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Nonprofit Video Strategy

When Should You Spend Big Bucks on Video?

To video or not to video? This is no longer the question.

We all know that video is not the cheapest or fastest medium to produce. Writing this blog post will take a lot less time than planning, shooting and editing a video. The only cost included is my time.

We also all know that video is the most effective, “sticky” content out there. Video can increase email open rates, drive customers to conversion and attract new supporters to your cause. We also know that the cost of doing certain kinds of video continues to drop, as many younger companies and producers learn how to develop rich content through inexpensive methods.

The question isn’t to video or not to video, but rather, when should I invest in high production value and when should I do it on the cheap?

Regardless of how much you invest, we urge you not to put all your hopes into one video— results should be seen in the aggregate. Consistency is important and the truth is that you should be producing high and low production value content throughout the year.

There are many considerations to take into account, but we will look at the three of the most important: capacity, goal and audience.

Capacity: Do you have the resources it takes?

If you want to produce great video for your organization, you need expertise. Quality video takes time, and you need to be sure you really have the buy in from your colleagues and leadership to invest and build capacity.

Even with a low budget, an investment in great resources can help you achieve your goals. One example is the hilarious viral video for Dollar Shave Club. It cost only $4,500 to make, but the script was written and edited by two former improv comedians who ensured that each scene packed a punch to your funny bone while speaking to the company’s mission. Dollar Shave Club received 12,000 orders 48 hours after the video launched, and has received millions of dollars in funding from investors.

Will your organization make a viral video? Statistically speaking, it’s unlikely. But if you’re authentic, concise and willing to work to improve your video production skills, you’ve got a better shot than most.

Goal: Do you know what success looks like?

There are three things video does better than any other medium: 1) generate identification and emotional response, 2) transport the viewer, and 3) boil down complex information so that it’s easy to understand.

If you have a great character, story or script - something that you know will connect with your audience and make viewers laugh, cry or get really angry - use video to make that connection even stronger. Emotion is a compelling call to action.

If you can transport the viewer to somewhere they could not go on their own, be it a foreign country or behind the scenes of your organization, video is a fantastic way to take them there. By combining the sensory experiences of audio and visual, video can help people clearly identify with different places, times and people.

Finally, if you want to boil down complex data or other information, into a simple visual package, a well designed motion graphics clip will do the trick. Video is a powerful force for conveying a big idea.

If any of these objectives are aligned with your goals, it may be worth a substantial investment in video. Remember that high quality video it takes risk and leadership buy-in, and it requires your organization to focus more attention to your audience instead of internal politics.

Audience: Who are you trying to reach?

Think about who are you trying to reach before you start producing your video. Are you speaking to your choir, or trying to move beyond it?

If you are communicating with your existing stakeholders, lower production value might suffice. But the more sophisticated your supporters are, or the newer they are to your cause, the more likely it is that quality will pay dividends. The perception that your video has been professionally produced - with a great script, perfect audio and excellent visuals - carries weight with people who are just getting to know your organization.

Remember to think about how you’re planning to distribute your video as well. If you’re planning to use social media or paid ads, where your video is more likely to end up in front of people who have never heard of your organization before, you should consider investing in a professionally produced video. Online video can hit a broad audience, but viewers are often very engaged with high-quality content.

The most bang for your buck

Regardless of high or low production value and cost, there are a few rules every organization should follow after deciding to invest in video.

  • Set your goals at the start and reflect on them throughout the process. Don’t forget to measure and see if you achieved success.
  • Put audience first! Really think about who they are and what will connect. Think about what they are interested in more that what you are. The sweet spot is where your story and their story intersect.
  • Remember that authenticity is KING and overproducing can diminish a “real” moment of emotion or understanding.

Creating impact with video is a journey - not a one-off project. Take the time to learn and grow your capacity and expertise as you experiment with high and low quality videos that support your organization’s mission. Regardless of how much you invest, always put your goals and your audience first. And remember to have a little fun while you’re at it. Happy trails!

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