Whether it's your first marketing video or your one-hundredth broadcast spot, video development and production can be exciting - the possibilities of a great story, the feeling of accomplishment when the final creative is a "go", and the rush of pre-production and the shoot. Not to mention the pride you feel when your video is shared or presented for the first time (and the EOY performance bonus you receive when the video has knocked the KPIs out of the park ain't too shabby either.) These are the sexy parts of making a video. But let's flash back to the beginning of the process. What can you do to set your video up for success? How do you make sure that your video marketing dollars are put to good use? And that the video performs?
Whether it's your first marketing video or your one-hundredth broadcast spot, video development and production can be exciting - the possibilities of a great story, the feeling of accomplishment when the final creative is a "go", and the rush of pre-production and the shoot. Not to mention the pride you feel when your video is shared or presented for the first time (and the EOY performance bonus you receive when the video has knocked the KPIs out of the park ain't too shabby either.)
These are the sexy parts of making a video. But let's flash back to the beginning of the process. What can you do to set your video up for success? How do you make sure that your video marketing dollars are put to good use? And that the video performs?
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Hope Morley: Hi, and welcome to, "So You Need A Video". The only podcast...
Guy Bauer: That we're aware of...
Hope Morley: ...about simplifying your brands sales message with video.
Hope Morley: I'm Hope Morley.
Guy Bauer: And I'm Guy Bauer.
Hope Morley: Welcome, everyone. And today we have a very special guest. We have Tory Merritt here who is our Account Director and Head of Client Service.
Tory Merritt: Hey, everybody.
Hope Morley: We invited Tory on the show today because we wanted to talk about things that we hope that all potential clients and current clients think about before starting a new project with us. So there are certain things that we hope that people have already done when we get that first phone call from a new client. And we want to talk about how to plan for your project before you ever engage an agency like ours. So Tory, what kind of things do you want clients to do when they just have like a twinkle in their eye that they're thinking about creating a video for their company? What should their very first steps?
Tory Merritt: Well, after the twinkle in their eye, the first official steps should be sitting down with everybody that's involved, including their key stakeholders, and just talking about why you need the video in the first place. I think going straight to video is something that, based on what we're seeing in social media and media channels, is something that everybody just feels like, "Oh my gosh, we need a video." But they haven't necessarily sat down and said, "Why do we need a video? What kind of video do we need? What kind of video do we want?" So those kinds of questions are super important before you engage an agency and you start spending money...being able to sit down and understand what you want to accomplish in the first place as opposed to just setting that timer. Um, as the money starts counting up without any real goals in sight.
Guy Bauer: And a lot of people think of goals and different areas. So goals may be a single most important message or it could be like a metric like this thing needs to, you know, boost sales by x amount or something. Like what kind of goals do brands need to align on?
Tory Merritt: Well, I think there's a couple of different ways of looking at that based on how your company is set up and based on what your metric collection set up is already. There's a lot of companies that, even big companies, that we talk to and we just assume that they have metrics already set up and ready to go and ready to talk about and then we find out that's actually not the case. So I think it's different for every company. It may be something as simple as we're trying to get more engagement on social media or it can be something as complex that's been talked about not only with the marketing team but the sales team and the product team in terms of wanting to boost specific category sales goals or product goals for that particular brand depending on how big it is. So it's super important not only to understand what you're trying to do from a performance perspective, but also understand your audience while you're doing it because that will be a big indicator in terms of what KPIs you're looking at and what metrics are actually important for your audience.
Hope Morley: You mentioned getting all your key stakeholders together. And so one important thing with that too is if you set those objectives and you see whether this is going to be a joint effort between marketing and sales, because the goal is really about increasing sales of a certain product, then you know what types of people you need to have on this project team in advance so that once you start the video process, you're not coming in realizing halfway through that you really should have the product team involved in this project and bringing them on late.
