How to Plan a Great Video: 5 Easy Steps

You already know that video is one of the most important content marketing pieces to consider for your business. You’ve read the stats and figures, and maybe you already have a few ideas of the types of things you’d like to show your customers.

Planning a video can be as easy as grabbing your point and shoot and clicking record. Some companies are very successful with this method and can quickly produce regular videos with this kind of content.

5 Easy Steps to a Great VIdeoIf, however, you are like many organizations that often need to plan around budgets, promotions or busy seasons, here’s how to produce a great video in 5 Easy Steps.

1. Mine Your Current Marketing Calendar: Take a look at your current marketing calendar or planned promotions. How can you show part of your business in a way that fits with what you’re already doing? For example, if spring is a big push for your garden center business, you could show videos that:

  • Show current products in store, or show how your business is preparing for spring
  • Highlight an employee’s work anniversary, and have him or her give the best tips for spring planting
  • Film a “how to” video on the best way to prep a lawn for spring

Remember, streamlining your overall messages across all your marketing efforts actually makes producing content that much easier. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with video…just make it work with what you’re already doing.

2. Pick Your Concept and Key Message: Once you’ve looked at your calendar, pick the overarching concept and key message that you want your video to convey.

For example, returning to the garden center business, let’s say you choose to show a quick how-to video on preparing a lawn for spring. While you’re producing value-added content for the customer about lawn care, the key message may actually be:

  • Our business is knowledgeable: we know everything there is to know about lawns
  • Our business is trustworthy: you can trust us to help you with every aspect of lawn care
  • Our business offers the best in value: the products we use in this video are affordable when you purchase with us

Narrowing your key message allows you to not only clearly convey to the customer exactly what he needs to know, it helps you know what parts of your video to keep, and which parts to edit.

3. Create an Outline, Script and/or Storyboard: Even if you’re only creating a 60 second video with your iPhone, a brief outline helps to focus production time. Your outline can be as simple as:

  • Intro–John says hello, mentions he is from ABC Nursery, and says, “Today I’m going to show you how to prep your lawn for spring.”
  • Tip 1–John shows how to clear lawn of old debris from winter
  • Tip 2–John shows how to cut any old buds or dead branches from bushes
  • Tip 3–John shows how to spread first layer of mulch
  • Outtro–John says thank you for watching, invites viewers to visit in-store or go to, end with logo and website.

For videos where you’d like to add more detail, or if you’re using an outside vendor to help edit or produce your video, a storyboard that uses both desired images and a script or outline helps to give an exact vision for the project. Again, this step doesn’t have to be super high-tech. Celtx is a free software that allows you to put together quick and easy storyboards, or there are lots of free storyboard templates to download, as well.

Either way, this step can save time and headaches during the shooting and editing process when you already have a clear vision for the project.

4. Think Like an Editor: Whether you’re editing a video in-house or you’ve hired someone to help, do your best not to get too attached to every minute of content. It’s incredibly easy to fall in love with footage, especially if you have an emotional attachment to the subject (e.g. a favorite customer, or special project).

Unfortunately, a ten minute video that includes seven minutes of outtakes, or every single nut and bolt of a new machine is not only going to lose the audience, it’ll lose the key message.

Think “short and sweet” as well as big picture when going through the editing process. 60-90 seconds is plenty of time for a quick and easy how-to that gives bare essentials and points viewers back to your website or asks them to call for more details. Content should always be a driver to push viewers to do something about your message. That action gets awfully tricky to take if they’re seeing only the footage you love, and not the footage that actually matters to them.

If you did film lots of footage that you can’t bear to part with, consider breaking it up into a longer series of videos, or using some of those smaller snippets as “drip content” for your Facebook page or Twitter account.

For example, maybe the overall “How to Prep Your Lawn for Spring” video is 90 seconds long, but you got several candid moments of Jon giving tips that didn’t make the final cut. Package each tip into a 15-20 second snippet that you can add a title to, and a quick logo and call to action at the end. Three or four of these will make fantastic Facebook, blog or newsletter content pieces.

Anytime you edit, though, keep your initial key message and outline in mind. Cut parts that don’t speak directly to those guidelines…don’t worry, you can always use the footage that didn’t make it at another time.

5. Optimize and Promote: Once your video is edited and ready to go, you’ll likely want to publish it to YouTube. YouTube is the number two search platform right behind Google, so it’s a smart place to gather your video content.

The title of your video is extremely important on YouTube. Avoid overly clever or creative titles, and instead opt for a title that speaks plainly to what the content is and what the viewer should expect to see. “How to Prepare Your Lawn for Spring” or “Three Spring Lawn Care Tips” are far more searchable and relatable titles than “John and Spring, It’s a Thing!”

Keep the first part of your video description very short (one to two sentences), and add a URL to a unique landing page or your website. Use related tags to also help your video rank well in search, and choose a thumbnail that shows clearly what the video is about.

Optimization, however, is only part of the post-production puzzle. Promoting the video is also important, so include it in your Social posts, newsletter and blog. Embed it on a page of your website that includes other how tos or promotions. Or, use it as part of your digital sales or media package.

YouTube not only looks at how well a video is optimized when ranking the video in search, it also looks for how often and how recently a video has been viewed. So be proud of the work you’ve done, and don’t just share once…keep pushing it to all your Web outlets to rack up those views and rankings.

These five easy steps should guide the overall process of producing great video content on a regular basis. If you are looking to create something more in depth, like a mini-documentary, music video, or animated infographic, you might need to call in the pros to help you with hiring talent or adding snappy edits.

This step, however, often comes after steps one and two. Some production companies can help with initial ideation and key concepts, but make sure you take the first steps to know what you want to say and when you want to say it. And if you are hiring professionals, make sure to look a few months ahead to allow for time to plan for right filming conditions, shoot times, editing and any other post-production work or development.

Have questions about creating great video content? Ask away in the comments!

Sarah is a TKG Content Strategist, a veteran blogger of love, life, and unicorns since way back in 2001. On the blog, you can follow her thoughts on content marketing, corporate identity, how to story-tell effectively, and yes, the occasional unicorn.

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