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How-To Produce Better DIY Marketing Videos

If you’re a marketer who hasn’t embraced video and everything it can do for a company or brand, what’s the hang-up? Cost? Sure, video does have the potential to break the budget, but there are also plenty of ways to create low cost videos including DIY marketing videos.

Will wonders never cease?! A video producer advocating DIY videos?! Yup, although, I do have some special criteria before I grant you permission to create your own videos:

  • If you have zero marketing budget or you’re a start-up
  • If you are a kitschy company and your customers/clients know this about you
  • If you’re producing short videos for social media like Facebook Live or Instagram

Let’s break down and then I’ll give you some solid tips on how to improve the look and feel of your DIY videos.

Zero Marketing Budget

Whether you’re a part of a small business or a start-up just getting off the ground, I know there are plenty of companies out there that don’t have much of a marketing budget. In many cases, you don’t have a single dollar advocated toward marketing.

While I think everyone should be thinking about marketing and willing to at least spend something on it, that’s a topic for another day. However, if this is the position you find yourself in, by all means create your own videos.

Create a basic “About Us” video. Take people behind the scenes of your company and show what you do everyday and how you do it. Introduce the people working at the company.

There are all sorts of videos that can help market your business.

Kitschy Company

If a lot of people at the company wear t-shirts and jeans to work… you might work at a kitschy company. If you have a ping-pong table or video game center at the office and people use them… you might work at a kitschy company. If the release of a new Star Wars movie warrants a day-off, you might work at a kitschy company. (FYI… that one happens to be true at T60)

Kitschy companies get a special pass when it comes to DYI marketing videos. They can get away with videos that look less polished because they can chalk it up to their company culture.

They don’t have to worry about ruining their reputation with an amateur-looking video. Their customers just know this is who they are, and they love that about them.

Facebook Live and Instagram

No, you don’t have to hire a video pro to produce live and short social media videos. These are videos that in many cases are meant to be less polished.

The appeal of live videos are that they’re happening right now, not that you have perfect lighting. The appeal of a short social media post is providing a snippet, not an in-depth or intricate story.

DIY is just fine in these circumstances.

Doing Better DIY Marketing Videos

Now, for those you ready to take-on a DIY marketing video project, I have some practical tips for you to follow.

  1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. One of my mom’s favorite expressions is perfect for this first time. Don’t do too much, keep it simple. You may have the tools to produce a  video (smart phone or DSLR camera, editing software), but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert at using them. It takes dedication and years of experience to hone your skills as a videographer and editor. Especially if you’re a newbie, I recommend starting with some basic videos. A vlog is a great place to start. Simply put someone on-camera and have them talk about their views on subjects facing your industry, and maybe how your company is handling them. These videos are easy to shoot and edit.
  2. The dead giveaway of an amateur production… bad lighting, bad sound, and a shaky camera. You probably don’t have a video light kit. That’s okay. If you’re shooting a vlog or an interview-style shot, move a regular lamp in front of the subject, just out of frame. No lamp? Position them in front of a window so the natural light is on their face. The idea is don’t rely on the overhead lights in the room.
  3. Next, let’s address the sound issue. The microphone on your smartphone is… okay at best. The build-in mic on DSLRs… terrible. Do yourself a big favor and buy an inexpensive lapel microphone that you can plug into the camera and clip on your subject.
  4. Another worthwhile investment is a tripod. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you want a nice stable platform for your camera. You can always look for ways to prop-up your camera on things you have available, but once you do… hands-off! Try not to touch the camera while it’s recording.
  5. Speaking of setting-up the camera… try not to leave too much headroom. There can be a little space between the top of the frame and the subject’s head, but just a little. Even chopping-off a tad of the top of their head is preferred to a big gap. Also, position them in the frame slightly off-center, and for crying out loud… NO VERTICAL VIDEO! Video screens are horizontal, so if you’re using a smartphone turn it on its side while you shoot video. The only exception… if you’re shooting for a platform like SnapChat that encourages vertical video.

One Last Thing

Finally, temper your expectations and have patience. Shooting and editing will probably take you longer than anticipated. Don’t sweat it… this isn’t your expertise. The more you do it, the more efficient you’ll get at the process.

And remember, your DIY marketing video is not going to measure-up to the professional corporate videos you’ve seen. It just isn’t, so don’t hold yourself to that standard.

Finally, if you’re not happy with what you’ve put together, find yourself a pro to produce it for you. It might cost you less than you think. Companies like ours are willing to take on small budget projects. We even have a specific process for producing high quality, low cost videos called 3-Step Storytelling.

