Vercel Blog

Matching Best KPIs with Your Campaign Goals

Tracking makes marketing. Tracking, tracking, tracking. If you want to know what your video accomplishes, who it’s reaching—if it’s helping at all—you’ll need to track metrics.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) give us that meter stick.

There are hundreds of KPIs to measure videos. In our last post, we reviewed commonly used KPIs—the KPIs that, as a video maker, you really need to have in your back pocket.

But tracking KPIs will not get you an inch if you cannot identify which KPIs relate to your goals. To match KPIs to your video, you’ll need to know (a) what you want your video to do and (b) how best to measure your video’s effectiveness.

Start by analyzing your video.

Identify your video goal:

When identifying a goal, you have to have your audience in mind. There are three stages that could describe your brand’s relationship with your viewer.

  • Phase One: Introduction

Your goals land here if you are interested in reaching people who have never heard of your brand, service or product. You are aiming for brand awareness and a first meet.

  • Phase Two: Familiarization

Your goals fall in this category if you want to help people gather more information about your brand, help them explore options and—ideally—draw them to yourself.

  • Phase Three: Commitment

Those in this camp are not so concerned about meeting new people or creating space for familiarization as they are about straight action. If your video is mainly meant to get people to click “purchase” or do an action point, you are commitment ready.

Ask yourself which phase in the marketing game your video plays at.

  • Does your video cross people in passing—an introductory, chance meeting?
  • Is your video educational, with an interested audience?
  • Does your video call for direct action now, providing a link to commit?
  • It’s likely your one video will not be able to perform all three functions well. Where does this particular video meet its audience?

The next step, of course, is to match KPIs. Watch our video above to see what KPIs will best measure success for each kind of video. Refer to our last video on key KPIs for more explanation on each Key Performance Indicator.

Wingman Foundation to Run in Memory of Fallen Heroes

On October 22nd, close to 50,000 runners of all abilities (veterans to first-timers) will take the streets of Arlington, VA. This race, the Marine Corps Marathon, has been running its own course for close to 50 years.

Put on annually by the United States Marine Corps, the event has consistently proved to be an opportunity for people to honor loved ones and persevere through obstacles. In October of 2016, Anna Bevill ran her first marathon in honor of her brother, who died at the hands of a sniper in the Middle East. Samaria Hunter, 47, ran last year’s marathon in the midst of brain cancer radiation treatment. Roxanne Kaylor ran the race for her son who died while oversees for operation Iraqi Freedom. It’s called “the People’s Marathon,” and it’s not hard to see why.

This year, a dedicated group will cross the finish line from the Wingman Foundation.

The goals of the Wingman Foundation run alongside that of the Marine Corps Marathon. An all-volunteer, veteran-run program, the Wingman Foundation’s mission reads: “To honor the sacrifices of our fallen air warriors and support the families they’ve left behind.”

Centered around post-mishap support for Navy and Marine Corps Aviation, the nonprofit provides relief to affected families and remembrance for those who have passed. This includes immediate assistance for families experiencing tragedy as well as funds for memorials and remembrance services. They give space for sharing about heroes who have passed, and they set up scholarships in the honor of those people. Whether through flowers, airline tickets, or a reception in honor of a loved one, the Wingman Foundation is there.

The Marine Corps Marathon and the Wingman Foundation are natural partners in honoring those in service.

US Aviation takes the sky
Marathon runners
Runner and biker carry American flags

Through this announcement video, the Wingman Foundation presents an opportunity to run in this year’s Marine Corps Marathon and become part of the Wingman community. Vercel is proud to work hand in hand with the Wingman Foundation to help them raise support for those who support, so directly, our country.

Video is the best way to reach to your audience. You can bring in your top people (in this case, the Wingman Foundation’s Director of Fundraising, Luke Goessman), and let them bring your cause to everyone’s immediate attention. Pairing emotional appeals and clear communication with call-to-action highlights the value and opportunity of your ask.

See our blog for more information on how to make a stellar video for your nonprofit. To hit the ground running, contact Vercel today.

Key Performance Indicators You Need to Know

You made the video, and you’re happy with it. Your company gives you good feedback: everyone around you seems to love it.

But how do you know how it’s performing out in the world? Sure, your mom likes it. And your employees give you the thumbs up. But that’s no refection of how it reaches, convinces, or repulses (yikes!) your target audience.

