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Video Production: How much will it cost?

clapperboard with Cost vs ROIThe most common question I hear regarding video production is: How much will it cost? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. And it may not be the most important question that marketers should be asking.

Producing a video is a lot like building a house. The price to construct a new home depends on the size, design, features, amenities and neighborhood, as well as other factors. As a general rule of thumb: the bigger the house, the lower the “cost-per-square foot.” With that said, there are exceptions to every rule. A case in point: the current national average to build a home is $125 per square foot. However, if you want to break ground on a high-rise in Manhattan or deck-out a waterfront mansion in Miami, plan to shell-out more than four times that amount.

In video you may hear “cost per finished minute.” And for many years, the average budget for broadcast-quality video production has been valued at $1,000- $2,000 per finished minute Again, this is a loose rule of thumb. There are exceptions to every rule. You can’t always produce a one-minute video for $1,000 and it isn’t always necessary to spend six-figures on a one-hour documentary.

Just like building a house, the architecture and design of each video project dictates resources and crew requirements − and those production elements dictate the budget. Will your video feature animated graphics or on-camera interviews? Will it be filmed on location or in a studio? Will it involve voice-over talent, music licensing or actors? There are a lot of variables to video budgeting.

The bottom line: asking how much a 3-minute marketing video for your website will cost is like going to a homebuilder and asking how much “a house” will cost. Clearly, a competent builder will want to engage in an interview and fact-finding session in order to professionally guide you in the right direction.

Similarly, in video production, a key first step is to meet with a producer who can guide you through the creative process and make suggestions on how to cost-effectively write and produce video content that accomplishes your communication and marketing goals.

A video budget should be evaluated just like any other marketing investment. Consider the return on the investment (ROI). What is the goal and how will you measure the success of the campaign? Simply put, if you invest x-dollars in video content, how many new customers will you need to acquire or how many widgets will you need to sell in order to recoup your video production investment and realize a profit?

According to EMarketer, “51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as the type of content with the best ROI.” 1, 2

With proper planning and production guidance, an investment in professionally produced video content will pay off.

At the end of the day, “How much will it cost?” isn’t the most important question. Rather, marketers should be asking, “How much will I gain?”

Next month:

Video Production: Getting the most bang for your production buck.

Sources:

1EMarketer (2013). Get the Best ROI? Retrieved May 6, 2014 from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Which-Content-Marketing-Tactics-Best-ROI/1009706

2CopyPress (2013). 2013 State of Content Marketing. Retrieved May 7, 2014 from http://www.copypress.com/White_Paper.pdf.

 

Written by Kristin A. Pelletier, Writer and Executive Producer, Blue Truck Productions

Blue Truck Productions offers broadcast-quality programming design and production.  We specialize in developing original content for corporations for use in marketing and social media. For more information visit www.bluetruck.tv.


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“Lights, Camera – Social Action!” by Chelsea Watts, Staff Writer

Blue Truck Productions can help your business harness the power of video in Social Media.

Blue Truck Productions can help your business harness the power of video in Social Media.

It is no surprise that social media is redefining the business landscape, breaking rules and forcing marketers to up their game. It seems that every day there is a new medium, some just reinventions of others, but nonetheless, social media is where customers spend their time, so businesses must spend their employee’s time and resources there, too, to be relevant in the marketplace.

Not sold on the viability of social media to promote brands? Digital Buzz Blog’s November 2013 article about social media use in 2013 may open your eyes to just how big of an opportunity you are missing if you don’t partake in social. For example, Facebook has more than 1.15 billion total users. Of those users, 23% of users visit Facebook more than five times each day. For Twitter, there are more than 500 million users and more than 400 million tweets are posted per day. When it comes to Instagram, a channel that relies on photo and video, this channel features more than 130 million users. Of those 130 million plus users, on average, each will have 40 photos. Instagram fields more than 1,000 comments per second on its users photos and videos. I could expound for the length of the article on the weight of these statistics – but I think you can draw conclusions on your own.

