5 Tips to Increase Your Production Value for Free

Today I  began my day no different than most others; I browsed through numerous news articles, blogs and trends related to online video.  I’m continuously excited to see how quickly online video is moving in so many different directions and benefiting people and businesses around the globe.  From YouTube’s new scheduling feature, greater mobile optimization and the speed of social video (most recently surrounding Osama’s death) to effectively leveraging advertising dollars in each of these areas, there is always something going on that’s pushing the online video envelope.  That excitement aside, a reality dawned on me that there are a lot of eCommerce sites out there not yet pushing the envelope but are still working very hard to create effective video assets.  So based on several emails I’ve received and my own browsing, I put together 5 tips to help increase your production value for free.

1. Move Beyond the Product Description

Speak to your customer in ways that are practical to them while retaining your brand’s voice.  For example, I recently saw a video for a $75 Oxford shoe that opened with something like this, “Here we have a burnished suede upper in a dress wingtip oxford style.  It has a round toe and perforated wingtip vamp details…”  That’s very poetic and may work if the shoe was $500, but for $75, I would venture to guess the customer is looking for practicality rather than a verbal massage.  If the video were to open by saying, “This wingtip is stylish and perfect for both formal and business casual attire.  It’s comfortable to wear all day with the smooth lining and cushioning insole…” That communicates practical value based on the price of the shoe.  At first, it will take some extra time to gain knowledge of your brand’s voice to reword a product description quickly but it will become easier and more comfortable with time.  Eventually you should see a positive impact on your conversation rates.

2. Use Contrasting Colors

If you’re doing a product demo, you probably want to your customers to see the product.  However, if you’re holding up a dark product in front of you with a dark shirt on, you can lose a lot of value in that particular video.  It’s a good idea to keep a few different color shirts around and swap them out when necessary or try to make sure you display the product next to you.  If your shirt is part of your brand building strategy, it can be helpful to have someone else come on screen and hold/wear the product while you talk about it.  Similarly, if you’re doing close product shots on a table, it’s good practice to have a contrasting table cloth or sheets of paper handy, but be sure if you use a piece of paper that they fill the entire frame.

3.  Display What You’re Talking About

If you’re talking about a product with a unique visual selling point, make sure it ends up on camera or at very least, a photo is added to the post.  I recently watched a video for a new Samsung LED TV.  In the video, the host repeatedly brought up how slim the television was but never presented a side shot of it.  Similarly, if you’re shooting a demo on a small product and don’t normally do close up product shots, include a photo of the unique feature and transition to it while discussing that feature in the post then transition back to yourself for the next feature or closing.

4.  Voice Over

A good rule of thumb is to remove anything that will take the viewer away from the core purpose of your video.  A while back I watched some videos for workout equipment and routines.  It was helpful to see how the new equipment worked as well as new ways to use the traditional equipment.  However, as this one particular video progressed, the host began to clearly run out of breath.  By the end, she was so out of breath that she could only grunt and barely speak.  I honestly found myself wondering if she was going to pass out.  Then to make matters worse, she was using a lapel mic so it was good quality grunting and heavy breathing.  That may have been part of her brand building strategy as her entire series was the exact same, but I was not focusing on her workout.  In this case it would have made much more sense to voice over her routine if again, that is her focus.  Similarly, if a specific feature of a product is extremely loud you can include a split second of that sound so customers have an idea of what they will hear then transition into a voice over for that feature.  Once that feature is covered, transition back to your original audio track.

5. Watch Your Videos

When you’re on a regular production schedule and knocking out 50 to 100 videos a day, it’s easy to overlook details.  From time to time, spot check your videos and watch at least one a week and look for things that you can do to improve the next shoot day.  Here are some things to look out for: Are you looking at the product too much while you talk?  Are you not enunciating enough?  Do you have too many shadows on your set?  Should the camera come in a little tighter or be pulled back a few inches?  Are your transitions in the post happening too frequent or not enough?

I hope these tips are helpful and please feel free to contact me for further clarification on any of these tips or if you have questions about your production process.