Enter KPIs: Key Performance Indicators. In digital marketing, we measure video success through particular Key Performance Indicators. KPIs give us metrics to evaluate how a video performs across the web.

You’ve got to track your video in order to make informed marketing decisions. Without KPIs, you live in ignorance.

Business executives, from the 80s through today, know Andrew S. Grove for his book High Output Management. His book simplifies business into the concept of a black box: what goes in and what comes out. He emphasizes the importance of measuring what goes on inside the black box to know how to improve. He says, “Measurement against a standard makes you think through WHY the results were what they were.”

Get on the measurement bandwagon. KPIs will save you.

But not all KPIs are created equal! And yes—there are hundreds of them. Different KPIs are useful for measuring different aspects of your video.

Say your video gets a ton of views. Congratulations. Now, say those viewers are all teenagers, when your target audience members are home owners. (Those teens kind of ruined that feeling of victory, didn’t they?)

Or perhaps your view count reads low, but every single one of the people who watched it owns a house, a condo, or an apartment.

Should view count be the ultimate indicator of success for a video campaign?

We are here to help you sort out the confusion. Watch our video to know the KPIs you NEED to have in your back pocket. And keep an eye out for the next video in the series. We’ll take this to the next level by matching your video metrics with your video goals.

B2B Marketing: How to Strengthen Business Engagement

B2B Marketing Video being shared on a computer

The Way it is:

B2B marketing is definitely its own animal. Businesses need special attention from advertisers. This means technical language, detailed content, and bottom line (read $$$) emphasis. 

A great part of B2B marketing is that businesses look for long-term partnerships. They see the big picture: goals that hold out longer than today’s lunch decision or this weekend’s movie choice.

But B2B is not always a picnic.

Businesses marketing in a city

Special Challenges:

B2B marketing has its hurdles. For one, your business is not marketing to a solitary person making choices at whim. Instead, these come as group decisions.

The factor of more people (plus red tape, etc.) makes the process long. More heads have to process and agree to the commitment. You’ll need to court the business for a while, educating them about what you do.

Oracle Eloqua, a marketing automation service, met this particular challenge by making multiple videos. Their three-part series features “Modern Mike” who faces the challenges of sales in a company where the higher-ups are committed to old practices. The series shows a successful, educational narrative. Eloqua entertains while providing detailed reasons (think $$$) to choose them.

The Recent Problem:

B2B companies have trouble with organic growth—keeping and expanding upon clients they already have. They’ve lost interest after the chase.

Gallup expands upon this idea, saying, “This problem is made immensely more difficult by the fact that so few B2B customers–only 29%–are fully engaged. The remaining are either indifferent (60%) or actively disengaged (11%). Customers who aren’t engaged don’t look to deepen their relationships with B2Bs.”

Even more concerning, the data does not look good for the future: “Gallup’s latest research shows that 71% of B2B customers are at risk of taking their business elsewhere. What’s more, approximately half of B2B customers (47%) don’t strongly agree that their sales or account teams are trusted advisers.”

Nobody’s growing. And that’s a big problem.

Man reading about Business Marketing in a newspaper

Solution:

What’s the solution, then? 

  1. Grow with your clients. Do not let your clients surpass you in technology or systems. They will move on to other people. Keep up to speed with your clients in order to best serve them (and, ultimately, grow your business).
  2. Continue to be a resource: Make sure people see you as an expert who not only has information they need but also wants to help them succeed.
  3. Make frequent, personal communication: Don’t let them forget who is on their team (you!) and helping to make them succeed. Build a relationship just like any other by reinforcing this bond.
B2B Marketing Video being shared on an ipad

Can video help here?

Yes. So much.

Not only is video a vital tool of the 21st century (keeping up with the Jones’), it is also especially suited to be an educational tool. As you add to your image of a helpful educator, you build your cred as a trusted resource, in turn, making your clients want to lean on you more.

Whiteboard animation can be especially educational, perfect for breaking concepts down into small parts. With clear lines and a logical flow, businesses can come to a better understanding of your product as well as of their own niche.

Videos can provide detailed information for those boards and researchers through multi-part series. Educating your buyers why your service or products makes a difference really plays out here. Businesses want to be informed and to feel confident that their money is well spend.