Amidst the expanse of channels, those that are most successful thrive because of one shared key element – visual content. Channels such as Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, which were created purely to amplify this element, are now being pressured by existing channels such as Facebook and Twitter, who are stepping up their visual content. While it may have flown under your radar, Facebook and Twitter redesigned their sites to include photos and videos placed more prominently on pages. New channels, such as Vine, emerged on the social media scene, making it easy for amateur videographers to use their iPhones to create six-second videos. The digital landscape is evolving to ride the wave of visual content.

Social Media Today’s article from March 2013, “The Importance of Video in Social Media” provides statistics regarding online video. For example, in September 2012, 85% of Internet users in the United States viewed some form of video content online. In 2013, the article estimated “by 2014, online video could account for 50% of all internet traffic. 2” It also noted that as of March 2013, video was considered the sixth most popular content marketing tactic2. Knowing how many people use social media and “50% of social media users are likely to view a video posted by a brand they follow, 2” are you missing out on a lucrative opportunity to connect with your customers?

Photos and videos drive clicks and viewership, without them companies lose market share and deem themselves irrelevant. So what does that mean for business? Whether you are a large company or a small family startup, everyone has equal access to social media channels. While the budgets for sponsored posts (advertising) and personnel devoted to servicing profiles may be different, everyone has an equal chance of posting engaging content that catches the attention of potential clients.

So you know that you need photos and videos, but not just anything snapped with a smart phone will do. Content must be intentionally created to spark the attention of customers. This starts with knowing your customers, but that concept really deserves its own post. For now, let’s say that when you know your various audiences and what they are looking for in your products or services, you are able to better service them in the content you publish to social media (also, when you know your customer, you know which social media channels they prefer to use over others, so you don’t waste your time and content).

Shareable content is another important aspect of videos in social media. Social Media Today’s article also provides tips for engaging videos. They identify the importance of short videos, two minutes or less, that are easily sharable, meaning that your immediate influence will multiply every time a viewer deems the content worthy to be posted to their personal pages. The content should “be genuine” – draw the viewer in and let the “brand identity” shine2. The article also calls attention to the importance of story telling to make your brand relatable, be clear about the purpose of your video and finish with a strong call to action2.

Do not be afraid about the future of your company if you aren’t a video-curating genius, there are plenty of resources to help you create sharable content. Do not let the fear of the new and unknown keep you from maximizing your potential to attract and maintain a healthy customer base.

Written by Chelsea Watts, PR Specialist and Staff Writer for Blue Truck Productions.

Blue Truck Productions offers broadcast-quality programming design and production.  We specialize in developing original content for corporations for use in marketing and social media. For more information visit www.bluetruck.tv.

Resources:

 1 Digital Buzz Blog: “Infographic: Social Media Stats 2013.” Nov. 14, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-social-media-stats-2013/

2 Social Media Today: “The Importance of Video in Social Media Marketing.” March 2, 2013. Retrieved from  http://socialmediatoday.com/monica-romeri/1265361/video-social-media-marketing-infographic


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The Gift of Giving

Giving is good for the heart and soul.

I am the proverbial “Polly Anna.”  My glass is always half full.  I see the silver lining in every cloud.  However, a few years ago, I encountered a season of very gloomy, gray clouds. We all go through seasons of sorrow, but the stressors of life were weighing more heavily than ever.  I began to find it very difficult to keep my chin up.  In fact, I was feeling depressed.

I have always subscribed to the belief that through prayer, exercise, counseling and healthy living that one can overcome any obstacle.  However, the weight of sorrow I was feeling was not responding to a holistic approach to physical and mental wellness.  I found it increasingly difficult to put on a happy face, and put one foot in front of the other. Something was missing.  Then life gave me a gift in the form of a conversation with a friend.

Over coffee, my friend Rod was talking about the joy he experiences in volunteering. A sound byte from the conversation resonated in my soul. “The best way to feel good is to make other people feel good.”  Rod claimed that finding ways to serve others, volunteering and doing good deeds is the best way to increase joy in your life.   I took his words to heart. 

