uStudio’s Executive Producer, Lisa Stuardi, shares her passion for all things video and breaks down the components of a good video strategy.
What is a video strategy?
I sometimes hear people conflate the concept of “video strategy” with “campaign strategy.” But a real video strategy isn’t tied to a campaign or a specific piece of content, nor is it only for use by marketers. Those approaches treat video in the narrow sense – as a content widget for a short-lived campaign. A real video strategy asks bigger questions about how the medium of video -- just like the media of email or P2P chat -- can be put to work to unlock business value in every corner of an organization over the long term.
A good video strategy really comprises three main things. First, you need a great creative strategy. That is, you must define what kinds of video stories you need to achieve your business objectives and how are you going to source , place and promote them. Second it includes the video lifecycle analysis. A video strategy takes into account all of the stakeholders across each phase of the video lifecycle – from creation through to management, distribution, viewing and measurement -- and how those stakeholders will interact with video at each stage. And finally, there is the technical component. Which tools do you need to support each stakeholder at each lifecycle phase and how should you configure those tools to deliver maximum effectiveness and productivity in your organization?
I like to say that a good video strategy has to pass the 3 C’s test. It has to be Complete, Competitive and Connected. Complete because it addresses all of the aspects I mentioned above. Competitive because it defines how you plan to use the medium of video for competitive advantage. And Connected because it should connect to and support your business objectives over the longer term.
How do you approach video strategy?
There's a simple framework that I like to walk people through when they're getting started with their video strategy. It asks two basic questions. First, how experienced are you with video? Second, how revolutionary are you trying to be in your organization right now with video?
You can imagine that some customers come to us, and they're completely new to video, while others are very experienced, and that affects what they're able to achieve right out of the gate. For those who lack basic development and production infrastructure, we need to start there. For more experienced video users, we can focus on acceleration – fixing the pieces of their current workflow that are suboptimal rather than building the workflow from scratch. On occasion, even a very experienced team may need to get back to basics due to a change in the market or in technology. For example, teams that already have production infrastructure in place might need a separate workflow to deal with the burgeoning field of user-generated video, where they have less experience.
Then the second thing that I like to ask is, just how revolutionary are you trying to be with video? Some people are looking for quick wins. They already have their workflow figured out, but they want to move faster, they want to do it better, they're looking for efficiency -- those incremental improvements. Other customers want to be completely revolutionary. They're more comfortable trying things that have never been done before with video. They want a partner who inspires them and can help them think outside the box. We chart a different course for those kinds of customers.
Once we get those first two questions answered, we can craft a video strategy from there that will help any business succeed with video.
How have you seen video change over the years? Where is it heading?
When I first started my career, video was really only being used in two main ways in the enterprise. One, marketers used it to create advertising and promotional videos, and two, if you were lucky, your company might broadcast a big announcement or a quarterly meeting. Those were the basic ways I remember organizations using video back then.
The reason video usage was so limited was a function of time, cost and opportunity. Time, because to use video required plenty of advanced planning and manhours. Cost because it required more people with specialized skills sets as well as expensive tools and materials. And opportunity, which is linked to cost, because most people didn’t have access to the tools or training required to make video. Even those with access didn’t have an easy way to distribute it. You really had to know what you wanted to make, how are you going to make it, and then go invest in a tremendous amount of infrastructure to deliver a video to your organization.
Fast forward 20 years, and video looks a lot different. Video is everywhere now. Anyone can produce a decent quality video with a phone or an inexpensive digital camera. It’s pervasive across most of the screens where we spend our time. Increasingly, it's the main format that people want to consume information.
When you think about how that impacts an organization or a business, it can be both exciting and scary. The demand for video is growing rapidly, which can be intimidating, but the means to make and distribute video are more accessible than ever, so it’s fairly easy to supply the video needed to meet that demand. You can use video in marketing, sales, customer service, internal comms and more if you want to. And yet, many organizations are struggling with how to do this effectively – how to supply the right content, at the right price to create the desired effect. That’s where having a video strategy becomes critical. There’s a lot of opportunity out there to do new things with video, but it’s also easy to get lost.
I think what will ultimately happen is that organizations will learn to embrace video as a fact of life in all areas of their business and come up with more comprehensive strategies to deal with it, both creatively and technically. Our CEO likes to say, “The video doesn’t know it’s a marketing video or a support video. It’s just a video.” I think that’s a great perspective. The artist in me has historically revered video, embracing it as my preferred medium for storytelling, but that’s because I came of age professionally in creative roles where filmmaking was a craft that was studied and perfected over time. But the technologist in me knows that video as a medium is also just a communications utility that needs to undergo certain rote processes to reach an audience and have an impact. In many ways, it’s not precious or proprietary at all; it’s becoming as pedestrian as flipping on a light switch.
Still, in the same way that email as a utility has changed the way we communicate but hasn’t displaced the need for creative or carefully-crafted forms of communication, the same will happen with video. There will continue to be a place for artisan videos alongside the glut of mass-produced ones. Video SPAM will become a thing that we’re all trying to avoid. The distinctions between filmmaker and technologist will blur even further as creatives learn to develop not only video stories but also to build interactive players and other outlets for their narrative imaginations. The costs to host, manage and maintain all of those video files won’t make good economic sense over the long haul, so the market will adjust pricing based on demand and organizations will come up with plans to both share services (think: platform) and limit the amount of videos they are forced to maintain per capita.
Overall, I’m very excited about this moment in time for video. The tools for both artists and engineers are finally making possible things we could imagine years ago but could not achieve. Now so much more is possible. But it’s always best when the art and technology are still bundled together into a proper video strategy; that’s where the biggest wins are generated.