The process for creative and effective B2B video ads starts with a rock-solid strategy.
In this episode of “Death to the Corporate Video,” we’re spilling our biggest secret: how to make a game-changing video ad for your B2B brand.
The process doesn’t start with a video shoot, and it doesn’t even start with coming up with an idea. The way to make a video ad that will be most effective for your brand is to start with a detailed strategy. Once you have that, you can move into concepting.
Throughout the episode, Guy and Hope give advice for marketers on everything from:
Recommended resources include Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide.
Hope Morley: The dirty little secret for creativity and creative ideas for things like a video is that the worst ideas come out of a lack of constraints. The best creative ideas come out of having a really clear box to be working in. Those constraints are where the best ideas come from, of knowing exactly who you're talking to, what you're trying to say, how you wanna say it. That's where you can come up with something that's really creative.
Hope Morley: Hello and welcome to Death to the Corporate Video, a podcast with tools and advice for how to make B2B video ads your prospects actually want to watch. I'm Hope Morley.
Guy Bauer: I'm Guy Bauer.
Hope Morley: Today on the show, we are answering the biggest question that we probably get as an agency, which is how do you do it? When new prospects reach out, or we talk to people that we meet out at conferences or in the world, they really wanna know how you make the video ads that we do and the videos we do.
We are spilling our secrets on this episode. Listeners, get ready. Get your notepads out because we are going to talk about how to make a game changing video for your B2B company.
Guy Bauer: This is it. This is the secret. The spoiler alert is, it's, it's quite boring, right? Everyone's looking for the silver bullet, but there is none. That's what I've found through the years of doing this. It's just, Someone actually asked me like two weeks ago, like, So how do you do it? Yeah, like, how do you make these things?
I'm like, It's just built on years of pain. They wanted to know, like, did I like, and yeah, it's just years of pain, years of doing it the wrong way, of trial and error and pain, and that's how we've made this process, which now you can have without the pain. You're welcome.
Hope Morley: We'll save you some of the pain.
Guy Bauer: But obviously it's easier said than done and all that stuff, but all right, let's do this. All right, so how do you make a game changing ad, Hope?
Hope Morley: So the way to create a game changing video for your company is not to just start by brainstorming ideas. I think that's one of the most common mistakes or misconceptions that we have out there. We don't just start by sitting in a room with a whiteboard and start brainstorming ideas.
The very first step is to establish the project goals, the messaging objectives, and figure out who you're talking to. And also from the very beginning, think about the distribution plan of where this is gonna go, how it's gonna be used, and all of that informs the creative
Guy Bauer: Yeah. We like to say, if you think about making a custom house, you don't go to Home Depot and just start buying lumber. You have to make a plan. And that plan is usually done not by the builder. That's done by an architect and the architect isn't gonna ask questions like, Well, do you wanna use two by fours or four by fours? I don't even know if that's the thing.
Hope Morley: The first question isn't hard wood or carpet on the first floor.
Guy Bauer: Correct. The first question is more, more like, so do you like the outdoors? What do your hobbies include? What is your passion? Blah, blah, blah. And the architect’s trying to get an idea of who you are so that they can then design a house around like your goals as a person. Same thing with this.
The first step in making a video ad is not to go buy a camera, rent a camera, or hire a video production team.
Hope Morley: Or to write a script.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. Yeah, it's not even to write a script. What you need is that architect step and to step back and go, Right, what do we wanna say and who do we want to say too?
And I mean, obviously like our strategy usually goes deeper than that, but that really is the core of it. Like what do we wanna say and who do we wanna say that to? And if you can't answer that question, then you should not be going any further into concept development, scripting, or any definitely not production.
Hope Morley: Yeah. Once we have that, and that answer of what do you wanna say and who do you wanna say it to? Then you start thinking about how you wanna say it. So that's where you're starting to get to creative. But really there's a lot of research and thinking and developing of a strategy that still goes into that phase of how you're going to say that message.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And that's where we're starting to think of, is this an organic play or is this an ad advertising play? And we've done a podcast on this, I believe, we'll link to it in the show notes, but it's the idea of, if it's an ad, you should have a media budget behind it. And an ad should act like an ad.
