When it comes to creating a video series for your business, you might think your biggest obstacle will be getting the go-ahead from your boss to kick off the project. But, sometimes, the biggest roadblock might have more to do with ideas than it does getting budget or permission. It can be tough to come up with the perfect show concept that also aligns with your goals. We get it! Even here at Wistia, it can take more than a few brainstorms to get our ideas off the ground. That’s why we chatted with the folks on our team behind our Webby Award-winning four-part docu-series One, Ten, One Hundred, and our latest talk show for marketers, Brandwagon.
We wanted to give you a peek inside their process for holding successful brainstorm sessions that can lead to a solid show idea for your business. Read on to learn their best tips for concepting show ideas that’ll help you feel more confident about creating a binge-worthy video series for your brand. Let’s jump in!
Before you start your brainstorm, we recommend nailing down your show format, first. What’s a show format, you ask? Well, your series could pan out to be an interview-style show, a product review, a documentary, or something else entirely — the choice is up to you! Ultimately, your show format will dictate many factors worth considering, but we’ll get into things first-time show creators should consider a little later in this post.
Once you have a show format locked in, adding it to your brainstorm agenda will help remind your team to keep ideas within the realm of what’s possible for your business to produce. Here at Wistia, we have our own in-house creative team for production, but we know not all teams are structured the same way. Whether you have a team in-house or look to outside resources, it’s still a good idea to give some structure to a creative brainstorm session to make sure your time together is productive. In the name of structure, we recommend giving an organizational-loving person the job of creating an agenda to help lead the brainstorm and keep things movin’ along.
Although some structure is important, it’s also super important to make sure that everyone in the room has a chance to get their ideas out in the open — both good AND bad. Often times, the key component of brainstorming is simply creating an atmosphere where ideas are flowing freely.
Actively trying to foster an open environment (not only when you’re brainstorming, but all the time!) builds team camaraderie. Supporting this type of workflow might look like taking a break to watch a silly or entertaining video in the middle of the day or working on something that seems totally unrelated to the task at hand. Despite what many people believe, a team that’s having fun and goofing off is often getting their creative thoughts flowing in the process. Breaking out of routine can help your team bring new ideas to the table.
“Actively trying to foster an open environment (not only when you’re brainstorming, but all the time!) builds team camaraderie.”
Plus, sharing what might seem like “bad” ideas can also be a pivotal moment in sparking creativity and inspiring other voices in the room to participate, especially for junior members on your team. If you’re in a leadership position, make it a point to share tons of bad ideas with pride. Often, there’s a resistance to putting the worst out into the air. But as soon as you put an idea out there — the good, the bad, or the ugly — you’ll open the floodgates for everyone else to join in!
Speaking of sparking creativity, another tip from our team is to have creative exercises in your back pocket ready to go that’ll help with idea generation. Early on in your session or when momentum starts to dip, you can play little games to get ideas moving. To keep the room engaged, we recommend recording everyone’s ideas in a place that’s easy to see. We like using whiteboards, but a wall of sticky notes, a shared Google Doc, or a good ol’ poster board and permanent marker will also do the trick!
As an active participant, your responsibility going into a brainstorm is easy. The most common jumping-off point, besides playing a game, is coming prepared with some inspiration. Did you recently read an interesting article, see a beautiful photo, watch a quippy ad, or tumble down a rabbit hole on Reddit? If you haven’t, we encourage you to consume as much content as you possibly can to spark inspiration! All of us are constantly keeping tabs on things that resonate with us. If you start jotting down things that tickle your brain in a Google Doc or a notebook, it could be a useful tool to have on hand.
Remember when we said to foster a creative environment? Don’t be bashful about pulling up the latest SNL skit featuring Harry Styles to show your colleagues and share some laughs. Did a recent viral Twitter thread raise interesting points relating to a topic your team is passionate about? Quit holding out on everyone! Bring all of your outside inspiration to a brainstorm session, and you’ll help kindle the flame for building new creative concepts that could end up being the basis of your next video series.
“Bring all of your outside inspiration to a brainstorm session, and you’ll help kindle the flame for building new creative concepts that could end up being the basis of your next video series.”
Now, if you’ve never created a show, there are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind before you brainstorm. From getting real about your resources to choosing a show format, these are two big things you’ll want to consider:
First, when you’re creating a series for your business for the first time, be aware that you’re going to spend a decent amount of time OR money. You should ask yourself, “Do we have the time to do this? Or, do we have the money to do this?” Knowing your business’ capabilities, you should be able to decide whether or not it’s smarter to hire external resources for getting this project across the finish line.
If your business is ready to tackle Brand Affinity Marketing and create episodic content, we think you could benefit from hiring producers, writers, and videographers to have on your own in-house team. From our own experience, these folks are super close to our company and our values. And having these resources on our team have helped us make production schedules more efficient and helped us figure out what formats are going to work.
At our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, our co-founders, Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz, explained how companies that want to make a shift from Content Marketing to Brand Affinity Marketing should hire a producer first. Why? Because producers can help your company figure out if you can produce a show internally, or if you should work with an external production agency. Watch this clip from Change the Channel to hear the rest of their advice:
At the end of the day, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for creating a successful video series. You have to weigh what feels most comfortable and achievable for your own business in terms of time or money.
Earlier in the post, we gave some examples of the types of shows your team can start creating today. Although we stand by those examples, picking your show format shouldn’t be as simple as drawing one out of a hat. The format you choose will influence the creative concepts you brainstorm as well as the resources you might need throughout the entire process.
“The format you choose will influence the creative concepts you brainstorm as well as the resources you might need throughout the entire process.”
To put things into perspective, if you end up choosing an interview-style show format, you have to dedicate time to carefully picking the perfect show host and reviewing the most engaging guests to feature in each episode. This might require you to find connections within your own network or do some cold outreaches. Then, you have to schedule times for a pre-interview and an actual shoot date according to your production schedule and coordinate with your guests. Take it from us when we say that keeping track of all the back-and-forth is a job in its own right (specifically, a producer’s), and this is only half of the work required to make a talk show possible.
When you’re looking at show formats, think about your team’s bandwidth for production. We said it once and we’ll say it again: Be mindful of what you’re capable of. You won’t want to overextend and feel in over your head. Overdoing it on your first effort could give you a bad taste for creating video series — and that would be a bummer! We suggest you do your research on show formats and their level of difficulty and start out simple within your means.
Well, that about wraps up our creative team’s top tips for getting started with show creation. From fostering a creative environment to understanding some restrictions that have a big impact on your creative decisions, we hope you’re feeling more confident about concepting ideas for an episodic video series that your business can pull off. If you have brainstorming tips you swear by, drop ‘em below!