Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Great video content on a tiny budget

Thanks to Emma Cobbledick of Genius Marketing for this guest post.

I’m sure you’ve heard at least a few of your marketing savvy friends and colleagues riff about how video is the future and we all need to be producing amazing video content to make the biggest possible impact on the modern web. All well and good but how does the average small business achieve this on a tiny budget? Here are some of the things I’ve learned whilst assisting with video projects for clients and friends:

Decide your approach

Deciding your approach means answering these two simple questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the video? (i.e. what do you want people to feel and ultimately do after watching it?)
  2. What do you need to show people to achieve that purpose?

So if your idea is to do a demonstration video of your software to help people see what they’d be buying, you’re going to want to be devoting your energy to the best possible recording of your voice with a clear visual of what is happening on your screen, followed by a simple call to action and maybe an incentive to buy now.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to position yourself as a credible, knowledgeable person in a particular field, we’ll need to have you front and centre in your video not your screen and focus on creating that image through what you say, how you say it and all the nonverbal cues you give your audience. Instead of finishing by asking people to buy, you’d give them the option to engage with more of your content, sign up for your newsletter, get in touch, whatever feels most appropriate.

Some interesting examples

Here are a few links to different styles of low budget video to inspire you when creating your next piece:
Take a fridge or whiteboard, some Plasticine, record and speed up before laying the voiceover on top. It really is that simple, check it out:

The product is something really mundane and boring but using humour these guys manage to keep the product front and centre without losing their audience to boredom…there are endless possibilities to keep the series going also:

This is a music video but the style would be ideally suited for a commercial style video production and it was very cheap to produce:

There are a few clever editing twiddles here but the real meat is found in the facts coming up in front of the video and in the black and white shot sound bites, all totally achievable on a low budget with no advanced skills:

Essential kit

Contrary to many people’s assumptions, you don’t need professional cameras, lighting etc. to create compelling video content. That said it is worth investing in some small items that will improve the quality of your recordings.

Camera: If you own a digital camcorder (expect to pay £150-£160+), a decent quality webcam (£40-£60) or even a newer generation iPhone, it’s likely that this will do the job; the trick to capturing good video images is to sort out the position of the camera so you can look comfortably into it straight on (not up, down or to one side) and that your shot is well lit.

Lighting: You can shoot great video in good natural light against a clean, plain coloured wall, but if video is going to be more than a one off occurrence in your content strategy then it makes sense to buy a pair of softbox studio lights (about £70-80) which will add a really professional look to your video.

Microphone: Whilst it’s likely you can use a decent webcam to record footage, their microphones just aren’t up to snuff. A separate, quality USB plugin microphone (I use Logitech, approx. £20) will be perfect for this sort of work, or if you are using a digital camera then professional add on microphones start at £40.

Software: If you use Windows it’s likely that you already have their Movie Maker programme loaded onto your computer. This is a really intuitive programme that lets you layer video, images and music into a sleek video, with animations and other visual effects. If you don’t have it on your computer it’s free to download and to my mind the best free software out there.

Services: If you’re not very technical, you can find some very talented freelance video animators and editors to give professional polish to your recording (e-lance is a great place to source them from). Often they’ll be students or recent graduates looking to expand their work experience so their rates are very reasonable, just make sure you review their portfolio before you engage their services to make sure you like their style and are happy with the quality of what they’ve produced.

Professional delivery tips

Prepare: You don’t have to know a script word for word but you should have a good idea of what you are going to say and be comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to add humour if appropriate and try to align to content to who you are normally. Trying to be a whole different person for the camera can only end badly unless you’ve done your time in RADA.

Think about any props you might need, what you are going to wear and how you are going to structure your time (don’t try and cram 10 different messages into 5 minutes!)

Practice: Because you’re doing your video using the DIY method, there’s no time pressure; it’s not like the clock is ticking and your readies are trickling inexorably into someone else’s pocket as a result.

Take your time, do test runs, make sure you’ve got your set up right and that you can start to relax in front of the camera (this goes for voice only videos too as nerves lead to a tense sounding audio, filled with “um”s and stumbles). Work on your delivery so you’re relaxed, speaking slowly and avoiding that forced cheerfulness/in your face style of the cheesy salesperson.

Perfect: Evaluating what you’ve produced, investing time in the edit and not being afraid to go back and start over on sections you’re not happy with. That said, you need to get the video up and out there for it to do any good so if you tend towards the detail focussed and obsessive, recognise the need to define a level that is “good enough”, stop and publish your content.

About our guest blogger, Emma Cobbledick of Genius Marketing:

I’m a former marketing director turned marketing consultant and copywriter, whose 30 years of experience of a small family business has led me to specialise in helping micro businesses promote themselves effectively. 

I take the tried and tested principles of marketing and translate them into achievable, action driven plans that fit into the frenetic life of most small businesses

If you are interested in guest blogging for us then drop us a line about it.

1 comment:

  1. The newer iPhones can capture some pretty impressive HQ video which would save you a bundle shelling out for a new camera. Run that footage through a cool video app and you're sorted for video content!


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