Congratulations — you’ve come up with a solid idea for your next video series! After writing a show positioning statement and brainstorming with your team, you’ve grounded your concept in your brand values, boosting the odds that it’ll resonate with your niche audience. You’ve done a lot of hard work so far, but you may still be wondering how you can ensure your show will actually be able to build a loyal, passionate following.
Hal Croasmun, president of ScreenwritingU, an education company that builds screenwriting courses, has developed a process for vetting movie concepts that has helped over 300 aspiring screenwriters strike screenwriting deals. In this post, we’ve modified Croasmun’s process to fit the type of video series you might make at your own company as part of your brand affinity marketing strategy (sign up for ScreenwritingU’s online course to learn more about the original process we were inspired by!).
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details, shall we? Read on to discover the five steps you can take to help determine whether your video series will be a hit or a miss — we really hope it’s a hit!
When vetting your video series’ concept, you’ll want to run it by the people in your niche audience who aren’t afraid to give you constructive feedback (if you need help identifying your niche audience, check out this blog post!).
One of the best ways to find interviewees who will honestly critique your concept is by recruiting people who resemble your niche audience and, importantly, don’t personally know any of your current team members. You can identify these people with UX research platforms, such as UserZoom or UserTesting. Both platforms provide participant sourcing tools that give you access to a huge pool of users and can whittle it down to the people who are most representative of your niche audience.
“To find out how your interviewees truly feel about your show’s concept, you must explain it to them in the most neutral and straightforward way possible.”
To find out how your interviewees truly feel about your show’s concept, you must explain it to them in the most neutral and straightforward way possible.
The first step in doing this is to set up a video chat with your interviewees, which you can do on the UX research platforms mentioned above. At the beginning of the chat, ask your interviewees if you can record it so you can review it afterward. Then, tell them your team is creating a show, and you’d like to get an honest reaction to it. Before you tell them your concept, though, don’t ask them to rate or discuss it. You want to trigger an emotional, knee-jerk reaction from your interviewees, not a full-blown analysis.
Next, explain your show concept and then zip it. Rambling on about how much you like your concept or how it’s a work in progress will reveal your true feelings about it. This can pressure your interviewees to say your concept is better than they actually think it is to avoid hurting your feelings. Don’t be afraid of getting potentially difficult feedback — it’s better to learn what’s working now rather than after you’ve shot the whole series.
Your interviewees’ emotional reactions — not their words — will reveal their honest rating of your concept. So, while your interviewees give you feedback on your concept, observe their emotional expressions, listen to their tone of voice, and rate their emotional reactions on a scale of 1–10. A rating of 1 would mean they wouldn’t watch it even if it was the only title listed on Netflix. A rating of 10 would mean they would binge it faster than Stranger Things.
Here’s a quick rundown on how to translate your interviewees’ emotional reactions to a rating for your concept:
- If they don’t express any emotion and/or their tone is monotone, their rating of your concept is a 4 or below.
- If they’re moderately excited, it’s a 5 or a 6.
- If they’re pretty excited and/or curious, it’s a 7.
- If they’re extremely excited and can’t stop asking you questions, it’s an 8 or above.
Once they finish giving you feedback about your concept, thank them and jot down some notes about their emotional reactions and what they reveal about your concept.
After you’ve asked a statistically significant number of people about your concept (most statisticians suggest that 30 is a big enough sample size), calculate your average rating. If it’s below an 8 out of 10, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and iterate on your concept. Here are some suggestions for improving your concept if it has missed the mark:
- If your rating is a 4 or below, you may want to scrap your concept, reference your notes, and run all this information through a show positioning statement again to come up with a brand-new concept.
- If your rating is a 5 or a 6, use your notes to make suggested improvements to your concept, and then run all of this information through the show positioning statement again to enhance your concept as much as possible.
- If your rating is a 7, use your notes to try to bump your concept up to an 8 or above.
“If your average rating is below an 8 out of 10, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and iterate on your concept.”
Unless your video series’ rating is an 8 out of 10 after your first round of testing, keep repeating steps 2–4 until it hits that threshold. Streaming services have already set a high bar for binge-worthy content, so you want to try to put your best foot forward and create the highest-quality video series possible within the constraints of your budget and resources.
Ultimately, you’ll only know if your video series will resonate with your niche audience if you interview the people who are a part of that niche audience. So before you ask your Twitter or Instagram followers to vote on your concepts, consider following ScreenwritingU’s process above. Chances are, your idea for your next video series will end up in a much better place than it was before!