Do Video Production Pros Need to Know Web Video Marketing?

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Here's a tip: Don't rely on the Wikipedia definition of "video production;" it uses very outdated language.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

Do Video Production Pros Need to Know Web Video Marketing?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?

Do Video Production Pros Need to Know Web 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."

Do Video Production Pros Need to Know Web Video Marketing?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.

Images courtesy of iStockPhoto.com, © Josh Blake #2959568; © jpa1999 #11799040

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What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.facebook.com/tvkevin Kevin Horton

    Great article! I would love for you or anyone else to take a look at what my company is doing already in the world of online video production & marketing. www.tvkevin.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/tvkevin Kevin Horton

      I spent 15 years as a TV news photojournalist. Made it all the way to Los Angeles, when I was only 31. I found many older photographers not even knowing how to edit, or even run a live truck. Most refused or complained, yet their job descriptions were changing everyday... demanding that they start learning and growing in their field. Now you have reporters shooting their own video, the job as just a "news photographer" are coming to an end, those guys will retire and that will be the end of that "job". The same can be said about the online video production world, there are many people creating the video and adding the marketing that goes along with it. Those will be the companies businesses will be searching for... bottom line, if you don't grow as a person or business you will be left behind in this new world of video.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/author/grantastic/ Grant Crowell

      Thanks, Kevin. Might I suggest you could share your comments about the actual article itself? If there's something you have on your website that directly relates to the topic, that could be an option. We just get a lot of requests in the comments area that only say "take a look at my website" or "take a look at my video" for professional feedback. Nothing wrong with that if you're asking that with familiar colleagues, but let's please save the comments are for contributions that help everyone – thanks!

      • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

        Ill put back the link when he responds :)

  • Barbeds

    Nice try gents, but making marketing pro's out of video production pro's is a long shot. Two very different disciplines, and web video needs marketing specialists, not video production people pretending to have real marketing skills. There are other ways for video production pro's to justify their fees, but this is not one of them. If it were all that simple, why not take marketing pro's and teach them video production? Yeah, right!

    Remember, those who move in too many directions at one time, go nowhere.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      I think marketing pros DO need to learn video production :) BUT - point
      well taken and thanks for the comment

  • timdanyo

    Thanks Grant. I've been thinking about these things for quite sometime. I appreciate your analysis. I am an online video producer who first started out in the live event/documentary world. What I learned doing this type of work was how to build emotion and craft a story that resonates deeply with an audience. It takes time, practice and a lot of passion to achieve success- just like with any craft. I'm still learning, but i've built up momentum and i'm able to apply that in the video marketing arena.

    I'd say the video producers of today need to see themselves more as new media communicators and community audience builders. Yes we need to be marketers and understand video seo, analytics, calls to action, why and when people click, how and where to place video, in what format, etc. That is definitely a part of the new video job description, but the connector storytellers, the ones who can communicate to a niche audience and to help to solve their problems, those are the folks who are needed big time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pamela.sylvan Pamela Sylvan

    Thanks Grant! This helps me clarify exactly what to focus on when choosing the best fit for my clients!

  • http://twitter.com/jimmfox jimmfox

    Good post Grant. Traditional videographers and video production companies are being squeezed from two directions today. At the low end they are being pressured by new equipment owners and they are also being pressured by agencies and marketers who are now 'getting into video.'

    Owning equipment and knowing how to use it is becoming table stakes. Learning new ways to add value to the process is becoming more important every day.

  • Rex Williams

    Gah! I've wrestled with this for years. I've been producing online videos for about a decade, mostly for SMB's.

    Like you outlined in the article, businesses often need someone to focus on the marketing side of their video projects. But here's the problem:

    As someone who gets paid per project, I'm wary of a client seeing me as a go-to marketing resource.

    I've worked shoulder to shoulder with scores of marketing consultants and hundreds of businesses.

    - Video is a car that moves a business.
    - Marketing is a driver that aims the car in a (hopefully) smart direction.

    I get it, I can do it, but it's just too easy to go from video producer, to video producer + free marketing consultant. I don't want to answer questions about radio, tv, email, print, copy-writing, social media, ad-networks, etc.

    -- Doing so robs my other clients of time, energy and focus. --

    Obviously this is a non-issue when a client has someone in the driver seat of their marketing strategy. Unfortunately many SMB's don't.

    The "wrestling" happens when a client obviously needs a marketing professional, but isn't ready to invest in one. It's often just better business to keep my mouth shut, and quietly apply good marketing principles when and where I can.

