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What the F&*% - Why language is important

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Video is a visual medium but the words you use to tell your story is as important as the pictures.

What you say and how you say it matters.

Two things to think about when writing a video script:

 1.      Use words and language that your audience and customers use. It’s easy to think that using big complicated language makes you or your products seem more successful or significant but it actually has the opposite effect. The viewer feels talked down to and confused. You lose the emotional connection to the viewer and they will turn off.

2.      Less is more. The viewer doesn’t want to listen to a list of amazing things your service or product does, they want to see it. Use narration and audio description when you really need to and use it sparingly. Keep it concise and authentic. People see through marketing jargon straight away so tell a story that is true and real. People will connect to that much easier than marketing slang.

All language and script should speak to your audience like they would speak themselves. They don’t want to watch a video where they don’t recognise their own words and language. They want to connect and see themselves in the story and what better way to do that by using their own words.  

Once Upon A Time

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Story in video is vital. It’s the framework to the video. Without story all you are left with is facts and figures. While they are important, its difficult for people to take in and engage with dry facts and figures.

But what does good story look like? For marketing videos there are three points that are important';

 ·       What does your customers think about your brand / product?

·        What does your brand / company stand for?

·        What does the customer care about?

These three points are the foundation to help you create your story. By keeping in mind these points you can construct a context and story vehicle for your facts and figures to make your product or service relevant and engaging to your customers and audience.

The story is not about you, but what your audience wants and needs.

By keeping the story about your audience and customers you are able to show them you understand their problem and have the solution.   

The value of asking for help

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This year I learned the important lesson of asking for help. When starting your own business, you go into it thinking you can do something so well that people will pay you for it. Why would you need help?

I already know how to do it.

But soon after the reality of running your own business so sets in and you learn very quickly how much you don’t know.

 It’s so important to have people around you who can support you and who are experts in their own fields. Need to learn how to do your finances? Ask your accountant. Need to learn about different software for your business? Talk to someone in IT. But a lot of the time we forget to ask about ourselves. How are we doing? Are we achieving the goals we set out to do? Am I handling the work? How do I feel about the direction of the business?

 How am I really doing?

We put so much of ourselves into our work and businesses that if we suffer, our business suffers. Having someone to talk to about how you are feeling and discuss your own goals and achievements is vital to the health of your business.

For this I would suggest getting a mentor. I myself had a mentor this year and she has been absolutely invaluable. Having an outside opinion can really help you see things much more clearly. You can get so bogged down in your own business that its hard sometimes to see obvious answers right in front of you.  And it’s always great having your own personal cheerleader. Someone who is there just for you and your success.

It doesn’t have to be someone in your field of work but someone you may look up to or someone who has experience you want to learn from.  

So, if you do anything new next year, I would suggest seeking out a mentor. No matter what happens you will always learn something new about yourself and that can only bring positives to your business. Or you can even be someone else’s mentor. As there is always someone out there who thinks you are cooler than you think you are 😊

What did you say?

Listening is the key to good video.

Listening is the key to good video.

We make video. That’s what we do. But the main part of our job is to listen. To our clients and to the audience.

 Good video is all about listening.

When you listen you learn. You learn about the needs of your customers and help them solve a problem.

Video is solving a problem. When you listen to your customers you get to know them and their needs and offer a solution. When we don’t listen and assume often we offer something our customers don’t need and doesn’t focus on their problem.

When we listen to our customers’ needs and offer them a solution they feel listened to and valued. And that’s what keeps your customers coming back.

What is your customers favourite food?

Everyone eats so what do your customers like to eat?

Everyone eats so what do your customers like to eat?

When someone walks in to your shop, makes a phone call or emails you, who is that person? How old are they? What job do they have? Where do they live? Do they have a family or are they single? Whats their favourite food?

All these things are important elements to think about. The more you know about who you are selling to the more you know if you are selling them the right product or service and delivery that sale in the correct way.

Does your customer like to walk into a bricks and mortar shop and browse the shelves? Or do they prefer to look online in their own time?

Does your customer make the buying decisions for their family or just for themselves?

When you can answer all these questions you will have a very detailed and accurate picture of who your customer is so when it comes to making choices on marketing and branding you know exactly who, how and why they are buying.

Take A Breath

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It can be pretty overwhelming running your own business. You have to wear so many different hats; sales, book keeper, administration, manager, marketing and promotions. While at the same time offer your product or service.

You make sure everything is running smoothly within the business while making sure you are creating new leads and looking after your core customers.

It can feel like you are doing everything but nothing. Are we actually making more sales? Are we tracking better than this time last year?

We spend a lot of time worrying.

This is when you need to sit back and take a breath. Take some time to think about what you have achieved. Its easy to fall into the trap of thinking you aren’t doing enough, not working hard enough or long enough. We are incredibly demanding of ourselves. So at times like this, take a step back, take a breath and simply congratulate yourself on what you have achieved.

Even if just for a few minutes, sit and be proud of what you have achieved. You deserve it.

One size fits all?

