Rush marketing projects  – when unforeseen circumstances force you to take the amount of time you know your project needs and condense it down to a timeline that’s anything but ideal.

Maybe you’ve been there, done that. Maybe you thrive under the pressure of rush projects. Maybe you hate them. Maybe you’ve even paid someone extra to help you get a rush project done in time.

Sometimes, a heart-to-heart with colleagues or leaders can reveal that the “rush” is really more of a preference. Or a “nice-to-have” done before someone goes on vacation. And the benefits of having the video ready for a pre-established soft deadline are not worth compromising the process, and, potentially, the quality of the video.

Other times, a rush timeline is unavoidable. A deadline has moved up and the video has to be ready to go much sooner than planned (i.e. a key stakeholder needs the video for an unexpected “big meeting.”) Whatever the reason, circumstances outside of your control have forced you to double-down and get your marketing video done. Fast.

How can you decide if rushing your marketing video timeline is worth it? What pitfalls should you watch out for if you do decide to rush? How can you make sure that your rush video stays on track and goes as smoothly as it can? In this episode, the Umault team talks:

  • How to decipher if a rush video project is truly a rush
  • The trade-offs involved in moving forward with a rush project
  • Tips for ensuring your rush marketing video lives up to its potential
  • The importance of collaborating with your video agency throughout the process via constant and effective communication

Key quotes

“The first thing to think about when you get a rush is, is it truly a rush? Because a rush is never ideal. If you’re building a house, being able to say to a contractor or a builder or architect, “Hey, I know you want X amount of time, but I’d really rather you get it done in half of that because I want it now,” you have to step back and say to yourself, “Is it worth it? What am I giving up for a rush project?”

Tory Merritt

“No one will remember a year from now when the video is ineffective and just sitting there like a dud on YouTube that you delivered it on time – nobody.”

Guy Bauer

“Go slow so that you can go fast. If you are going to do a rush, it sounds like communication [is key]. Be ready for this to be a co-venture rather than the [traditional] client-agency dynamic.”

Guy Bauer

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode transcript

Guy Bauer: Welcome to “So you need a video”…the only podcast…

Tory Merritt: … that we know of…

Guy Bauer: … about simplifying your brand sales message with video. I’m Guy Bauer, the CEO and Creative Director at Umault. I’m joined by Tory Merritt, our Account Director.

Tory Merritt: Hey.

Guy Bauer: Hello, Tory.

Tory Merritt: Hello.

Guy Bauer: And Rick Livingston, our Post-Production Supervisor and timeline guru.

Rick Livingston: Hello. You know it. Yeah.

Tory Merritt: Also known as Ranger Rick.

Rick Livingston: Ranger Rick here to the rescue, timelines.

Guy Bauer: That’s right. Today’s episode is about timelines, but it’s really about that rush project you have and everything about it. We’re going to dissect how to litmus test your rush project if it truly is a rush and steps to mitigate and best practices. And so if you think that timelines are sexy, like Rick does, you’re going to love this episode.

Tory Merritt: Nothing like a Friday night with timelines. You know what I mean?

Rick Livingston: Yeah, it’s good times.

Guy Bauer: So let’s first set up what is a rush project and why they exist. So tell me about, Tory, some frequent reasons you hear clients having a rush project.

Tory Merritt: So rush projects come in in a variety of different shapes and sizes. We’ve got rush projects that come in due to a media buy that’s just recently been purchased, and it’s go time. It’s closing day. Got to get that going. We also have rush projects that come in because executive leadership has got a presentation or a meeting that they need this video for. And then sometimes, we have rush projects come in where, unfortunately, things just didn’t move along as quickly as people were hoping in the early stages of the project, and now, it truly is go time, and you’ve got to find a way to get it done in three, four weeks.

Guy Bauer: And let’s talk about I think the hardest part for people managing a rush project is litmus testing the rush or fighting back to leadership questioning, “Is this actually a rush project?” But what are some tips, or what are some ways that one could identify if a project is a true rush?

