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The road to a good video is not always a straight line

Wojtek Jezowski

October 31, 2022

Filmmaking is a complex process, and sometimes shits the fan. But the mark of a good creator, designer, filmmaker, or any other professional is making it work in the end. By hook or by crook, it’s gotta gel, champ.

So, let’s go over the most common fuck-ups when creating video content and how to avoid them:

1. The client doesn’t know what they want.

This usually is due to a lack of a cohesive strategy. Without a clear, defining foundation of the brand’s purpose, goals, and target audience, it's hard to make valuable content. We are not fortune tellers and can’t read minds (though that would be cool).

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Create a strategy before commissioning any outside work.

2. The brief is, well, crap.

If the client has an excellent strategy but can't convey it to the agency or freelancer, their work won’t hit the mark. It’s vital that the brief clearly defines your objectives, audience etc. (look at point 1). For some good tips, check out our article "That one thing that will make your content better and save you money" to find out how to become the master of writing briefs.

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Learn to write better briefs.

3. Know what your audience wants.

It might be different from what you think they want. The more you know, the better the project will come out.

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Do your research, make focus groups or gather quantitative data, and don’t be afraid to ask your audience what they really want. 

4. You don’t tell anyone how much you are willing to spend at the start.

Picture this: You get terrific scripts for videos that send you and your bosses over the moon. Then you reveal the budget, and it turns out you can’t afford any of them. Three things can happen: You butcher the ideas to make them fit the budget, which results in a shitty version of what you intended to make (bad move). You start the pitching process from scratch (worse move - you’re officially wasting time). And finally, you have to convince the board to give you more money (risky move).

How to avoid that f@ck-up: When you reveal your budget at the get-go, you get the best ideas that are fine-tuned for your financial capabilities. You save time. And time is money.

HINT: If you don’t know how much to allocate to a campaign, send out an RFI with specific references. You’ll get a precise ballpark figure fast.

5. Lack of communication leads to misunderstandings and poor content.

That relates to the previous points, but it’s worth elaborating. The process of making a video is multi-tiered and complex. You need to have constant contact with your agency or freelancer. If you don't, you run the risk that you won't like what you get at the end of a long production process. Have you tried running agile project management in your organization? Well, it's almost the same thing. 

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Be involved in the work in all phases and remember that feedback is always good. Make sure to prepare a roadmap with milestones and make sure once you pass one, you don't backtrack. 

6. No distribution plan leads to shockingly lousy ROI.

Too many times, we’ve created videos that were thrown on youtube or any other streaming platform without any promotional plan. And then, the client is surprised that it’s not effective. Duh. It’s not like the movie, “Field of Dreams.” You’re not Kevin Costner building a baseball field. If you build it, they will not come. You have to go to them.

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Once you've created your strategy, you know who your audience is, where they consume content and how. Plan a budget to target this audience with paid media before you start commissioning the work.

HINT: If you are making long content, be sure to create snippets or trailers which can be used to promote the main content. 

7. "We want our video to go viral".

Unrealistic expectations. It’s the next best thing to godliness. You think you know all the answers, set outlandish objectives, and many limiting factors. Most professionals will give you feedback and even back out, but some will pick up the challenge because they think they can wing it. It's a disservice to everyone, and besides the fact that you may come out as an a$$hole, you will probably lose time and money on sub-par content that will not convert. 

How to avoid that f@ck-up: Trust the people you hire for their honest opinion. Set well-defined, measurable, and achievable objectives based on your knowledge of the market. (Knowledge that you have because you do your research, right?) :P 

 

Looks familiar, right? Hurts, doesn’t it? ;)

Numbered lists are fine and all, but today I want to share with you a story from the trenches. 

We were creating content for a multi-national corporation. (We won’t say which one, but there’s a case study coming, so stay tuned for updates.) We got a good brief for a video that would empower women considering a career in IT. We got to work with their marketing team, which went great. We decided to focus our concept on the challenges experienced by women in that male-dominated industry.

The idea spanned the challenges of girls discouraged from pursuing their passions to adult women confronted with the various boy’s clubs, language cues, typecasting, etc.

Sounds like a moving and powerful story, right? Everyone involved thought so. Pats on the back for everyone.

But…

At the last moment, the CEO, (who loved the script btw), decided to double-check the concept with a focus group. And THEY loved it, too! (Cue applause, roll the credits.)

Well, not really. The shit hit the fan. 

It turned out the target audience did not give a rat’s a$$ (or the a$$ of any other rodent, marsupial, or other mammal) about our story.

What’s more… a lot of the women in the focus group DID NOT IDENTIFY with the issues we were presenting. Instead, they accused the brand of using popular social stereotypes to further their agenda through virtue signaling.  

So, three days before our shoot, we had to cancel it and return to the drawing board.

After much thought, research, and back and forth with the marketing team, we decided to focus on a broader social theme: Inclusion. (Now, this wasn't made up on the spot. Inclusion was always in the brand's DNA.)

Moving forward, we created a video incorporating various types of footage and diverse techniques. Finally, after a few sleepless nights and quiet panic attacks, the campaign was released, and... it turned out it was a hit! 

Our video was viewed 20mln times, generating 14mln impressions, with high view rates on Programmatic (77%) and Youtube (48%). Our content helped lower CPC and CPV values on all social media platforms by close to 75% below the average price.

Oh yeah, and the client recruited a lot of amazing people. 

As you can see, we’ve been there. It’s not easy to hit that last hurdle, but with solid preparation, research, open communications, trust, and flexibility, your chances of sailing smoothly are all the bigger. 

That’s why we’re writing this blog. Because a f@ck up didn’t stop our client or us, it shouldn’t stop you, either. You got this, champ.

With love, 

BR

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