By Greg Ball, President of Ball Media Innovations
Are you thinking about filling the role of director for your next promotional video? It’s true that upfront it could save you a lot of money, and who knows your product or service better than you? There are a small number of situations where I would say that this is fine, however, you’ll want to consider the trade-offs.
Of course, it’s not uncommon to hear of business execs and owners thinking of directing their own shows.
“…but, what I really want to do is direct.”
Even in the film industry, this is a thing. Nearly everyone who has any other job in film and television feels they can be a director.
The same can be said for those in business. These days when phones take great HD video and video cameras are affordable, many folks think of themselves as able to direct. That’s understandable. You’ve probably made some great home videos.
But… Should you direct your own corporate identity or promotional video?
Is that really a good idea?
Honestly, there’s only one situation in business where I think someone could get away with this. For most companies, if your CEO is already an established celebrity, and/or an integral part of your brand, it may be possible to get a decent video if you’re just showing him/her sitting or standing in one spot and talking.
Yet even then, if you’re hoping to make your CEO and your company look professional, I’d recommend bringing in an experienced director. There are many things they know how to do that will impact the look and feel of your video, and that could change public opinion and influence sales.
Why should you consider bringing in a professional director?
While it is an added expense upfront, I believe that hiring a professional director can bring in a high return on your investment. Though I may seem biased because I’m a director, I believe that I can prove to you that it’s in your best interest.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that you might want to consider turning over the direction of your video to a professional.
1. Quality and Production Value is essential to a successful video.
Directing a successful video production takes more than keeping the project on message. For business videos, directors must be responsible for the entire look and quality of the production. The director often must wear many hats, and that requires a professional knowledge of things such as lighting, set design, audio, and editing, and continuity.
Most non-professionals simply will not have the level of knowledge and experience needed to achieve that professional look and feel in their videos. It may be subtle, but your viewers will pick up on the fact that the video was produced in an amateur fashion, even if they’re noticing it subconsciously.
Viewers tend to associate an unprofessional look with an unprofessional company, product, or service.
So… First and foremost, hiring a professional director for your promotional video will help your company maintain a professional image, and it will help keep you from putting something out in the public eye that might not reflect that well on your company.
Read more about that in our article called "The Secret to a Successful Video".
2. An experienced director will be able to get the best performances from on-camera talent.
This takes years to learn, and even then, some directors are better than others at this. If you want your company to make a good impression, you’ll need to bring out the best performance from whoever is on camera. Choosing a pro with a gift for drawing out a good performance can make a huge difference to the success of your video.
3. Effective storytelling in video is achieved with a combination of learned skills and talent.
Every business video tells a story (or it should). An experienced, trained, and talented director has the ability to tell a story in an engaging way. They’re able to keep the viewers’ attention, make the viewer feel something, and move the viewer to action when that’s desired.
If you’re looking to inspire the viewer to action or to change an opinion, an experienced director will know how to accomplish this using all the tools of the trade. For example, they’ll be able to adjust the script for video effectiveness, and they’ll know how to use camera angles, motion, and editing to bring the story alive.
4. A director brings an objective eye to the content to help you reach your goals.
As the CEO or business owner, you may be “too close” to the subject matter to see the “big picture.” And, while it is important to always be aware of the overall goal of the project, it is equally critical to have a clear focus to the video. A professional director can help with that. Without this, the result could be that the video comes across as unfocused and confusing.
An experienced director brings objectivity because they’re coming from the outside looking in. They can help you determine what should and shouldn’t be included in your video in order to produce the results you’re looking for.
They know how to walk that fine line between the big picture and a tight message, to deliver videos that achieve a personal connection, or start a conversation with your potential customers.
5. Some Assembly Required – Directing has a lot of parts!
Ever buy something at IKEA, or take home some other product with “some assembly required,” and despite the “simple instructions,” a few hours later you are still staring at a crooked table and a pile of parts?
If you’re like me, after you have had that experience once, you’ll always have the store or factory assembly it hereafter. It’s so much easier! In a matter of minutes, there is your piece, showroom perfect! Why? Because the assembly crew knows exactly what they are doing!
It’s the same with a video production. In fact, it is even truer, because the average video production has a lot more “moving parts,” than your typical piece of furniture!
Consider the errors that inexperienced directors commonly make.
Take a brief tour of YouTube and you’ll see some business videos that don’t reflect well on their companies and products. These are just some of the things that can impact the effectiveness of your videos:
- Non-professional directors tend to strictly educate rather than to educate AND engage.
You may think that the purpose of your business video is to educate and or inform your audience. That may be a large part of what you should accomplish. However, in order to succeed, you must also connect with your audience on a visceral level.
Amateur directors often make the mistake of focusing strictly on information rather than emotion. They often tend to treat a business video like it’s a brochure or other piece of promotional literature. They forget that engagement is essential to selling. A professional director knows how to elicit emotion.
- Inexperienced directors tend to fail to sell.
Yes, marketing videos need to appeal to the emotions, but, ultimately they also need to sell your product or service. If you don’t structure your video properly to sell, it could be ineffective!
This is another fine-line that an experienced video director can walk. The pros can create entertaining videos that also achieve your marketing goals.
- Non-professional directors tend to leave out important marketing details.
Even if you have a brilliant vision, and feel you can direct your own video, the devil is in the details. You would be surprised how many self-directed videos you can find online that leave out critical marketing details such as their company’s logo, tagline, URL, or phone number!
Our recommendation: Spring for a professional, experienced, and proven director for your promotional video.
There are many other things that a professional director will bring to the table, which an amateur director might not.
With video being as ubiquitous as it is today, it is very easy to watch a video, and say “I can do that…”
But just as most of us would not undertake to replace our car’s transmission on our own, or treat a major illness without the help of a doctor, your business video has a much better chance of succeeding with a professional director at the helm.
Smart business owners know the value of hiring experts! Hiring a professional video director or producer is no different than hiring your lawyer, accountant, or advertising company. You want the best there is, not only to help your business succeed but to give you an edge over your competition!
Always remember that a professional video director not only knows what he or she is doing behind the camera and in the editing room. He or she has acquired the experience and the problem-solving skills that can only come from time “spent in the trenches.”
The bottom line is, creating a high-quality, engaging business video is one part art, one part technology, and something that demands a lot of skill and directorial expertise.
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