You can also use videos as testimonials (see Citrix’s testimonial) or capitalize on humor (see Schneider Electric: Llama Superstar or Workfront’s Email in Real Life).

From the outset, set yourself up as an educational resource. Give information not only about your specific product or service, but also about the larger market. Education and, most importantly, your relationship with your client continues after the initial buy in.

Help your clients see you as an expert and a resource to keep those clients engaged.

Risks and Risks to Take in Digital Marketing

ice cream cone

Sometimes, big risks pay off.

In 2016, Uber delivered ice cream on National Ice Cream Day. LEGO, in 2014, stepped outside of their world of toys to come out with a full feature, animated movie (or you may have heard of the recent release, LEGO Batman). In 1999, half.com, a website selling textbooks, tried to get a town in Oregon to rename itself half.com, which it did.

Each of these made big impressions. Each marked down a big W for marketing.

But risks are risks because they don’t always turn out so well. When it comes to marketing, what kinds of risks should we take? What should we avoid? Marketing is risky, risky business.

Let’s go over some kinds of digital marketing risks.

(1) Some risks are just outside of your control.

The general economy, for example, is outside of your control. If the economy is suffering, marketing will be more difficult for you. The risk of a tanking economy—you just have to take it, because you have little other choice.

Other factors you can’t control include the risk of, suddenly, having more competition in your industry, the risk of losing partners or workers, and the risk of unexpected government regulation.

Because all of these will happen, or not, no matter what you do, you just have to move forward without giving them too much emotional energy.

control panel of an airplane
Risk during playing poker

(2) Some risks are not worth the potential pitfall.

Some risks are too dangerous. Using out of date information, for example, can be devastating. The digital world is constantly shifting. When creating a digital campaign, you have to know the latest, or be working with people who do. With SEO, for example, using out of date information not only reflects bad strategy, but may bring out punishment (from the Google gods). 

(3) Some risks sneak up on you.

This is what happens when we start making assumptions (and you know the end of that joke). But, depending on what the assumptions are about, you can be risking a lot without realizing it.

Think about target audience. In digital marketing, we often use this as a starting point for making campaign strategy. But what happens when we’ve pegged a demographic who is, actually, not very interested in carpet cleaner? Or what if they value color over smell, and we’re banking on selling by price point? You have to choose the right people to sell to—and then get their information right.

 (4) Some risks are worth every cent.

Then there are the risks that are worth taking. Here are a few we believe in:

  1. Time and money spent on research
  2. Time and money spent on testing (A/B testing)
  3. Time and money spent on tracking results

These “risks” are “risks” only in the sense that they cost time and money, and, depending on your field, they may lead you down rabbit holes for a short while (before bringing results).

They feel like big risks because they take time. They slow down the process. And, as business people, we want to push forward. Time is time we could be making money.

But, without them, you are shooting in the dark. Taking these risks, investing here, will help you completely avoid the other potholes. Because they are research oriented, they are risks you can count on.

Mark Zuckerberg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” When measuring risk, try to categorize it first. Is it outside of my control? Necessary? A bad idea?

Give yourself perspective. Then go with your decisions with confidence.

What risks have paid off for you?

Risk of jumping off a cliff

Native Video Ads: Passing as a Local

local produce and local advertisements

What is a “native” video ad?

Native video ads integrate into a user’s experience—wherever that person is (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Instead of brushing past ads at the the top or side of main content, users experience these videos in the same way they experience other content on the site. 

Print has been doing this a long time. Think of a newspaper (think back—yes, a paper newspaper). Think of how you experience ads as you read an article. They are, in a sense, in the “feed” of the newspaper column.

For online sites, native video advertisement means that, instead of transporting a user to YouTube or to a landing page to watch your video, this ad plays right within the given space.

newspaper with in-feed ads

It makes sense that Facebook and Twitter would want users to stay engaged right where they are. Instagram refuses to be left behind the curve. Your company can advertise there with videos up to 60 seconds, in either landscape or classic square dimensions. These giants have picked up native video advertising and gone running. AdWeek hypothesizes, “Facebook and Twitter are making it worthwhile for companies to post content on those channels directly, and it’s not likely that will change in the near future.”

local dressed for a local native video ad

Your goal: You want your native video ad to pass as a local.

