Making movies: 10 things to avoid when making a video for your business

Video can be a great way to engage with potential and current customers, and these days it costs very little. Video expert Geoff Anderson points out some common mistakes to avoid

Video is one of the most powerful and accessible tools we have in business today. When it is done well, it builds community, creates rapport and enhances your brand.
However, when it is done poorly, it can turn away followers and customers and create brand damage.
Here are 10 mistakes to avoid when making videos for your business:
1 No clear audience
As with any marketing activity, it is critical to be clear on who your audience is. Don’t try to be everything to all people. If you do this, your message will get lost and have little meaning. By being clear on your audience, you can target your message in a way that truly resonates. If you struggle with your target audience, think about who you would like to sign as a client after seeing the video.
If you have a niche for your firm, then be clear about it.
2 An unfocused message
The clearer you can be about why you are making the video, the easier it will be to focus your message. What is the action or message you want the viewer to take away after watching your video? Keep coming back to this as you draft your scripts, and think – is this relevant or helpful for my intended audience?
3 Too much information
The days when an audience would indulge 10 or 15 minutes to watch your video have passed. The key now is to keep the content concise and valuable, which goes back to the purpose of your video.

For example, if the purpose is to encourage people to visit your booth at an event or call you to discuss their financial planning needs, then find ways to get to that point quickly and clearly. Sometimes too much information ends up turning people away, or worse – boring them.
4 Facts instead of emotion
You may be offering the best service or the lowest fees, but how can you make this information resonate with your audience? Does it mean they can have less stress about their financial position? Focus on the emotional needs of your audience and how you can satisfy them.
Keep asking yourself – why does this feature matter to my customer? You can connect with people at an emotional level when you focus on how they will feel and benefit as a result of using your services.
Leave the weighty details on your website for those who really need to know.
5 Too much emphasis on you
Keep the focus of your video on the viewer and how your work can help them rather than focusing on yourself. If you find yourself talking about we and I, stop and think about how you can shift it to “how you will benefit from these services.”
If you focus more on what’s important for your customer, you are more likely to keep them engaged.
6 Poor audio
Viewers will put up with rough visuals, but they won’t forgive poor sound. No matter what camera you are using, make sure you connect a suitable microphone to it. Ideally you want to have a camera that allows you to monitor the sound as it is being recorded.
That way you can check if there are any rubbing noises or buzzing that could affect the quality of the audio. If you can’t plug in headphones while you record, then do a test recording first and listen back to check the quality.
Even if you are shooting on a smartphone, there are plenty of microphones you can get to ensure the audio sounds right. These include shotgun, lapel or handheld microphones.
7 Badly framed
When filming people, make sure you put the top of the person’s head at the top of the frame. Many newbies look through the camera and put the face in the middle of the screen. This results in empty space above the person’s head. Learn to look through the viewfinder as if it is a framed picture on the wall.
Generally, if someone is talking directly to camera, make sure they are centred in the frame. The only time you might play with this is if you want to use the space on the side to add extra information such as text points.
If you are interviewing someone on camera, ensure you give a little space for ‘talking room.’
If you are using your smartphone for filming, then make sure you hold the camera in landscape mode. If you shoot in portrait aspect, you will end up with a thin image with black bars on either side.
Also avoid using the zoom; this will just reduce the quality of the recording – instead, stand closer to your subject to fill the frame.
8 Uninteresting or distracting background
Be aware of what is in the background of the shot, as this will form part of the story you are telling. Avoid filming people up against walls, as it will create shadows and look uninteresting and flat. The more depth you can have in the picture, the better, and a background provides an opportunity to show some additional information that can enhance the character of the presenter or the information you are sharing.
9 Wobbly cam
A tripod is a must for newbies to avoid shaking hands and wobbly video. You can even get holders for mobile phones that will ensure your shot is steady. Unexplained camera movement distracts the viewer and dilutes the impact of your message.
10 Using cheap technology to impress
Cheap and easily accessible devices such as mobile phones are a way to stay connected with your community.
However, I wouldn’t recommend trying anything too tricky or impressive using a phone camera, such as a promotional video or green screen effects. Better quality lenses, image sensors and audio will give you a better result for that sort of stuff – in which case, talk to the professionals.
Keep the do-it-yourself content for maintaining rapport with existing customers. If you are looking to use video to attract new customers, then spend the time and money to work with professionals.
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Geoff Anderson, video producer and owner of Sonic Sight. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.