In recent years, video has become the most compelling media format for most audiences. Specifically, short videos have the capability to engage before the audience loses interest. In fact, according to Woosuite, the short-form video has the highest ROI of any social media marketing strategy at 30%.
When working with clients, I use a 7-step video ad production process to develop the best video for their advertisements. Paired with the strategy to have that video reach the appropriate audience, these videos accomplish great things! Some of these steps have “sub-steps” to them, but the seven below are the main buckets of the process.
Step 1: Hold the Discovery Meeting
Gathering all necessary information at the outset is critical to a successful campaign. If this is a new client, I collect all branding information about the client. I need to understand their mission and values to understand the underlying goals of their marketing. I request access to their logos as well as previous collateral to be able to match their voice (unless we’re pivoting with this campaign).
One of the most important areas is understanding the client’s target audience. Three things we need to know about the target audience: their pain points, what platforms they use, and what content resonates with them. These answers will guide specific messaging as well as dictate which ad platforms we deploy the video on.
Of course, it’s always helpful to determine the client’s ad budget in advance so that we’re prepared later on when it’s time to deploy. This is the amount they are willing to devote to the ad appearing on each platform.
Step 2: Plan the Video
Planning is a seemingly easy task. You just write a script and film it, right? The reality is that there are many moving parts that must come together before you write a single word.
Identifying a speaker (or speakers) will guide the tone of the video. Will it be two people playing off each other’s words? Will it be a single person speaking directly into the camera? Then there is the location to consider. What type of setting is appropriate for your video? Will you need B-roll footage? Or on-screen graphics to overlay onto the video?
Writing the script is often the last piece in the puzzle once all these other questions are answered. But even this task isn’t as simple as it seems. You must write in the brand’s voice but also make it natural for whoever will be delivering the lines. It’s a balance, and takes skill (and usually several drafts) to get it right.
Step 3: Film the Video
Whether you’re filming on a iPhone (don’t laugh, they have great capabilities!) or on a more professional camera, you’ll likely need some extra equipment to achieve the best results. First, test your setup and see whether you need a tripod (yes), auxiliary mics (probably), or other accessories. Plan to use a teleprompter app or cue cards so that the speakers aren’t focused on remembering a long script.
When you’re ready to start shooting, be aware of the lighting and make sure your subject is lit well with no competing light sources. Shoot as many takes as necessary to get your speaker comfortable with the process. While filming, keep in mind where you might have breaks, voiceovers, and B-roll. You can splice different takes together when editing, but only if the splices are at appropriate times.
Be sure to play back your captures onsite so that you can evaluate whether more takes are necessary. Check the video footage, listen to the audio and see if there is unwanted ambient noise, etc. “We’ll fix it in post” is a foolish assumption! It’s much harder to alter the video and audio after the fact than it is to get it right in the moment.
Step 4: Edit the Video and Graphics
I’m a big fan of using Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing, but there are so many professional settings that it can be overwhelming if you’re not used to it. A simpler program, like Adobe Rush, might be easier if you’re just starting out. You won’t have as many options for creating transitions and placing graphics, but there are basic options and captions available.
Whatever editing program you decide to use, hopefully you won’t have to touch up too many areas within the video or audio feeds. At this point, you’ll cut your scenes, insert B-roll and voiceovers, and add any graphics you’ve planned. Make sure you save your working file so that you can edit minor details after all stakeholders have seen the draft!
Step 5: Set Up the Ad(s)
Each platform you use will have different settings for your ad setup. LinkedIn requires different information than Facebook, and both differ from website-specific specifications. However, there are commonalities that you can plan for in advance. Most likely you’ll need a headline, body copy, your video, and a call to action.
Usually you can set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for the duration of the ad. I like to set a lifetime budget because there is more flexibility in how the ad is shown to users.
You’ll also be able to set up audience parameters in most platforms so that your ad will be seen by the right people! This is a fuzzy area, because often the budget will dictate how many people you target instead of the other way around. Fortunately, most platforms will provide a forecast based on the number of people in your audience and the amount of money you’re spending. Play with your parameters, including geographic location, to find the sweet spot based on your desired results. (For example, if you’re hoping for 50 clicks to your landing page each day, play with the parameters until the forecast is in that range.)
Step 6: Deploy the Ad(s)
Hit publish, submit, whatever! This is the easiest—but possibly most terrifying—step.
Step 7: Track the Ad(s)
Without tracking the performance of your ads, you won’t know how well they are doing and if they were worth it in the first place. Every platform provides analytics to show how many times the ad was seen (impressions), how many individual people saw your ad, how much you spent per day, etc. Some platforms even tell you how much of the video was seen. This is powerful feedback that directly relates to your video content!
I recommend using a landing page to direct people to with your call to action. The landing page might be additional information to expand on your video, or it could be a purchase page if your call to action was directly asking them to buy. It could also be a form that they fill out to receive some free content. Whatever the goal of your ad is, the landing page is where it should happen.
The beauty of the landing page is that you can track exactly how many people went through with the process. This is opposed to the metrics given by the ad platform, which can only tell you that they clicked through to the landing page. If you had 427 people click through but only received 19 forms, I’d conclude that your ad worked wonderfully but your landing page or the offer itself is lacking.
I hope you find this 7-step process helpful! I’d love to hear feedback on your own process and whether this helped!