How to Make a Marketing Video on a Budget

Videos have become one of the top channels to leverage toward marketing a business. According to Vidyard, 71% of marketers surveyed said videos were attributed to an increase in their conversion rates. YouTube has exploded with content filling nearly every niche imaginable and ad revenue topping $15 billion in 2019. 

Shoppers watch videos to research new products or comparison shop, and product review videos are very popular and highly effective at driving consumers toward a purchase; so popular that people make a living just doing product reviews on YouTube. In fact, just a few days ago I made a purchase after watching some reviews of video monitors for a camera rig.

Video can be a powerful sales tool when done right. My purchase inspired me to write this article that I hope can be used to inspire you, or be a template for improving your own videos.

In this article we will cover the following to help you create a more successful marketing video:

  1. Create a plan
  2. Develop a story
  3. Make your production shine
  4. Putting it all together (Post-production)
  5. Promoting your video


Create a plan

Every project must start with a solid plan. What is the goal of this video? To drive sales? To promote an event? Put a couple of brains together from your team and decide what your business wants to get out of the project. 

Say you’re selling a new piece of software that makes it easier to sell on Ebay. Your goal might then be to introduce the product to potential customers and drive signups for a free trial on your website. Now that you have a goal you can begin to imagine what a customer journey might look like and start working on the story.

Develop a story

The story is the glue that keeps everything together and moves the viewer emotionally. Think about how your products will be introduced to the viewer and how you’ll persuade them to move closer to the goal you set in your plan. 

The story is the bridge that connects the product with the viewer and we want to keep them moving over that bridge without falling into the river. 

If you’re trying to get people to sign up for a new product they haven’t yet been introduced to, perhaps we introduce a common pain point that your app aims to solve at the beginning of the story, tell them why your product has the solution to their problem, then show them how it works with some live screenshots of the app. Finally, maybe wrap it up with a call to action to incentivize the viewer to sign up by highlighting a free trial, or by promoting a live product demo; something that gets the viewer to take action. 

There are too many examples of story ideas, structures, and creative approaches to list and I’ll leave it up to you do explore them on your own. But another idea would be to show how your current customers are using your product with positive results, such as the following video I created for Miva, an eCommerce software company.


In this example, the story is narrated by two clients themselves. I first created an outline of how I thought the story should flow and guessing what they might say. I then crafted questions for an in-studio interview in order to get their answers in the form of dialog that I could use for the narration. 

Sometimes you’ll have to ask the same question in different ways to get what you’re looking for and to get the right flow. The end result was an authentic story told in their words and in their actual voices which adds extra credibility and a built-in trust factor.

Make your production shine

This article is geared more toward theory rather than the technical aspects of making a great video. However, I thought I’d touch on a few important points and tips that are sometimes overlooked by beginners with video production.

Sound

I put Sound at the top of the list as it’s probably more important to get right than crisp video. Viewers are less forgiving with poor sound than poor video. Don’t skimp on the sound. You don’t need expensive equipment for decent audio, but extra care and planning should be taken to get the best recording you can. Here are a few quick tips and a video that should help guide you toward better audio:

  1. Don’t use the camera’s built-in microphone
  2. Get the mic as close as you can to the subject’s mouth for dialog
  3. Spend a little more money for a decent microphone
  4. Large, hard spaces are echoey, and echo is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to remove later. You can reduce echo with blankets, furniture, rugs, anything that absorbs sound.


Dressing the Set

What’s in the shot, or more importantly, what’s not in the shot, will make your production look more professional. Pick a spot that adds to the story. Clean up the space that will be in the frame. Make it nice, reduce clutter, remove items that are distracting.

Lighting

Lighting a shot well takes practice and is one of the most important pieces of the image and a well-lit shot is what will take your video to the next level. You can shoot with an $80,000 camera and a $40,000 lens, but if it’s poorly-lit you would have been better off shooting with a mobile phone and an inexpensive light with a softbox.

Here’s a great video that shows how one light with different setups can look on the same subject.