The more you, as an advertiser, can master the style of the environment, the better it is for your video. People go to a site because they like what it gives them (so give them more of it). If your target audience is looking for news, cover a story. If they are looking for stats, give them research. If they are looking to laugh, do a comedy sketch. If they are looking to feel good, find some puppies.

Again, print has got this down. Magazines will run ads that look, in feel and subject matter, very similar to their own content. You may end up reading an ad—and finding it interesting.

That’s the aim for native video as well. Get to know why your target audience uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—wherever your ad is—what they use it for.

Think of your video as adding to the viewer’s experience instead of diverting their attention. StackAdapt takes a stab at explaining how the goals of native video are different than pre-roll video, saying, “[Pre-roll is] largely used for direct response efforts, generating purchase intent and driving sales. In-feed Native Video. . . [is] delivered next to the other content a user is engaging with. Presented as an option for engagement. Promotes content that delivers value beyond just the core product by being educational, entertaining, inspiring. Used in content marketing efforts as part of awareness, brand affinity, purchase intent efforts.”

Business Adverting

It’s not, however, a no-strings-attached scenario.

IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) published a “Recommended Industry Guidance for Transparency” for native advertising. For those paying the big bucks, a bottom line here is that native video ads are labeled as ads.

The thought is that there should be clear distinctions between journalism and promotional content. In general, people want to trust reporters to do their job on behalf of the public. Most companies can get on board with that, even if it means being stamped as “paid” in front of a target audience.

With the labels like “sponsored” and “paid content” and “advertisement,” you might think that consumers would take a pass.

Research, however, seems to say otherwise.

Search Engine Journal (SEJ) reports, “Our study indicated that on average, native videos reach 2.04 times more people, getting 2.38 times more likes, 2.67 times more shares, and 7.43 times more comments.”

Neilson’s study with Jarritos showed 82% brand lift for native ads. Compared to the 2.1% of measured brand lift for pre-roll ads, the number is significant.

Of course, native video ads have limitations.

– Your video will be silent (until people take action to turn on the volume).

You can address this issue a couple of different ways. One is to use text in your video. Another is to be expressive enough for people to enjoy and understand the message without sound. The third option, available in combination with the other two, is to use closed captioning.

And, always, lead with a caption that makes people want to click to hear more.

– And then, an elephant sits in the room: your viewer will not be transported directly to your site, where they can make purchases and act upon your CTA.

But this last point, while perhaps seen as a limitation, actually becomes the key of this kind of advertising.

You work within a system (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to bring people interesting videos, and the payback is that they like you. While it seems be risky, research has shown otherwise. People respond well. 

And when you’ve won it with the locals, you know you’ve hit success.

fence of limit

Reaching Population Mom: How Mothers Use Technology

image for Mother crouching down to look at son

Marketing to Moms:

Year to year, it is helpful to take stock and listen. How is your target demographic changing? What are the feelings, goals, desires of the group? How about the individuals?

If your company is trying to target moms, all the more reason this Mother’s Day to call mom (or moms that you know) and chat.

Mom, in 2017, how do you use your tech skills?

Tuning in to the News:

A 2017 Neilson study of motherhood and media consumption surveyed both stay-at-home moms and working mothers. It reports, “Regardless of market, all moms have one thing in common: live TV is their top choice to view content daily with more than  two hours and 46 minutes, followed by time-shifted viewing, with 30-36 minutes per day.” While preferred time of day to watch varies, with working moms preferring morning TV, across the board, mothers watch live news.

Taking Notes:

Parenting apps help mom track feeding, sleeping hours, sickness, growth, or anything else their related to children (or, let’s be honest, just life).

Shopping:

In 2015, American moms made 90% of their purchases online. Think of how much the online market has grown since then.

Sharing:

Parental networking happens via social media, and this comes with positives and negatives. Mothers share, “We mother on a stage—social media has changed the maternal landscape, and provided a platform to showcase my successes, my failings and foibles.”

