeon hole the plot structure. Okay, I admit it, I’ve been known to enjoy those conversations too.

But the other day I asked her to make my life easier and give it to me in simple terms. What is a story? How do I know when I have a good one?

I’m pretty sure she got it from someone else because that’s what writers do. She said, “story is character change through conflict.” It doesn’t have to be head-to-head combat. The conflict can be as simple as a problem. The important part is that the character must change. We all hope for that, the possibility of positive change and we love watching it happen.

So what does that mean in terms of business videos? Start with a character people can relate to and give that character a problem. Let the character struggle a little before finding the solution because that’s the emotional hook. Then show the character overcoming the problem. This is the change: from frustrated to triumphant. Who doesn’t want to experience that?

I like using a truck commercial as an example. The truck is shiny and red. You had a toy just like it as a kid, so you instantly like it. The truck faces an incredibly rugged road on a precariously steep slope. We see its wheels spin and the mud flying. We hear the growl of its engine. The truck makes a hairpin turn, zips down the steep slope, and arrives at the destination with its windshields gleaming.

Stories about a character overcoming a challenge stick inside our heads. The reason is simple: they evoke an emotional response. So to answer the second question, you’ll know you have a good story if it makes your audience care.

Visual Storytelling

The Talking Heads were an awesome rock group

Debbie Bateman 

I enjoyed “Burning Down the House” as much as anyone. It’s a great song and the Talking Heads were awesome as a rock group. But if that’s all you have in your video, you’re missing out on the key advantage of visual storytelling.

Videos are stories told through moving pictures. With the best ones, you can turn off the sound and still follow the gist. Exciting things happen and they take up most of the screen.

When all a video has is headshots of people talking, the only thing in motion is their lips. Once you know someone is talking, seeing their lips move is not very interesting. It might as well be radio. Plus, the rest of the screen is wasted. All that wonderful potential is lost.

Yes, it’s often a good idea to include headshots in your video. Good videos often focus briefly on people, especially the first time they speak. We all trust information more when we know who is giving it. But 5 seconds or less will do it.

Once we know who’s talking, the visuals can switch to whatever illustrates the subject under discussion. For example, we recently did a branding video for Gelinas Carr Furniture. We started the video with headshots of Sandra and Joe, the furniture makers. But once they’d been introduced, we quickly switched to the real star of the piece, which is the high quality furniture they make. As you hear them describe their process, you get to watch their work coming to life.

If you take a moment and watch the video, you’ll see that the shots involve movement and not just the movement of the machines they use to make furniture. We’ve included camera moves that mimic the experience of discovering objects with your eyes.

Because that’s the beauty and the power of strong video. It lets you see the world through fresh eyes.

Film Community

Filmmakers Film Jam

Film JamThis weekend a local filmmakers’ club had what they call a film jam. Wanting to lend a hand and have some fun, I attended. Film jams are a great way to practice your craft. The idea of a film jam is that anyone with an interest in filmmaking, from actors to camera operators and directors, gets together. Within six hours, the group plans and shoots a short film.

The first step is to develop the story. Ideas fly in. As a group, you decide on the direction the story will go. In developing the story, the group needs to consider the space available, current weather if footage will be shot outside, the acting talent, props and the equipment on hand. Everyone contributes and soon the group has a rough outline of what the film will be about, who the characters will be and how the story will be shown. This is a great time to work on visual storytelling and chop off the talking heads. It’s easy to make a talking heads video, but it takes more thought to make good use of visual storytelling.

The crew collaborates on decisions about lighting and camera angles/movements, always looking for the best way to tell the story. The group has to work fast and plan the shots for each setting. Setups cost time so it’s important to get all of the shots related to each setup. No one wants to hear that they have to reset because we forgot to shoot a scene. Getting B roll is also very important for the poor long-suffering editor. So the group will want to get all those alternate camera angles and shoot some camera movements too. The group has to work with what they have and time is short.

Every point along the journey is open to discussion; in other words, the people involved are encouraged to continuously learn from the process. It is important to let everyone contribute ideas. And it helps to question why choices are made. The group should try to have a reason for everything they do. This is when magic moments of enlightenment are likely to occur. Someone else’s vision could open a new world to you and you can do the same for the others in the group.

Mentoring is always a great way to learn because everyone gets to see different approaches to a problem. Try to remember that mentoring is not instructing. Self-discovery is at the heart of the mentoring process. If someone has an idea, explore it. If the idea doesn’t work, talk about why and everyone will learn in the process. Plan to make a lot of mistakes at a film jam, because that means you’re not playing it safe.

If you are a working pro, a film jam can help you hone the skills needed to make effective quick decisions. If you are beginner, a film jam can introduce you to the craft. Whether you are a pro or someone just beginning, take advantage of film jams at your location. You never know what you will learn. Remember, things will go wrong and some ideas won’t work, but all of these are learning opportunities. Don’t forget the most important part of any film jam is to have fun.