The growing trend of video in online media is making it one of today’s most powerful marketing tools.

It’s not surprising, because according to Forbes magazine, the public responds to faces, voices, movement and emotion. Video has all those and more and if you are thinking about creating your first promotional video or an upgrade to you’re existing one, then this blog is for you.

1. Prepare for the shoot
Preparation, so they say, is nine-tenths of creating a masterpiece. So, before you do anything, you need to define the purpose of your video. A project brief form can be your first step to creating something magnificent. This document will help you and anyone involved with your project stay on track and make sure you achieve your vision.

2. What is your budget?
You need to have a ballpark figure of how much you want to spend on your project. And equally important is to know your limits.

3. What is the objective for your video?
Knowing the “why” is the key ingredient, for example, are you trying to sell more widgets? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Are you launching a new product?  What is your ‘why’ and why do you want to create it? This exercise helps you get clear and focussed.

4. Who is your audience?
Who is going to buy your products and services? What do they need or want to know about your company? What problem are you going to solve? What is the opportunity you present to them?

5. What’s the story of your video?
A story starts with a beginning, then a middle, and an end. What are the key points you’d like to cover within each section. Define each section with bullet points and then elaborate.

6. Creative Direction
There’s an abundance of creative inspiration on the web and this is where the video planning starts to get fun. Spend some time doing research and find 2 or 3 examples in your area of expertise that inspire you. Look for camera angles, music selection, tempo, motion graphics, typography, how the piece is narrated and anything that appeals to you. Once you find inspiration, you can show your producer and use the examples as a starting point.

7. Writing the script
Most promotional videos have a duration of 2-3 minutes. It’s tempting to include every selling point, but most of that should already be on your website. Too much information can be tiring on your audience. Your video needs to be compelling and the goal is to give a taste of who you are and what you do. Short and sweet videos should keep your audience focused and then engaged to take action.

8. The interview
Being interviewed in front of the camera can be stressful as it’s an unfamiliar place. Make sure you feel relaxed and work with a patient producer or cameraperson. You should feel no pressure to go over your script as many times until it’s right. Try not to use your script word for word, and make a list of the questions that you want to be asked. Be authentic as if you were having a natural conversation sharing your passion. This is what will motivate your audience. Spontaneous questions can also produce answers with real gems. Aim for sound bites, rather than long drawn out sentences.

Some videos need an organized script because of technical detail. In that case, a teleprompter can be your best friend. Teleprompters sit right at the camera lens and are specifically designed to make it look like the actor or reader is talking directly to the audience. Teleprompters can be expensive, but there are iPad and tablet apps that are very affordable that connect to a teleprompter housing unit. The Teleprompter + app for iPad is from the Apple App store and is around $20. Once you download the app to your iPad you can practice your presentation and  bring your iPad and script confidently to the shoot. Most professional videographers have these teleprompter housing systems, but check with them first.

9. Cameras
You’ll get the best results in an interview using a multi-camera (at least 2 cameras) setup.  The cameras should have different angles that will make it easier for the editor to cut to different takes seamlessly.

10. B-Roll (supplemental footage intercut with the main shot)
There is an expression in the industry “Your B-roll is your A-roll. The term “B-roll” comes from the world of film where editors used to use an “A” and a “B” roll of identical footage, before the digital age changed everything. B-roll shots help break up the static interview shots, but B-roll plays a more major role in telling a visual documentary story. You can use still photos, different location footage, close-ups of action, any image that will move the story along etc. B-roll is absolutely vital to making your video interesting and dynamic. Planning your B-roll with your producer is essential before you begin. The more B-roll the better.

11. Location Location Location
Make sure the location is suitable for the style of your promotional movie. If you’re making a corporate promo you want an environment that looks corporate and so on. Make sure that the location you choose is quiet enough to capture what you want and not what you don’t want. If you’re shooting outside take into account that light changes throughout the day which could affect the continuity of the video. Green screens are often used which give the producer and editor creative freedom to choose different locations that are layered into the video.

Alan Cash has been a creative multimedia professional for 20 years. He specializes in Business Promotional Videos, Online Training Videos and Live Event Videos.