I began to look for more ways to serve and give.  I volunteered at more events.  I secretly placed flowers on stranger’s doorsteps.   I responded to the charity mailers. I left small gifts for people to find.  I covertly mowed my neighbor’s lawn.  I visited with elderly people.  I took dinner to a friend.  The giving feeling was addictive.  I began performing random acts of kindness at every opportunity I could find.  My blue feelings rapidly faded.  I suddenly felt happy again, even elated. 

Being the analytical type, I had to know: Was I simply caught up in the cliché: It is better to give than receive? Or, was there scientific evidence that something biological was happening to me?  So, I did what every good researcher does, I Googled it and found numerous research studies.  The feel good feeling I was feeling from giving was actually related to a release of endorphins – the feel good hormones – in my body.

When it comes to giving, I had always been told that you shouldn’t expect anything in return. That couldn’t be further from the truth.  By giving, I was not only creating joy in my life and the lives of others, I was actually improving my health and well-being. The act of giving was having a positive chemical reaction within the cells of my body; similar to the benefits of exercise.

Yet this key health discovery hasn’t made it fully into mainstream thinking.  Like exercise, it may take some time for everyone to adopt “the act of giving” as integral part of a holistic approach to health and wellness.  It all starts with awareness.  To that end, as a television producer, I feel a new calling to use my gifts and talents to produce a new kind of reality show.  

The Kindness Effect will be a 30-minute, hidden camera, reality program with a unique twist.  Similar in format to programs like Candid Camera; Betty White’s Off Their Rockers; and Punk’d with one major difference.  Instead of using the programming budget to play practical jokes on people, The Kindness Effect will “prank” people “for good” and change lives along the way.  Learn more here.

The gift of giving is not only something you give others, but something you give yourself.  It is no cliché. It is actually good for your health.  My journey in finding this truth was a difficult but extremely rewarding and enlightening breakthrough in my own life.  I hope you, too, find healing through giving and that the act of giving is a gift you give yourself this holiday season.


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Producing with Passion (and Kindness)

retromotorola_tv_1951_01

For more than 20 years, I have had the luxury of loving what I do.  As a writer and television producer, I have a rewarding career helping tell stories through a visual medium. My job is never work. It is never monotonous.  I have the opportunity to travel the world and meet amazing and interesting people. On a daily basis, I enjoy collaborating with a mix of creative gurus and business-minded individuals.  I find inspiration around every corner and am constantly called to stretch my imagination.  I am gratefully passionate about my vocation. With that being said, over the last few years, I have felt a slight sense of void in my profession. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was missing until recently. The business of television just needs some good, old-fashioned kindness.

The amount of violence depicted through our television and computer screens weighs heavy on my heart.  School-shooting stories are almost daily headline, extreme human rights violations are broadcast on every other channel and peering into the often-bizarre lives of atypical strangers has become a common pastime.  With all the negative images and destructive role models, television feels radically out of balance.

The good news is I sense we may be reaching a tipping point.  Do-gooder programming is coming back into fashion on the airwaves.  Quality, feel-good messages are breaking through the noise though you may not even realize it due to the clever creativity of some of television’s top executive producers.  I commend the great ones, like Mark Burnett, for crafting entertaining programming that actually benefits people’s lives.   Talent shows such as The Voice emphasize following your dreams.  The Apprentice and Shark Tank offer life-changing career opportunities.  The Biggest Loser saves lives.  When I look at programming like this, my sense of hope is restored.   It proves the general public wants to be inspired.

To this end, I feel a new calling in my career to produce entertaining program that actually benefits the audience.  I spent a lot of time over the last years sorting through a mound of creative ideas in search of the right program to pour my creative energies. I am happy to announce I finally found it.

Blue Truck Media, Inc. aims to produce a new kind of reality program.  A concept that is based upon scientific evidence and has the potential to change how people feel and make the world a happier, healthier place to live.