Tory Merritt: Well, I think the first thing to think about when you think about a rush is, is it truly a rush? Because a rush is never ideal. If you’re building a house, being able to say to a contractor or a builder or architect, “Hey, I know you want X amount of time, but I’d really rather you get it done in half of that because I want it now,” you have to step back and say to yourself, “Is it worth it? What am I giving up for a rush project?” And I think some of the biggest things that come along with a rush project is understanding and setting expectations of like, “What am I going to get out of this? And what am I maybe going to miss out on even though I get the video faster?”

Guy Bauer: And speaking of stuff you’ll miss out on when rush projects come in, we’re usually working with Rick. And Rick is taking our standard ideal project template timeline, and you’re basically hitting delete. So what’s the collateral damage in a rush project? What critical steps get deleted typically?

Rick Livingston: I think the first thing that ends up going down [in] terms of timeline would be a traditional, let’s say, eight days of editing, all of a sudden has to go down and trim that down to three, four days. And then the other thing that gets trimmed up right away will be the feedback and turnaround time from the client standpoint. So that traditionally can be anywhere from a week that it gets trimmed down to 24 hours, 48 hours to turn around.

Tory Merritt: Which we hate to do, right? We hate to take time away from the clients, our clients, because they need that to be able to get it around the company, get it around stakeholders, have people look at it. I know another place that we often cut it, unfortunately for Guy and myself, is the strategy and the creative phase and the research and the real think time on the front end that allows us to develop the idea, which is truly the heart of the video at the end of the day.

Guy Bauer: And I think when we send a timeline, and it says, “Okay, client, you’re only going to have 24 hours to review,” that may seem like, “Well, that’s easy. How hard could that be?” It’s actually very hard, right?

Tory Merritt: It’s one person being in a meeting a little bit too long, and they’re not able to get the feedback to you. It’s one person getting sick, or being on vacation, or just having a different priority. So when you’re doing a rush, it’s never ideal. It may be necessary, but thinking through when you talk about, is it actually a rush, “what am I willing to sacrifice in order to get this faster?” is something that you need to think about before you decide I need to condense my timeline.

Guy Bauer: I tell this story a lot. In 1986, Challenger exploded when it launched, and it exploded because of an O-ring that was not right, but the real reason it exploded had to do with a thing NASA calls go fever. So Challenger had been scrubbed, and a scrub is when they don’t launch because of reasons. So some reasons could be weather, technical, whatever. Challenger had been scrubbed multiple times. I’m not sure how many but many times. And because of the scrubbing, people morphed the mission from, “Let’s launch Challenger, have it do its mission, and return all the astronauts safely.” The mission morphed from that to, “Let’s launch this sucker.” And when that go fever takes over the organization, things that are quite obvious à la a freeze the night before the launch, and no one checking the status of the O-rings or whatever, get glossed over because that would prevent the organization from reaching its goal. And the goal isn’t about bringing them home safely. The goal is about just launching.

Guy Bauer: So they did meet the goal. It did launch, but you can see that go fever. When people are more concerned about just starting to press record like, “When is the shoot? When is the shoot? We need to shoot,” rather than, “What’s the idea? What’s the strategy,” and that go fever will end up in a video. You will get a video, but who knows if it’s effective or not? And the other thing I like to say too is no one will remember a year from now when the video is ineffective and just sitting there like a dud on YouTube or whatever. No one’s going to remember that you delivered it on time – nobody. And in the description, it’s not going to say, “This video was delivered on time by Tina,” or whatever.

Tory Merritt: So that’s the question you have to ask yourself is, “Do I want it to be excellent?” which things rushed rarely are, or, “Do I want to be able to say that I hit the deadline?” In the case of having a media buy, time is money. So if you don’t have something to put up there, that’s definitely an issue. So as you’re planning something that has a buy against it, you really need to think much further ahead to make sure you can hit that. If the timeline is a little bit more flexible, that’s where you have to ask yourself, “Okay, yes, I have this deadline that I’ve communicated to my internal stakeholders. People are expecting it. I have a meeting set up with the office of the presidents or executive leadership. They are expecting it.” But yes, shifting that meeting may be painful in the short term, but in the long term, if you’re able to deliver an amazing video to them, no one’s going to remember that you rescheduled or asked to have that meeting rescheduled. They will remember if they spent X dollars on something that didn’t deliver, and your name is often attached to that loss.

