As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Ever wish you could fly?
The participants in Redbull's Flugtag series do, and the most dedicated ones are successful. I'm referring to one of the best examples of video marketing out there, an annual, worldwide flying machine competition hosted by Redbull. It might sound like crazy content to have, but it pays off for Red Bull in spades. The videos of teams crashing off piers are viral, and the brand has over seven million subscribers on YouTube.
Every brand that is investing in video marketing wants to achieve this kind of engagement. However, unless you have Red Bull's budget, creating an asset that generates that kind of buzz may seem impossible. How do you create something that fantastic with a small budget? To create a video that gets a positive response from your audience, you need to allocate a substantial volume of your spend to your video marketing, correct?
The surprising answer? No. I don't associate highly engaging videos with cost.
(If that were true, we never would have met The Walmart Yodeling Kid.)
Because in B2B video marketing, all you need to be successful is a plan that helps you create videos that will deliver ROI. With the right approach, you can create videos that fit your budget and are well worth the investment.
What Most Brands Miss In Their Video Marketing Strategy
One of my favorite thing about Red Bull's Flugtag are the failures. There is something oddly gratifying about watching beautifully crafted DIY airplanes crash into the water. I like the competitors that crash and burn, then return the next year with an optimized craft.
These pilots study their previous performance and use the insights to find a more successful mix of materials. They make a plan and try again. The companies that see the most success with video marketing do this, too.
However, identifying the right process to create cost-effective videos can take years to master. To save a ton of on-the-job learning, I'm going to do a good marketing deed and tell you exactly how these top brands create excellent videos without blowing their budget.
(Admittedly, I also tire of seeing boring videos online, so my motives are not 100% altruistic.)
#1. Setting Video Marketing Goals
The first step to creating affordable video marketing assets is setting goals. Without any video marketing goals, you will lack focus, and end up spending on content that doesn't have any direction. The team at Biteable, an online video maker and experts in video marketing, call this "the spaghetti dilemma."
"We put together some content and throw it at the audience. If it sticks, we make more...to build an effective strategy you need to be clear about what you want. You have to dig deep and find the why." - Biteable
When you start with video marketing, let your goals lead the way. I recommend following HubSpot's framework and setting realistic SMART goals for your video marketing efforts to create objectives that are:
- Specific - A description of what you want to achieve with video marketing, how you're going to execute it, whom you will involve, and the constraints. For instance, "I want to get 100 qualified leads a month for the next year by creating a series of videos about frequently asked questions in my industry."
- Measurable - To obtain your specific goal, what do you need to do? Rather than setting the purpose of starting with video marketing, a quantifiable goal could be "I will create one video a week for the rest of the year."
- Attainable - There are two parts to set a firm goal. First, you want to set a goal that is achievable. For example, if you're going to start creating videos next week, but you don't have a video camera, it's not likely to happen. Second, you want to set a goal that is a little challenging. If you're already hitting close to 100 a month, you may want to push yourself. Otherwise, you can't work towards growth.
- Relevant - How is your goal related to your business? Acquiring leads for a service you're offering is relevant, but getting Facebook likes on your video isn't.
- Time-Bound - When will you reach your goal? Without a set time frame, you won't have a finish line to cross. It will be easy to rationalize your lack of progress and put off making any improvements.
After you document and finalize your SMART goals, you will use them to track and evaluate your video marketing performance on an ongoing basis.
#2. Creating A Content Strategy
When creating a content strategy for video, it's tempting to pick an idea and go. However, if you want to create videos that deliver any ROI, this is the wrong place to begin. You'll end up with videos that your customer won't necessarily engage with, and dissipate your budget to create them.
(A dramatic reenactment of you burning through marketing spend on videos no one asked for.)
Instead, you want to use customer insights to craft a strategy. It's the best way to guarantee you will get a return on your video marketing effort. Groupon, a deal and coupon site, mastered their video marketing by creating content based on customer behavior and interests.
"We now have much richer data on what customers are looking for. But unless we use that information to inform our creative decisions, it’s useless. So as a second step, we built contextually relevant creative tailored to each audience segment and the content they consume—travel-related creative for jet-setters, family activity-related creative for parents, and recipe-related creative for foodies, for example." - Rich Williams, Groupon
You can use the buyer journey and buyer persona strategy documents you're already using for inbound marketing to help choose topics. This way, you can create videos that match up with your ongoing efforts.
