Video (and other tech) doesn't have to be expensive.

I’ve done several posts on both the value and process of creating video content, but it was pointed out recently that some people have misunderstood my position on investing in high quality equipment and professional videography services. So I thought it would be a good idea to clarify my stance.

There is nothing wrong with making a significant investment in equipment, professional service and personnel. It will make your videos look great. However, if your investment comes before you make a budget for the creation of what you put in the video and how you measure its effectiveness, then it’s going to be a big expensive mess.

When it comes to content development, most companies approach from a “fire, ready, aim” philosophy. It is both backwards and inside out. I’ve talked with dozens of potential customers over the last year, and in nearly all cases these companies have seen a competitor using a particular delivery technology and decide to look into doing the same thing, rarely looking to see if the competitor’s effort is accomplishing anything positive. This has been true in the area of websites, blogs, podcasts, social media, and now video. 

The providers of these technologies and services are more than willing to provide glowing case studies to the efficacy of the technology. They will tell you only if pressed that if the content sucks, the tech won’t achieve its desired goal of increasing engagement. While it looks flashy and beautiful, if your content is bad, you can not achieve your goal.

The companies we've talked to rarely understand that the process always begins with an investment in content, in conjunction with measurement.  What is left of your budget can go into the the tech, and only then. Most companies, however, have very limited budgets and are so enamoured of the tech (fire), that they want to skimp on or eliminate content (ready) and measurement (aim).  So when the issue of video comes up, they immediately want to hire or build a studio, get $10,000 in cameras and lights and film their CEO reading from a marketing brochure.  When they finish with that, they lack the budget to do more than one or two videos, poducing poor results.  In the end they decide that video (or whatever tech they invested in) doesn’t work.

So here’s me making my position clear: if you don’t have the budget to do the first two steps (content and measurement) along with massive investment in tech, then back off the tech investment.  Get a good content provider, a reasonable measurement tool, and then create content to be captured on an inexpensive HD camcorder.  Use a good mic. Shoot in natural light or get an inexpensive lighting system. Focus on what the customer needs to hear, not on the bells and whistles.  It will pay for itself quicker and give you more budget for something shinier down the road.

Content comes first.