How to Make an Ambitious Video Series—4 Tips from Salesforce
August 3, 2020
For almost all of 2016, Lynne Zaledonis, Vice President of Product Marketing at Salesforce, and her team worked on a project that the rest of the marketing department was super jealous of — they produced the first feature-length documentary in their company’s history. But that wasn’t the only milestone that The Story of Sales hit. It was also the first-ever documentary about sales.
Despite this bold undertaking, Zaledonis and her team took it all on in stride and were able to reap huge benefits from it. The Story of Sales became a pillar piece of content for the company that still generates results to this day and was met with rave reviews at nationwide screenings.
Below, we explore four tips from Salesforce’s production process to help you create an ambitious film or video series at your own company. Let’s dive in!
1. Run with an angle that your target audience can rally around
Acknowledging your target audience’s frustrations with their profession’s misconceptions, proving that they are, in fact, misconceptions, and showing the true value of their work is a surefire way to build a passionate audience for your film or video series. This type of conversation can serve as a rallying cry that most of your industry will likely get behind — especially if they feel like what they do every day is misunderstood.
“This type of conversation can serve as a rallying cry that most of your industry will likely get behind — especially if they feel like what they do every day is misunderstood.”
At Salesforce, for example, they noticed that the sales community felt unfairly judged for working in sales. So the company decided to show the world the full scope of their jobs and what it takes to be a successful salesperson — hard work, determination, and genuine care for customers. This angle celebrated the sales profession and, in turn, resonated with the sales community on a deep, emotional level.
At your company, your angle is for you to figure out. But if you can create something that your target audience can passionately support, you’re likely to earn rave reviews from your industry.
2. Tap internal resources for help
If you’ve never worked on a big production before, the thought of just figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. To help lighten the load, tap not only your immediate team but also resources from across the company.
To gather as much help as possible, consider asking coworkers about their experiences and interest in the series. You might be surprised about who is willing to get involved and keep the ball rolling on your project.
At Salesforce, Jim Hopkins, a Senior Product Manager on the team, led the project, and his passion for filmmaking was critical in getting the film across the finish line. Zaledonis and her team also enlisted the help of dozens of other colleagues at Salesforce who found sales professionals to interview, created the soundtrack, wrote blog posts, and did other work behind the scenes. Ultimately, it took a village to produce the documentary.
3. Consider hiring external production services
Even if your entire company lends a helping hand to your project, crafting a feature-length documentary or video series can still be a big undertaking, especially if you’ve never made one before. To make your life a little easier, consider hiring some pros. Salesforce is a 50,000-person company, but they still worked with a production company called RockBridge to help them craft their documentary.
“Even if your entire company lends a helping hand to your project, crafting a feature-length documentary or video series can still be a big undertaking. To make your life a little easier, consider hiring some pros.”
To pick the right production company for your business, find out which ones produced your favorite branded shows and films — which you can usually find in the show’s or film’s credits — and request meetings with them. From there, you’ll get a sense of whether you want to work with them and whether you can afford their services.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to relinquish all of your creative control to the production company. Your level of involvement is ultimately up to you.
If you don’t have the budget to hire an external production company, consider hiring freelancers to help produce your video series. You can find them on freelancer marketplaces for film professionals, such as Storyhunter, ProductionHub, and Staff Me Up.
4. Set a hard deadline to finish your project
Constraints breed creativity, and one of the best constraints to work under is time.
According to a study conducted by Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, working on meaningful work under a low- to moderate- pressure deadline unleashes the most creativity in employees.
With this insight in mind, set a distant yet firm deadline for your video series. This end date can help your team work as efficiently as possible in the allotted time available, which can boost their motivation and focus on the project.
“Constraints breed creativity, and one of the best constraints to work under is time.”
Salesforce set a deadline of nine months for their 80-minute documentary. Your deadline could be shorter or longer, depending on the scope of your project, your team, and your resources.
Take a leap of faith
Creating an ambitious video series like a documentary might seem like a daunting task. But the dividends it can pay to your brand and bottom line are well worth the time and effort it takes to create one.
At Salesforce, The Story of Sales became a pillar piece of content that the company could repurpose into additional pieces of content, which enabled them to generate a significant amount of leads, pipeline, and revenue. They were also able to build a ton of brand affinity by ungating the documentary on their website and hosting screenings of the documentary.