How Your Business Can Make Professional-Grade Videos on a Bootstrapped Budget
When every cent of your brand's marketing budget counts, the quality of your video content might suffer. Fortunately, there's a better way of doing things.
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The importance of video in today's marketing world is no secret. According to research from HubSpot, 88 percent of marketers state that video generates a positive return on investment for their brand — a huge increase from the 33 percent who felt this way in 2015.
Online viewing trends are a big part of this shift in marketers' attitudes. A report from MediaPost estimates that the average internet user will watch 100 minutes of online video per day by 2021, resulting in growing online video budgets that offset a decline in TV advertising.
All of this sounds great if you have a big film budget or a full-service marketing agency on your side. But what if you don't have these resources? The good news is that even on a bootstrapped budget, your startup can produce professional-grade videos.
Give the planning stage the attention it deserves
Planning is an essential part of any marketing campaign, and this is especially true of something as involved as video. Extensive creative planning will help you figure out how to work within your budget and cut costs while still creating something of quality.
Start by identifying your video's purpose and primary call to action. This will help you home in on your target audience, as well as the type of video you should create, be it an explainer or "standard" advertisement.
Write your script and storyboards while keeping any production limitations in mind. You might not be able to hire actors, so who on your team will be most comfortable in front of a camera? Would it be easier to apply your Photoshop skills to editing an animated video, rather than filming a live-action video? Addressing these important issues in advance will help the rest of the filming and editing process go much easier.
Invest in basic video gear and tools
Before you can start filming, you need to have some equipment to make sure everything turns out well. The good news is that you don't need to invest in an expensive camera. Today's smartphones take clear, crisp video that will look great for your needs — especially after editing.
Beyond your smartphone, you'll want to purchase a tripod and a basic lighting kit. A smartphone tripod will stabilize your camera. This is especially helpful for longer shots, as you won't have to worry about your hand wobbling and messing up the image.
Proper lighting will dramatically affect how the video looks. As the Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts explains, "Pinpointing lighting directly on specific objects or people helps persuade the viewers to direct their eyes to the intended spot, which ensures that important aspects of the video are not missed. Lighting can also be used to add color and texture to otherwise bland environments and scenes."
Once you've filmed video and recorded audio, you'll need to bring everything together using an editing program, and low-cost tools like Videoleap even allow you to edit directly on your phone. Sound mixing, stock footage and film filters are just a few of the features available to help your video look its best.
Keep it short and simple
When making your first "bootstrapped" video, you'll likely want to keep things short. But as your confidence in your video capabilities grows, you might be tempted to make longer and longer videos.
Don't make this mistake! Shorter videos don't just consume less of your time and budget — they are also more likely to make a strong impression with your customers. This is especially true of those who are simply browsing through social media. Survey data from TechSmith found that 41 percent of online users preferred under four minutes in length, with engagement generally declining as videos grew longer.
In addition, platforms like Twitter and Instagram have set limits regarding length. Using these parameters as a guideline will allow you to more easily share your videos across multiple platforms.
This is a key part of what has helped six-second ads rise to prominence — the short length delivers a clear, memorable, bite-sized message. According to a report from DigiDay, this short-form content can be "40 percent more emotionally engaging for digital natives."
While longer-form content may be appropriate for webinars or detailed explainer videos, it's generally best reserved for consumers farther along in the sales funnel. Even then, you want to keep things as concise as possible for greater engagement and less work on your end.
Tackling your business's videos on a bootstrapped budget may seem intimidating, but it's far from impossible. By following these simple steps, even teams with almost no marketing budget can produce videos that look and sound great, and getting this distinct content out there will make all the difference in leaving your target audience with a positive first impression.