Tory Merritt: Exactly. I mean in the middle you can always go back, but that's where time and money become major factors as opposed to getting everybody lined up at the beginning. From what we've seen, clients end up being much happier with videos and much happier with the performance and everybody being on board with it and being able to have the buy in and being willing to push it through whatever channels they're using it in. If everybody is set up at the beginning for what the video's going gonna be and what the expectations are from a performance perspective. So that's been our experience.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And what we've seen is a major pitfall in my years of doing this is not getting that buy in from the key stakeholders on, okay, are these the true goals of the video? Is this the right audience? And so many times all parties have just assumed that that's what the goals are. And then at the 11th hour some key stakeholder shows up saying, no, no, no, what is this? This is all wrong. This is not our message. This is not our strategy. We're changing in six months. And so it really is like, that's a major pitfall I've seen is like get those stakeholders in. I know it can be a little painful in terms of red tape that they present, right. They tend to slow things down, but you know, it's kinda like measure twice cut once.
Tory Merritt: Exactly. And I think another key point about that, Guy, is being able to educate those key stakeholders. So you know, talking, depending on where you're at in the scheme of things in the hierarchy, talking to your boss, but not providing the background for the project and not providing the key information, especially if you're late in the game, is actually not useful. And I think that's where you see a lot of the de-railing is you've got to think about it, how you would feel if someone's giving you something to provide feedback on. If you don't even understand what it is and you haven't been provided the background you may be giving feedback you don't even realize is either not relevant or actually not correct. So being able to educate the people you're sharing things with up front and doing it early in the process is super important to making sure that things go smoothly.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, and not to toot our own horn too much or be too self serving, but a major step we have is this strategy check-in call. Right. And that's really the key, I would say pivotal moment, to have those stakeholders on. Because that's really when we're saying, okay, here's the audience, here's the key messages, here's the objectives, and then here's not our creative, but at least the kind of creative we're going to be in the neighborhood of. And so that to me is like the pivotal step, right?
Tory Merritt: Yeah. And what's that key insight that you're latching onto? Right. I think oftentimes based on budgets, people want to skip the research step and they want to skip the step that allows you to actually dig into it deep enough to give your creative something to be based upon. And I think that's actually major pitfall in the agency world and the creative world is we've got all these great fun, creative ideas, but if they aren't based in strategy and research, that's just one opinion against another. So that's something that I'm really excited, uh, for us to continue to build upon is digging into those key insights. And I think as a Creative, it gives you confidence in your idea, right? Like you can come up with awesome ideas, but being able to have confidence that yes, I'm talking to the right person, I'm talking to them the right way, you know, how am I approaching the messaging? I think that gives you confidence as well.
Guy Bauer: Absolutely. You know, I used to think that that would like kind of cramp my style, having to ladder up to some strategy, but actually what I found is the strategy enables bold creative, bolder than you could ever be without that strategy. And without that thinking of the objectives and the goals and the audience and all that stuff, you can really be bold and really make a mark if you have strong strategy. Otherwise it's almost like shooting in the dark. Yeah, they're good ideas, but good ideas for whom you know.
Tory Merritt: Right. And I think it also empowers our clients to understand where the idea is coming from and then as they need to march it up the chain if necessary, they also have the confidence you have the information you need to help defend an idea that you may also think is great, but we're not just throwing something at you that you have to kind of make something up to try to get it through the process.
Hope Morley: Yeah, and I think speaking of strategy, we briefly mentioned KPIs or key performance indicators. So I think especially from a creative perspective, which is where we come from, but also just marketing perspective, we often don't think of ourselves as numbers people.
Tory Merritt: Yep.
Hope Morley: As Guy said, you feel like numbers are going to cramp your style, but numbers can be hugely important in the planning phase for a video project. So let's talk a little bit about the types of numbers that people could start thinking about when they're setting these video goals.