The Home Stretch

These tips will certainly help your production, but chances are you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking a pro produced them. As long as you fall into my DIY criteria stated above… that’s totally fine. Don’t try to fool them. Own the fact that you DIY your videos.

Better to own it, than have people think you’re trying to be something you’re not.

So… what are you waiting for?!

Is It A Good Time To Be A Marketer?

Experience Inbound… what a great conference! For those of you who attended, I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. For those of you who are, like, what’s Experience Inbound? It was a two-day, two-city marketing conference in Wisconsin (at Lambeau Field and Miller Park, cool, right?!) that I had the pleasure of speaking at last week.

I did put together a little video (below). Sam Mallikarjunan from HubSpot inspired it when he talked about scaring us with the first half of his presentation and then giving us hope in the second half.

I’m a half-full type of guy, so the second half rang true for me. Which is why for the video, I pulled aside some of my fellow speakers and asked them a simple question: is it a good time to be a marketer? I hope you enjoy their answers.

My Biggest Takeaways

Sam Mallikarjunan (HubSpot) – a couple of things hit me with Sam’s presentation. The whole notion of asking yourself what’s the thing I do that someone else couldn’t do without adopting the same cost structure. That totally got me thinking about my business! Also, when he talked about when you’re good at keeping customers, you have money to acquire more customers.

Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media Studios) – I’m lucky to call this guy a friend. I’ve see Andy speak about eight times, and I aways come away with something new. Selfishly, I LOVED that he told everyone that a video testimonial is the best conversion tool out there. Cha-ching! :-) Things he talked about that I’ll now be checking on my company site… counting the number of unsupported marketing claims we make, as well as keeping in mind the idea of structuring pages using prominence, promise, and proof.

Britney Muller (Moz) – SEO talks make my head spin sometimes. It’s crazy how quickly things are changing out there. I’m always looking for tools to help with SEO and digital marketing in general, so I loved that Britney gave us some good ones. I’ve been starting to dabble in Facebook ads, so when she mentioned AdEspresso it totally got my attention!

Content Goodies

Finally, for anyone who attended my presentation on video storytelling, or for those of you who missed it (for shame!), don’t forget about the resources page I put together for you. There’s some helpful stuff there for anyone interested in video marketing!

Tapping Emotions In Marketing Videos

Tapping Emotions In Marketing VideosOne of the biggest mistakes businesses make when producing videos is thinking they’re buying a communication tool to convey information. They’re not. What they’re really getting is a tool they can use to influence emotions in marketing strategies.

The Hard Truth For Many Business Leaders

Video isn’t about facts and figures. It’s about emotion. Sure, videos communicate information, but  information is often secondary to feelings.

Think about it. Consider the best marketing videos you’ve seen. Can you recall many facts and figures? Probably not.

Now think about those videos again. How did they make you feel? I’m guessing this is a much easier exercise. You might remember laughing or even shedding a tear. Maybe they just made you smile and feel good.

That’s why business leaders need to focus their videos more on emotion than information. It’s more likely people are going to walk away with an impression than facts, so let’s make sure we leave them with a good impression by using emotion.

Here is a hierarchy of emotion marketing videos can use to influence viewers.


Laughter goes at the top of my list, but you could make a strong argument for crying as well. In many cases, it might depend on what a business or organization does dictates this.

The reason I put it at the top is because a funny video is maybe the most shareable video. Remember, we want people to watch, so the more eyeballs we attract the better.

Sounds easy, right? We’ll just make a funny video, get tons of views, make people feel good about our business, and boom… sales will follow!

The trick is getting people to laugh. It isn’t easy. This is actually one of the hardest things to accomplish when producing a video.

Also, a video intended to be funny that isn’t can actually be a detriment to the company. It makes you look silly. The exception is something kitschy, that’s intended to be silly.

Ways To Use Humor

Regardless, you have a couple of options… come up with a really funny video concept or look for funny moments that happen organically during the shoot.

If you go the concept route, please keep this in mind. Always stay focused on your audience. This is a good rule of thumb for any video, but especially one intended to be funny.

Ask yourself what will our viewers think is funny? A lot of businesses create videos that might be hilarious internally, but not so much outside the company. This doesn’t help you. Always put the audience first.

Another way to go about it is to simply look for funny moments that just sort of happen while you’re shooting. In this case, you’re not necessarily going out of your way to create a funny video. You’re just leaving yourself open to include something that happens.

I’ll never forget shooting an event video for Goose Island Beer Company in Chicago. The company was hosting a big party during at the Craft Brewers Conference and wanted us to create a video to share afterward.