Guy Bauer: It’s like playing the game instead of playing the inning. You may need to just take a strikeout. It’s okay. As long as you win the game, you’re okay. And I think that’s where we’re getting at with that. So let’s talk about an ideal world because a lot of clients call us and say, “How long will this take?” And I like to say, “Longer than you think.” But I mean, why does it take so long? Why does making a video take so long, Rick? What’s going on?

Rick Livingston: Well, there’s the upfront phase of the creative, getting the creative right, and that entails things like a knowledge transfer session. The actual creative itself, which would be building out the script and the boards, and that takes up to five weeks from a boilerplate type of schedule. So yeah, right out of the gate, that’s five weeks from a creative standpoint.

Guy Bauer: And the reason why we make it five weeks is so that everyone has time to sleep on stuff. I find just being able to sleep on something adds so much value for you, the client, to have four days with a script before having to give feedback. You can take it out every day a little bit.

Tory Merritt: One, it’s a little less stressful as you’re trying to get stakeholder feedback. You don’t have to try to get to four people in one day and tell them, “Hey, you’ve got an hour,” which we all know with people who are busy, there’s no way they’re going to get to it in one hour. So then you’re stuck with partial feedback. And we’re always asking for consolidated feedback because being able to understand exactly what people are thinking, what’s working, what’s not, earlier in the process allows us, like you said, we go slow to go fast. If that part is missed because of a condensed schedule, that’s often where problems arise is the right people haven’t been able to give feedback. So then you get down to having a first cut, a second cut, everything’s already shot, and they’re like, “Hey, this whole thing is missing,” or, “I thought we talked about this or that,” and that’s where money really hits you hard.

Guy Bauer: And we haven’t really set up go slow to go fast. We stole this from one of our clients.

Tory Merritt: Thanks, guys!

Guy Bauer: The philosophy is that although that five weeks sounds extraordinary, and like, “Really? What? Five weeks? What are you guys doing over there,” it’s going slow in that upfront portion that allows the production and post-production to go quite fast. We just did a really complicated project that we can’t talk about yet. And the video is, I mean, super complicated. And you would think that it would take so long to do the production and post, but that was actually three weeks. I think we were a month and a half early delivering that because no one had notes on the client because everything had been thought, slept on, pre-visualized, yada yada. So anyway, that’s going slow so that you can go fast later on. But Rick, so five weeks for creative, and then what are the other phases?

Rick Livingston: So then after the creative, we’ll go into the production side of it, so talking about the pre-production, the actual casting of the actors. And then we’ll actually get the shoot date, which everyone’s very excited about getting to. Then we’ll go into the post-production phase. So that phase can take anywhere between five to eight weeks to complete. And again, like I was saying, the back end of the process, if everything is stacked up correctly up front, can happen very quickly. What’s ironic about this project that Guy was talking about earlier is I remember we were on a call for a project that’s still not complete right now, and we wrapped the very difficult project within weeks after shooting it. Yet, we’re still on a creative phase because of this other project because there’s been a lot of back and forth on the upfront side of it.

Tory Merritt: Because it wasn’t solid, right? It was like, “We need to go. We need to get out of this phase. Let’s move on.” Problem is, you move on with holes in your ship, it still fills up with water.

Guy Bauer: Penny wise, pound foolish, one or the other. I mean, none of this is new. It’s just I think very hard to defend a timeline internally, especially when you have tons of pressure on you to deliver an asset.

Tory Merritt: Again, we will do rush projects. It’s just being smart. If we’re going to do a rush project, the proportions of time, you may be asking like, “This is a rush. Why are we still in strategy and creative? Let’s go.” But not having that strategy solidified, once we’re presenting creative, we’re really just giving you here’s what it could look like. There’s nothing behind it like, “Let’s use serifs,” and it doesn’t ladder up to anything else.

