Don’t fall victim to these common mistakes!

Over the years, we’ve seen companies make some really smart moves to improve the quality and effectiveness of their videos. But we’ve also seen that there are a lot of traps you can easily fall into if you’re not keeping your eyes open.

Here are some common snags to watch out for:

1: Forgetting the “big picture”

We’ve spoken before about the danger of letting yourself be distracted from your practical objectives.

Video production is a long, involved process with a lot of moving pieces. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day problems, it can be easy to wander off course without even realizing it.

The best way to avoid this is to subject every single decision to the question: “Does this help us achieve our goal?”

2: Trying to include too much

We’ve talked pretty extensively elsewhere about why a tight focus is important when it comes to video marketing.

We know that your instinct is to cram in as many ideas and visuals as possible. Videos are big, expensive projects, and you want to get as much out of your investment as you can.

But this tendency can lead to overcrowding, clutter, and confusion. It weakens your ability to connect with viewers and does more harm than good. A clear, controlled message is unquestionably the better choice.

3: Going for information instead of emotion

A video can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the viewer. Some people take this to mean that video is like a brochure – a chance for an in-depth descriptive profile of your entire organization. They endeavor to make their videos as informative and all-inclusive as possible.

But video’s job isn’t to educate. It’s to initiate a personal connection. It isn’t the right format for facts and figures, credentials and statistics; it’s the cover letter for your organization, not your nonprofits résumé.

Videos tell stories. They make jokes. They put a human face on your work and ideals so that viewers can relate to your cause and remember it afterward.

This emotional investment is ultimately what drives people to donate or contribute to you rather than to some other worthy movement.

Leave the finer details to your website or the glossy pamphlets. Once the video has drawn them in, viewers will be able to look these things up at their own pace.

4: Failure to prioritize during filming

When you’re not familiar with how production works, it might seem like every moment is a potential filming opportunity. We’re often urged by our clients to acquire more and more footage, despite our protests: “We must make sure every student and teacher is included. We have a famous presenter coming next week and we’d love to feature him in the video. Let’s interview fifteen more people while you’re here.”

We understand your concerns: You’re worried that we won’t capture the full picture. Your organization is complex, layered, and unique, and you want to make sure that the full scope of who you are comes across in the final product.

Trust us when we tell you that good planning is the best way to deal with this concern. A  professional marketing firm will work with you to prepare your concept, shot list, and interviews based on valid criteria rather than last-minute panic. By the time production starts, extensive research and creative thinking will have determined exactly what you need. The only thing left will be to go in and get it done.

If a filming opportunity does pop up at the last minute, ask yourself if it’s really that essential. How much stronger will it make your story? Are there less costly ways that can yield a result that’s the same or better? When you stop and take a breath, you’ll often find that eleventh hour solutions are redundant; you’ve already put everything you need in place.

5: Disregarding the “utilization plan”

We’ve noted before how the intended usage shapes both the content and style of a video. Your homepage, a live presentation and Facebook all have different requirements. Your video will need to be modified according to what you intend to do with it.

The worst thing you can do is shoot the footage and only then determine how you’re going to use it. You need to go into production knowing which scenes and techniques are most suited to your plans. Otherwise, you will likely waste time and money filming scenes you won’t even be able to use.

Utilization shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be an inextricable part of planning and creating every film.

6: No call-to-action

You’ve just spent thousands of dollars putting together an emotionally affecting video. You’ve spent yet more money getting that video in front of the right people. Now all you need to do is wait for your audience to act.

You managed to inspire them – but if you didn’t give them a way to follow up, that energy may well disappear before anything comes of it.

A video without a call to action is like a meal served without a fork and knife. It isn’t impossible for viewers to donate, sign up, or whatever else you hope to see happen. But it’s surely inconvenient, and most people won’t bother to get their hands dirty. Without a prompt from you, it may not even occur to them to try!

Make sure you know exactly what you want people to do after watching your film. Then make sure they know it too.

Give them a way to accomplish it, and you’ve greatly increased the chances that they will.

It takes a lot of work to create a high quality video. You don’t want to undercut all that effort by making an easily avoidable mistake. Keep this list in mind, and you’ll get through production without a hitch.

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