If it's not an ad, that means it shouldn't act like an ad. If you're trying to go for an organic play, it needs to be less ad like and more organic like meaning more story. We like to say it should be high altruism, meaning, no one's gonna share an ad unless it's like, if it is amazing, maybe they will, but usually someone shares something that's an actual piece of content.
Like we just had our Marketergeist, our yearly Halloween ad, go semi viral. I would say it went pretty viral, but nobody says Umault in the spot besides our logo at the end. And that's what we mean by higher altruism. It's a minute and a half and it's not an ad for us. Aside from our logo, at the very, very end.
So that's where you need to figure out in the beginning stages, before you get into scripting and all that stuff is like, are you making an ad? If so, you're gonna need money for paid media. If you don't have money for paid media, then you need to go into this making an organic, you know, piece of content and all that stuff.
So that's where this is the most critical stage is just the thinking part. Because without this step, you are basically making a house on quicksand. You need to think of this step, the thinking of like the goals and objectives and kind of our strategy. That's the foundation. That's like pouring concrete.
You know that your house then will sit on, but if you build a house on sand, it's, you know, it's just not gonna work.
Hope Morley: Yeah. The dirty little secret for creativity and creative ideas for things like a video is that the worst ideas come out of a lack of constraints.
Guy Bauer: Yep.
Hope Morley: I think the best creative ideas come out of having a really clear box to be working in, and that's not to say that your ideas are not outside the box metaphorically, but that those constraints are where the best ideas come from, of knowing exactly who you're talking to, what you're trying to say, how you wanna say it.
That's where you can come up with something that's really creative. Yeah.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. Couldn't agree more. It's the narrowing down of what we're trying to say that then allows for super creative spots because you're focused on just one message instead of like, Hey, let's make a commercial for our brand. Okay, let's think of just random ideas. Um, which is, we used to make Umault commercials a little bit like that, just like I have an idea.
And, we'd make it, and then it was like, eh, because it was unfocused on who it was talking to and like, what it, what did it, what did we even wanna say? So yeah, it's those two questions. You know, obviously they, it's a lot more complicated than that, but those two questions, if you answer those, you're in good shape and you're probably in the 90th percentile of brands.
Honestly, not kidding.
Hope Morley: Hmm.
Guy Bauer: What do we wanna say and who do we wanna say it to? And it can't just be like, we wanna say we're the best. And who do we wanna say that to? Everyone!
Hope Morley: Yeah. Your audience is everybody is not the answer. That means you need to take a step back and refine that audience a little bit.
Guy Bauer: Yep. Yeah. Okay.
Hope Morley: No one’s audience is everybody.
Guy Bauer: So we know who we're talking to, we know what we wanna say. We know how we're gonna say, Let's just say, in this case, we're making an ad. So that means we're gonna have paid media, we're gonna have a paid media budget, what's the next step? Now what do we do now? Do we get to make a video and have snacks?
Hope Morley: Yeah. Assuming you've got that whole plan written out and approved by everyone and you know everybody's on the same page. No snacks yet, unless you like to snack while you brainstorm, because now we're up to starting to develop concepts. But this is where you come up with ideas and when we are getting into that creative concept phase, this is not something for us that you're going to just bang out in a one hour meeting.
Guy Bauer: Yeah.
Hope Morley: Let's talk a little bit about the concepting phase for us.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. So some tips. Definitely you're not gonna bang this out in a one hour meeting. I like to go in spurts. There's like a lot of research. John Cleese wrote a book on it. There's a creative director named Jason Bagley doing a course called School of Astonishing Pursuits. He talks about this, but the idea is put your subconscious to work as much as possible, and I agree with that.
So, our typical process is something like on day one we're briefing our creative team and who's on our creative team. It depends on what the project is, but typically it's a copywriter and someone, maybe it'll be like an art person, but definitely someone who knows how to write stuff. So day one, think of as, that's just briefing. That's when you're going through the strategy and that creative brief, the objective, who are we talking to?
The mindset shift, the reasons to believe the single most important message. So brief team on day one, everyone goes apart and just thinks of ideas. And the way to think of ideas is just, I learned this from Jason Bagley, is just write everything down. Stop trying to come up with great ideas, is his key insight, and I agree with that is, write the bad ones down.
