How to avoid 10 common business video mistakes

Video and marketing experts share tips on how not to make a business video and what steps organizations should take to ensure people will watch, remember and share their videos.

business video ts
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With millions of videos on the Internet, how do you make your business video stand out? To find out, asked dozens of video marketing professionals to identify the biggest, or most common, mistakes companies make when crafting and marketing business videos.

Mistake No. 1: Not having a clear objective. “It may seem obvious, but knowing exactly what you want from the video is crucial,” says Lisa Rhodes, vice president of Marketing and Sales at Verne Global, a data center solution provider. “Perhaps the biggest and costliest mistake a company can [make] is not outlining the objectives before shooting scenes. Before anything begins, companies should know why the video is being created, the target audience, intended results and the overall budget,” she says. “Without these four items, it's likely [your] video will skyrocket in cost and time, and could end up being something that doesn't resonate with intended viewers.”

Mistake No. 2: Not including a call to action or contact information. “When someone has watched your video, what do you want him or her to do next?” asks Tim Bradley, manager of Video Services at Matter Communications. “Empower your audience to do something: call, log on, email, like, click, share, tweet, comment, follow, hashtag, etc.,” he says. Above all, make sure your audience has a way to contact you or learn more after watching your video.

Mistake No. 3: Sounding too scripted, or stilted (i.e., boring). “Typically, [video] copy is written for the eye vs. the ear, often by [a] businessperson [instead of a video script writer], making it sound stilted and boring,” says Ruth Sherman, a communications expert and media consultant. So before going into production, read the script aloud to make sure speech sounds natural, not scripted. Or better yet, hire a professional script writer.

A similar mistake is not making sure the “talent,” especially if they are employees or customers (i.e., not professional actors), know and are comfortable with their lines before shooting, she says. Even if people will be reading off of a teleprompter, make sure they have practiced and know their lines before shooting begins. That way they won’t sound too scripted or stilted.

Mistake No. 4: Overproducing, or including too many distracting elements. “People new to business video tend to overproduce, [including] distracting visual elements, lower-thirds, flashy graphics, etc.,” explains Ben Risinger, new media and community relations specialist, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. “A good video is clean and streamlined [with a] minor title on screen, minimal lower-thirds and a simple credits page or ender. The subject and story should be the focus of the video, not crazy visuals.”

Adam Bowers, marketing communications manager, Urjanet, which provides a platform for automated big energy data, agrees. “Many business videos try too hard to have interesting visuals and end up producing a busy mess,” he notes. “Most stock transitions with flying elements should never see the light of day. As with most things in business and marketing, keep it simple,” he says. “Avoid busy backgrounds, superfluous movement that doesn’t add to the story, and stick with simple dissolves or tasteful cross-fades to keep the viewers’ attention on what really matters: the message you’re trying to convey.”

Mistake No. 5: Telling, not showing. “Create a winning video by making the product [or service, not the CEO,] the hero,” or focus, suggests Hope Bertram, founder and director of Digital Marketing, Digital Megaphone, a social media events and digital marketing company. “Blendtec does an outstanding job of this with their ‘Will It Blend?’ video series. In this series, they blend items not typically blended, such as an iPhone, to prove the power of their blenders. So without even overtly saying, ‘our blenders are powerful,’ they get the message across.”

Mistake No. 6: Making videos that are too long. “The optimal length can vary based on intended purpose of the video,” says David Laubner, vice president, Marketing, ThinkingPhones, an enterprise cloud communications service. For example, “an introduction or ‘explainer’ video should be a maximum of 2 minutes, with a goal of getting it to 1 minute.” Why? “A study from Visible Measures showed that your will lose 20 percent of your audience after 10 seconds and more than half at 60 seconds.”

And while some video marketers say it’s okay to make videos that are five minutes or longer, most agree that shorter is better.

“Do not make a business video that is over two or three minutes [or] you will lose most of your audience,” says Kevin O'Keefe, creative director, SmartFile, a secure business file sharing company. “People will either not watch it [or] skip ahead and miss content. Unless your video consists of Michael Bay special effects with a classic voiceover talent and a free t-shirt offering, your video needs to be short and to the point,” he states. “If [it isn’t], break it into separate videos. It’s more content for marketing that way.”

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