They told us, just make it fun and exciting, so that’s the emotion we were going for. As we were shooting them prepping the event space, someone was tapping a keg and it sprayed all over him. He was embarrassed, but we had a wireless mic on him and he said something like, “At least it tastes good.”

I’m sure a lot of producers would have left it out. It was after all a “mistake,” and you don’t want to highlight a customer’s mistakes, right?

Wrong. It was funny and we included it in the video toward the beginning. Everyone I’ve shown that video to chuckles when it happens and comments on it. It was a perfect, organically funny moment that set the stage that this video is fun.

Keeping an eye out for funny moments like this can do a lot to help your videos.


I often tell people I’m in one of the few professions where we celebrate making people cry. That goes for both participants and viewers. If you have an emotional story to tell that can tie back to your business in some way… do it. Do it now. It will endear people to your company or organization.

The key in most cases is getting someone to cry on-camera coupled with professional storytelling. That’s your winning formula.

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is one of our customers. They have emotional stories in spades and use them as effective marketing and fundraising tools.

Even so… it usually takes an experienced producer to get someone to cry on-camera, and then weave a story to elicit tears from the audience. If you shop around for a production crew, ask to see some of their emotional work to see if they’re a good fit for you.


Now we’re getting into territory that’s easier to navigate. Getting people to laugh or cry… tough, very tough. Surprising people… much easier.

Surprise is one of the best ways to get people to reengage in your video. Just when they think they know where it’s going, you hit them with a surprise that catches their attention.

It doesn’t have to be anything major. Shock is great it you can achieve that, but I’m perfectly happy with a mild surprise. Anything that catches viewers off-guard and makes them think, hmmm, I didn’t see that coming.

In some cases, it might be a tidbit of information. What do you do differently than your competition? How is your widget different than other widgets? These are common things that can be used as surprises.


Most of our customers fall into this category. They’ll tell us all the great things they do at their business or organization, and it all boils down to one thing. They want their audience to feel good about them. They want viewers to walk away from watching their videos feeling confident they’ll get the job done… and done well.

The good news here… this is probably the most achievable of the emotions we’ve discussed.

Show people what you do. Take them behind the scenes. Be as authentic as possible. Tell a good story. Use music to set the tone.

All of these things will help you produce a video that inspires confidence.

Using Emotions In Marketing Videos Works

I’ll state it again… it’s kind of my mantra… video isn’t about facts and figures. Video is about emotion. Focus on creating videos that tap viewers’ emotions, and you’ll have marketing tools that endear people to your business.

Chicago Video Production Buyer’s Guide

Chicago Video Production Buyers GuideTips for Planning a Video Shoot Around Chicago… or Anywhere Else!

Picking a Chicago video production company can be a tricky proposition. First, there are a ton of them to choose from. Second, it can be difficult telling them apart. Finally, many don’t list even ballpark prices at their website. That drives me nuts, but more on that later.

I’d like to make it simple on you and say, “Hire Us! Your mission is accomplished.” But that’s just lousy advice. Not because we aren’t good at what we do… we’re actually pretty awesome. No, the reason why is it’s important to shop around and pick the right production company for the right project.

Difference In Production Companies?

Not all production houses are created the same, or equal for that matter, which is why it’s important to find the right fit.

For example, if you need a big production… think lots of lights, multiple videographers and sound technicians, maybe a drone or a crane to get some cool shots… yeah… a crane. Not every production company can pull that off.

On the other hand, let’s say you want a small production crew… or a single videographer… for something that would be less disruptive to daily operations? Maybe you need a company with a strong emphasis on storytelling? That same company that handled the big shoot might not be right for those videos.

If only there was a handy-dandy guide that could help you make sense of all of this. Well, that’s what we aim to do.

First Step: Watch and Listen

Start Googling… every company you look at should have sample work at its website. Check out its previous work.

Insiders Tip:  if they have a single “sample reel” of their work… don’t bother watching. It’s a highlight reel. How’s that going to help you? Instead, watch the client work they’ve posted. We have more guidelines in a previous vlog post if you need more help (Tips For Picking A Video Company).

Also, have they produced a video about themselves telling their own story? What? They haven’t? So a company that produces videos for other organizations doesn’t see the value in producing one on itself? Seems… weird… doesn’t it?

Second Step: Vetting

The next step is vetting them. Who are their clients? The Fortune 500 or mom-and-pop shops? Are their businesses or brands that appear to be the same size as yours? Any that are in related industries?

One of the main things you’ll to want to know is cost. This is going to take some leg work… or at least some time on the phone.