The popularity of “mommy blogs” attest that the content in these niches has struck a chord.  Moms blog about parenting tips, mishaps, joys and failures. Moms blog about fitness, health, travel and life in general. Find a list of top mommy bloggers here.

image for Mother on a laptop
image for Pregnant mother who uses technology

The truth is, moms are all over the map—in a great way. Three-fourths of American moms are working parents. Research from Carat reports, “As many as 67% of the new millennial mom segment are multicultural—half are Hispanic and most are bilingual.” Moms are creative with use of their time, using technology to care for others, care for themselves or, even, to keep their children busy while they do something else. Global Moms Marketing summarizes what moms feel, with qualitative feedback saying, “I’m real, flawed and still have the idiosyncrasies that make me ‘me’.”

What is certain, though, is that moms are worth researching about and marketing to.

Even just looking at young moms, buying power is tremendous: Michelle Lynn reports, “millennial women tend to control the purse strings in most households, and with millennial parents wielding $200 billion in spending power, marketers have a lot to lose by not getting it right.”

Moms have money, and moms are loyal.

Surveys show that moms are loyal to the brands that they buy, “Multichannel loyalty and analytics company CrowdTwist surveyed 1,027 internet users ages 18 to 71 in North America about their perceptions of brand loyalty. More than a quarter (27.4%) of female respondents said they always buy their preferred brand—regardless of price, quality, convenience or brand promise. That compared to 21.3% of male respondents.” Once you have mom on your side, she does not leave your brand.

Image for mother and children using an ipad

Surveys also reveal that a major reason that moms keep loyal to brands are because of the brand qualities. “Indeed, among the 48.3% of [US mother] respondents who are loyal to a product brand, 58.2% said that the main reason they love a brand is because of these qualities, according to a survey from Collective Bias, an influencer marketing company focused on retail.” It’s worth making your product quality, so that mom gets on board. She’s not skimping on quality.

Take an opportunity this weekend to invest in (and research while you’re at it) an important demographic. (Yep, that means calling her up.) Happy Mother’s Day.

Visual Marketing: How to Start and Go the Distance

Visual Marketing

Visual Marketing
Definiton: noun [vizh-oo-uh l mahr-ki-ting]

“Visual marketing is the process of marketing with photos, videos and other visual elements that attest to the value of your product or brand.”

It’s not a very specific definition.

But that’s because visual marketing encompasses so much. Basically, visual marketing includes everything that passes through your eyeballs—page design, product design, images, videos—and measures the usefulness of these visual elements with the yardstick of brand association.

The term “Visual Marketing” opens up a whole world. We agree: it’s a bit overwhelming.

But it’s important to dive in. Visuals are the gateway to the brain. Research tells us that 65% of learners are visual learners. For the human brain, 90% of incoming information is visual. Visual marketing, then, acts an extremely effective reaching and teaching tool.

Where do we start?

image for visual marketing via posters at a subway
image for visual marketing expert selecting branding images

Think Pictures

The first word you might think of when you hear “visual marketing” is “image.” Static images, whether printed or littered over the web, show your audience what your product or service accomplishes.

Naturally, marketers have their noses to the ground to find sources for quality digital images. Fortunately, visual marketing is nothing new. The internet has provided us with several resources for quality, free images.

Use images everywhere: in blog posts, on landing pages and on advertisements.

Think Context

Think holistically about your visual marketing. Visual marketing includes everything from your logo to your emails to what you share on social media. Entrepreneur.com lists consistency in brand colors and font as key to building an image. All types of design principles come into play here: typography, spacing, layout—whatever meets the eye. Building an image requires all hands on deck.

Visual marketing is not completely devoid of words. Visuals work in tandem with language. Infographics, for instance, are climbing in popularity in the marketing world. Memes and other images with text overlay integrate verbal communication into visual communication.

Think Video

Videos function here, as they always have, as moving pictures. With a video, you give audiences more context, more information and more reasons why your brand is worth it.

And, just like other images, videos work for you.

Jonathan Long, Founder of Market Domain Media, reports: “Video increases the likelihood of your visitors purchasing your product or services by 64%. Videos provide an increase in your visitors’ understanding of your product or service. Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%.”

Think Distance

What’s going to get you far with visual marketing?

  • Creativity: Connect your brand with larger ideas about lifestyle and life goals. What kind of people does your audience want to be? What kind of hobbies do they like? What are their values? Find creative ways to visually demonstrate the connection between you and those values.
  • Consistency: Don’t confuse or surprise your audience. Offer clear messages about what you can and will do for them. Reinforce those messages with all of your content.
  • Quality: Shoddy work shows a customer you don’t care. Ann Smarty, Brand and Community Manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com, says, “Quality and consistency are key: If you don’t put the work in, and fight to be seen, you won’t be. Marketers understand this, and put in many hours behind the scenes to make magic happen.”

