How to produce a commercial video


ideo is an engaging and versatile media form and as such is an excellent tool for businesses to exploit. But how do you go about making a video, and what would you make a video about? 

Here are my top 6 tips for showing you what to create, how to plan it and what to do with it when you have done.

1. What are your business objectives?

Most businesses I come across don't answer this question before they have their video idea. They think they need to 'do video' and perhaps they'll do a good job of making one, but unless it's going to meet the wider business objectives, then there's no benefit in doing it.

Your marketing objectives flow directly from these and there should be a direct correlation between what you want to happen to the business as a result of your marketing - otherwise, why are you even considering it?

So, ask yourselves first, what do you want to achieve? How would a video align with your marketing strategy?

  • Do you need to raise brand awareness (top of funnel objective)
  • Do you need to enlighten cold leads to the kind of problems you can solve with your product (problem aware)
  • Do you need to demonstrate why your businesses solution is the best way to overcome those problems (product aware)
  • Do you want to convert your warm leads into buyers (conversion) or
  • Do you want to provide effective after-sales support?

Once you've determined this, ask yourself, what do you need to measure in order to determine if your video has been a success? This could be a revenue increase, or number of subscribers or number of enquiries received. There will be lots of business metrics that you can measure, you need to work out which would help demonstrate that you've been successful in achieving your business objectives. Be specific and make sure it's measurable.

Finally, for this stage:

  • What's your budget?
  • What's your timeline for completion?

Done this, then you're ready to move onto the next step.

2. Crafting your message for the right audience

Who's the right audience? 

Pretty much all of your marketing will stem from who your ideal customer is. If you don't know this, you've missed a trick.

From knowing who your ideal customer is and having it written down (sometimes called a customer avatar) it will tell you all about them - who they are, what their habits are, where they like to hang out and what their problems are.

If you're at the start of your business journey and don't have this data then you need to make it up based on best guesses and rational thinking.

  • Who do you want to sell your products and services to?
  • Where might they hang out?
  • What might their biggest problems be in life?
  • What is their desired state or position be in life?

You can't effectively craft your video message unless you can get inside their head. So this part is really important.

There's a great example of doing this activity shown in the film 'Operation Mincemeat'. Colin Firth and co stars Matthew Macfayden and Kelly MacDonald talk through the back story for their deceased English Royal Marine Officer. They intend to push the (already dead corpse) out of a submarine with important documents so the Nazi's pick him up on a beach in the Mediterranean. Firth and Co plan the officer's back story to a tee so they can fully understand the holes in their plan, after all, this is what the Nazi's would investigate to understand whether the intelligence the Marine is carrying is legitimate or not.

As an aside, it's a fantastic film based on a true story which depicts how out of the box thinking throughout the Second World War gave the Allies the upper hand and ultimate success to the European campaign. I thoroughly recommend you watch it, even if you only do it for the marketing tips 👍 Anyway, back to the video.

Plan your message

Once you've got your avatar, study it and then, try to answer these questions:

  • What kind of messages could you get across to this person?
  • How could you achieve your business objectives based on what you know about them?
  • How can your product or service alleviate their problems?
  • Work out what kind of way this person would talk. What kind of language do they use? Are they educated? Are they not? Do they use colloquialisms in their everyday speech?
  • Consider where the video would need to be shown in order for them to see it? This comes from the 'where do they hang out' part of your avatar.

When you've got that sorted, one big trap to avoid is, don't try to tell your video's story by focussing on features and benefits, create your video to drive an emotional response. People respond better to emotive subjects than facts and figures. Clearly that's not always possible in all industries, but you want to try, if you can.

Don't forget what you want the viewer to do as a result of watching your film. Just like any other form of marketing the Call to Action is vital, don't forget about it here.

3. Develop the storyboard


As you may expect, filming a video can become quite an expensive solution. But it becomes super expensive if you don't know what kind of shots you're going to take. Imagine telling a videographer - 'go make us a video that shows me X'. When they return it, regardless of how good they are, they'll no doubt, have got some bits wrong which means they'll have to re-film bits again - a costly process.

So, to avoid this, the shots are scripted before you go on location, saving time and money. This office-based activity will keep you all on track to meeting your objectives and will save you buckets of time and money, so do it and do it well.

It can be a simple list of shot descriptions or can be a series of stock-photos with captions or, if you've got the skills or budget, an illustration of the exact shot with pointers for lighting, mood, colour, camera positioning and framing. The more detail you can put in, invariably the easier it'll be for the film team to produce what you're after.