And what you'll notice is you'll generate a ton of ideas. Most stink, and I've done this a couple times, his method, and what I find is, is my subconscious, I start writing like tens and dozens of ideas down. But then you see the subconscious start working. So like idea number 20 is very similar to idea number 30.
And then, which is very similar to idea 42. And then on idea 56, you're kind of wrapping up those three ideas into one better idea. And then you see that your subconscious at work when you're not trying to come up with the best idea in the world and you're just taking quantity over quality.
So usually we're doing that alone on day two. Day three, everybody convenes, comes back, goes over their like maybe top five ideas. And then we start narrowing on a few of them, but I would say that's the, that's a good start for how to brainstorm.
It's not just a one hour thing. And the biggest risk, and we've done a whole episode on this, is the worst thing you can do is try to make everything fit. The idea that you had in the shower that one day a month ago.
Hope Morley: Everything being the strategy stage.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. Like, and even the creative phase. Well, it's oh this idea I thought of happens to be the best thing. Like, don't fall in love with your own ideas and you have to be very open-minded. There are so many times when I have a great idea, you know, on the client brief call but when you go through the process, it's just, it doesn't work.
And you have to be willing to, you know, not go with it. Don't fall in love with your own stuff. But yeah, so brainstorming a concept is a multi-day process. And I always tell clients like, your biggest weapon in this whole thing is sleeping on it.
Hope Morley: Mm-hmm.
Guy Bauer: And I think we've done some pretty creative ads.
And I can honestly say the subconscious was driving all of those, like none of those were willed into existence because we're so smart or whatever. You work on it, you kind of think on it, go for a walk, take a shower, sleep on it, and then the idea just one morning comes to you and that's how you kind of have to do it.
So that's why time is very critical and see how much time we're taking up front before we even roll a camera. And that's what I want you to do too, is like slow down. this whole creative thing on our. Our projects typically take three months. This is a month just for strategy and creative. That's it.
Hope Morley: Yeah, it's the whole first third of our project.
Guy Bauer: Mm-hmm.
Hope Morley: And an important part of this whole brainstorming piece is also talking through your ideas with other people, so forcing people to come, you know, even if you're doing this with your own in-house team, it doesn't have to be a bunch of professional, creative agency people, but forcing people to come with say, at least five ideas, and forcing them to share those ideas and talk them out.
Because even if someone thinks that their idea it's not fully formed or, you know, it's just not quite there yet. The way that different people can develop on those ideas or that you might see similarities between what one person did and what another person did, and together that they really are onto something.
There's a theme there that you can develop as a group. There's a lot of power in that, especially, I mean, especially if you're not a professional creative, but working together and getting all those brains together, you can really come up with things that are really different and interesting.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And then on the other side of that too, there's so many times when I think I have a great idea and I say it out loud in one of our internal meetings and like halfway through saying the idea out I'm like, Oh, this is awful. Like, just saying it out loud, changes the whole dynamic somehow. And you're like, Oh boy, no, that's terrible.
So yeah, there's so much power and they, again, like Hope said, it doesn't have to be like creative powerhouse people, just people on your team.
Hope Morley: Any other tips for creative concepting?
Guy Bauer: We could do a whole episode on it, but I would say, the best thing to do is to go after quantity and don't go with your first idea. That's something I've learned recently. I always have like a first idea, and it seems like it's the right idea, but all that is like you just haven't, you haven't developed it enough.
Don't go with your first idea. I mean, unless it's great, then go with it. Like I would say 90% of the time, your first idea is not the best idea there. Maybe it's the bud of an idea. You can develop. So don't stop developing, like, and don't stop sleeping on it. Like what I'll do too is in the morning I'll just read the brief to myself in the morning and then just put it away and then.
I guarantee you at like 1:24 and 36 seconds, an idea pops in. And what that was was like your subconscious just processing it in the background and then it just says, Hey, here's an idea. I mean, that's how it is. I mean it, wish it was cooler than that. Like there, like we use some AI or something, but yeah, you just need to think and you need time to sleep. And let your subconscious do the work. And there is that John Cleese book.