Guy Bauer: What I like to do if we are in a rush project is take time from post-production rather than creative. Because the idea is if you take time from creative, and that’s the ideation and strategy stuff, you’re actually going to elongate post-production because you’ve punted the risk from-

Tory Merritt: And the decision making.

Guy Bauer: … to the post, so you’re just going to elongate post-production, which is expensive.

Tory Merritt: You still have to make decisions. And you still have to make a decision at the end, but you’re going back instead of making the decision one time. You half-ass the decision-making process. You will end up having to pay for it later. And I think sometimes, clients get frustrated when they feel like, “I don’t know. Let me figure it out later.” It’s like, “Well, I wish I could give you more time,” but being experts having done this, the reason we’re pushing you hard on those questions is so that you don’t have to pay for it later when we have to go back, or you have to explain to your boss or your executive leadership team like, “Hey, this is why this is half-assed,” or, “This is why this wasn’t thought about,” or, “This is why this decision just didn’t get made.”

Guy Bauer: So I’ve done unofficial research. So over the past few months, three projects came in that were on a “rush” for one reason or the other. Either we said no, or our timeline was too slow for the client, whatever. We were too rushed. We didn’t do these three projects. But what I did was I marked the date that the clients told me they needed these projects in my calendar. And then on that date, I started checking YouTube, each one of their accounts, waiting for the video to show up.

Guy Bauer: All three clients did not launch the video on the day they “needed it”. In fact, what’s funny is on average, all of the clients released the video on the date that we gave them as the estimated delivery date if we could do our timeline, which proves this whole thing of what we’re saying is that it’s easy for us to send a proposal over that has a date in it, but it’s not realistic because this process just takes time. And we can all pretend that we’re going to hit this timeline together, and then when we miss it, just go, hem and haw, go, “Oh, well,” but I think it’s really important to be realistic. And it’s almost, wouldn’t you rather just know the real date rather than a fake close date?

Tory Merritt: It’s the over promising, right? But it’s over promising knowing that it’s never going to happen. Is that really helpful? Or would you rather, “This is the timeline. I can guarantee that we’ll have a final video as long as we do what we need to do by this date”? And then your word means something, right? You don’t want to be the person who’s constantly giving this timeline that never gets met, and people start to question like, “Could you just tell me what the real one? I can deal with it being four or five weeks later if it’s done right, and it’s done well versus you give me this timeline, we never meet it anyway, and then the video sucks too.” Not that we make videos that suck, but it’s never going to be as good as it could be if the amount of time that we’ve, as experts, have figured out is necessary isn’t there.

Guy Bauer: I also did more unofficial research a year or two ago, and I boiled down all of our projects over the course of a year, and from project start to project end on average, from the day our clients signed our contract to the day we delivered that final video, how long? And on average, it was three and a half months. And that may sound like a long time, but believe me, you will be getting weekly communications. There’s tons of stuff to do in those three months, and they’re all, if done properly, all driving towards adding value in making a video that actually does its thing.

Tory Merritt: So then my question is, if you have to do a rush project, how do you do it well? What tips do we have to help make that go smoothly if the date really is the date?

Guy Bauer: I’ve got one. Take the timeline we give you on the day we give you the timeline and block off all of the review times in your organization’s calendar with all the stakeholders. Block it off at the very start. So if it’s a six week total timeline, you plan out the entire six weeks of meetings. That would be one big one.

Tory Merritt: I think that’s the biggest spot where we lose time is we deliver a timeline, we say, “If we’re going to hit this, it’s 24-hour turns. So you have to be available at some point during this day,” and then we have clients like, “Hey, I’m at an event. I can’t do it.” Knowing that before we get going is super important. Otherwise, we end up not being able to hit that date. And then it’s like, “Hey, I’m not available for another three or four business days.” That cost you three or four business days right there that it didn’t need to.