Camera

Use the camera you already have, or buy or rent one. YouTube is great for camera and lens reviews and there are just too many cameras out there to touch on in this article. If you capture good sound, have a nicely-framed subject, and took some care with the lighting, the camera you use will not have a big impact on production quality. Just make sure to shoot HD or higher.

For some quick overall tips on productions, here are two great videos on setting up and shooting an interview. They cover a bit of audio, set dressing, lighting, framing, and equipment. 


Putting it all together (post-production)

Since this isn’t a technical manual, I can skip certain details like syncing the audio to your video, choosing an editing application, color correction, or mixing sound. There are great tutorials out there already on those topics. Instead, I’ll point you toward some great resources I’ve used for putting the final finishing touches that will make your videos feel much more professional.

Voice overs are a popular way of telling a story on video, and getting them to sound professional is much harder than it would seem. Outsourcing is the way to go for pro results and I’ve used both voices.com and voiceovers.com with great results. 

To get started you simply your job with a script, listen to the auditions, select the best one, and they’ll record and deliver the files. It’s really easy and painless in my experience. Plan to spend $300-$500 for a 1-2 minute video with experienced voice actors.

Music 

The way we consume music has changed dramatically in recent years, and commercial music is no different. For a few dollars per month, you can subscribe to commercial music services and use all the music you want in your projects. 

My favorite commercial music sources are currently Artlist and Epidemic Sound. The quality of the content is really amazing I highly recommend trying either service.

Stock Footage

You can find stock video and photos everywhere these days, and you may even already have access to some great content with subscriptions you already pay for, such as Adobe Stock. If you don’t have the time or budget to hire a drone operator for some aerial footage, or to pay a cameraperson to travel to the Alps or a sunny beach in the South Pacific, consider licensing stock video and be done with it. Try Storyblocks for a variety of plans that suit your budget on an ongoing basis, or iStockphoto for licensing single clips if you don’t need a subscription.


Delivering the final video

So you’ve created a great-looking video and you want it to look its best on YouTube or Facebook or wherever it’s going to end up. One final thing to pay attention to is the export settings of the file itself. 

Though much simpler than it used to be, every website platform out there has different requirements on the video files themselves; whether it’s the filetype or video codec, audio bitrate, file size, or dimensions. 

Many video editing applications have built-in export templates set up for common platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook, but you’ll want to make sure you’re following each of their own sets of guidelines so you’ll get the best quality you can. 

Often using just the stock settings for YouTube in Adobe Media Encoder or in DaVinci Resolve will get you a decent-looking video that can be uploading on any website, but it’s better to be safe and double-check the recommended output settings with each platform. 

If you want to research the topic further, here’s an explainer on getting better results in Adobe Premiere when exporting for YouTube. Don’t forget to create an eye-grabbing thumbnail.


Promoting your video

The hard work is done! Or, is it? Now you need eyeballs on your masterpiece so you can sell more product. And often, it’s much harder to promote your video than actually making it. If you already have an audience it may be easier for you to get it seen, but for those who are just getting to building their business will have a much longer uphill battle to be seen and heard.

So, here are my top 5 tips to getting your new video seen by the world:

  1. Plaster it all over social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  2. Paid placement. You know those little ads that show up before and during your favorite how-to videos? You can do this with a Google Adwords campaign to see if you get some traction. Twitter and Facebook also have paid placements that may work for you.
  3. Ask folks with bigger, relevant audiences to share it.
  4. Play it in front of live people at an event, conference, or meetup.
  5. Repost it! Don’t let your hard work fizzle out too early. Repost that sucker often, at least once a week for as long as you can. Just be careful not to overdo it.


Final word

Videos are one of the more powerful tools available, but they do take some work to get right. Keep practicing, don’t be afraid to fail or try new things, and eventually you’ll have a hit on your hands. Of course, you can always hire us to create an amazing video for you and we’d be okay with that. 

Happy producing!


Recent Posts
How to Make a Marketing Video on a Budget