If you're not confident with your current buyer journey or personas, check out our SprocketRocket Strategy Kit. It has useful strategy documents we use for websites but guides you towards adopting a customer-centric mindset.
#3. Selecting Cost-Effective Production
One of the most intimidating aspects of video marketing is to find someone to shoot and edit your content. For businesses, there are a few cost-effective options for this.
Quick and Easy
If your video goals aren't aggressive, there are very cheap options to create marketing videos. I've made great videos with my iPhoneX and MacBook Pro lens. There are also video sites such as Biteable and Shakr with free stock video and illustration. However, unless you're planning on creating a video or two for social media, free online video editors are a short-term band-aid solution. You will not scale your video marketing this way.
With DIY video production, you have involvement at every step of the creative process and can course-correct if the video production isn't going well. However, with DIY, it's also likely you will waste a lot more money than a professional crew would. There's a significant learning curve for video and editing, and it takes a while to get it right.
DIY production also requires you to purchase or rent a camera. If you plan on doing regular video production, buying a used video camera could work, but you will still need to learn how to use it. You will also need to download a film editing tool. A Mac comes with iMovie, which I use to create my videos. I would base the decision to DIY on how much time you have to make videos.
You will need to keep a laser focus on your budget, which can be stressful if you're also trying to learn how to create a video.
A Professional Videographer
With a professional videographer, you can be hands-off, but it will still be expensive. Videographers aren't cheap. If you want to try this option, prioritize finding a professional videographer with reviews. You can check out your local Angi services or Thumbtack listings to find highly rated professionals. Another option is to browse Meetup.com to see if there are any local videography groups with members looking for work.
Hire A Freelancer
To me, a videographer is a specialist in that area, and a freelancer may offer filming and editing amongst other areas of expertise. They may not have the same level of experience as a professional videographer, but can still create a good product at a fraction of the price.
Often, you can find freelancers locally, but if you can't, you can consider hiring off UpWork. The downside is that you will lose some creative control, and they may be too far away to shoot on site. Unless you find someone nearby, this option can complicate your efforts and not be worth the savings.
I have the same advice for hiring a freelancer as I would with a videographer. Find someone with references to ensure they can finish what they start. Aside from UpWork, you can also find a freelancer with a job listing on Indeed.com or Craigslist. Freelancer.com is another site with reputable workers.
Work With A Student
If you're close to a university with a film department, you may be able to find a student eager for portfolio projects. Often, these students have the equipment or the ability to rent it from their department, which will save you money on a camera. They also have editing software, so there's the potential to save there as well. While you will need to pay a student, it will be much less than a professional.
A good tactic for finding a reliable student is to do a one-time video project, assess performance, and consider whether or not you'll do it again. If you try this, I would recommend reaching out to a professor at a local college and inquiring about potential students seeking work. You can also contact the university careers department to see about posting a job listing on their network.
Train An Employee
If you're planning on investing in video marketing long-term, you could potentially invest in training for someone on your team. There are many video editing tutorials online that can get them up to speed. Lynda from LinkedIn offers a free month of access to their training videos, and UDemy has affordable video creation courses. There is a risk of your employee not picking up on the material, or taking too long to learn, so this should be one of your last options if you want to save money.
Before deciding to train an employee, I recommend looking at how many hours you have available to dedicate to video marketing first. You should calculate their hourly rate, and the time spent on training and cost for courses before committing to this option.
Hire An Agency
My last recommendation is to hire an agency. Concerning value and reliability, this is your best option. An agency with video production experience has a track record of success and can weave your video creation into overall marketing initiatives. It may be a costly investment up front, but in the long-term, you're more likely to get a return on your efforts. An agency is your greatest chance of creating videos the right time the first time.
#4. Creating A Distribution Strategy
One of the best ways to ensure you don't blow through your marketing budget with video is coming up with a distribution strategy. With a distribution strategy, you will direct your time and energy on the channels that drive the best performance and minimize effort spent on the platforms that do not.
To create a strategy, start with your buyer persona documents. You can use these to identify where your persona seeks looks for information and news. You can also go through a customer journey mapping process to find places throughout your website, blog, and nurturing campaigns where a relevant video would improve the customer experience.
By the end of each exercise, you should have a list of the social platforms, websites, and forums your customer trusts, as well as any existing marketing assets and website pages that you could embed your video. From there, you can outline the strategy. I recommend creating a living document that your entire team can access and refer to when distributing your video content.
