As a Boston video production company, we work with a wide variety of marketers on all sizes and kinds of projects - from small budget one-offs to yearly retainer contracts. Over thousands of videos, we’ve seen marketers make lots of mistakes that impact cost, timeline, and quality. Here are our top 25 video production mistakes, so you can avoid making them.
It’s a long list, so rather than provide an endless list, we’ve broken these mistakes down according to production phase.
Planning is everything that happens between the moment you decide you want a video, and the moment you hire your video production company. A lot of strategic decisions are made during planning, and mistakes here can have a significant impact, especially on your video’s ROI.
1. Not knowing what you want, or why
This is the biggest mistake a marketer can make, and it effects everything that follows. You'd be surprised how often it happens. Your boss tells you to get a video for your website, or you have money left in your budget – or your competitor has a video so you want one. Whatever the reason, having ‘get a video’ as your goal is a recipe for wasting time and money.
2. Not understanding that it’s your job to lead your project
Your video vendor will discuss many cool options with you, and if you’re prone to bright shiny object syndrome, you can fall in love with idea after idea after idea, and lose sight of anything that resembles a clear vision. Worse, you can give conflicting instructions to your vendor. As a result you may receive a video that’s a mash-up of all those ideas you love and said you wanted. And your video can be an unfixable mess.
3. Not understanding that video preferences have changed drastically
If your company has old videos you’re replacing, you may think all you have to do is make similar videos. But what was perfectly acceptable a few years ago has become a recipe for nobody watching your videos. Today’s viewers want short, to-the-point videos that communicate your message quickly, and in a very engaging and visually stimulating way. And they have no patience. Don't ask them to watch your long, slow videos, because they won't.
4. Not understanding that different platforms demand different formats
Your company used to make a single video and distribute it to Facebook and YouTube and your website. And it used to be OK. But again, things have changed. There are more platforms now – and each one has some pretty specific best practices. Ignoring those best practices will lead to nobody watching your video.
5. Not building in versions for all your different platforms into the budget
Circling back after your video is finished to create different versions for your various platforms will cost you more than building those versions into your original video production budget.
6. Not asking questions when you don’t understand something in the proposal or agreement
Once you sign your agreement, you will receive everything it lists – and nothing more. Make sure you understand what’s included in your video project and what’s not. If necessary, send your proposals or agreements back for changes, and don’t sign your agreement until you’re sure it includes everything you need.
7. Falling in love with the lowest price just because it’s the lowest price
When you receive your proposals, there will be a variety of prices. It’s human nature to gravitate to the lowest price. But that price is lowest for a reason. Don’t pick your vendor just because they’re the cheapest. Look deeper – do they have the experience to do a good job? Do you like the quality of their work? Are they leaving anything out?
8. Not leaning on your video production company as a trusted partner
Once you hire your video production company, they are your partners. They want to make great videos for you, and they want those videos to deliver great ROI. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask them. They have expertise way beyond yours, and they’re happy to share their knowledge to help you, because you’re their client.
Pre-production is what happens before filming your video, and includes scheduling, scripting, and storyboarding. Lots can go wrong here.
9. Forgetting that your video must tell a story
The human brain is wired to absorb information through story. Your video will be most effective when it tells a story that engages your viewers. Don’t look at your video as an opportunity to present information, because people don’t want information. Let your video producer take your information and craft it into a story.
10. Packing your script with as much industry jargon as possible
Your video won’t return much ROI if viewers don’t like it and stop watching. One big reason they stop watching is because they have a hard time following what you’re trying to say, which is what can happen when you pack your script with jargon. Your video producer will steer your script away from jargon and toward a clear story that viewers can follow. Don’t take her script and stuff all your jargon back in.
11. Not giving the script a thorough review
If you’re busy (and who’s not?) you can be tempted to sign off on the script without a careful read. If you do that, there’s a good chance you’ll want changes after your video is created, when you notice everything about the script that you don't like. Those changes aren’t in your budget because you signed off on the script, so you’ll need to pay extra.
12. Not making sure the storyboard is right before signing off
The storyboard shows you how your video will look. Again, if you’re too busy to make sure it’s what you want, you’ll find out whether it works after the video is created. And you’ll have to pay extra for edits that reflect changes to the storyboard you approved.
13. Being careless with scheduling
Part of pre-production is scheduling, for the location for your shoot, and all the people who will be filmed. Lots can go wrong here if you’re not careful, like one person who will be filmed not being available on the day you've chosen for your shoot. If your video crew shows up, but everyone isn’t available for filming, you’ll need to pay extra for an additional shoot day.