The Kindness Effect will be a 30-minute, hidden camera, reality program with a unique twist.  Similar in format to programs like Candid Camera; Betty White’s Off Their Rockers; and Punk’d with one major difference.  Instead of using the programming budget to play practical jokes on people, The Kindness Effect will “prank” people “for good” and change lives along the way.  The good deeds we extend will be both big and small and will be presented in some very eye-catching and unusual ways.  You never know when or where one of our secret angels or hidden-camera crew will strike for good. However, we will need the help of our audience to pull it off.

In conjunction with World Kindness Day, November 13, 2013 we launched a crowd-funding campaign for the purpose of funding the random acts of kindness and the pilot program.  Click here for more details or to support the campaign.

Importantly, we will build and demonstrate audience interest through our social media networks. You can help now simply by interacting with us on Twitter and Facebook.   Every dollar, fan, follower, like, share and comment we receive improves efforts in gaining the attention of network executives. In addition, we want to hear your “good prank” ideas!

If you have ever thought, “I wish there were more positive role models and programs on television,” this is your opportunity to help create one. Together, we can make a positive difference in the world.

If you have questions, comments, write to thekindnesseffect@bluetruck.tv. If you would like updates, click on Follow the Blue Blog link next to this article. 🙂 


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The Big Picture: Scripting for Success

Once upon a time, a writer sat down in front of her computer with the goal of creating a powerful…no…meaningful…no…inspirational…informative…? Ah!  An excellent script.

No. An award-winning script!

How does one script for success?  It depends on how you define success. If you are writing a book, you may define success as finishing the manuscript, getting published, or winning a prestigious literary award.

In the world of video marketing, a script’s success is defined as meeting a very specific program objective (see the article on Content Development).  If at the end of the program your objective has been met, you have scripted for success.

The objective not only serves as a guidepost for success, it functions as checkpoint for content and drives the outline of your program.   Once you set the objective, you can create a basic outline that will help you organize the content and flesh out the script.  Even if you plan to hire a marketing or video production firm to help you with the project, this is a valuable and key exercise that will move you in the “write” direction.

A basic video outline consists of, not surprising, the beginning, middle, and end.  You will add more details as you develop the script, but this will give your video story-structure, which will help engage and hold audience attention.  Everyone loves a good story. Even in marketing.

For example, it your objective is to compel the audience to volunteer or donate to your cause, your basic outline might look like this:

I.         Beginning – Corporate mission statement and purpose
II.         Middle – Real stories, how we impact the world
III.         End – A call to action, why and how to get involved

As you begin to flesh out the outline and story visually, your outline might develop with notes on how you will convey the information, such as:

I.         Beginning – Corporate mission statement and purpose
  1. Interview with founder
  2. Archive photos and videos
  3. Timeline and successes
II.         Middle – Real stories, how we impact the world
  1. Heartwarming stories of lives changed
  2. Graphics and statistics, how many suffer / impacted
  3. Testimonials with clients or those served
III.         End – A call to action, why and how to get involved
  1. Interview with other volunteer(s)
  2. Describe the unmet need, what if the organization didn’t exist?
  3. Provide contact information and ask for help

With the objective and basic outline in place, you are ready to write.  Look at the outline and then ask yourself: What is our story?  Write the first rough draft. Don’t worry about typos.  Let the words flow naturally and tell the story as authentically as possible.  Save editing for the second draft.

If you happen to stumble over a writer’s block along the way, return to the outline and drill down the content. Try conducting mock interviews with your customers or employees.  What would you ask them and what would you like people to say about your product or service?  Write the responses or sample interview sound bites.  All of this material will help craft the final draft.

If you find writing is not your forte, you can always enlist the help of a professional writer to help polish the final words but having your outline and thoughts in ink will provide the backbone of your story and help advance the “big picture” that will develop into a successful script.


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This is article two in my content development series entitled, The Big Picture.  In the first article I suggested three critical questions that can help you to define and understand your audience in order to craft targeted, effective video content.  Now that you have a good understanding of your audience, it’s time to pull out your keyboard and start pecking away your first draft script.  Or is it?  Novice or not, before putting pen to page, first consider the raw tools of the trade: the elements of production.  At a top level, that is sight, sound, and motion.