I’m with you… this drive me crazy. Why don’t production companies list their prices!? As someone who started his own production company, let me fill you in. Every project is different, so it’s tough to publish a price list.

However, just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We manage to post our ballpark prices… even how to figure out video production costI wish more companies would do this for you, but many (most) don’t. That means picking up the phone and asking questions.

Here are some good ones:

  • What will it cost? Tell them what you have in mind for your video and ask how much it will cost. They’ll ask you some questions and should be able to give you some sort of an idea on pricing.

Insider’s Tip: ask them if it’s a fixed cost, or is it possible things will change during production. We’ve had lots of clients burned by other companies in the past because they thought the price in the contract was fixed, but during the production process things were added (more shooting days, special equipment, additional personnel, etc.) all driving up cost without them knowing. Make sure it’s a fixed cost, or the production crew will notify you of any additional costs before they happen.

Another option is to work backwards. Give them your budget and ask what they can do for that amount. I know, a lot of people don’t like to do this because they don’t want to pay more than they have to. I get it, but this method will often get you a more accurate picture of what you get for your money. Also, if you’re shopping around, you’ll be able to compare between companies.

  • Once you have a price, ask them what that gets you. How big of a crew? How many hours will they spend on it?
  • Will they help with content ideas? What about help with storytelling? Some production houses are just that… they’re all about the production and only the production. If you’re providing all the direction on content, this might be fine with you. But if you need a little help, it’s good to know upfront if they can provide some creative ideas.
  • What is their video production process? How long will it take? Every company has a different way of doing things. Find out how each of them works.
  • Are revisions included? Once the video has been edited, it’s important to know if you can make changes. Sometimes making changes costs more. 

Last Step: Get a Written Proposal

Okay… you’ve looked at a bunch of videos and like a particular company’s style. You’re okay with their price estimate and their production process. Now you need a formal proposal.

What you’ll receive will likely put into writing what they’ve told you over the phone. Hopefully, it will also include more details on things like how much time is devoted to each aspect of the production.

Once you sign-off on that, get a contract, sign, and you’re off and running!

You’ve Selected Your Chicago Video Production Company

I hope all of this didn’t sound too daunting. It really shouldn’t be now that you have this trusted guide.

The best part… once you’ve picked the right Chicago video production company for you, it’s time to actually produce the video. And producing videos is fun.

Can’t Have A Successful Marketing Video Without This

Can't Have A Successful Marketing Video Without ThisMarketing videos are fun. Lights, camera, action!… exciting, right? At the end of production, businesses are left with something awesome. A tool they can use to help sell, to build enthusiasm for a brand, improve team morale… there are many uses.

However, the problem some business leaders face is they forget that making the video is only part of the process. Lights, camera, action is fun, but there are other things that need to be done along the way. Steps that need to be taken, questions that need to be asked, to turn that video into a success.

In my initial meeting with clients I ask questions like: What’s your goal for the video? How do you plan to promote the video?

You’d be surprised how many people haven’t considered those questions. They might have considered video production cost, but not what they’ll need for ROI.

Video is simply a marketing tactic. A very good marketing tactic, but a tactic nonetheless. It needs to be a part of a broader marketing strategy to make it a true success. And within that strategy, you have to have a plan for your video(s).

Video needs to be a part of a broader marketing strategy to make it a true success. Click To TweetThe following are some pre and post-production video marketing basics with insights from pros who know what it takes to produce successful videos. The experts weigh in on two things you should do before you start the production process (set goals and find a story to tell) and two things you should do when editing is complete (promote and track).

gini-dietrich1 (1)Gini Dietrich | Founder, Spin Sucks

Why is it important to set goals for videos? What are some of the goals you’ve seen used for videos that have been helpful?

I’ll give you an example: We have a client that has 20 executives around the globe. They were all together about a year ago and the chief marketing officer wanted to get them on video, but she didn’t have a reason for doing so. She just wanted to ask them all a list of questions, but had no idea what the end product would look like. And, though we tried to bring some planning to it, she ignored our counsel and went forward with a set of 15 questions for each executive.

Today we have all of that content, but nothing to do with it because there wasn’t a plan in advance. I’m sure we’ll be able to edit it into smaller pieces eventually, but a year later, we’re still struggling with what to do with it.

Always have a plan. Set goals. Don’t create 15 questions for 20 people. But do know what you want to achieve.

In many cases, the goals are simple: Create a link between our employees and our vision or connect our vision to our external audiences. Because 65 percent of human beings are visual learners—and because of the gigantic rush to do live video right now—it’s pretty easy to see why you’d want to use video. Figure out what you want to achieve with it.