14. Not considering professional talent
Yes, Bob in marketing is a nice guy. But that’s not a good enough reason to use Bob as the face of your company. Because Bob could be stiff, or awkward, or just not great on camera. You’d be surprised how inexpensive it can be to hire an actor – and the difference between professional talent and internal talent is usually huge.
15. Not considering a teleprompter
If the talent (the person or people being filmed) can look off-camera and ramble about a bit and generally make their point, then you probably don’t need a teleprompter. But if they must look at the camera, if their message must be tightly controlled, or if they must speak for a long time, it’s a very good idea to consider a teleprompter.
Production means filming. This is the day your video crew arrives, sets up their equipment, and films the raw material that will be edited into your video. While production can last a day, or half a day, making mistakes here can have a big impact on your video.
16. Not scheduling time to focus on the shoot
We know you’re busy. But it’s imperative that you, or someone you trust, schedule time to make sure the shoot goes well. Your production team is going to have questions, and the talent may have questions too. If no one from your team is there to answer questions or help the video crew, the shoot will happen anyway, and you may not be happy with the result.
17. Being rude to your video producer and crew
Yes, I know. Really? But it does happen. People can be tired, and they can be angry about other things. But that's no excuse for not being polite to your video crew. Now you may not care how your video crew feels about you, but if you're rude to them, they’re not going to do the best job possible in filming your video. They’ll do an OK job, but there will be no going above and beyond. So don’t think of them as an annoying item on your schedule, and don't give in if you an impulse to bark at them. Remember that they’re human beings who are there to do a job for you, and be nice to them – if only out of self-interest.
Once your video has been filmed, your editor takes over, creates your video, and posts versions for your review.
18. Forgetting that you approved the script
By the time you see a first draft, time will have passed since scripting. But you did approve the script – so if you don’t like the video, think carefully about what you don’t like and how you’d like it to be changed. And know that if your fixes call for scripting changes, you’ll pay extra.
19. Forgetting that you approved the storyboard
The same goes for the storyboard. If you want changes to your video’s visuals, some can easily be made. But complex changes based on a new vision for your video will probably cost you more.
20. Giving vague change requests
Your editor wants to make a video that you’re happy with. But she can’t do that if you give vague feedback, like “I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel right” or “I don’t like the music.” Be specific in your direction, so your editor knows how to make your video better. You don’t have to tell her how to do her job, but you do need to tell her why you don’t like the music, and what you’d like to see instead. And if it just doesn’t feel right, watch it several times so you can figure out why.
21. Leaving out the call to action
You want people to do something after they watch your video. And people being people, you have to tell them what you want them to do. Go to your website? Call for more info? If you didn’t include a call to action in your script or storyboard, now is the time to ask your editor to include it.
Once your editor has delivered a first draft, you’ll show that draft to your decision-makers for comment. While your video is almost complete, the process can still turn into a bit of a mess.
22. Not limiting your decision-makers
Maybe you’re a democratic person who wants as much feedback as possible, so you plan to get changes and edits from a big group of people.
What can go wrong here? Plenty. It’s human nature for people to want to put their stamp on anything creative. Ask a big group of people to help you with feedback and you’ll get a big long list of changes, many of which will not improve the video. Worse, many can make it worse.
23. Not wrangling your decision-makers
If you allow your decision-makers to send feedback directly to your editor, you’re asking for trouble. Your editor will receive a series of change requests that can conflict. And some change requests can come in late, after others have been implemented. It’s your job to wrangle those decision-makers so they don’t make the editing process one big mess. Put yourself between them and your editor, organize all change requests into a single list - and throw out requests that don't make sense.
You’ve approved the final videos, received the files, and uploaded them to their different platforms. But you’re not done.
24. Not having a plan to measure ROI
Your goal is not to make a video – it’s to have your video do a specific job for you. It’s not enough to send your videos out into the world and pat yourself on the back. You need to measure ROI.
25. Not knowing what metrics are important
Video analytics are crazy detailed. It’s easy to generate big reports with all kinds of numbers and charts and graphs. But which metrics actually have meaning for you? Unless you figure this out, you won’t be able to understand or explain ROI.
And there you are - the top 25 video production mistakes marketers make, based on our experience working with hundreds of marketers.
Video production is just like any other complicated creative process – there are many, many potential mistakes. Hopefully this list will help you navigate your production process painlessly, and create videos that return awesome ROI.
If you’d like help finding the right video production company, this is the resource for you: