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Your client or manager has just asked you to create a video, now what? Before you start jotting down ideas and picking up the camera, make sure you’ve answered these questions. They’ll give your team a clearer picture of why you’re creating the video and everything that needs to get done to make it a success.

1. What is your ideal timeline?

You may have to break the news to your client or manager that you won’t have the video created, edited and approved in 48 hours if the usual turnaround is two weeks. If this is your first time working with a client, they could be shopping around to make a last minute video or their deadline ideas may be wildly unrealistic. If the client expects the finished product in a week and your company thinks that timeline is reasonable, that’s great, proceed to question number two.

2. Do you have a budget in mind?

Let’s get these two questions out of the way before we go any further. Combining the client’s timeline with what budget they’re on provides your team with an immediate idea about how realistic their expectations are. For some clients, this may be where the questionnaire ends if their timeline is too short or they don’t have the budget to create the length and type of video they want.

3. Will the video be part of a bigger plan or a stand-alone piece?

A potential client could be outsourcing video production to you for a larger campaign. The video could be housed on a microsite, shared through social channels or used for a bigger picture than initially expected. Ask them if the video is meant to stand by itself or if it’s a cog in the greater machine of the campaign. This will help your team stay on-brand with the campaign’s message and make the video meld flawlessly with the rest of the content.

4. What is the purpose of the video?

Whether the video is part of a larger campaign or a stand-alone piece, you need to know exactly what the purpose of the content is. A client who wants to run a social media promotion will need something different than a client who wants a video that’s a tutorial or an introduction to a microsite. Plus, once you know what the exact purpose is, you can determine whether or not the the video was a success. Which brings us to our next question…

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5. How will you measure ROI?

Return on Investment Concept

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Some videos will have an easier answer to this question than others. A comical video that’s meant to be shared on social channels can be measured with comments or shares, and a microsite’s video could be measured by the click-through rate. When you know exactly how the client defines success, you can build the appropriate CTAs in the video and create graphics directing the viewers to where they need to go.

6. What is the approval process?

This question immediately gives transparency to everyone involved in the project. How many stages of editing does the copy have to go through? What is the sign-off process before moving onto the next stage?

Knowing the timeline gives creators an idea for the time needed for approval. A lot of back and forth can cause a project to fall behind, especially if one key player fails to sign-off on it. It also lets your team know how involved the client wants to be. Do they want to be involved every step of the way or just be wowed at the end? The former slows down the project but the latter choice is riskier.

7. What five words best describe the site’s main audience?

Once you have the details about what the client’s basic expectations are, you can move into what the company is about, who they’re targeting in the video and their reasons behind hiring your company. By asking for five words, you’re forcing the client to say more than “business travelers” or “Millennials” and dive into adjectives and specifics about who they want to reach. On the other side of the coin, you’re limiting them to five words, so they can’t ramble off every niche company who has ever bought their product.

Public speaker giving talk at business event.

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8. What has your experience been with video before?

How many times has the client worked with video production teams? Are they familiar with the terminology, do they know the production process? If they have no previous experience with content agencies, you may have to explain certain steps in the process and why they’re important. If they do have experience, this question can open up the discussion about what they liked and disliked about working with content teams before.

9. What kind of video do you want?

Each content agency offers different types of video. Some specialize in stop-motion, while others are great at illustrative video. When you ask this question, be sure to provide a list of video types that your company offers and if possible, provide examples of each. It’s better for everyone to be on the same page from the beginning and avoid the situation where the client has their heart set on something that your team isn’t capable of doing.

10. What is your expected duration of the video? (i.e. 30 seconds, 1 min…)

Now that you’ve broken down their expectations for the project and their video production history, it’s time to get into the gritty details. Learning what their ideal duration is helps you decide how long the project will take with the resources you have. It can also raise a flag if the video is out of your scope. If the client wants a 20 minute video when the longest your company has ever created is 5 minutes, you might need to reevaluate taking on the project, or at least the allocation of resources, team and time needed.

11. What are your audio needs?

Will there be music in the video? If yes, who will be providing the music? If our team is providing the music then what is the expected tone or genre? Will there be any voiceovers and if so, who will provide them?

As you and the client work through the details, you can start getting a better picture of what the cost and team needs will be. Needless to say, a 30-second video without music and a script provided by the client will take a lot less resources than a 2-minute video that is written by your team with added music.

12. Will revisions to the video need to be made in the future?

Will you need to replace a logo in the video when your company rebrands itself in the next six months? Is the video promoting a quarterly sale that will need to have the dates changed in the future? If the client can foreshadow any instances where edits or changes will need to be made, they should tell you now so you can save it in the appropriate files and format the video in a way that makes for easy editing.

13. Who will provide the script?

Depending on the structure of your company, this question will increase or decrease the complexity of the project. If you’re providing the script, your copywriters will have to get involved, there will be several additional steps in the approval process, and at any given point the client may decide that they don’t like the writing and ask for something else. There’s less liability for change and a faster process if the client provides the content and you simply bring it to life.

14. What topics/ideas do you have for the video?

The client may know the purpose of the video, the duration and what budget they’re on, but not have any ideas. If their drawing board is blank, your team will have to block out time for ideation which means topic development and approval will have to be added to the time frame. If they have multiple ideas, you can bounce back and forth until both parties are happy with the topic that’s about to be created.

Hands on Storyboard movie layout for pre-production, storytelling drawing creative for process production media films. Script video editors and writing graphic in form displayed in maker shooting

Image via iStockPhoto.

15. Do you know of any work that’s similar to what you want?

More than likely the client already has an idea of what they want in their head. This question will help you get a better idea about what they’re thinking. Even if the answer is something like “you know that Geico commercial with…” or “That scene from The Office…” or “I was watching Game of Thrones when…” it will give your team something to work off of when they start ideation.

16. Is there any element, image, mascot, graphic, etc. that you want included?

Just come right out and ask it: what can we do to make you love this video?

If they want 10 cats in the video, now is the time for them to speak up. Do they want all fonts to be in Papyrus? So be it. This question is a great way to end because it’s so open-ended. It can easily transition into ideation. “That’s great that you want a water-skiing squirrel in the video, how about…” Once you start bouncing ideas off of each other you can really start enjoying the creation process.

These questions are meant to bring you and your client or manager to the same page and to kick off a new project. Use them as a guide, a questionnaire or just as a starting point to figure out what they want, and the best way to give it to them.

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