5 Common Marketing Video Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Common video mistakes (and how to avoid them)

The world of business writing is abuzz with pro-video articles, and it should be. Video matters more to more people than it ever has. And if your business is resolutely anti-video, it isn’t doing itself many favors. Video marketing, though, isn’t a risk-free enterprise. 

Let’s take a look at 5 common video marketing mistakes – some of the problems new content creators can struggle with, and the ways that these challenges can be overcome.

1. Know Your Audience

Tim Bradley’s advice opens with a problem that comes right out of a lack of creativity: Not knowing your audience. Creative thinking, and the similar approach of design thinking in particular, focus on empathetic knowledge of the audience.

This audience research goes beyond simple demographic knowledge and asks more pointed questions about their viewing preferences.

Is there a preferred genre, aesthetic, or video runtime that your audience seems to prefer?  

You may not have videos of your own to measure in terms of success. In that case, check out a competitor who does, and targets a similar audience. Understand your audience’s viewing habits so you won’t inadvertently make a video that bores them, or otherwise turns them away.

2. Analyze Your Video

In the same vein, don’t post unwatchable videos—and be sure you know what makes a video unwatchable. Low quality can certainly make a video unwatchable. Don’t expect your audience to sit through barely-discernible audio or terrible video quality. You’ll also want to avoid an overlong script, as you’ll likely lose your audience before your closing call to action.

Use analytics and video monitoring data to understand how many views your video is receiving, and how much of it people are watching.  Then, incorporate lessons learned from previous videos into the production of new ones.  Simple as it sounds, this might be one of the key strategies to avoiding video mistakes. Don’t make the same mistakes twice, and use any inevitable missteps as teachable moments, not an indication of failure.

3. Make Sure your Audience Knows what to do Next

Earlier, I mentioned unwatchable videos’ potential to drive viewers away before they reach your call to action. It’s worth circling back to that, to impress the danger of not including a call to action. Leaving out this part of your video means leaving out your audience’s ability to engage with your brand beyond the video.

In an era where content marketing (which aims to provide value for viewers and raise brand interest more subtly) is highly successful, a call to action may feel a little too sales-oriented or on the nose.  It isn’t.  Suggest that viewers visit your website, sign up for a newsletter, or join a savings club. Offer anything they can do to stay engaged with your brand, and hopefully, become customers.

4. Tell A Story (Well)

Gordon Tredgold has two suggestions that come right out of the TruScribe playbook: watch out for poor synchronization, and don’t forget to tell a story.  Both synchronization and story are among our principles of Scribology, our word for our content creation guidelines that allow us to continuously create high-quality content for clients.

Consider bad synchronization. That is the failure of audio and visual elements to line up convincingly. It can almost single-handedly destroy a video’s effectiveness. The brain has to work extremely hard to overcome the disconnect between the visuals and the off-time audio. This amount of work usually causes the viewer to give up watching.

Tredgold implores us to “Focus on telling stories about people using your products and the benefits that they derive from using them,” as opposed to making a “list of facts about your products.”  People identify with people, and story is our human coding language. Use story to your advantage, and avoid lifeless, catalogue-like layouts of your products.

5. Leave the Text to a PDF

Another of the most common marketing video mistakes is using a text-heavy video that doesn’t take advantage of the visual opportunities of video. Don’t make a video that’s only technically a video—think of videos with a stock or still image and a voiceover, or videos with scrolling text and little else. Yes, these are, by definition, videos, but that’s about as much as can be said about them.

Think of making a video like buying a car: you might not need every feature, but it’d be pretty strange to tell the dealership that you weren’t going to bother with the engine block or the rear tires. 

Motion, visual variety, focal elements like a human hand or an accent color, and much more are all left on the table when you make this kind of video.

Use motion to drive engagement as the lizard brain subconsciously keeps viewers’ focus on your video.  Use the dopamine-driving effects of surprise to keep your audience curious about what’s coming next.  

Don’t fall into the trap of the filmed PowerPoint presentation. Since it takes no risks whatsoever, it might be appealingly “safe” and inoffensive, but it’s guaranteed to quietly, inoffensively slip into total obscurity in a media landscape dominated by well-made videos.

Key Takeaways

This final point on taking advantage of video’s abilities (and avoiding common video marketing mistakes) is probably the best umbrella concern to keep in mind when avoiding video content mistakes.  Video is a powerful medium, so approach it with some preparation—from audience research to call to action, story to sync. Leave nothing on the table.

Video isn’t necessarily expensive to make, but it’s not free. Make those dollars count, and steer clear of unwatchable, unprofessional, unrelatable videos that eschew story and other crucial elements.

Spend the money where it deserves to go: on a strong message, an effective script to transmit it, an appropriate narrator, and just the right visuals to reinforce that script.

What kinds of problems have you seen with business videos?  Has your organization made any of the above mistakes?  What have you learned from your entry into the video realm?  What do you think was the most important thing you learned from a mistake?