The business growth of online media today will require video production people to expand their role beyond the traditional confines of simply technicians or creative professionals. They now need to consider themselves a valuable part of the actual marketing process for the video content they produce for their companies and clients. Learn about how the Web and social media have becomes the catalyst for video production professionals to assume marketing responsibilities – for their own company, clients, or simply looking for a competitive advantage in the job market.
What is a Video Production Professional?
Here's a tip: Don't rely on the Wikipedia definition of "video production;" it uses very outdated language. So as someone who's been involved in the industry professionally for some years now, I would like to offer my own updated definition here:
Video production is the creative and technical process of video recording, editing, and distributing a finished video product. A "video production professional" is someone who does video production as part of their livelihood – as their vocation, and part of their education and training; and usually in the service of a company or clients who hire them.
A video production professional is also sometimes referred to as a:
- Video production specialist
- Video (content) producer
- Videographer (the traditional title)
Granted video production agencies will always point out their own distinctions between each of these titles, but often you'll find their meanings overlap. That's why I chose the "video production professional" or "video production pro" as an all-encompassing, general title.
Differences Between Today's Video Pro & Traditional Videographer
To answer that question, I interviewed a digital media director in charge of all the online video content for one of the largest retail shopping sites. (You can check out the full interview over at the Video Commerce Consortium blog.) Here is the response:
"A videographer has a more specific skill set, particularly around camera operation. A video production professional is more of a generalist, with the ability to think through the video production process end-to-end… Along with videography skills, a video production professional may need to aid with the full production process. They can aid with planning, setup and breakdown of a shoot location. They should also be able to aid with the post-production, including editorial advice.”
How the Web Has Changed the Role of the Video Production Pro
Years ago, a lot of companies, including those heavily involved in e-commerce, would not have had a single video production professional dedicated to the Web. Today, it's not uncommon for non-media based companies to hire a small team dedicated to video production for their digital channels – Web, social, and mobile.
All that online activity continues to produce an absolutely huge amount of continual, real-time market research – something that was rarely as available and as accessible with traditional media. That's why companies with a strong online presence, and in highly competitive channels saw the need to respond quickly to this market research, by quickly an more efficiently producing content (including video content) across these channels – where consumers have migrated to.
To do that effectively, companies are now getting their own video production professionals more closely and continuously involved in their actual marketing activities. The work of the video production professional is no longer an afterthought; it's now something that can be fully integrated into the marketing mix, even potentially taking a role in shaping the marketing messages, campaigns, and larger business strategy.
Are Video Professionals Really Expected to Know Video Marketing?
Not all jobs will require it, of course. There will always be a need for clear-cut technical specialists who's job it is to follow instructions rather than to help shape ideas, or to help shape ideas but aren't experienced enough to handle the technical requirements.
But some jobs already do. Likely, there will be even circumstances where a marketing background not only a competitive advantage for a video production pro, but a job requirement.
Sound far-fetched? Take this example: Onlineshoes.com currently has a job opening for a video production specialist. Click on the link and read through list of job requirements. You will notice that they list a lot of skillsets and experiences directly related to online marketing.
I had the opportunity to interview Jimmy Healey, Senior Manger of Social Media and ecommerce for OnlineShoes.com. Jimmy shared with me that the traditional role of the video production professional does still apply with having a solid foundation of technical skillsets. They still need someone who has all of the skills of a regular videographer: How to handle a camera, how to control light and audio, and how capture and edit video and audio.
But his company is also looking for someone who knows and understands the online space. "They're active on YouTube and Facebook, can differentiate between SEO and REO Speedwagon, and are highly adept at weighing the cost vs. benefit of video production.”
Why has that been the case? "Early on in 2008 we were just happy to have video on the product page. Now, we analyze customer behavior with video to understand the impact each video has." Replied Jimmy. "We analyze things like, how did that video impact conversion? What % of viewers watched the entire video? How often is the video being shared? It's a constant process of learn-and-adapt, and it's critical that our video production specialist be an integral participant toward that understanding.”
Jimmy certainly isn't alone with this mindset. My interview with the mass merchant digital content director would appear to concur that more video production professionals, at least those working for or with companies having a strong online presence, are being assigned and increasing amount of duties involved with marketing. As the director explained to me, "(video production professionals) now must consider which tools (and technology) can be leveraged to make video more interactive, more shareable, and more 'shoppable.'”
So what if you're a video production professional – should you now expect to know and do all of these things for getting a job or a client gig? For most I will say not right now, but for a pool of applicants and vendors going after the digital media space I would say that's certainly more likely. We have now seen evidence and heard from companies hiring that this could be where the job market and work expectations are going.
Why Video Production Pros May Already Be Video Marketers
To answer that, we need to first understand the two key elements of marketing:
- The creative – marketing was traditionally seen as a creative industry in the past, which included advertising, distribution and selling. Then along came…
- The science – both public academic studies and closed business research in the past 5 decades made extensive use of social sciences, psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience. Businesses sponsored a good portion of these studies, which they could direct the findings of that research towards making them money.
We also understand that marketing is about customer satisfaction. It involves:
- Understanding your customers – What is their lifestyle? What are the problems they face? What do they desire or feel they may need? What, where, how, and when do they spend? What messages do they respond to? What affects their purchasing choices? How do they build a deeper connection to a brand? And of course, where do they go online?
- Offering solutions – is your solution a product or service, or both? What are the best means of delivering those solutions to them? Who else may you need to help you deliver those solutions? How do you need to communicate these solutions? Do your customers respond better to some messages and media than others?
- Creating value – What are the benefits your customer will enjoy with the solutions you offer? How do you make the customer feel that your solution is better than their other choices they may have or think they have?
- ROI – How do you provide the lowest possible cost margins on the scope and effectiveness of your marketing throughout the campaign? How will you measure your company's (or client company's) return on investment?
Don't yet see the connection? Here's an established definition by The American Marketing Association:
"Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Marketing is a product or service selling related overall activities.”
So here's the conclusion we can draw right from the AMA's own definition, perhaps the most well respected organization in all of marketing: The process of creating and delivering a VIDEO product or service (which can include video content) for an intended audience would qualify as part of marketing activities.
I can offer even more evidence. Lets take a systems point of view, where marketing is also be defined as…
"… a set of processes that are interconnected and interdependent with other functions, whose methods can be improved using a variety of relatively new approaches."
Some video production professionals are also involved in a systematic design for the video that's being produced. This can involve knowing how to streamline video automation (either automated or manually), developing quality control standards, and to regularly be able to check and tweak the production system for optimization of performance and efficiency. It may sound like more like engineering, but that's exactly what makes the wheels of marketing go in motion.
This is why I make the argument that today's video production pro is also a marketer: Marketing is propelled by some kind of creative; and a video production pro is responsible for getting the that kind of creative in the form of video content, "to market.”
Video Production Pros – Part of Your Online Video Marketing Team
The growth of business on the Web coupled with the growth of online video has expanded the responsibilities and skillsets to the companies and clients hiring them today. Video production pros should be included a company's online video marketing plans – from planning to production to posting to performance.
For my next article to come tomorrow, I will cover how video production professionals can get started with understanding and doing online video marketing.