    The videos work, they hire me to do it again. Easy.

    I actually wish there were a clearer lines between video pros and marketing pros. I fear many businesses are led astray by video pros who prematurely adopt the role of a marketing professional.

    A good marketer can move mountains, and it's a discipline that (IMO) shouldn't become just another hat to wear.

    Love this site btw. Check it every day.

    ~ Rex Williams

    • http://www.reelseo.com/author/grantastic/ Grant Crowell

      †hanks for the thoughtful comments, Rex (and everyone else here). Well before I got involved with web video back in my web design days, I was also a search engine optimizer and marketer. I built my business around search engine friendly web design, so my model was about combining the two; and I marketed myself with content around both. But I did that for a certain type of client; I was targeting someone who could see the integration of both, where they would work better for a business than separately. If someone only wanted one or not the other, but still had the expectations of the results that come with both, I would usually have to tell them something they didn't want to hear. It may have cost me some business, but I found it better in the long run than keeping my mouth shut, and have those people get angry later about it.

      There are still too many client businesses today who say they only want a videographer but expect their videos to have great visibility and engagement. They're unrealistic, and the worst ones want to blame the people they hire to do a part of the job (but not the entire job).

      So my own experience from these situations is to promote them separately and as a package, so people can be pointed to the pricing differences. (i'm not saying to show them an advance price list, just have clear indications in any of your marketing materials that while these are services you can provide, they have their own charges.)

      There is no perfect solution for an imperfect world – just have to gauge your short-term market and long-term goals!

      • Rex Williams

        Well said. Being clear with clients and managing expectations are extremely important for any professional, video or otherwise. Over the years, our own video process and offering has become so niche, that when clients do 3 simple things with their video, they're pleased with the results.

        It's easy for them to see what we do, and more importantly - don't do.

        For us, the issue is scalability.

        After a decade of exclusively producing online video content, a core goal (5 working in my studio now) is to grow beyond the length of my shadow. If it's a service that can't be efficiently taught to new employees, we won't offer it.

        At first, I was concerned about missing out on all the projects that "almost" fit what we offer, but the discipline and efficiency thats come from limiting our options has been amazing.

        When a client is ready and willing to get serious about their marketing needs, I'm more than willing to hand them over to a capable marketing consultant. But I'll probably always feel the urge to jump in and do it myself.

        ~ Rex

  • http://www.ripplingmedia.com Nigel

    Great article Grant and an issue we are constantly educating clients on - our company is a Video Marketing business, not a video production house trying to adapt.
    We have developed a proposition on the belief that to craft and distribute successful video content for a business, a strategic marketing approach is at the core. To successfully achieve:
    - What you want your content to do (audience reaction or call to action)
    - Who you want to see your content (targeted audience) and
    - Expected ROI
    requires a marketing approach in conjunction with highly developed creative, production and syndication skills.
    Therefore a video pro doesn't need to know these additional skills in the right organization, but could certainly be capable of learning them if willing.
    Our three key partners have distinct skill sets, but have a handle across all of the disciplines required for a successful video marketing company.

  • digitaldesignvideo

    This was a great article Grant. I own a video production company that caters to the travel industry. While I am not a "videographer", I am a "marketer" who knows a lot about travel marketing, and online marketing in general. I surround myself with the "pros" who are into the "production part", while I focus on my strengths: Meeting with clients, brainstorming ideas, creating the vision, storyboarding the project and then passing it over to them! Once it's complete, I come back into the picture to assist with the marketing of it.

    I think there is a definite difference. Just because you're a farmer, doesn't mean you know how to cook. Just because you can sing, doesn't make you a record producer. Just because you shoot video, doesn't mean you know how to market it. One of my main contractors is an ESPN, sports shooting videographer and editor but cannot sell his services for the life of him, nor does he want to! I love sale and marketing but am always am on the lookout for great video editors and cameramen. They do what THEY do, I'll do what I do!

  • mcobrien

    We have entered a whole new age of marketing, where the goal is to build a relationship over time by first asking permission to share and be shared, and building on that. With this in mind, there is a distinct difference between simply aggregating video through social media channels and building successful relationships that are profitable for our clients and for ourselves as new media professionals. The trend is that clients will expect us to do more with less. Budgets are getting smaller, not larger where video production is concerned. Video isn't voo-doo anymore. It has become the new way for the masses to relate and for businesses to communicate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575501374 Nikki Brown

    Great Article.. Thanks It answered some of my questions.. Thank you I look forward to your next article.

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