It's called Creativity, A Short and Cheerful Guide. And I recommend it because he's exactly right. A lot of people, And what's funny is his comments in Amazon are pretty negative. A lot of people are like this, this is stupid.
It's so simple. Like it's, this only took me 20 minutes to read. And yeah. It is so simple. It is so simple. It's work on it a little, get it into your subconscious and then let it let your subconscious work. It's kind of like the lazy person's way to do it.
It's great. You don't have to like sit at your desk and like, what's the idea? And like try to force it out. Just let your subconscious do it.
Hope Morley: Go for a walk. You know, take your dog out.
Guy Bauer: Yep. That's when all the best ideas happen.
Hope Morley: Mm-hmm. And keep coming back to that brief. Keep that top of mind cuz you wanna make sure that the ideas aren't getting too far removed from that. You know, and that's part of what the benefit of coming back to the group is, is that people can point out like, uh, I don't really know that's gonna, our audience is gonna relate to that.
Or, uh, I feel like that's more of an organic play. That's not really the ad play. You know, it gives you that feedback of coming back to, is this gonna meet the goals? Is this going to talk to the people we wanna talk to? All those little pieces.
Guy Bauer: Oh, and I have one other tip, Hope doesn't like me using this word, but I, unless you gimme another word to replace it, but the dumber the better.
Hope Morley: Simple,
Guy Bauer: I'm, I don't see simple isn't, Those are like not as evocative words as dumber. How do I describe it? Like what I've found, and maybe simple is the right word, but like the best things are just so simple and they are like, just incredibly, like obvious.
And if you can find one of those ideas that's just obvious, simple, I call it dumb. They work, they work so well, everyone's trying to make those Apple ads. Like the, here's to the crazy ones. Every year, I mean, pretty much every script follows that formula, they're trying so hard to like come up with that great thing.
You can always tell when someone's been motivated by, here's to the crazy ones because about two thirds through the script, they. And while we don't, blank blank, blank, blank, blank. Like, there's always the and while statement. Anyway, I digress. But like, don't make the best thing in the world, like the, it's not possible.
The best thing in the world happens on accident, honestly. And the best thing in the world happens when you are just trying to be simple and just, just like straight to it. It happens to you. You can't make the best thing in the world. I've tried and every time I've tried, it's not good.
Hope Morley: Yeah. And once the ideas and the concepts get over baked and they become convoluted, that tends to be a bad sign. You know, I think a lot of these concepts that we've come up with and then discarded is you think really come down to it of how much time do we have to get this across to people? How much attention are we going to be given for this?
Like we do not have a full season of a TV show here that we can like really roll out this whole concept to people. It's like you got 30 seconds, People have to get it very quickly.
Guy Bauer: Yep. Yep. Yeah, but see, yeah, we've spent so much time, we haven't even gotten to the rest of this thing. But it's that critical. It's that critical that your video ad has to have a great idea or else, I mean, it could be pretty. But it's gotta have an idea or else it's just a pretty video that does nothing.
So, All right. So what's next? Then we make it, then we go on set and we get a studio and actors, right? Hmm.
Hope Morley: First you gotta write the thing. You should probably do that first.
Guy Bauer: Oh darn.
Hope Morley: Yeah, See more planning, more paper. So far, everything. This is all just paper, pens, papers, Google Docs.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And the idea behind the scripting is that, so there's like this little analogy I have, of when you go to the doctor and they weigh you first. And I'm think, remember, think of those old school scales with the two weights, right? The 50 pound weight and then the one pound weight.
They have you step up there and use the small weight on you first. They try to find a good 50 pound range. They try to size you up and you know this, this fellow probably is between 200-250. And then they move the small weight to find your exact weight. Same thing with this process. Like everything up till now, everything up till the concept I would consider big weight activity.
So we're not trying to be precise with the concepts or precise with anything really other than a correct range, right? Because if we're in the wrong 50 pound range, then all the manipulation of that small. You can do that forever and it will never be accurate. So you definitely want to at least get into the 50 pound range.
But the script and the storyboard, these next two steps, this is the, this is the tiny weight and this is where we get in. Like all of the things we try to pack this full of, beautiful copy and stage direction and really try to focus and use every single second that we have, to be as effective as possible.
