The 5 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Planning a Video

If done correctly, videos can be a great addition to your marketing strategy but unfortunately, often entrepreneurs' vision doesn't always translate into a high-quality film, instead resulting in a major marketing flop.

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By Jennifer Jager

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If done correctly, videos can be a great addition to your marketing strategy. But unfortunately, often entrepreneurs' vison doesn't always translate into a high-quality film, instead resulting in a major marketing flop.

My firm, Plum Productions, gets booked for many different projects. In some cases, we're spearheading a video from script to screen; and other times, an out-of-town client just needs a video crew for the day. However, no matter the nature of the project, I often see clients making the same blunders during the planning process.

Here are the five biggest mistakes people make and how to fix them.

1. The shoot isn't the most important thing going on that day.

I can't tell you how many times clients have tried to schedule their shoots on the same day as an out-of-the ordinary event, like a conference. I understand the rationale: They may think a special event will make the end video seem more exciting. The truth is shooting a polished marketing video requires a controlled environment. There's a reason it's called video production. It's a lot of work and requires your full attention. When you try to piggyback your video shoot onto another event, getting all of the elements you need to realize your initial vision becomes virtually impossible. Unless the finished video is actually about that conference, dedicate another day to your shoot.

2. Hoping to get testimonials on the fly.

I love video testimonials. They are a fantastic, inexpensive marketing tool for your business. However, just because they don't require scripting or a lot of editing doesn't mean they don't require pre-planning. Sometimes clients who run business-to-consumer services, like medical offices or retailers, want to just grab testimonials as customers stroll in. Don't take that gamble. Without time to prepare, they may not highlight what you feel are your business's greatest selling points. Plus, even your most faithful customers will resent being asked to step in front of a camera without prior notice. The best way to get a great on-camera testimonial is to schedule them in advance, have your producer do a "pre-interview" over the phone to work out the messaging and maybe even offer an incentive, like a free or discounted service to ensure they show up.

3. Not knowing the end use of a video.

Like I mentioned before, sometimes my production company gets booked just for videography services for the day, without editing services. Just a few weeks ago, we were hired to shoot coverage of a large conference in Miami. The approach I use to shoot these events depends squarely on the end use. Will they post the keynote speech online in its entirety, or are they going to boil it down to two minutes of highlights? If it's the former, I'll plant myself in the back and keep the camera focused on the speaker at all times. For the latter, I'll move around more and even get shots of the audience so the editor has extra shots to cover the edits. Yet this particular client hadn't considered what the end use was, so I played it safe and stood in the back.

To ensure you get what you want out of your video have an end plan. This will help streamline the process during the shooting, while also ensuring what you need is what you'll get.

4. Not sprucing up your space before an in-office shoot.

When you spend day in and day out in your office you may not notice the piles of papers on everyone's desks, fingerprints on the glass or the leftover holiday decorations hung too high to easily take down. But once a camera crew shows up, you instantly start to notice how cluttered your office space really is. I see it all the time: a sudden, mad dash to straighten up while the shoot day starts ticking away. Don't let this happen to you.

A week before your shoot, send out an office-wide memo telling your employees you expect them to tidy up their areas/ Do a walkthrough the morning before your shoot and be picky.

Bonus tip: There should be absolutely no holiday decorations on a shoot day. Your video will look dated 50 weeks a year.

5 Letting office politics dictate your production.

If you're creating an "About Us" video, you'll likely wrangle a few team members to talk on camera. This is where it can get complicated. Most videos are only two to three minutes in length, but clients feel they have to squeeze in half their staff or risk offending people. You need to do what's in the best interest of the video -- and your business. Choose those who are best under pressure and are the most appropriate for delivering your message. I know it's tough, but the more people you try to squeeze in on camera, the less each person gets to say.

Remember your video production starts long before your shoot day. As with anything, a little preparation goes a long way.

Jennifer Jager

Creative Director at Plum Productions and Host at

Jennifer Jager is the creative director at Plum Productions, a South Florida-based production company. She's also the coach at, an online video-production training site for small-business owners.


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