4 Crucial Steps for Kicking off Your Next Video

Dan Mills


There are a lot of moving parts that go into making a video for your website. Since there are so many different types of videos, there are no hard-and-fast rules on how to approach one. However, there are a few fairly universal questions and processes that need to be sorted out before you jump into scripting, table reading, and production!

What is the goal of your video?

Example 1: Do you want a person to watch this video, then head to the next stage in your sales funnel?

Example 2: Are you looking for people to better understand a tricky concept related to your product?

Example 3: Do you just want to delight the heck out of some customers?

Understanding what your video is trying to accomplish at a high level is crucial. Not only will it impact the decisions you make at each stage in the video creation process, but it will be the key factor in knowing if your video was successful.

For example one, maybe you’d want to keep an eye on the traffic flow in Google Analytics. For example two, perhaps success looks like less support tickets related to that concept. And for delightful number three, your metrics might be video engagement, social shares, and qualitative feedback, such as comments on a blog post or messages on social media.

Using video in your marketing efforts is a long game. Setting goals for each video, and then taking the time to reflect on how videos perform against those goals is a key part of growing as a video marketer.

Who is your audience?

This is a simple question that’s often overlooked, but it goes hand in hand with goal setting. Is your audience familiar with your product? Did they opt in to see this video? Are they coming from a paid ad?

A new audience arriving to the page via a targeted ad might need a little more introduction to your company and a whole lot of delight. An audience of superfans who arrive on the video’s page via an email can probably do without a lot of explanation. You might even get away with some “inside” jokes.

Without understanding who is going to watch your video, it’s nearly impossible to approach the messaging correctly. So before you start thinking about the idea or the script for your video, be sure to get a handle on the intended audience!

Where will this video live?

Is this video going in an email? Autoplaying on a landing page? Will it be on a product page with a call to action right below it? Holy smokes. You need to know the eventual home for this video.

Context is everything, and it’s a much more seamless experience for the viewer when your video is in harmony with the context around it.

Take, for example, the video on the product page for Wistia’s 360 player. Since we knew the video was going to live on this sleek, evergreen product page, we decided to keep the script straightforward and concise. During production, we also made sure that we had a thumbnail image that would complement the aesthetic of the page.

If we know a video will be used on our blog or social media channels, we’re confident that we can experiment with more playful, casual videos, whereas product pages and educational videos in our library tend to be more buttoned-up. Context can also inform the length of your video.

There’s a lot of moving parts when you’re making a video, but the whole endeavor could end up being pretty ineffective if you forget to think about where this thing is going to live.

What kind of timeline are you working with?

Like any other project, it’s important to understand the timeline you are working with. Is this video due by the end of the week? Is it due tomorrow because it’s topical? By the end of the quarter? Coming up with creative approaches can be hard enough as it is, and we always try to embrace the limitation of time to help us scope our projects.

For our annual conference, WistiaFest, we knew we had several months to make an intro video for the first day of the event. This meant we had time to plan for a complicated shoot with the whole team involved. We had the opportunity to go over the top, so we did.

In contrast, when we launched Timeline Actions, we were working on a tighter deadline, so we went with a simpler, straightforward concept that we were confident we could pull off in a few days.

When you’re scoping your next video project, make sure your account for all the different aspects that will go into the video.

Over the years, I’ve learned to add a little buffer for each stage of the process. The script will no doubt receive feedback, the talent won’t get their lines on the first take, and something about the final edit won’t be up to snuff from the product team’s perspective.

If you have to move fast, consider scoping the idea to include less people, so that you don’t get bottlenecked by other people’s schedules. If you have more time, take the opportunity to brainstorm some more out-of-the-box ideas or try some more difficult production techniques.

Now what?

So let’s recap. You know the goal of your video. You’ve got the deadline. You’ve wrapped your head around the intended audience AND where the video will be embedded. Bazinga! I think you’re ready to start brainstorming some projects that embrace all of these limitations!

The answers to the questions listed above will be super helpful to anyone involved with your video project, so as a tip, try to get all of this information either on a Google Doc where you are scripting, or on the Trello card for the project.

Good luck with your next video!

Dan Mills


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