Perhaps it’s to build loyalty and pride among your employees. Maybe it’s to provide a charismatic executive a platform for thought leadership. Or it could be a way to connect employees and customers globally without the advantage of meeting in person. There are many ways to think about how to use video.

In this case, I would posit the question, “If you could create anything—budget withstanding—what would it be?” Then work from there.

robRob Biesenbach | Communications Consultant, Author, Speaker

Many business leaders are all about facts and figures, but the power of video lies with tapping people’s emotions. Explain why telling a good story is more important in a video than loading a it with stats.

Stories stick, statistics don’t. It’s that simple. The authors of Made to Stick found in one study that stories are at least six times stickier than statistics. In particular, a story that has emotional resonance (appealing to hope, pride, frustration) will make a bigger impact, linger in people’s minds and provoke them to act.

I’ve seen this firsthand countless times in my client work. A CEO who was addressing a group of discontented employees about the changes sweeping the company stuck to the facts and data and almost sparked a rebellion. A few minutes later with another group he told a story about his love for the company and pride in its heritage and products, and the mood of the room turned around 180 degrees.

The same effect can be achieve on video.

aliciaAlicia Olsen | Founder, Olsen Marketing Solutions

Many people produce a video, upload it to YouTube and think they’re done. Tell us about the importance of promotion.

As Tony said, it is common for people to create a video, upload it to YouTube, perhaps put it on their website, and then think they are done from a marketing standpoint. But just like any marketing strategy (blog, case study, website, or in this case, video), it’s not enough simply to create the marketing piece. You also need to make sure your target audience (your target customers) see it. Here are some ideas for ways to promote a new marketing video:

  • Place it prominently on your website: This should usually include the home page, but also any other pages where it is relevant, such as an About Us page, Testimonials page, Services page, etc.

  • Use your social media channels: Again, you shouldn’t just share it once on your Facebook page and be done. Make a plan to share your new video multiple times across your social networks when it’s new, and also remember to periodically share it when it’s not new anymore for those who didn’t see it the first time. Consider opportunities to put a video on a social page longer term, such as the ability to add media to your LinkedIn profile or the option to pin posts to the top of your Facebook page.

  • Incorporate your video into other marketing initiatives: Once you have a corporate marketing video, it’s a great opportunity to use within other marketing initiatives and campaigns. You could put it in your newsletter, include in a prospecting email campaign, use as part of a digital advertising campaign, include in your latest blog, put a link in your email signature or many other possibilities to make it a part of your company’s overall marketing plan.

andyAndy Crestodina | Co-Founder, Orbit Media Studios

When it comes to evaluating a video’s effectiveness, most people simply look at how many views it gets. What are some analytics that are a better judge for how a video is performing?

Great question! Here are a few more data points that should give you better insights into the performance of a given video.

  • Attention Span: Depending on where it is hosted/streamed from, you should get a report that shows how much time the average viewer watched the video. Longer attention spans mean a more engaged viewer

  • Time on Page: Assuming the video is embedded on a web page, the video should keep the visitor around for longer. Adding a video should increase the time on page.

  • unnamedShares: Was the page with the video shared? How many times?

  • Rank: Does the video rank in YouTube or in Google search results? If so, how high?

  • Page Value: If the video is on a sales page, it should help build trust and increase the likelihood that a viewer converts into a lead. If goals are given a dollar value in Analytics, then the value of the page to the process of converting visitors is right there in the “All Pages” report. Adding a compelling video should increase the Page Value for the page.

I love it when everyone at a business gets excited about a new video or video series. They should! It’s fun. What makes the fun last post-production is having a video that works.

A video that makes the audience feel good about your company. A video that drives traffic. A video that helps you sell.

–Tony Gnau

Building Your Marketing Strategy Foundation

Building Your Marketing Strategy FoundationCreating a marketing video is fun. It’s fun because at the end of the video production process you have something tangible and exciting to share. Even better… it’s a marketing tactic that checks all the boxes you need for your marketing strategy foundation.

This is something that occurred to me recently as I listened to one of our clients speak about branding at a Wisconsin Business Owners luncheon. It’s kind of funny because he wasn’t a client at the time but has since become one after I met him that day.

Rob Grede is a marketing veteran and the author of Naked Marketing. I actually happened upon his book in a local book store over the weekend and it made me reflect on what he talked about on the day we met.

