Cisco famously predicted that by 2017, 69% of all internet IP traffic will be video. Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen, but there’s no denying that video content is a bigger deal than ever before. 300 hours of it is uploaded to YouTube every minute. It would take you 49 days to watch every clip that goes live in the next 24 hours.

Naturally nobody’s ever going to do that, so it’s necessary for your company’s content to be engaging, sharable, and tailored to your target audience. I’ve spent years producing bespoke video for a range of clients across all sectors, and I can tell you from experience that this is easier said than done. People tend to have clear, fixed ideas about what they want their film to be, but these ideas don’t always align with their business objectives. Here are five ways your company can break from this mould when commissioning your video content:

Get a professional to write the script

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be involved in the development of your video’s concept; quite the opposite. As the person responsible for the commission in the first place, your voice should be loud and prominent throughout the entire process – because regardless of how good it looks or how entertaining it is, if it doesn’t show off your company at its very best it’s a failure. But most agencies and production companies don’t offer scriptwriting services. This has a very unfortunate domino effect and convinces clients of two things which are entirely wrong:

  • The script doesn’t matter.
  • They can write it themselves and it will turn out fine.

While production and post-production are important, the script is the foundation of every video. Even if you’re a prodigious writer, you shouldn’t touch it: you’re too close to the company to properly isolate the most interesting things about its services.

I’ve worked on countless productions where the client is convinced that every detail about the company is essential, need-to-know information. It’s never the case. Hire a professional freelancer, or an agency with in-house writers.

Respect the viewer’s time

A longer video isn’t always a better one – in fact, most of the time, the opposite’s true.  Something short, but relatively dense with content, is always preferable to something long but lacking in substance. Don’t test your audience’s attention span: they’re either watching your video at work, and thus spending company time on it, or watching it outside of work – in which case they’re spending personal time on it. If they feel like your video is imposing on either, they’ll switch off.

Aim to make your clip one minute to ninety seconds long. If it’s targeted at an audience with an obvious, declared interest in your product and a lot of specialist knowledge, you can go a bit longer – but draw a line in the sand at two minutes, and post border guards on it.

And start with the most important bits. Many people do the opposite, thinking it’s smart to build up to the best parts at the end. The flaws in this thinking are clear when nobody watches to the end in the first place.

Context is everything

Video’s important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s one cog in your marketing machine: it won’t solve your problems, and it’s no replacement for a proper strategy. Before you proceed, decide how your video fits into your plan. Is it going to your audience’s inbox, or on social media? Will it sit snugly on your homepage, or is it best placed somewhere else?

It’s important to think about it in the context of what your competitors are doing, as well. How are they delivering their video content? Are they releasing them in a series, or as one-offs? Don’t imitate their strategy – but be sure that it informs your own.

Pick the right production company

The agency that wins your business shouldn’t necessarily be the one with the most experience in your niche. If a particular style of video is very popular, there’s a good chance the audience will become desensitised to it (if they’re not already!).

When commissioning a video, it’s important to trust the quality rather than the client base. If a production house has created thirty broadly similar films for companies in your industry, it’s a good sign that their end product will be something in the same mould. The result is never very interesting – and highly unlikely to engage your audience. An agency that has brought fresh ideas to companies across a range of sectors is usually a safer bet than one with a long and boring history in your industry. Remember – the point is to stand out!

Don’t cut corners

You don’t need to be bored any further by wide-eyed talk about living in an age of technological wonder: you’re probably well aware of this. If you have a smartphone, you’re most likely carrying the power to film hours of video around in your pocket. Amazing!

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You might cite the many viral videos apparently filmed on camcorder or smartphone, but here’s a dirty little secret: they’re usually marketing ploys, and that effect is usually intentional – in this respect, most end up being an endorsement of production values rather than an argument against them.

Your audience knows when you’ve cut corners, and you can’t impress them if they’re distracted by distorted sound or grainy visuals. Make sure the agency you go with is using the most up-to-date equipment available – broadcast-quality cameras; crisp, clear boom mics – the works. If you want your customers to take you seriously, be sure to return the favour.

Jamie Field

Jamie Field


Jamie Field, Head of Production, TopLine Comms