Once Again: Are You STILL Making These Fatal Video Content Mistakes?

No one plans to make bad marketing videos. Yet, the majority of them ARE bad. And most of the time, it’s because the clients or the video producers fell into one or more of these deadly mistakes.

A few months back, I talked about deadly video content and the “advertising vs. programming” mindset that can turn branded content into wasted opportunity. Here I take it a step further and look at two common mistakes made by brands in their video content creation, along with practical solutions for making the content sing.

Mistake #1: Starting video production with “We want to tell people about X."

Nobody tools around the Internet seeking a good sales spiel. Cat videos, yes. Sales spiels, no.

Now, you may think that people should find your company’s sales pitch way more interesting than a cat video. But you don’t get to control what your audience finds interesting.



So instead of saying “we want to tell them about X,” you need to start with “we think our audience will find Y interesting.” It’s possible, of course, for X and Y to overlap. But in this event, X will usually end up implied or only tangentially addressed, while Y will be the direct and explicit focus of the videos.

A few years ago we produced a pilot episode for a car company showcasing a new owner’s reaction as he took a test drive in one of the company’s new vehicles.


The choice of content was dictated by the desired audience, which happened to be customers who had pre-ordered a vehicle and were still awaiting its delivery. Our audience members wouldn’t have been interested in a traditional promotional piece, but they were interested in seeing new owner reactions because they too were awaiting a ride in their new-technology cars. It was a subject matter that had inherent relevance to their situation and interests.

The “Y” in this case was: “Here’s what it’ll feel like when you get your new car.”

The “X” was: “You made the right decision in buying a X-Brand vehicle, and we’re delivering new cars daily while working very hard to get you your new car delivered ASAP.”

Without Y, no one wants to hear X.

Not surprisingly, the video was widely shared by these car owners, primarily online through their owner’s club. In fact, of the 1,000 or so people who had pre-purchased a car, nearly half of that entire target audience watched the pilot episode.

Mistake #2: Attempting a mock-documentary instead of filming something true.

Believe it or not, beginning a content video project by brainstorming a bunch of cool ideas is a bad idea.

The problem with this approach is that the vast majority of those cool ideas are neither authentically true nor are they filmable. And those two requirements of true and filmable take 95% of traditional marketing ideas off the table.

Without those requirements, you run the risk of getting busted for “faking” your content (just ask Pepsi and Jeff Gordon), or generally turning the audience off through an inauthentic feel.

How can you tell when you’ve veered off into Mock-Documentary land? Look for these telltale-warning signs of bad video production:

•   Using fake settings and fake props

•   Taking more time setting up shots than following the story.

•   Having long conversations about being “on-brand.”

One of our directors did some freelance work for a corporation that involved shooting a pre-arranged scene in a “fake” setting, which involved an extraordinary amount of set-up, lighting, and dolly shots, and which left the actual subject of the video waiting around to be filmed. 

So the subject of this finely crafted (but ultimately quite fake) documentary went back to his real workshop to do real work while the video producers constructed their fake set with fake props and elaborate lighting.

That’s when our director thought to herself: I should be grabbing my cameraman and driving back with our subject to follow the real story.

It would have been the better way to do it, because today’s online audiences respond more to authenticity and truth than visual slickness.

Sure, production qualities matter, but story and authenticity have to come first.

Final Call

Ultimately, you’re looking for content that honors your audience’s interests, engages them with inherently interesting subject matter, and builds credibility with them through authenticity.

Now all you have to do is promote those videos wisely, and you can turn your video channel into a content-marketing success.

1 comment about "Once Again: Are You STILL Making These Fatal Video Content Mistakes? ".
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  1. Walter Sabo from SABO media, May 17, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.

    These points were first made to major brands by HITVIEWS in 2007. They are absolutely correct.

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