A Solid Marketing Strategy Foundation

Rob talked about three things we need to do in business to create a sound marketing foundation… create awareness, establish credibility, and maintain the brand. I love hearing that because video happens to be a great tactic for all three.

If you have PR or marketing experience, you understand the power of video. It allows a company to tap emotions and earn trust, and here’s how you can put video to work for each of those three pillars.

Create Awareness

Video is great for grabbing attention. Research shows us that people’s eyes are drawn to video on a website. Email campaigns are more effective when they include a link to a video. And video is the social media share king. So if creating awareness is important for you, video is the way to go.

It can be done with a single video, or you can use the Star Wars video marketing strategy and create multiple videos. Use them to launch a new business, product, service, brand… just about anything.

Do you have an existing brand you’d like to highlight? Maybe a product or service that’s been around a while but needs some marketing love? Video can help you refocus attention on it.

Establish Credibility

Creating a video is a great way to establish credibility because it can do something the written word and photos just can’t do. It allows viewers (i.e. prospects) to see what you do and how you do it.

You can write about your business all you want… you can add photos… but it pails in comparison to showing people in a video.

Mrs. G and I are currently getting bids on remodeling our kitchen. A salesman came by the other day and talked about their construction process. All I could think about is how much easier and credible it would have been if he had a video to show us how they do things.

Take it a step further. It’s one thing for you to talk about your business. What if your prospects could hear from your current customers?

Enter the video testimonial. We all know how valuable a testimonial can be. Real people telling your prospects how you helped solve their problem.

Gold. It’s hard to top that when you’re trying to establish credibility.

Maintain the Brand

Okay… you’ve done the heavy lifting and established a solid brand. Congrats… but your work isn’t complete because now you have to figure out how to remain on top.

This is one of the often overlooked benefits of video. The more people watch, the more they trust.

Trust… one of the things marketers covet the most. It’s so highly valued we now have Edelman’s Trust Barometer. This is a big reason I often advocate for a video series instead of producing one giant video.

Videos grow on people the more they watch. Each time they click on a new video, they’re alloing you into their lives. They’re growing more and more familiar with you and your business. They’re beginning to trust what you have to say.

Think about TV news anchors. Most people who watch TV news grow attached to their favorite anchors. Why? They don’t know them personally.

The reason why is because they watch night in and night out. The anchor becomes a familiar face, a trusted voice. They might not know them, but they feel like they do. Businesses can use this phenomena to their advantage while maintaining a brand.

Homework time… think about some of your favorite brands right now. When you’re done here, head to the brand’s YouTube channel and check out what’s going on there.

I’m confident they’ll have a YouTube channel because any major brand worth its salt is producing videos.
And that’s the point, isn’t it? Corporate America knows what a valuable tool video can be to maintain a brand, so it has incorporated the tactic into its marketing strategy.

Summing Things Up

Creating awareness, establishing credibility, and maintaining the brand can be a great starter strategy for any business wanting to improve on its marketing. They’re three legs to a stool that will provide a solid foundation for a business.

It’s nice to know there’s a terrific tactic that you can pair with each of the pillars.

–Tony Gnau

Picking The Right Music For Your Videos

Picking The Right Music For Your VideoOne of the biggest production mistakes you can make is picking the wrong music for your videos. From the type of music to the mood it might elicit, there are all sorts of things that need to be considered when selecting a song… no matter what type of video you’re producing.

Is music even necessary?

First thing’s first, and it’s something many people don’t consider at all. Does the video even need music. That’s right. Not every video must have a music bed.

The main reason to use music is to set a mood. If you’re really focused on the content and less about mood, you might not want any music.

Next, if you have decided to move forward and use music, there are some things to consider.

The right music taps emotion

You can use music to manipulate the way people feel about what they’re watching. I don’t mean that in a sinister way. Just that your choice of song will tap into viewers’ emotions.

Pick an upbeat and happy song and you’ve put people on the path to feeling the same way about your content. Select a song that’s serious and sobering and viewers will expect that from your video.

Think about your subject matter and the way you want people to feel about it. That can help guide you when you’re looking for the right music.

Consider your viewers

Another consideration is the audience. Think about them and the type of music that’s going to catch their attention. The music you select for an older audience should be different than the music you select for a younger audience. There could be a difference in what you pick depending on whether your target audience is mostly men or women.

The main thing to avoid is simply picking the music that appeals to you. Think about your audience and their needs before your own.

Don’t pick this type of music for your videos

Speaking of things to avoid, here’s probably the biggest one… popular music. Many people like to incorporate popular music into their videos, but I’m not a fan and there are a couple reasons why.