Guy Bauer: Now in the case of an event, so if we’re rushing for a website launch, okay, maybe the video can come three days after the website launches, but say this is an event. Event is October 15th, and you, the client, are running a day behind, and you can’t deliver this video a day later. So what do we do? It’s money, right?

Tory Merritt: To be able to have the resources we need to make that, especially 24 hours if there’s multiple pieces of the video that one person would normally be working on, Rick you can speak to this, but I think we end up breaking it out amongst multiple people to try. And it’s parallel pathing things, right, which we all know is always iffy.

Rick Livingston: That goes across from the creative to production and post. That’s where things, yeah, start getting dicey.

Tory Merritt: So step one is setting expectations internally to make sure that you can meet the review timelines that are expected with the timeline to be able to hit it. Another thing is making sure that when you are reviewing things, take a couple extra minutes or a couple extra hours, if you need it, to truly review it. Personally, this is something I learned early in my career was, it’s got to be done. It’s got to be done. So you hurry up, you review it really quickly, and you’re like, “Okay, I did it. Here you go.” And then for the next 30 minutes, you’re like, “Oh, by the way, here’s this. And by the way, here’s that and that,” versus if you had just taken an extra hour to sit down and go through it, you can send the feedback one time and be confident that it’s all there.

Guy Bauer: So it’s again, it’s go slow so that you can go fast. Slow and deliberate.

Rick Livingston: Measure twice to cut once, right?

Tory Merritt: And then being, I think, available is super important as well. We have a client that often we do rushes for, and I think one of their greatest assets is they’re in it with us which means we’re texting, we’re calling, we’re emailing. Nobody is irritated that there’s a lot of communication happening, but it’s not just coming from us being like, “Hey, where are you? I need this.” They’re constantly on the phone and in it with us. And it makes a huge difference because everybody understands where things are, things as simple as I’ve got it in front of her, but she can’t look at it until 2:30 between meetings, that one starts at 2:45. But knowing that, everybody gets it, and no one’s freaking out that, “Oh, my gosh. They haven’t looked at it yet,” or, “Oh, my gosh. They haven’t sent it yet.” It’s just that communication and being willing to be besties.

Guy Bauer: I really do think the dynamic of client and agency morphs during a rush project where it’s almost like we’re both in this together, that kind of-

Tory Merritt: It’s very High School Musical.

Rick Livingston: But those are the projects that those rush deadlines are hit, when there’s the equal amount of communication.

Tory Merritt: It’s because they can’t change it, right? It’s an actual rush timeline. And we have great relationships with those clients. We’re the heavy hitters. They know when they need something quick and they need it right, they can come to us, and we all know the expectations. We’re all playing the game together.

Guy Bauer: I have one more thought, and then we can wrap up the episode. And this goes [with] what I was saying earlier is, say you’re doing a website launch. First of all, in my entire nine years of owning this agency, when we’ve rushed to make a video for a website launch, 100% of the time the website was launched two months after we delivered the video. The website is always late. So that’s a universal rule.

Tory Merritt: Take a breather. We’ll get you a bumper sticker.

Guy Bauer: Odds of us beating the website by more than two weeks, the over under, I’ll take the under all the time. Okay, so in summary, stop doing rush projects. You’re driving us crazy.

Tory Merritt: And yourself crazy.

Guy Bauer: Know that rush projects are not ideal. The time is not for us. We’re not using our timelines to go surfing and do whatever artistic stuff. There’s time built in there for sleeping on stuff, for actually thinking. And don’t skip the thinking part. Go slow so that you can go fast. And then if you are going to do a rush, it sounds like just communication. Be ready for this to be a co-venture rather than the client-agency dynamic. It’s more of like coworkers. Thank you very much, Rick, for joining us.

Rick Livingston: I appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for having me.

Guy Bauer: You can go back to your timelines now.

Rick Livingston: I can’t wait.

Guy Bauer: Thanks for listening to “So you need a video.” For more information and for links to any videos we talked about in this episode, visit our website at umault.com. That’s U-M-A-U-L-T.com. If you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and leave us a review on your podcast app of choice. Thanks for listening.