And, and this is where you definitely want your stakeholder approval because at this point, if it's not in the script and it's not in the storyboard, it's just not on the screen. I feel like when you don't show your boss the script and storyboard and you wait until the first cut, that delta where like the stakeholder has one thing that's like, well, obviously they'll capture this.
Hope Morley: Mm-hmm.
Guy Bauer: And then you didn't get it.
That's usually where stakeholders get upset. Let's just put say it, put it mildly. That's where trouble can start. So the scripting and storyboarding is when you, this is the exact architect's drawings of the video.
Hope Morley: And the scripting is so essential, especially you're talking about having a really simple concept. Up to this point, I would say if you're an in-house marketing team, you can do all of this in-house. If you don't have the budget to go with an agency, you can do the planning. You can come up with concepts, you know, you can work up to that point. But when you get to scripting and storyboarding, that's when in most cases, you probably wanna bring in someone who's really, really an excellent script writer to do that piece for you because there is so much that can get lost if you're trying to have someone who doesn't have expertise in scripting write a video script.
It's not the same skill set as other forms of copywriting. It's not the same as your website. It's not the same as your eBooks that you're writing for your site or even social media. It's very specialized and there's a lot of people who are really great at it, and I would recommend that you bring in somebody who is.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, I second that. Yeah. It's a different skill set than writing copy for a website because video is two forms of communication, two streams of communication baked into one visual and audio. A lot of times I see when our clients write their own scripts, they forgot they can use the visual channel.
So everything is like spelled out in copy and then I start redlining it and like, well, we can just show that. On the screen, you don't need to say it as well as show it. It's almost like, uh, like videos are like, almost like drummers, like how they can like disassociate their limbs from each other. Same thing with video. Like the video and audio can work independently.
Hope Morley: Yeah. And it's hard to think that way when you're used to expressing everything just through words. It takes a lot of practice and you've gotta get those good hooks to get people into it right away, that's something that you don't necessarily have to do with more traditional, just written word copywriting.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, and the same with storyboards. I mean, I would recommend there's so many great storyboard artists and it's not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, and I know it may seem like an expense that's not worth it, but I would recommend storyboards because it allows you to shoot the spot before you shoot it, and now you can bring script and boards to your stakeholders and there will be no ambiguity because everything is spelled out.
The other thing the script and boards allow you to do is now the script and boards are basically the architect's blueprint. You can now go to any video production company and hand them the script and boards, and that's the international language of filmmaking. They'll be able to reproduce them. And so now you can bring those script and boards and go get bids from different video production companies and see how they would execute them.
Hope Morley: Yep. At that point, the plan is all there. It should be kind of paint by numbers. The production company is bringing the color and the life to it, but it's all already there and laid out and hopefully approved by your stakeholders.
Guy Bauer: Yep.
Hope Morley: Yeah, so I mean, speaking of production companies, we're finally at the production stage. We've been talking for 20 odd minutes and now we get to make a thing. So how to make a game changing video ad is that you spend all your time up front, and then you finally make the thing.
Guy Bauer: You don't want to just schedule the shoot the day after script and boards are ready. One of the big key steps is to make a director's treatment. If you've hired a production company, they should have a director's treatment. If you're producing in-house, you should do a director's treatment.
And if you're working with us, this is part of the process. But the director's treatment is essentially this, this is the best way. So if we go back to my house analogy is, so the architect has made the blueprint, that's the script and storyboards, those blueprints go to the general contractor.
The general contractor is whoever's making the video. Is the director, right? That general contractor then has to take those blueprints and then hire a plumber, hire an electrician, the general contractor, has to integrate all these people, all these individual specialists and wrap them into one cohesive project. There's a ton of coordination between all these different specialists, right? You need to pour the concrete before the frame goes up and the framers need to know where, how many inches, blah, blah, blah.
There's all these little things, so the director's treatment, is essentially the general contractor creating a plan for every single person that has to do the actual work. That's a director's treatment. So that's taking the script and boards and breaking them down scene by scene and is telling you how it's gonna happen, how we are gonna make this, like what are the exact steps that we will take to make this happen. You need now need to break each scene down and itemize the props that are gonna be in that scene. Like, where are we shooting this? What time of day?