  • You don’t own the rights. The song might be “perfect” for your video, but you can’t just pick any song you like. You have to have the rights to use it. Now, you can often buy the rights, but that’s an expensive proposition when it comes to popular music.
  • Popular music is too close to people’s hearts. Even if you didn’t have to worry about rights, music makes a strong impression on people. If you choose a song they’re familiar with, they’ll likely stop processing what they’re seeing in your video and start thinking about that song. I hate that song… I love that song… I remember where I was the first time I heard that song. These are all things they might be thinking about instead of paying attention to your content.

Bottom line, stick to royalty-free music from sites like (my personal favorite) or even the free music you can get from YouTube’s audio library.

Wrapping it all up

I love what music can do for a production. It can take mediocre content and make it more appealing. It can take good material and make it great. Finally, the right music can take great content and make it something that connects with an audience on a personal level.

So… don’t make it an afterthought. Keep it in mind through the production process. Make sure you select the right song for your video.

–Tony Gnau

Authentic PR Message Surprise

Image Courtesy:


I’ve learned a lot about public relations from reading Spin Sucks, both the blog and the book. One of the lessons that has come through loud and clear is how important it is to deliver an authentic PR message. Which is why a recent phone call from Gini Dietrich was so surprising.

First thing’s first. I don’t work for a PR agency. I’m not even in PR, although in a way I am. I’m a video producer. I get called when PR agents need video storytelling for their clients. Gini is the CEO of Arment Dietrich and the founder of Spin Sucks. I met her about 4-years ago and T60 has been doing work for her, her company, and its clients for the last two years.

Gini and I have talked over coffee, we’ve gotten lunch together, but Gini makes her living in a digital world. She’s an expert in all things digital PR and marketing. She converted her whole business model into one with employees working through cyber space in cities all over North America and most of our communication is via email and tweets.

My Big Surprise

So… you can imagine my surprise when my phone rang and the name “Gini Dietrich” popped-up. I knew something important must be going on.

“Hey, are you free late this afternoon?” asked Gini.

“Actually, yeah. You caught me on a light day, what’s up?” I replied.

“Would you be able to bring your video gear and meet me someplace. I have a big event going on and I need bodies. I don’t have time to explain, but I think you’ll enjoy it.”

Intrigued… I agreed and she gave me a time and an address.

I arrived later that day at the address specified, a high-rise office building on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. I took the elevator up and when the doors opened, I was blown away.

I was in a luxurious reception area with the name “Arment Dietrich” adoring the wall. I checked-in with the receptionist. The place was buzzing. Tons of people walking around the huge space, in and out of offices, cubicles, and conference rooms. Awesome video displays were everywhere displaying what looked like analytics.

After a few minutes, I was shown back to Gini’s corner office with a view overlooking the Chicago river and the historic Wrigley Building. Amazing. Gini greeted me and asked me to sit down… and I needed to.

“So… what do you think!?” she asked.

“Umm, where am I? Who are you and what have you done with Gini Dietrich?”

“I know… crazy, right!? You want to know the most amazing part? It isn’t real.”

Gini went on to tell me about a huge client she was trying to land. The only problem is that they tend to work with equally large PR agencies. She was worried they’d be freaked-out about potentially working with a completely digital agency with no corporate headquarters or central meeting space where busy team members go to work everyday.

Enter the fictional Arment Dietrich office. She was going to host a meeting in this place with the clients to give them a sense of comfort that her agency was big enough for them. She wanted me to play the roll of the head of Arment Dietrich’s video team.

It seemed so out of character for her, but whether it was the dizzying motion of the busy “employees” or the aroma of fresh coffee being made by the barista at the coffee station… I agreed.

The Clients Arrive

When it came time for the meeting, I really didn’t have much to do. Gini introduced me to the clients and I simply said hello and welcomed them to Chicago. That was it.

I watched the meeting as it took place in the glassed-in conference room and it seemed to go well. As it was going-on, I noticed all of the fake team members started filing out. By the time the meeting ended and Gini exited with the clients, I was the only one in massive office space.

The client was saying, “Gini, you have an amazing operation. Everything you shared about what you’re doing for your clients, all the data to back it up, it’s just what we need.”

“So you’re confident we can do the job?” said Gini.

“Yes. Your team is amazing,” said the client.

“And no more spinning? I know it’s been a big part of how you’ve done things in the past,” said Gini.

“Well, we might need some more convincing on that front, but we’re willing to listen.”

“Okay then… here’s your first lesson,” said Gini.

She went on to tell them about the whole ruse. The clients were furious.