Tory Merritt: Yeah, and I think a lot of that, again, is dependent on what systems you have in place for tracking. It's really easy to say, we're gonna look at category sales, or we're going to look at this particular product line sales or overall revenue. But if you don't have the proper tracking systems in place, including thinking through the variables that are also changing, which I think is what's scaring a lot of folks right now is they have numbers, but there's kind of a mess in there of what's related to what and cause and correlation, all that kind of stuff. So I think that's important to think about. But I also think there is such a landscape right now for analytics and being able to kind of start that march now, especially as we're looking at things like AI coming into the picture and what's the balance between AI, creative, analytics, all this kind of stuff.
Tory Merritt: So I think some of the things we've worked through with clients in the past, like I said, social media engagement seems to be something that is kind of an easier one to cling onto because you've got numbers like likes, shares, comments, that kind of stuff. But I also think that we're finding out that those numbers may not tell us as much as we think the do. So wondering.
Hope Morley: If I can jump in for a second, a really important caveat to those social media numbers is that Facebook and a lot of those platforms, they are kind of forcing brands to pay to get those numbers these days. They are not letting your content just naturally float to the top anymore. So as you start thinking about a video project, if your key KPI is that you want social media engagement, it's really important that you're also budgeting for sponsored posts and to be letting that stuff get to the top of people's feeds.
Tory Merritt: And I also think it depends on the audience, right? So depending on where you are in the scheme, I think there's plenty of B2B companies that we work with that social media engagement is not actually a good indicator of business success or success of a certain product or service because the people that are making those buying decisions, they're not making it because they saw something on Facebook necessarily. It may be something that they saw that was presented by one of our clients in person or during a pitch as opposed to like, "I saw this on Facebook, so now I'm going to spend $10 million on a managed IT solution."
Guy Bauer: I think a great metric that I've been theorizing about, but I think is a good one to start thinking about is like lowering the cost of sale, right? Because the videos we make, they're not going to necessarily be viral videos or stuff like that. The way I see them, I call them slippery and they sort of act as a slippery lubricant for the sale. Um, why do I always have to come up with the weird terms? But it's basically it's a lubricant for the sale. Meaning you still have to put energy in terms of sending salespeople out for in-person demos and meetings and stuff. You still have to sponsor posts. You still have to, you know, do some paid media, you know, LinkedIn and Google, whatever, right? But with a strong video, just things get a little slippery and that total cost of sales starts lowering. And I think that's a really good metric for brands to start thinking about of where to start at least.
Guy Bauer: It's not wise to say, or it may not be wise to say, "We just need to boost sales." I don't think it's that easy, right? No. If any video agency could do that, I would say they would be billionaires in like there would be some kind of rift in the universe or something. I don't think it's that easy. It's like video is a part of a sales and marketing mix and I think the best videos just lubricate things. They just make it everything just a little bit easier. You get that reaction in the room where your client, you know, Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching, says the client flips. There's like a flip moment where they, uh, and I know Tory, me and you have been in presentations where this has happened, where we've presented our stuff, but the client, in the beginning of the meeting, they just see you as vendor number three of five that they're talking to. And there's this, this moment where you give them some insight or, or whatever. Right? And you just know that there's this flip where like they like stand up in their chair and like lean in or something and or just start talking very honestly and openly about money and stuff like that. And I think good videos aid that flip moment whether it be in person or online.
Tory Merritt: Being well-targeted, right, and understanding the audience before you start trying to make a video. I think something that Guy and the team have found is that empathy factor is super important when you're putting together creative. But how can you be empathetic if you don't understand your audience and then use that information to create your video goals, your objectives and get everybody on the same page?
Hope Morley: So one thing we touched on briefly as your project is getting defined, you set your goals, your objectives, you know who your key stakeholders are on the project. You've set a couple of KPIs. Let's talk about setting a budget for your project. So this is a really big one that we see all the time. We see a huge range of expectations of what a video project is going to cost. So how should brands prepare for budgeting a video project?