Visual marketing is the place to invest, and it will take you the distance.

image for the long distance track of long term marketing
image for digital marketer running through a building lobby with a breifcase

Four Ways to Choose a Video Production Company 
(and which one works)

Going by Price

The most practical among us have already thought of this. A company has to stay within available resources.

Because video production involves a lot of steps, extra fees can easily sneak into the process. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for and how much it will cost you.

A video marketing company that values you will try to give you the most for your buck. Seek them out.

But be careful: watch out for companies that lower their prices to get you in the door and then try to re-negotiate in the middle of the project. High quality videos are not cheap, and low quality videos do not deliver the same results for your brand. Be sure to weigh the costs.

image for someone budgeting for their video production costs
image for professional video camera that video production companies use

Going by Quality

Visit the production company’s website to see examples of their work. Watch example videos and recent projects to get an idea of what you will actually walk away with.

Watch these on a big screen, and you’ll be able to tell right away how professional the video looks. Is the animation clean or sloppy? Are the voiceovers clear or difficult to understand? Is the acting convincing or amateur? Are the special effects helpful or cheesy?

If you want a professional-grade video, you’ll need to look for a company that knows the business and has the tools and resources to make the on-screen magic happen for you.

Don’t skimp on quality. You’re paying for it—it needs to be done right.

Going by Expertise

Video production companies have specialities.

One way to choose is to find a company that specializes in your industry. If you’re an car company, find someone who’s done automotive videos. If you’re in the medical field, find a company that has experience with medical videos. Working with people who already know your field can make the video process smoother.

Or, if you are committed to a certain type of look for your video, find someone who specializes in that look. Whether you want a certain animation (whiteboard animation, 3D, 2D), a certain location (outdoor film, studio) or certain narrative tone (comic, emotional, documentary voice-over), find someone who does that style well.

Going by Communication

A fourth value to search for in video production companies is communication. If the company you’re working with does not take the time to hear from you, then you will not get a video aligned with your goals. Simple as that. It’s your video, and you should be as involved as you want to be. If a company is truly interested in helping you, they will take the time to get to know your values, your target demographic, your strengths and weakness, and your goals for your video.

You’ll want to have lots of back-and-forth for revisions and adjustments. If your video is going to work for you, you need to have open communication with a company that cares to know you.

image for video production company and client meeting over coffee

How to Pick 'Em

image for Video production filming in process in a studio

At the end of the day, you want a video that succeeds.

It is possible to have a successful video that is outside your budget (with a successful video, you can bank on ROI). While not optimal, it is also possible to have a successful video without the very latest equipment and resources (a clever idea and a simple video shoot will go far). And, even without using a company that specializes in your field, it is, again, possible that your video will turn out just fine. 

However, it is absolutely impossible to make a successful video that represents your company and accomplishes your goals without communication with your production company.

Don’t get us wrong: price, professionalism and expertise are hugely important. They’re vital. Do not choose a company that cheats you on any one of these areas.

But, what’s most important to look for in a video production company is communication. If you’re not getting the video that you wanted, why spend the time or money?

How do you measure if a video production company values you?

  • Does the company meet with you on the phone or in person to hear about your goals and vision?
  • Is the production company open to your revisions and edits? Is there an edit cap?
  • Does the company help you implement your online marketing plan?

Vercel's Take:

At Vercel, we value your budget, and we work with high quality teams to make sure that the production of your video is top tier. Communication with you, though, grounds our work. We get to know your company, invite you to an in-person discovery meeting, and encourage your participation throughout the video-making process. We are flexible with schedules and edits, helping you be the driver and stay within budget. We use the best resources with your company in mind specifically, using creativity aligned with your business goals. We’re adaptable, and, most importantly, available to you every step of the way.

Tackling the Blank Page: the Best Video Ideas for Your Company

You know how it works. The boss comes in, has a grand idea, then leaves to take care of the next project on her plate. And you’re left alone with the idea vomit.

Time to put something together. Start to finish.

So when the boss says that you’re making a video, you know that it’ll be up to you to come up with the idea, gather up a team and execute the vision.