Because when I was a younger man, I didn't do this. And what, what it would do is we'd show up and we'd go, Oh yeah, we wanna, Yeah, we wanna show them working on a computer. All right, well we need the website. Well, oh, darn it, the website's not ready yet. Oh, okay. So don't show the computer, just show someone typing on a keyboard.
And that's where you get those shots that are like lame of just closeups of keyboards and stuff like that. Don't wait until the shoot day to figure out how you're gonna do it. You have to do it beforehand. That's the director's treatment essentially.
Hope Morley: And once you have that snack time, I think it's time to go on set and need some snacks.
Guy Bauer: Well, I think we need to wrap this episode up, but that treatment will all be also be referenced in like casting, in finding locations, in determining your schedule. Then you can actually shoot and you see like how many steps we've gone through.
And I would say we've, this is a cursory overview, but how many steps and how much time? It's been like 30 minutes. We are just getting to the shoot.
Hope Morley: Yeah, so that's what we want you to take away from this episode is that the way to make a game changing video ad is not just to go shoot a video. The way to make something that's really gonna move the needle for your business that's gonna be effective, that's gonna work is that it requires a lot of planning, a lot of creative thought, a lot of strategy, and a lot of time up front.
Like it really suffers when you rush this process. This takes time. You need to sleep on it. You need to think about it. You need to talk to people. You need to get approvals from your stakeholders.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, and I would say on our shoots now, there are no questions. Meaning like everything has been spelled out ad nauseum, really. And what that allows you to do is on production days, things will go wrong, always. But since everything has been thought of, the mental energy on you during the shoot day will be very low.
Because everything has been pre-thought. So when errors do happen, they're actually quite insignificant because you're not overloaded with like mental pressure. Try to get everything planned out on paper and discussed ad nauseum before you shoot. And then when those problems do come up on set, which they will, they will be insignificant because you're, you're, you're coming into it with like a open, like, you know, a non-stressed out mind.
So that would be my final insight on the shoot.
Hope Morley: All right, let's run through the steps that it takes to get to this game changing video ad. So how do you get to the shoot? First, you start by establishing your project goals, messaging. So what do you wanna say and who are you saying it to?
Guy Bauer: Mm-hmm.
Hope Morley: Research your campaign strategy, get that all established, then you develop your concepts, brainstorm, work through that.
From there, you can go to writing your script, then you develop a storyboard, then a director's treatment, and then finally you shoot it, edit, put all the finishing touches on and release.
Guy Bauer: Yeah.
Hope Morley: We didn't even touch on the distribution piece too much of this either.
Guy Bauer: Yeah. And there's so many, I mean, there's just so many little things, but if you're walking away with this from one big thing, it's like, get it out on paper, the full thing beforehand, Don't use your first idea. Really try to develop it. If you think about like Christopher Nolan movies, like, Oh, it takes him four years in between movies to go.
He's not shooting that whole four years, like most of that four years it takes him to make a movie. I mean, I don't know officially, but I would, I would argue that, probably two and a half years of that four years is just him in a room writing. And then the last year and a half is him making it. But most of it's just, just thinking.
That's where you gotta, that's where all your value is gonna come out of. It's the thinking. All your favorite ads are your favorite ads, not because they looked so great or came out on a specific date.
Hope Morley: Yeah.
Guy Bauer: Or anything like that. Oh, they came out before the year ended this way, We got it done in Q4. Like, no, like you don't like ads because of that, you like ads because they're a thought, they're an idea, and they're expressed in a creative way.
So anyway, that's it. Put it on paper.
Hope Morley: Yep. They're creative and well executed because they were well planned.
Guy Bauer: Yep. Well this has been a great episode.
Where can I learn more about Umault?
Hope Morley: If you'd like to learn more about Umault, you can visit us on our website at umault.com. That's U M A U L T. You can also find us across all the social media channels at Umault, but our most popular channel is LinkedIn. So we hang out there a lot. Come see us there.
Guy Bauer: Yeah, follow us.
Hope Morley: Thanks for listening everyone.
Guy Bauer: You're welcome.