Tory Merritt: I think one question that we've started asking, that's super important is again, if you understand what the video needs to do, you understand the value of its success to you and I think that's super important when you're looking at budget and trying to get out in front of it with your annual planning or however you do your planning cycles, is understanding what is the value of the success of this video worth to us when evaluating versus just saying, "Well, I've got $20,000 to spend on a video. That's it and I expect it to do these things regardless of what resources are available." I think that's when we have clients get very disappointed. The way that they're evaluating the budget is not necessarily based on its value to the business.
Tory Merritt: It's more so based on whatever we allocated to the video budget a year ago or a year and a half ago when we started doing fiscal year, whatever it is, planning,.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, think about it. If this video could improve, and I seriously had a call with a client, and if our video well executed could boost sales by $10 million. And when I heard that I was like, oh my gosh, like you know, well what's your budget? Right? And it wasn't anywhere near $10 million, but we have to think in terms of, you know, if your video costs x, right, how many converted customers will it take to recoup the budget? And if you can do it within a few, like why wouldn't you spend the money? So yeah, it's really important to put the resources behind the effort that will get the value you want out of it. You know, unfortunately it's kind of, you get what you pay for, too.
Tory Merritt: Well, I think having the budget to do the work on the front end is super important. I think we've seen folks feel that based on their experience, the vast majority of the budget should be in production and post production as opposed to research, strategy and creative. And I think from our perspective that's a mistake. I think a lot of larger brands have been in the broadcast world where they're used to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars repeatedly, or millions, for a video or a TV spot that's actually not that targeted. And it's not targeted because there's not enough nuance on where it's going and you're looking at your media buy and the work just hasn't been done in order to ensure that we've got that empathetic message for a specific target or audience. So I think that's something else too is thinking through front end versus back end and where the money is allocated. I think that's a major shift that we're seeing in the industry. And it's a challenge I think to explain to folks who are used to spending the majority of the budget on production to help them understand or help whoever you're working with on your internal team understand that the work up front is worth the work, and the effort, and the cost.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. I mean put it this way, I'd rather give Steven Spielberg an iPhone to make a movie than give an 18 year old a million dollar production budget to make one. Spielberg will definitely get you something better, right.
Hope Morley: Because he has the idea behind it and the creative vision.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. So I mean it's the thought more than the tools and I think it's like way sexier. Everyone wants to get to the production 'cause you get M&M's and Skittles, unlimited Red Bulls...
Hope Morley: Guys in black t-shirts...
Guy: Black tee shirts and then you all have Scotch afterwards...
Tory Merritt: The sign of a truly experienced director is enjoying a nice Scotch following the shoot.
Guy Bauer: And then complaining about like, you know, "I don't drink anything other than single barrel." But yeah. What I've found is that, just like what you said, it's almost like inverse right now. I think like 1% people think about the creative and then you know, you have to get a RED and a drone and all those things we know and you spend 70% of your budget on that and then 29% on post-production. I really think it's like flipped almost. It's like 70% should go to creative and then the rest should go to production. Because if you think about it, if you have a great idea, it doesn't take that much production to do it right.
Tory Merritt: And I think we are seeing, a little bigger scale than us, but even certain HBO shows, regardless of your opinion versus my opinion on certain finales of certain HBO shows, I think, uh, we're seeing people that are craving what they feel is that there's things missing in their writing. There's things missing in the creative. There's things missing in the strategic thinking of the story. No one was watching certain finales and saying like...
Hope Morley: You can say Game of Thrones...
Tory Merritt: Game of Thrones! Uh, no one's watching Game of Thrones and saying like, the production value are we allowed to swear is crap. Um, you know, they're like, oh, it's dark personal opinion, but like, no one's watching that and saying they should have spent more money on the production. The thing that people were missing out for the most part is "I wanted more feeling, I wanted better dialogue. I wanted better writing." So I think that that's an interesting, even just for everyday folks, is we're looking for something deeper as opposed to, I think even 15 years ago, the sexy part was production and we wanted to see dragons fly. Well now, we've seen a lot of dragons fly and we want to understand, you know, what's the story behind the person on the dragon? I want to understand that build up of character and I want to feel empathy for that character for eight seasons. So I think brought down to more of our realm of video, I still think that's important is the expectations for the character development and writing have risen because production, it's pretty easy to rent the equipment, the cameras, lighting takes work, but there are people that can do it. I think it's less of a differentiator now versus who can write a great story, who can develop great creative, who's got the strategy to make sure, like when I've got the laser pointer that it's in the right spot before you execute.
