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It's a tough spot to be in: You know you need a video, but man... does video production cost a lot!

That's when you ask THE question: Maybe we could just DIY the video?

That's a question asked at marketing agencies and marketing departments all over the country—every day.

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer.

But... I'd like to give you some guidance—and maybe help make your decision a little easier.

Now, because I'm the founder and chief storytelling officer at a video production company specializing in marketing videos, you might assume I'd suggest you hire a pro.

Not so fast!

DIY marketing videos have their place, as I explain in detail in my just-published book. In this article, I'll give you the (figurative) Cliff's Notes version of what you'd find in Lights, Camera, Impact.

You Should Probably Do It Yourself If...

Yours is a small organization

Are you a small business or organization? No fancy coffee machine. Sarah is the only one with a decent desk chair. No marketing budget to speak of.

If this fits the description of your company, feel free to DIY your video.

The reason is simple... you probably can't afford to hire a pro to produce it for you.

 

You have a highly informal company culture

Is your company culture a bit kitschy? Ping pong table in the office. Everyone wears T-shirts and flip-flops. Most important... your customers know that about your business.

You're probably a candidate to DIY your marketing videos.

Producing a video yourself will likely only lend to your kitschy reputation: The amateur nature of the video will be seen as fun and endearing.

Your videos are for social posts

If you're just producing short videos for social channels (e.g., Instagram) or doing a Facebook Live, it's totally fine to DIY those.

Your audiences in both cases aren't expecting a big production. You can get away with mistakes. As a matter of fact, many viewers will appreciate the raw, authentic-looking production.

There are plenty of social videos that deserve a more polished production, but something 30-seconds or less, or a live video, are in the DIY marketing video category.

But You Should Hire a Video Pro If...

You don't fall into those categories.

In that case, you should seriously consider hiring a pro.

  • An About Us video for your website? Hire a pro.
  • A product or service video you're planning for a landing page? Hire a pro.
  • A testimonial you're planning to use to close a sale? Hire a pro.

There are some good reasons for choosing professional video production.

Produce video better and faster

The first reason is that a video pro will produce a better video than you, and will probably do it in less time.

Video pros have dedicated their working lives to mastering their craft, just as you have with whatever you do for a living.

Protect your reputation

Maybe most important... your reputation is on the line.

I once had a CMO at a billion-dollar corporation ask me, "How can I sell my CEO on this when I know she's going to ask, 'Can't we just shoot this on one of our iPhones?'"

I picked up one of her business cards off her desk and said, "Wow, this is a really nice business card. I'm sure you just went down to Office Depot and bought the DIY Avery business cards, right?"

If you have an established business with a good reputation, why would you produce a subpar DIY video for all your potential customers to see?

A bad marketing video makes the entire company look bad. Don't DIY a video and risk tarnishing the reputation you worked so hard to build.

I know the process of finding the right production house can be tricky. There are a lot of them out there, which is why we created a Video Production Buyers Guide. It's everything you need to know about finding the right video company for you.

If You Decide You're Going to DIY Video...

OK, you're going to DIY your video. The last thing I want you doing is flying blind.

Let's give you some practical advice—some tidbits that will improve your project.

Let the robots do it

Maybe the best and least time consuming piece of advice is to find an AI business that can do it for you. There are some online options available to you to make it simple: Lumen5 is one, Raw Shorts is another.

You upload some photos or video, add text, and let the algorithm do the rest.

Don't sweat the camera too much

If you're going to shoot the video yourself, the camera is the least of your worries. The one in your pocket is fine. Yes, you can use your smartphone. It's better than the cameras I was using professionally 10 years ago.

Just a couple of simple tips:

  • First, if you're shooting a person on-camera (or yourself), think about how you shoot a selfie to take a flattering photo. You want the lens to be eye-height or slightly higher. Kim Kardashian knows what she's doing.
  • Second, make sure you're not including too much headroom. You want the top of the head almost butting up against the top of the screen.

 

Audio is worth investing in

The best way to recognize an amateur video from a pro video doesn't have anything to do with how the video looks. It's all about how the video sounds.

It's worth investing in a microphone. Even a cheap $20 mic is better than the one built into your camera or phone.

Lighting will give you away

The second easiest way to spot an amateur video is the lighting. If you don't have a separate video light attached to your camera or on a stand, get creative. The brighter the room the better.

If you're lighting an interview subject, grab a lamp and put it as close to that person as possible without seeing it in the frame. Or stick the interviewee in a window, but not with their back to it; that will put them in silhouette. Instead, make sure the outside light is shining in their face.

Focus on story and emotion

Don't just spout out stats. Video isn't about facts and figures. Video is about emotion.

Do your best to tell a story that's going to tap some sort of emotion. Leave your viewers feeling good about the business.

Wrapping Up

Video is an incredible marketing tool. You can use it to communicate a message, tap emotions, and build trust.

Following the video guidelines and tips in this article will put you on the path to creating better corporate and marketing videos.

More Resources on Video Production

How Much Does a Video Cost to Produce? [Infographic]

Four Tips for Building a Realistic Video Production Timeline

How to Make Product Videos That Actually Drive Sales

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions and the author of Lights, Camera, Impact. He's a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, and he has led T60 Productions to 18 Telly Awards for corporate videos.

LinkedIn: Tony Gnau