“Good,” said Gini. “I’m glad you’re upset. You should be and you know why? Because spin sucks.

She went on to tell them that spinning might work in the short term, but eventually they’ll be exposed. And the feeling they were having right then about what just happened is the feeling their clients and prospects will feel about them when that day comes.

And that’s when I woke-up. I looked at the clock. It was 5:30 a.m.

Authentic PR Takeaway

What does this have to do with video production? Everything. A unauthentic PR or marketing video isn’t any better than the whole scenario I dreamed about. It’s fake. It’s phony. It’s spin.

Be authentic. Be truthful. Show your customers and prospects behind the curtain. Audiences respond to honesty. It helps build a connection between them and your company.

Your videos don’t need to highlight a perfect company… just a real one with real people behind it.

–Tony Gnau

Don’t Hire A Photographer To Produce Your Videos

don't hire a photographer to produce your videos

Photo: anieto2k

Let’s start with the obvious question. Can a still photographer produce a video? Yes they can and many of them have started doing more of it. Do most of them do it well? No.

Notice I wrote “most” in there. That’s quite intentional. I’m sure there are still photographers out there who do a fine job of producing videos, but in my opinion they tend to be the exception. There’s a good reason for that and I’ll get to it in just a minute.

Don’t worry, I won’t let videographers off the hook because it goes the other way as well. Can a video producer shoot still photographs? Yes they can and many of them have started doing more of it. Do most of them do it well? No.

How did we get here… photographers shooting video?

There’s a good reason why many photographers are now producing videos and vice versa. It’s all because of the DSLR camera. The DSLR is the type of camera you see photographers using all the time. What’s changed over the last five to ten years is that camera manufacturers started adding video as a capability… and those cameras shoot fantastic video.

I won’t get too technical here, but DSLR cameras have big image sensors inside that allow them to shoot with a tremendous depth of field. The effect you get is a sharp focus on your subject matter and an extremely blurred-out background. It makes for beautiful video and photos.

DSLRs are also, in many ways, more affordable that a traditional video camera. Those two facts led videogrpahers to buy those cameras in large numbers, and along the way they started offering their clients packages to shoot stills as well as produce their videos. At the same time, still photographers who already owned those cameras started offering video as one of their services.

And the whole thing stinks.

Double-dipping doesn’t work

I appreciate both ends of this… particularly from the business side of things. All of a sudden both groups had new services they could offer their clients. It provides a chance for new business as well as an up-sell opportunity.

Bundling services with one person shooting both stills and video may even mean a lower cost to the customer. The issue I have is with the quality of the work. I’m not going to single anyone out here, so I’ll use myself as an example.

I occasionally get asked by clients if I shoot stills and I always turn down that work… and for good reason. Can I shoot stills? Sure, but I am not a professional still photographer. If I took that work, I could probably stumble through it and do it well-enough that the client would be happy. But I know deep down that if they hired a real still photography pro, they’d get an even better product in the end.

Which is why I always refer those jobs to the appropriate people.

Why can’t everyone do both?There a couple of good reasons why both groups have problems with the others’ discipline.

  • It’s not their passion. There’s a reason I picked-up a video camera 20+ years ago instead of a still camera. I love pairing motion images with words. I love storytelling. A still photographer is a storyteller in his or her own right, but it’s not the same as what I do for a living. I followed my passion and they followed theirs.
  • Experience. A still photographer might have some experience as a video storyteller, but it’s likely limited in comparison to the experience they have shooting stills. It only stands to reason that they’re not going to be able to produce a video as well as someone who has dedicated their life to it. It’s the same reason a videographer’s stills won’t rival theirs.


As time goes on and more and more young photographer/videogrpahers come of age doing both, this line may begin to blur quite a bit. But for now… there really is a line. Photographers shoot stills better than videographers and videographers produce better videos than photographers.

There are a ton of great still photogrpahers out there and there are a ton of great video producers. Hire the right one for the job. If you need a video produced, hire the person who has a passion and experience to deliver an awesome video. And that goes the opposite direction as well.

–Tony Gnau


How-To Pick A Video Company

Picking a video production company can be a tricky proposition. No doubt, price matters and you’ll want to find out if they fit your budget. However, there are some other things you can look at when learning how-to pick a video company. 

  • look at their client list (do they have many repeat clients?)
  • ask who’s going to be the creative mind behind the project?
  • are they purely video experts, or do they have a storytelling background too?

Just a few things you should consider.

Of course, you should watch the client videos they post at their website as examples. We have an additional tip on what to look for when you do that in this month’s vlog, so please give that a watch.

–Tony Gnau