Aspect Ratios

Over the last 10 years the video production industry has evolved and changed very quickly. Online streaming of content has grown into a huge and hungry beast that has disrupted traditional free to air TV and cinema market. 

One thing that changed in a big way, is the emergence of hand held screens for viewing content and the news feed system. With the emergence of Smartphones and platforms like Facebook and Instagram, its introduced the approach of scrolling through a curated news feed versus searching through websites in a normal web browser. 

This has led to some interesting changes in how we present content. Television in the past had a 4:3 SD picture, which then gave way to 1920x1080 HD picture which is what we are used to watching now. Better television sets, better broadcasting and better cameras allowed this to happen and it drastically improved the television watching experience. 

In a similar way smartphones and social media have meant that a huge amount of content is seen inside a news feed which means that content has to fit inside the parameters unique to the platform it’s in. 

Some of the most popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have adapted over the years to video and have improved the functions to utilise it. It can all get a little bit confusing. Facebook can play Widescreen video in the normal 16:9 ratio, but a lot of companies choose to use what is a called a 1:1 ratio so the content will appear in a square format, more like TV in the past. Instagram allows 16:9 or 1:1 video up to 1 minute in length in the news feed but will allow a 9:16 video in the 'story' section, which is essentially portrait style video. Snapchat is also pushing this style. 

This leads to more choices and decisions made in the planning and post production processes. A single piece of content that is being utilised on numerous platforms will potentially need to be edited into all different formats to maximise impact on all different social media and video platforms. This means potentially cropping out parts of the video and overlaying a full video over backgrounds. 

In this era of video content one size doesn't fit all.  


 

Check 1..2.. Good audio matters.

A shotgun mic in action.

A shotgun mic in action.

Clear and balanced audio is hugely important for your video. It is sometimes overlooked as it lacks the immediate visibility of video but audio can make or break a video project. It has been found that people will suffer through lower quality video more so than low quality audio. Bad audio will turn your viewers away immediately. Luckily there are some simple solutions to the problems that arise when recording audio and they don't always have to cost a huge amount of money.  

Some things we consider when making a video are - Microphone selection: There are numerous microphone types out there that do very different things. A 'shot gun' or directional microphone is a good option for recording dialogue or interviews as it will only pick up audio directly in its range and cut down on some background noise. It has a nice, natural sound when used for voices but things like wind and road noise can be an issue and this mic needs to held by a boom operator or rigged onto a stand which cuts down mobility. A lapel microphone is a great and versatile option, it picks up clear and bright audio of your talent or interviewee, is wireless so they are totally mobile and will cut down on a lot of environmental sound making post production a bit easier. There are many different mics that achieve different things, so the choice of mic is your first and most important step to good audio.   

A quiet environment to record in is also very important. A very large room with hard walls and cement floors will have a lot of reverberation or being next to a busy road will have a lot of traffic noise. Things like fridges and air conditioning may also give a distracting low hum to your audio. When we scout a location, we look for a suitable quiet area. Somewhere that has relatively low echo and we will always try to turn off air conditioning and fridges (and remember to turn them back on).   

That leaves Post Production. With the right software a lot of issues can be fixed in editing. This is not a magic wand though. Some issues on the day of recording cannot be fixed so the first two steps are important! In post production the aim is to even out the loudness of the sources of sound so it all sounds uniform and nothing is really loud or too quiet. We can EQ the sounds to make them sound suitable for the video, we can mix in other sounds to help tell the story, like sound effects or background noice etc. The list is endless. 

Ultimately the goal is to walk away from a shoot with good quality clean recordings then manage it through post production, adding or taking away the elements to make sure the video reaches its full potential. 

    

Lighting Your Way - Why good lighting matters.

 Cameras are like human eyes, they find it pretty hard to see in the dark. At it's most basic level, lighting allows a camera to 'see' what it is front of it. At a slightly more technical level, lighting allows a camera sensor or piece of film access to enough light through an aperture to achieve a correct exposure. At a more artistic level, lighting helps tell your story.  

Camera and lens technology is rapidly improving every year. Modern cameras can achieve incredible results in low light that cameras 10 years ago could never manage. They have also come down in price while still while still offering high technical specs to consumers. Put simply, there has really never been a better time to be making videos. 

Fundamentally though, lighting is still as important as ever. Even the best cameras on the market still require lighting skills and a thought process to get the best images and to ultimately tell a good story. The reason I love lighting is that it is both a technical and creative exercise. 

  • Good lighting illuminates your subjects/set enough for your viewers to see what is happening and allows your camera to get a suitable exposure.

  • Great lighting illuminates your characters, creates a mood and a feeling in the audience, conveys emotion, paints of a picture of an era or setting and so, so much more.

There are many ways to achieve a desired look while shooting, so it can be a daunting prospect at times. You are dealing with a lot of different elements that all work together i.e. colour temperature, diffusion, angle of the light, distance from talent, spread of the light etc.

This is all so important because great lighting can really push your production into the next level and make you and your business or production look professional. The great thing is that it does not have to be an expensive and overly challenging exercise.

