Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dear Clients. Please make fewer films.

It’s been two weeks since my last blog. That’s not how I planned it, oh no.  I could blame trips to Chicago and Dallas (what – they don’t have wifi in Chicago)? I could blame family life (what about those wasted hours between four and six am?).

Fact is, I just got busy and failed to make the time.

So my plan to create blog every week failed somewhat.  Still – I hope you’re still here, ready to read and ready to learn something. 

I’ve been working on what we might call “bread & butter” projects recently.  Where our skills as storyteller are called upon to describe the benefits of some solution or other. Even though we make lots of this type of film, it never ceases to amaze me how little planning goes into it, and how disconnected from the bottom line they often are.

When a client asks for a short video they often seem to feel that just because we see a person (a senior person) speaking the words, those words become magically imbued with the capacity to make people sit up and listen. That somehow their customers are waiting by the phone wishing someone would talk to them about that next special thing / approach / technology. Guess what.

They don’t care.

Sorry to burst the bubble – but they really don’t care.  So to get noticed, let alone followed, you’ve got to be imaginative with the programme making.  Video and film are great at getting people to feel something, so why do we rely on it so much as a carrier of basic information.  So many managers just point and shoot, and collate the data (the words) hope for the best. So what can we do to fix this?

1.         Connect it to a need.  Make sure that you have an idea that solves a problem for a customer.  Removes some pain. Addresses a real issue – not one you think they have. Avoid solutions looking for problems.

2.         Act like a journalist.  Find the compelling story. Dig up that wow moment. If it’s a neat solution, discuss the “reveal” of that light-bulb moment.

3.         Make it memorable. Find a metaphor, or a relevant environment you can leverage to get cool visuals. Avoid beige offices.

4.         Make it intimate. STOP making executives learn stuff and regurgitate it in front of the camera. Have them get passionate about the solution.

5.         Have a plan. Instead of simply hoovering up everything you can think of during a shoot, concentrate on really nailing that compelling argument. Stop listing everything you can think of just because you can’t decide on which is the USP. That’s like buying everything in the store because you can’t decide on what to have for dinner.  It’s expensive and distracts you from the key message.

So – my point is:
Make fewer films, save the budgets to make better films. Concentrate budgets on creating breakaway successes and not dull, contractually obliged “stuff”.  If you must simply point and shoot to record something, then learn to do it in house. It will save you a fortune. 

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