In some of my films I've used the Notes app on my phone which allows me to tick them off when I've filmed the shot and I've also done more graphical illustrations of each key frame so the client can see what I have in my head. Whichever works for you will give you a big head start.

This is also the time to nail down what you're going to be filming and where it's going to be shown. If you're shooting for your website, TV or YouTube, you're likely going to want to shoot in landscape format. If Facebook and Instagram (Feed), possibly square, but if you're shooting for Reels and Tiktok then you'll want portrait. Which you do will be determined by where you want to publish it. If you need it to be seen in all locations then you either have to shoot the same shots in multiple orientations or you need to accept that the video is unlikely to be optimised for each platform you share it on.

You can shoot video once and make it fit to different orientations and shapes but it's not ideal and can be quite time consuming to do it this way.

Whatever you choose, make sure you go into the filming stage with your eyes open as to what you need to do. 

4. Filming

If you're going to do this yourself, and in most cases, you can do something yourself, be pragmatic about how you approach the storyboard. If the weather is a factor, plan you shots around that. Or, if you need to work around opening times for a venue do that too. But then, work through your shot list, making sure you tick each item off. the last thing you want to do is to think you're done, be back at the computer editing your footage only to realise that you missed something out. That is a nightmare scenario it can only be blamed on bad planning.

If you're going to get someone else to create your video you'll hopefully have engaged them already by this point. However, if not, find someone who knows what they're doing. Goes without saying really. But ask for example work, case studies, testimonials. Make sure that you're getting someone who can realise the video your business needs. Finally, there's the cost, but how much does a commercial video cost in the UK? Let me shine a light on that for you.

There are quite a few differences in the types of video production agencies out there. Essentially, the more people involved then the higher the budget - that's simple economics. But in doing so you'll likely get a higher quality product and it'll be of a suitable quality to be broadcast on TV or on film. However, that's probably not what every business wants or needs. Big budget production companies will be too expensive for most businesses and so what's the point. At the opposite end of the scale is the single, standalone videographer - a bit like me. Individual or small teams set up to offer businesses cost effective ways of professionalising their content production so that they achieve the businesses aims without giving them more than they need at a price they can't afford.

Because at the end of the day, we're talking about return on investment.

So, as long as the person/people you hire can deliver on what you need then my only advice is to go with those who you think will give you the best result for your money.

5. Reuse and Repurpose

Your video has now be filmed. What next? Well, it's time to spend your time getting it in front of your audience.

But you've spent a pretty penny on making it, you want to get as many miles as you can out of it. So this is where repurposing comes in.

Again, like any other marketing asset, you chop it up and repurpose the content into other forms. Blog posts into Instagram captions and Facebook posts, LInkedIn polls. 

Same goes for your video. 

  • Take snippets from the dialog and turn them into audio bites for social teasers, podcast intros, even turning them into text and posting them as quotes in a social post.
  • Same goes for the video. Got it ready for YouTube, well perhaps you can turn that into a YouTube Short, or a TikTok or Instagram reel.
  • Take screen shots from the video and turn them into post images
  • Take a few shots from the video and turn it into a hero video for your website homepage - like I've done here.

Think about what gems you have within your entire video and share it in smaller pieces on the same and on different platforms; you'll get a lot more mileage for the time and money spent creating the video.

6. The 80:20 rule

The best advice I have here is to spend 20% of your time creating a video and 80% of your time promoting it. This will give you the greatest return on what you've spend building and give you a much better chance of meeting your business objectives - because, don't forget, that's what we're trying to achieve here - the business objectives.

Keep track of your website and social analytics before and after the video is shared. Track how well the video does in meeting those objectives. If you're looking to grow brand awareness perhaps tracking reach and how many views you got might be best. If it's sales conversions then track your user journey from watching your video to buying from your online store. Make sense?

By doing this you'll be able to see if your hard work has paid off and more importantly, if you're going in the right direction to hit your business objective. 

It'd be wrong of me to say the process is easy? It's not, but can be achieved by the right people from your organisation following the steps show above.

However, this may not be the best use of their time and actually, you can remove most of the business risk by employing someone else from outside your business to do it for you.

Don't forget, just because you've got a fancy camera in house, doesn't mean you're immediately going to be making a Hollywood blockbuster any time soon.

If this is resonating then why not explore the outsourcing idea a bit further.

I'd be delighted to offer you my time to explore the options with no commitment or fee. Let's spend an hour together talking it through and if you decide you still want to go ahead with it yourself then I will wish you the best of luck

Click on the button below and let's have a chat about your next video.

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Portrait image of Lake District photographer, Al Topping Photos & Film