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November 3, 2014

Create Amazing Video Content on a Budget

Once your marketing team gets initial buy-in for content marketing – more specifically, video, your first thought might be, “Yes! we’re going to be so cool!”, but then you start thinking about your budget.

On one hand, if your marketing department looks like this, you might feel like you’re in the clear:

Rich, we're rich, I say!

But if this feels more accurate, you could feel doomed before you even start: 

No marketing budget. No problem

Today we’re going to bust the myth that video is crazy expensive. Not only is it within your reach (even on a shoestring budget), but 70% of respondents in a Demand Gen survey say that it’s the content format that converts the best.

Here are some tips to ensure you’re creating amazing assets no matter what you’re able to spend.

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1. Don’t overcomplicate it

The barriers to entry for video production have come down significantly in the last few years. In fact, it’s likely that you already have a 1080p high-quality recording device in your pocket! Whether you start with a go-pro, a webcam, your tablet, or even your smartphone, you can create something with a professional look without investing in a pricey in-house studio.

As a terrific example, Jay Today is an almost daily three-minute video series by bestselling author and speaker, Jay Baer. These segments are filmed on Jay’s iPhone in just one simple take. In terms of optimization, the folks over at Candidio help Jay add his logo to the side of the frame. Viewers are constantly prompted with a subscription button and are reminded of the topic of the video to keep the focus clear.

Jay Today is a terrific video marketing series

These videos are used on the Convince and Convert blog as educational content and, because Jay usually keeps a natural light source in front of him, the footage looks great (would you know these videos were made on an iPhone?). Overall, this is a great series to showcase that even if your budget is just enough for a smartphone, you don’t have to overthink production value for something like an educational series. Jay’s show focuses on exceptional content delivered to a social savvy audience on a regular basis and it performs really well.

Quick videos like these are a great way for Jay to deliver his expertise and further enhance his reputation as a thought leader.

In the same way Jay adds unexpected value for his subscribers, you can easily start a branded series for your business in which an expert dishes on popular, helpful topics. All you need is a simple recording device (your smartphone works great), good natural lighting, and you can optionally enlist the help of a service like Candidio to add your logo, etc. as a graphic that appears during the video. You can even avoid a ton of editing if you film casually in one take, or sequential order, like Jay.

2. Know your variables/resources

Even if a parody of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises might be perfect for your brand, you have to remember that you don’t have the resources to pull together a massive, screaming crowd at a football stadium for that epic scene.

When concepting your videos, always go in with an understanding of what you can and can’t realistically use as a resource. While this is technically a limitation (and a total bummer), remember it’s also a chance to get creative. Sure, you don’t have a massive stadium to create your parody, but what’s to stop you from creating a stop motion video with LEGO minifigures or a cardboard cutout microvideo on Vine? It’s time to get crafty! Remember, it doesn’t have to be polished, it just has to feel authentic, mesh with your brand’s voice, and appeal to your target audience.

3. Create repeatable content segments

Part of building your subscriber base involves creating content on a regular publishing schedule and fostering the “promise of new” with your target audience. As a fun example, Jimmy Fallon has had major success with the Tonight Show in part because his audience can look forward to repeatable content segments.

Here’s Jimmy facing off with Bradley Cooper in “Egg Russian Roulette”, a segment he’s done with a few fun guests already.

Egg Russian Roulette with BradLey Cooper. Just another repeatable segmentWhile the guests on the show change night to night, Jimmy’s segment formats are repeatable content blocks. Fans of Fallon can always look forward to Thank You Notes, “Ew!” (in which Jimmy plays a tween girl), games with guests, and Classroom Instruments, just to name a few. These segments have millions of views on YouTube and every so often, a new game, parody or digital sketch is introduced.

You can employ this same segmenting tactic when planning out new videos by making up a few themed video concepts that are recognizable and repeatable. If your concept stays constant, like Jimmy’s Thank You Notes, you only need to swap out the people who are featured each week, or what they talk about. This type of signature sketch is memorable, doesn’t have to correlate directly with your products or services (AKA great content marketing!), and budget friendly.

With repeatable content blocks, you can use the same studio location every time and follow a templated script. Because the format stays the same, you’ll perfect your process and create enough content to feed the content beast week after week.

Example: At Vidyard, we created our Chalk Talk series. These videos use the same format each time and serve as a teaser to introduce a new video best practice with each episode. Because we’ve nailed down a format, swapping out the topic with each new edition is easier and we can focus on teaching great lessons instead of getting swamped in details.

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Jennifer Pepper

Jennifer Pepper

Jennifer is the Customer Success Content Strategist at Unbounce. One day she wants to direct the ads you skip on YouTube. Follow her on Twitter @PeppersWrite.

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