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The Three Questions Every Content Creator Should Be Asking

By Alex Enman of Bottle Tree Pictures

The demand for video content has never been higher. Fast internet speeds have made video content a pre-requisite to digital communication – with platforms and applications as varied as the people making them. The video landscape is more crowded than ever, and making your video stand out is key to getting the engagement you’re looking for. Too often I see both newcomers and old pros fall into the same pitfalls of production. There’s a lot more to keeping a project on the rails than getting the lighting right – but that doesn’t hurt to do, either. I’ve found that these three questions have been helpful in keeping a production team aligned, on track, and ambitious.

1. Why are we making this?

This one seems obvious, and it should – but you’d be surprised how often marketers don’t have a good answer for this question. Often I hear answers like “we were assigned a video project,” “we needed video for social media,” and “everyone else is doing it.” Those are all fair reasons to make videos – but they can’t be the reason to make this video. I’ve found that setting a goal for your product is key, and keeping that goal in mind throughout is paramount to a good campaign. The goal could be as specific or broad as you’d like – but beware, the broader the topic the more difficult it might be to express in a visual narrative.

Goals might include:

  • Advertise a product or program.
  • Create awareness of a Brand.
  • Engage with the Audience.
  • Demo a New Feature.

The possibilities are endless – but give your video a thesis in the earliest stages, and drill down from there.

2. Who is this for?

Again, duh, right? You’d be surprised. Depending on content, a video can have as broad or narrow an audience as desired. Keep in mind, the broader the audience, the more difficult it may be to talk about specific aspects of your product. Say you want to make a video that shows off your company’s new web security protocols – if the audience is the general public, your approach will be far different from a video who’s target includes professional security analysts. A video that serves both won’t work. Drill down on your audience, what you want to say to them, and write copy accordingly. Things to avoid include industry talk/jargon, but also an overall tone and perspective mismatch. Put yourself in their shoes. Engaging friends and family members in early cuts is always a great way to gauge impact.

3. What’s the plan?

This is the most obvious of all three, but certainly the most ignored. Making an air tight plan in pre-production is the first step toward a successful shoot. Planing a hitch-proof production is the first step toward a smooth edit and delivery. It’s during the execution that people tend to lose vision – altering the project bit by bit as it proceeds, getting sidetracked and hung up on details. Allowing for improvisation and controlled chaos has always been a great ingredient in movie magic – but know what you can get away with, and what you can’t. Don’t write checks your editor can’t cash, and don’t change the goal of your product in the end stages. Too often have I had clients re-writing scripts in the edit suite, ditching graphics packages, and re-purposing products for different goals than they had set out to accomplish. Make a good plan, and stick to it. The tricky part is knowing what to plan for.

To learn more about the ever changing world of Video, I encourage you to attend my upcoming seminar with SMPS Boston on March 4, 2020. We’ll be going over the basics of video creation with a wholistic, actionable approach – with tips and workflows for both newcomers and seasoned professionals.


Alex Enman is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Bottle Tree Pictures. Alex has worked in the video industry for over ten years, getting his start as an editor and colorist. Since then, he’s done everything from camera engineering, live directing, concert videography, project consulting, and set design. He plays 5 instruments and is an aspiring painter. You can find him in the Bottle Tree office spinning records while cutting footage.

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