Photo: Jackie Cooper

Photo: Jackie Cooper

Things that will create Great lighting for your production: 

  • Planning - Think ahead, visit locations and examine all the elements so you can figure out a plan of attack to achieve the lighting results you want.

  • Experiment - Try different things, even some household items like baking paper or an old curtain could be the thing you need to diffuse and soften the light in your shoot. Try different angles and placement of your lights.

  • Learn and practice - Always learn and research new techniques and try them out while shooting. Some of the great minds in the game perfected their craft by trying and trying, sometimes failing then learning from the experience.

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE - This is one of the most important lessons I have learned while being a videographer. SIMPLE lighting can be GREAT lighting. One soft light, from a large source at a good angle from your talent can be all your need to create your next brilliant production.

 

Measure Measure Measure! Why size DOES matter

Measuring what your marketing is doing is so important

Measuring what your marketing is doing is so important

When running a business time is vital. You are busy making sales, coordinating projects and overseeing staff. That’s why when something has worked in the past we think ‘Yep we can do that again this year.’ That previous newspaper ad brought in new customers, those same product images are working on the website and that video still tells our story.

But what has worked in the past may not work now. We need to know that our current marketing strategy is connecting to the customers we want now, is being seen by new markets and is telling our branding story.

How do we know if it’s working?

Measure. By measuring how many customers are seeing our products we know if its working. Are we getting less phone calls than this time last year? Are we getting less traffic on the website this month? Do we have less foot traffic coming into the store?

When you track your marketing and correlate that to sales numbers, inquiries and engagement we can see what is working and what isn’t. Maybe people want to read about your business online now and not in the Newspaper. Maybe people want to come into your store instead of calling you.

The more you can measure, the more information you have and the more informed decisions you can make. And that means your marketing budget is doing exactly what you want it to do.

What came first: The Idea or The Customer?

The age old question - the chicken or the egg?

The age old question - the chicken or the egg?

 

You have an idea. That’s a great start. Now what's next?

As business owners it can be hard to know what the next step is. You know what you want to achieve; more sales, more traction, more market share but what do you do to make sure your idea actually works?

How do you take your idea and make it into something your customers will watch and connect with?

The first thing we always tell our clients is- how does your idea make your customers feel? Will it make them feel inspired? Will it make them think? Does it make them feel understood? Listened to? And most importantly Does it solve their problem?

It’s imperative to put yourself in your customers shoes and ask yourself ‘what will they think when they see this? Is it relevant to them?

When you focus your message and communication on the customer and their needs, they are much more likely to feel a connection to what you are saying. Basically you are telling your customers you care about them and their needs.

Whether you are selling cars, harvesters, jumpers or IT support, you should always focus on the customer and what you can do for them. Not just what you do.

Answer: The Customer

Key Message – What do you really need to say?

Too many messages can be overwhelming

Too many messages can be overwhelming

When it comes time to marketing our business we usually have a lot to say. We are excited about our product or service and we want to share that with the world. But when it comes to video messaging, less is always more.

Less is always more

The more information you try to squeeze in the more diluted the video narrative becomes and it lessens the impact on the audience. You want your message to create an instant connection and maintain that during the entire video. By keeping the message short, concise and on track it allows the audience to connect, feel and react to what you are saying. Loading the audience with message after message makes them bored, confused and overwhelmed.

When you have a single strong central message it allows the video to communicate to the audience in a way that connects, informs, emotes and is memorable.

Stay short and concise 

Put yourself in your audience’s position. If you watch a video bursting full of different information packed in to 90 seconds you would probably turn off. Decide on what you really want to say, keep it on track and take your viewers on a journey that make them feel something.

One key message per video is a good rule to follow. Anything more than that will be tedious for the audience to follow.

The hardest part of key messages in video is not what you want to say but what you don’t need to say.

Video: Why the Where is important

TV or Online?

TV or Online?

 

Video is an amazing tool in communicating with your customers. The how and why of the video are central elements to good communication but what a lot of people don’t think about is the where- Where should this video go to reach your viewers?

The where is important to think about as it can determine the type of video you will make.

After you determine what message you want to communicate and who your target audience will be then you need to know where your audience is and where they watch. Are they watching on YouTube, Facebook, on your website, Television or Instagram? Where do your customers consume videos? You need to know where your audience will be so your video can get the maximum views.

Once you know where you want to broadcast your video you can then craft your video to your chosen platform. This is a really important step in the video process. You wouldn’t make a 10 minute promo video for an online audience that will turn off after 30 seconds. You need to tailor your video for the correct platform. Remember online video needs to be short and to the point as it has a high drop off rate meaning you need to connect straight away.

Its important to know what you want to say but also where you want to say it. 

Other points to think about are the types of videos you make may determine the platform. Television need to be short with a duration of between 15 – 30 seconds. Instagram you have a maximum of 60 seconds to connect and hold your audience. Facebook you can target your videos to specific markets and demographics, YouTube you can play around with a more creative angle or utilise humour to communicate your message.

Keeping in mind the platform you want to use to broadcast your video will help shape and craft an engaging and exciting video that talks directly to the audience.