Lisa Merriam

When “Good Enough” Web Video is Great

Many companies worry about video quality and spend a fortune on slick production. While you should always aim for the best possible results, sometimes good enough is more than good enough. Very often, the simple and genuine communication trumps the sophisticated.

How a Cheaply Produced Web Video Wins

Take the example of Tino Gagliardi, a candidate for President of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians union in New York City. Though rich in ideas and enthusiasm, Tino and his team were low on funds. They wanted to produce a YouTube video so they could present their values, ideas and plans directly to union members. The problem was they had almost no money. Merriam Associates shot the video in Tino’s apartment, complete with room echo, street noise, and the occasional howls of a cat angry to be locked in a back bedroom. We worked on a shoestring budget with no lights , no audio equipment, no editing budget, and no time. Still, Tino was still able to get his message out there in less than a day for pennies on the dollar.

Tino’s very basic video contrasts with the high production values of the competing campaign. Tino’s opponents, the Concerned Musicians, spent richly to shoot high quality visuals and taped speakers in a professional studio. The result is a much nicer piece.

Web Video: Content More Important Than Quality

If you define success by slick production, Tino lost. But success in marketing rarely is defined that way. What matters in marketing is always the content itself. Who was telling a better story? Who was more believable and motivating?

The major issues of the Local 802 musician’s union election were inaccessible leadership and misuse of union funds. Members felt that the Concerned Musician’s union leaders were not listening and were angry that union leaders were spending union money for personal expenses. The fancy video made union members wonder if union funds were used to produce it and it made the candidates seem as aloof as ever. In this case, slick production backfired.

Tino’s video got almost twice the number of views per day than the competing candidate’s. He won by a landslide, and his slate of allied candidates won 19 of the 20 open positions—and he did it with a mediocre, yet genuine, relevant and believable video produced for almost no money at all.

Spending Thousands Vs. Spending Millions on Video Production

This same relationship between expensive production and genuine simplicity can be seen by comparing two recent Super Bowl ads. Budweiser spent well over a million dollars to produce the technical masterpiece “Bridge is Out” commercial.

By contrast, Google can’t have spent more than $1000 to produce a commercial of mostly screen captures and off-the-shelf sound effects.

Both commercials consistently made the top 10 best lists.

Don’t purposely shoot for the low quality of Tino’s video. Do the best you can with the resources you have. But don’t let lack of resources prevent you from doing anything. Expensive videos are not always the best videos.

More detailed advice from previous posts:

Good enough video–you don’t need to be an a cinematographer to be effective
How Web video differs from TV
Video scripting–six keys to script writing
Ideas for Web video

And a series from Fortune 500 corporate executive speech coach Kayla Schwartz:

Web video how-to: Preparing your message
Web video how-to: Thinking about your delivery
Web video how-to: Visual presentation