Sight Sound Motion

Before I ever begin to write, I start to form the big picture: how the program  will look, sound, and feel.  What is the message and what are the various production elements that can help convey that content in a dynamic and memorable way?  Of course, in the end, the specific elements will be somewhat dictated by the script content itself (and of course budget), but considering the production elements can help broaden the creative process in how you bring substance to the screen. The perfect mix of sight, sound, and motion all come together to form the big picture. But each of these elements also plays a critical and independent role, so dissecting them is a worthwhile endeavor.

Sight, what will be seen. 

Give some thought to how the program will look. As the old saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. Fact is, there are even more ways to tell a vision. Will you incorporate on-camera interviews; use a host or moderator; incorporate actors; voice-over talent; photographs; tell the story completely with animated graphics; or use a combination of styles to create your own unique look?  Consider examples of videos that you like. What captures you about the way they are built?  Great. Now break the mold.  Use unique sets, environments, lighting, and composition to bring a fresh view.

Sound, like a plan. 

Never underestimate the power of audio.  Movies have it right.  The music and sound tracks are one of, if not the most important production elements responsible for how your program will feel.  Just try editing a serious piece of content with the circus music.  Or, put elevator music under a marketing video. You’ll immediately hear the obvious difference.  In planning your script, make notes about how you want the audience to feel throughout the program. Later when you’re selecting music tracks, use these key words to guide you in customizing the perfect music bed for your content to rest comfortably.

Motion, what moves you. 

What goes up must come down. What it comes down to on the screen is emotion. Motion evokes emotion. The way the program is edited is the motion behind the emotional footprint the program leaves on its viewer.  The pace and duration of the images and the use of transitions (dissolves or cuts, for example) all affect the motion of the program.  You can have a thirty-minute program that drags on and feels like an hour, or you can have the same length program that feels like its only fifteen minutes.  That’s the difference been “real time” and “feel time.”  No matter the content or the length, with the shortening attention span of today’s audience, you never want a program to feel like it drags on.  Before writing, think about how you will keep the pace – the motion – moving in order to bring your audience along for the entire ride.

Preplanning the sight, sound, and motion of your program prior to scripting is all part of The Big Picture in crafting engaging content.


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The Big Picture: Content Development

Picture the Audience

Picture the Audience

The Big Picture – Content Development

So you read my series on Video Marketing and now you are amped up and ready to go. You want to produce a video. Now what? This article provides three questions that will help you see the big picture and provide a roadmap to content development

Know Your Audience

1. Who is the intended audience?

Begin the planning process by thinking about your viewers. To whom do you want to speak? Will the video reach new and, or existing customers? Or, do you have a message to communicate to employees, investors, donors, or fans? Understanding your audience will drive the voice behind your content.

Dial-in on a Channel

2. Where will the program be viewed and, or distributed?

Knowing how the video will reach its intended audience is another crucial element to planning the production. The distribution medium helps to drive the length and content. In most cases, if your primary distribution channel is the Internet the video should be short and to the point. If your video has entertainment value or you have a captive audience such as presenting in a live seminar, the program may be longer. Understanding where and how your audience will interact with the video is all part of fine-tuning your content.

Set a Program Objective

3. After viewing the program, the audience will ___________________ ?

Once you know who is watching and where they are watching, the next step is to establish the program objective. Consider what you want your audience to learn, feel and, or do after watching your video. The program objective becomes the checkpoint for script content.

Here are some examples:

  • After viewing the program, the audience (customers) will have a better understanding of our product(s) and service(s) in order to help facilitate a buying decision.
  • After viewing the video, the audience (employees) will have a better understanding of our products and services in order to help customers and increase sales.
  • After viewing the video, the audience (public) will have a better understanding of our cause and mission and be compelled to act by volunteering or making a donation.
  • After viewing the video, the audience (fans) will be entertained and more connected/loyal to our show/brand.

In order to see the big picture, first picture yourself sitting in the audience watching your own show. Looking through the eyes of a viewer before the lens of a camera will help you develop meaningful content that is well received by viewers, who hopefully become your biggest fans.