This plan for video distribution can include:
When creating a distribution strategy, include every platform your persona watches and engages with videos on, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vimeo. It's essential that your persona actively uses that channel, and you're not sharing content for the heck of it. Otherwise, you will waste precious time that you can dedicate to more effective tactics.
Specifications and Formatting
There are a ton of platforms to share video content on, but each one requires a specific approach. For instance, Facebook and YouTube are great for longer videos, while Twitter and Instagram videos can't exceed 30 seconds. If you understand these differences upfront, you can create a few versions of your videos for the channels.
In the future, you will have an editing framework for each platform that you can update or fresh based on performance.
You can get more even more value from video assets by adding them into an existing email workflow, relevant blog posts, or on conversion pages. If you go through the content you have for every buyer journey stage; you can locate the marketing material that your video would improve.
To gain even more traction from your video marketing efforts, find opportunities to post guest content, co-host a podcast, as well as any industry forums or discussion boards your persona follows. These tactics are more of a long-term play but can be instrumental in getting your video content in front of new customers. If you submit a guest article on a relevant blog, for example, you can embed a video in it. A lot of podcasts will write a post for each episode, and you can ask to share your video there.
Forums are also great for sharing links to video but require a delicate approach. When you identify forums that provide substantial value to your customer, actively work on building authority there outside of your video marketing efforts. That way, when the time comes, you can share content and come from a position of subject matter expertise, and not like a spammer.
(That's the response of every forum member if you clog up their threads with unsolicited marketing videos.)
Without a distribution strategy, you risk blindly sharing material in areas that aren't effective. If you follow the same distribution strategy each time, you can study how each step positively or negatively impacts performance, and switch up your approach in the future.
#5. Planning Out Video Content
A significant budget risk that people take with video is filming off-the-cuff to save time. This is a mistake, I promise. If you skip planning out your video content, you'll spend unnecessary time editing or reshooting your footage later. You wouldn't write a blog post or EBook without an outline (I hope), and you shouldn't shoot a video without a plan, either.
All it takes are a few straightforward steps that will drastically improve the quality of your video. These steps include:
Creating An Outline
Within your outline, you can plan out the logistics of your video, including the length, the speaker or narrator, one or two keywords to target, the points you want to cover, and a call-to-action. A lot of people forget the call-to-action, which is what will help your visitor understand what to do next. The outline is the blueprint of your video and is similar to a blog post outline.
HubSpot made a great video about how to turn a blog post into a video that explains the approach.
Another way that an outline can help you preserve your budget is if you reuse it to inform future videos. With a structure on how to plan out video content, you can streamline the process for your entire team, and keep everyone on the same page about planning and expectations.
Writing A Script
A script will help your speaker or narrator prepare for your shoot. They can run through the subject matter a few times before shooting, and avoid having to do too many takes. You wouldn't have a writer go through a blog post without providing some direction, and this is the same thing.
Nick Nimman, a YouTube Video expert, offers a lot of guidance about writing a script for YouTube videos on his channel.
With a script, you can also determine the type of tone you want to take in your videos. Do you want to be funny, serious, or conversational? If you haven't established a brand voice yet, this may be the time to go back and figure this out. I use a brand personality template from our SprocketRocket Strategy Kit (we use this for website strategy, but the templates are handy for marketing strategy as well.)
Overall, writing a script and figuring out your voice ahead of time is one of the essential components of a productive, on-budget video shoot.
You can also storyboard your video, which requires sketching out each shot. Storyboards are also a great way to get alignment with your team before filming. This way, the videographer (or whoever is shooting) can plan out all of the angles and shots they want to take. Otherwise, you may spend your budget on a lot of footage you can't use because the videographer took too many creative liberties.
Overall, you want to plan the content out as much as you can before filming. You will save time on revisions and editing, and end up with a better video.
HubSpot has a free resource, The Ultimate Video Marketing Starter Pack, with videos, templates, and resources that can also help here.
The Secret To Video Marketing On A Budget
The truth is, video marketing doesn't need to be expensive. It all comes down to the old saying, "time is money." Like any other aspect of marketing, you need to strategically allocate your funds and get the best return on your investment. In video marketing, that looks like creating videos that support the buyer journey, move your customers forward, and align with your inbound strategy.
Another well-kept secret about cost-effective video marketing is turning the content you already have into video collateral. You can reuse what you already have and gain even more ROI from the time and money you already spent on those assets. Video content can quickly transform into a presentation, a podcast, and more. To get some ideas and learn how we repurpose our content, check out our free EBook, The Repurposing Toolkit: Why & How to Repurpose Content.
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