Guy Bauer: Love that metaphor. That's great. I hadn't thought of that. But yeah, and what's interesting is, you know, HBO then made a two hour, like, behind the scenes movie, not about the writing about the production. It's almost like they are making the classic mistake, too. Like look at all the robots we used and AI...
Tory Merritt: And it didn't change. I was like cool. Like I'm happy to see them. I'm happy to say how much work went into it, but I'm still disappointed, right? Yes. 55 nights. That would suck. I would not want to sign myself up for that. But it doesn't change the fact that I still feel like Daenerys didn't get..
Guy Bauer: Interesting.
Hope Morley: It actually makes me feel bad for the production people because they put in all that work.
Tory Merritt: Right.
Hope Morley: And then everyone is still complaining.
Tory Merritt: Correct. Correct. And you're looking at people who have sacrificed their life for 10 years, but it still doesn't change that. I'm whining about it.
Guy Bauer: Which, for the record, if you don't like Game of Thrones, you go do your own as Louis C.K. says. You go do your own, Tory, and I'll see your Game of Thrones.
Tory Merritt: It's not my forte. But if you want to talk about the things I would change after the fact, I'm really good at that so...
Guy Bauer: That'll be in the bonus episode is Tory's thoughts on how to punch up Game of Thrones,.
Tory Merritt: If you need an opinion, I'm here for it. Whether you'd like it or not.
Hope Morley: So to sum up where we've been before you start your video project, the things that we really want to see clients do are define and align your goals and objectives for the video. Really know what you want this to do, not just make a video for the sake of making a video or because you want something on your landing page.
Hope Morley: Get your key stakeholders together, know who needs to be involved in this process based on those goals.
Hope Morley: Solidify your KPIs, know exactly what kinds of metrics you're going to be holding this video to, so you know if it was successful and it also allows your agency to put together strategy and creative for you based on meeting those goals.
Tory Merritt: It's okay to start small there. That's something I want to make sure I call out. I think there's a lot of talk around using massive services to help you collect that data and that's not necessarily accessible for everyone. So being able to start small, pick something that you can actually track and track properly and well and it's okay if it's something small, start there, get the data and then you can continue to build out the information you have access to. Setting the goal too high for a metric and then having all these variables that skew the information renders it fairly useless as opposed to starting small and having something that you can actually use and then use as you move forward to compare things to because it's consistent.
Hope Morley: Absolutely. And once you have those set, then you can really define your budget for the project based on what those goals are, what the value of the video is to your organization.
Tory Merritt: And then in the future, like how much it needs to change by, you've got something to look at and you've seen what you've put into meeting your original goal and having a better understanding of what it will take to move the needle up for the next time.
Hope Morley: Great. So when we get a phone call from a potential new client, if you don't have some of these steps down, we might ask you to go back and do your homework before you come and start this project. So we really hope that everyone takes the time to really sit down, make these plans before they start a video project.
Tory Merritt: And they may evolve after talking with us. I would call that out too, is you know, but having a start is a much better place where everybody's aligned to it and then if it does evolve, it's okay because everybody was on the same page to start with as opposed to setting something up and then trying to go back and convince people afterwards.
Guy Bauer: Exactly.
Hope Morley: Alright. Thanks for listening to this episode of "So You Need A Video." For more information and for links to anything that we talked about in this episode, visit our website at umault.com.
Hope Morley: 22:16 That's U-M-A-U-L-T dot com. And if you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and leave us a review on your favorite podcast app. Thanks, Tory and thanks, Guy.
Tory Merritt: My pleasure.
Guy Bauer: My pleasure as well.