Video risks – and laziness

Video risks – and laziness
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Yes, you can produce video content using your iPhone.

I recently had a phone call from a customer enquiring about the cost of producing a video for his company's YouTube channel. It was for a very simple demonstration of his product, which would probably only take an hour or so to shoot. We were discussing the content, the location for the shoot, the deadline for the edit and so on when he asked me this question: “Can't I just shoot it on my iPhone?”

“Of course you can,” I answered. It’s actually very easy. You point your iPhone at what you want to shoot and press record. Then you edit the footage in iMovie on your iPhone, and upload directly to your YouTube channel. Job done.

Of course a professional cameraman will get better shots – they know about lighting, composition, exposure and so forth and have better cameras and lenses. But as long as you hold your iPhone steady and capture the right action, that may well be sufficient for your audience.

But before we even get to how a video should be produced, there are two way more important topics to discuss. The first is content, and the second is brand.

Going back to my phone call with the customer, I asked another question: “Is the video just going on YouTube?”

“Actually we're going to a trade show in Europe next month, so we'll probably have it playing on our stand there too.”

Now that, of course, is a game changer. Whereas his YouTube audience is primarily truck drivers who just want to see how the product works, a trade stand at a European exhibition is a whole new story.

Clearly there is a strong case for a more polished, professional video in this situation. And careful consideration needs to be given to the target audience and content, to make sure the key marketing messages are clearly communicated and the brand is well represented.

It’s a really interesting phenomenon. With the proliferation of online video, a lot of which is shot on handycams or smartphones, many companies are jumping on board and putting video content on their
websites and social media channels.

But I am surprised by the number of companies, many of them major brands, who will happily display poorly produced video content. They would never consider designing their own brochures or websites, and they recognise the importance of their agency’s role in maintaining their brand, but don’t necessarily extend this requirement to their video content.

I was recently browsing through the website of a major Australian bank, and was very surprised to see the name of the bank misspelled in one of their videos. They have a global brand, a fantastic website, and videos that look like they were produced by high school students.

I think some of this can be attributed to the traditionally high cost of producing good video content.

But since production costs have reduced significantly over recent years, there is really no reason why a company’s online video content should be produced to a lower standard than their other marketing
collateral.

I think there is also an element of agencies shying away from video. Some agencies are just not confident discussing video content, or find it difficult to convince their clients to allocate enough budget to do it well. But a good agency sees itself as a protector of its clients’ brand. They will fight tooth and nail to stop any content that compromises the brand from reaching the public domain. And as online
video becomes a bigger part of the marketing mix, they are being more proactive about managing video content too.

So back to the phone call with my client. Yes, he could shoot it on his iPhone. But if it looks like a home movie, it will clearly affect the audience's perception of the quality of his product. And before he decides how to produce it, it's way more important to think about the target audience and key messages. How will they find the video? What are they looking for? And no one is better placed to answer those questions than his agency, who created his brochures, and wrote the copy for his website.

My advice to agencies is to be proactive with your clients when it comes to video content. A few seconds of iPhone footage used as a quick Facebook update may well be appropriate for their brand and
their audience. But there is no point in producing a video just for the sake of populating a YouTube channel, especially if the content is not consistent with other marketing collateral, or the production
values are going to reflect poorly on your client's brand.

If you haven't already done so, now would be a great time to update your clients' brand guidelines to include the production of video content.

Jonathan Packard is managing director at Louder Than Words. 

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