Talking Video Production Basics with Industry Veteran Stu Sternbach

I recently had a conversation with Stu Sternbach, President of Pangea Reps. His firm represents high-level video production companies, the folks who are creating some of your favorite TV commercials & branded content for tv, web, and corporations. Stu’s one of the most knowledgeable and personable people I know in the video industry. With over 20 years in the business as a talent manager, high level business developer, and adjunct professor, including experience in traditional & digital production, project management, advertising, sales & marketing, music, web development, and entertainment, he really understands the ins and outs of producing polished and effective videos that serve the needs of small businesses. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation:

Stu, What is the Main Reason Why People Should Consider Using Video to Help Promote Their Business?

Videos are a great window into who people really are. In business, it’s really important that you as a potential customer know enough about the person you are about to go into business with and seeing is believing. You can see and hear the passion of a company owner in a video. You can’t fake it. Whether it’s the owner of a coffee shop, a jewelry maker, a chef, a wedding planner or a dog trainer, what better way to get to know them than show-and-tell?

What Types of Videos Work Best for Small Businesses?

First of all, you have to know your audience. When a person says they want a video, I always say, of course you do! Then I ask them, where is this video going to be shown? When do you want it to go there and what do you want it to do? What is the call to action? Are you informing or entertaining or showing your process? All in all, most people do want to drive business, so strategize early on about how the video can lead your audience to take an action. If you are asking them to watch your video, then make sure you know why you are asking them to watch it.

What do You Mean by Process?

Sometimes videos can take us on a journey through one’s business throughout the work day, going through their daily process: how they work, who the team members are, and how they achieve their daily goals. You can use live action, animation, photographs, or a combination of styles to help you go beyond just talking about what you do. That gets boring, and (unless you are extremely good looking and highly intelligent beyond your peers), you may need to include more than just a talking head.

And Of Course, There’s Budget

Of course. Budget is always going to be a factor, but there are ways to make the most of any video shoot. For example, if you’re doing a video that focuses on one event, spend just a bit more so you can shoot some interviews with your team members or perhaps some nice b-roll (industry slang for “beauty shots”) of the venue. This really adds to the professional look of your video and gives your editor more options when cutting together the content piece. And if you shoot enough b-roll, then maybe you can use that to create additional videos through the year across multiple platforms. Location shots, interviews, testimonials, different people talking about your product; think in terms of campaigns. A good producer will help you pre-plan all of this, to help you get the most out of your shoot days.

You want your company to come across positively, so the people on camera need to speak well. They may be passionate and want to go off on many tangents, but you have to keep them focused and make sure they cover the main points of your video. You should pre-interview people and allow some time for them to feel totally comfortable on camera, as well as time for multiple takes, lighting, and sound setups. Remember, you are creating a mini movie for your business. Work with a skilled production company who understands all of this. An experienced director with the right crew can truly make you look and sound great, (editing helps too).

How Long Should a Video Be?

How’s “not too long?” It depends on if a person is watching your video because they want to learn more about you or your company or if through your marketing efforts have directed them to look at your video for a specific reason. People who are subscribers are interested in what you’re doing, they are more willing to watch a longer piece. The last corporate video I worked on went about five minutes, but that covered about 15 on-camera interviews. Usually, two to three minutes will do.

No matter what you do, unless you are showcasing your video at an event, your audience might not watch the full video. Make it interesting by trying out a few locations, having some graphics and adding some transition elements between sections. You can also do a lot with music and sound. Don’t settle for one stock track that really doesn’t enhance all the work you’ve put in.

Are You Talking About the Difference Between Outbound and Inbound Marketing?

If you are just introducing yourself to people, with no prior relationship, then you can’t bank on their interest. If you have a track record and they are already interested in your work, then you will be able to keep people interested in longer work or even a collection of short videos about your product... or maybe different videos for different channels, for people at various levels of interest in your company.

For any company, whether you’re selling products or services, it’s not going to hurt to tell your story in a video. If you can’t tell your own story, why would someone want to work with you? It’s a good exercise to put a video together, it builds company morale and it lets a lot of ideas flow. Videos are a great selling tool because it can showcase all of your best company qualities and convince people to work with you. If your company is large enough and has different departments, you can create a campaign and release the features throughout the year.

For more information, contact Stu at Pangea Reps.

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