It can be pretty overwhelming.

The Empty Page

The blank whiteboard stares at you, mercilessly. As it grimaces, you start to lose faith. You feel slightly sweaty. You begin to forget why you wanted to make a video in the first place.

Time to stretch and go get some snacks.

Fear not, video-maker. We’ve got some tips to help you come up with just the right idea that both fits your vision and, as a video, compels people to action.

image for A blank whiteboard ready for video idea brainstorm

The Big Picture

A mistake many people make is to start with ideas.

This may work once in a blue moon, when a stellar idea hits you from outer space, but this strategy also may lead you down some pretty long rabbit holes.

Start, instead, with your goal.

Identify what your goal is for this video. Is this a targeted campaign ad? Where will it be seen? Are you collecting email addresses? Getting the word out about a sale? Informing people of a new product? Why is your boss giving you this assignment (go back and ask your boss, if she hasn’t clarified).

Write that goal on the top of your paper, across the whiteboard or wherever you can see it.

Then, examine your target audience. Remind yourself of your target demographic’s strengths, weaknesses, hopes, fears and aspirations. To help you imagine your audience, it’s helpful to create a sample demographic member. What does this person look like? Name? Education? Car? Clothes? Hobbies? Use your imagination to build this person.

If, for example, you target soccer moms, then you might imagine a woman named Tammy, 41, with three kids and a BA from University of Arizona, a Prius driver who goes to 6 am kickboxing on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

See how this works?

Keep Tammy in mind as you head to the next step.

image for Animations of a target audience for a company video

Busting the Myth of the Bad Idea

Now, unleash the idea monsters. Anything goes at this point. Bad ideas lead to good ideas. Restraining yourself gets in the way. Use markers, chalkboard—draw on the floor or upside-down. Take yourself, your team and some crayons to a coffeeshop.

With your goal and your target audience close by, you should stay on track.

image for a pile of company video ideas as lightbulbs

Outside Perspective

Once you have a bucket of ideas, congratulate yourself. Take a deep breath. Go get some lunch. You deserve a break—you conquered that blank page.

The next step in idea development is to get some feedback. You’ve been in your head for too long. Seek out both people who know the subject matter and people completely unaware of the project. If you were working in a group, get away from that group—you need fresh minds.

Have people tell you what makes sense, what stands out to them and ask them why.

Ask them to guess your strategic goal based on your video idea (see if they guess right).

This is where cooperating with a video marketing company like Vercel can be a major asset. We bring our experts of storyboard creators, scriptwriters and marketers to the table to help you narrow your scope and produce a video which delivers numbers. We’ve been around the track a couple of times: we know what works. And we thrive off of partnering with people to get their message online.

Revision

With this information, weed out the off-the-wall ideas. Take the best of the bunch and change them up a bit. Combine them, mix them up; explore one topic, then the next.

Revise your ideas until you have one or two that you feel like you could pitch to your boss. Then, take them out again and get more feedback.

You might feel like a bouncy ball at this point, but, believe us, getting the idea of your video on track is a huge step. Everything flows from this. Don’t rush it.

image for a man with many video ideas

Cut It Down . . . Again

Wait—we already went through the revision phase. We already refined our ideas and picked the best one.

Yes. BUT, you’re not done. Even after you have picked a topic, decided on one idea to go with, you still have to do some more revision.

Ask yourselves the questions:

  • What could we take out and still have the video make sense?
  • Does each part contribute to the main point?
  • What is distracting?
  • What are the good points and what are the best points of this video?

This last questions carries considerable weight. At this point in the process, you’re not getting rid of “bad” ideas. You got rid of those at the feedback stage. Now, you are looking at the story you’ve already chosen, saying no to good parts in order to emphasize what’s best about your video.

Don’t let your audience drown in content. You want one main point, one “take away,” to stick.

Take Off Running

Once you finish pruning, you are ready. You’ve got an awesome video idea.

The next steps will take you into video production. At Vercel, we’ll support you in bringing your well-crafted idea into reality, pairing your idea with the best kind of video (whiteboard explainer videos, animation, live action, etc.), the best actors, voiceovers and animations for your video. We’ll help you turn your stellar idea into a stellar video.

And your idea is worth it.

image for A chalkboard with a video idea thought cloud and lightbulb