By Steve Dorst
Creative Director, Z-Channel Films, Los Angeles Google+
What’s the most important peice of equipment you can have for creating a corporate video that meets the business goals of your client?
Not a camera.
Not editing software.
It’s those high-tech appendages attached to the side of your head—ears.
Achieving business goals through video production starts with listening. This was our first step with Conserve LandCare, a landscape maintenance company that engaged us to make a video for their newly redesigned website.
Based outside Los Angeles in Palm Springs, California, Conserve LandCare provides comprehensive landscape services for property managers, homeowner associations, and public agencies throughout the Coachella Valley and San Bernardino county.
We quickly learned that Conserve was starting at essentially zero. Despite impressive growth, they had yet to include any videos in their marketing arsenal and lacked video across social media platforms. As tempting as it was to jump straight into writing a script and firing up the cameras, we knew that approach wasn’t going to help achieve their business goals.
Instead, we asked questions and then listened. This is how we prefer to start a video production. We listen to how the client describes their business. What are they all about? What is their story? Then we learn about their business goals. What do they want a video to achieve?
This skillset has nothing to do with video production. It involves some alchemy of empathy, intellect, and business acumen. Call it whatever you want—discovery, onboarding, or pre-production—just give it the time it deserves because building trust at this stage is a make-or-break endeavor.
Once we answer these questions, we design a video campaign that helps a company achieve its business and marketing goals. In the case of Conserve LandCare, that meant recommending our full suite of corporate video production services. Since they lacked a video presence, they stood to benefit from a campaign that could not only create a carefully crafted video for them, but also establish a presence for their company on social media platforms, most importantly YouTube, which is the second most-trafficked website in the world and owned by Google.
What they did have, we learned, was a loyal customer base. This is perfect for an additional component of our services—video testimonials from existing customers. What better way to attract new customers than with votes of confidence from enthusiastic long-time clients? Many companies have recognized the power of third-party validators and include written testimonials on their websites. Our video production services go a significant step further by turning those testimonials into video, which are even more powerful persuasion pieces.
We pitched Conserve Landcare our suite of video production services and demonstrated how it could lead to more conversions than a video by itself. They were excited about the wraparound strategy and long-term engagement our package would bring. We agreed to move forward.
Time was short to meet their website launch, but we knew that by taking the time to get to know their business and goals, we could build a firm foundation and save time on the back end.
Next up: script, right? Not just yet.
First you need to know your client’s target audience. Without that knowledge, your corporate video, no matter how beautiful and cinematic, is likely to miss the mark.
Our initial discussions with Conserve Landcare allowed us to hone in on their target audience. Actually, we took it a step further and defined a very specific individual. (See this great tutorial by Alexander Cowan on how to use customer personas in your product development and marketing.)
We identified Conserve Landcare’s typical client as female, works as a property manager, and puts a big premium on top-quality work that is accompanied by proactive, responsive service. Cowan recommends in his tutorial that you think of this typical client as an actual person and give them a name. And so was born … “Property Manager Pam.”
Once we had Property Manager Pam by our side, then we could start scripting. Knowing exactly who we were trying to engage made the process move quickly. It’s no accident that that the first few lines of our script emphasize “client relationships,” “trusted partner,” “incentive to be proactive,” and “responsiveness to your needs.” That stemmed directly from our customer persona work.
Once we locked the script in along with the storyboards, it was finally drive out to Palm Springs and unleash our video production gear.
When it comes to equipment, we are hardly gear nuts—although we’re perfectly comfortable working with the latest and greatest video production technology (check out our feature documentary shot in 4K RAW on the Red Epic). For us, what’s important is which tools will help us best tell the story. If an iPhone is the ideal tool for the job, we won’t hesitate to use it. For this shoot, we had a lot of locations to cover in a short period of time. So that meant we needed production gear that struck a balance between being high-quality and being nimble.
We determined our main camera would be the Sony FS7. This a newer camera capable of shooting 4K. Even in 2K, the images are beautiful. But what we like best about this camera is its great dynamic range (14 stops) and Slog function that allows us to color correct in a fast post-production workflow that yields premium results.
The aerial shots were imperative, since Conserve Landcare maintains huge homeowners’ associations and public lands. Showing that expanse was essential. In the brand video, the epic closing shot of the three parallel lawnmowers is from about 200 feet.
For three beautiful, sunny days, we moved around the Palm Springs area chronicling some of the company’s best work.
In the end, we met the deadline and delivered: (1) a brand video, (2) three testimonials, (3) a professionalized YouTube channel, and (4) a detailed social media plan.
The testimonial videos are great endorsements that are simple to execute. Because they are so authentic and personal, they are credible and effective. You only need to do a quick trip onto Yelp, Trip Advisor, or AirBnB to see how third-party validation is a currency unto itself.
In creating Conserve Landcare’s YouTube channel, we followed our typical 20-point audit for ensuring they got it all—the channel trailer, prioritized playlists, keyword-rich titles and descriptions, tags, and a branded banner with links to key destinations. All this, plus now they had a free platform for hosting their current and future videos and guaranteed future-proof playback.
The social media plan is the exciting part. Sometimes companies invest in a video, but only put it in one or two places. Our video production plan helps them feature their video across social media platforms and get it in front of their target market.
We are excited to see how our video and distribution solutions for Conserve Landcare will help them grow. Working on projects like this with outstanding companies like Conserve Landcare is, for us, professionally rewarding. We enjoy working to transform a growing company’s limited video branding into something that everybody can be proud of.
For more examples of our video solutions for businesses in the Los Angeles area, see our corporate video production page.