“Oh, if only I had a bigger budget, I could create a much more impactful film.” If you are responsible for online marketing, video, or animation production, then it’s likely this thought has crossed your mind. And while it’s true that budget is a big factor, there’s also the secret multiplier of creative.
Creative investment is the lever of your budget. It’s what defines the difference between ‘OK’ impact of your project and stellar performance. A 2017 study by Nielsen puts the impact of creative at 47%, nearly double the 2nd-most important factor, reach. The same budget can produce an order of magnitude lift for key performance indicators such as engagement, response, etc. The only difference is the expertise and care that client and agency partner have put into the creative.
Over the years we’ve seen this again and again, and in the video above our founder and creative director Eoin Dowdall gives an overview on a few simple steps that will help ensure you are getting great ROI on your creative investments.
1. Set the right creative constraints
Somewhat counter-intuitively, it is actually important that the creative process starts with some constraints, the right frame and focus. A video brief that sets out what’s in scope and what isn’t. It’s essential that this brief establishes a clear understanding of the target audience: their likes, dislikes, tastes, aspirations, and so on. This is where it’s important to have the right production partner – a team that takes the time to understand your specific needs, audience, and other constraints – and who don’t push you to a particular template or their latest ‘cool’ idea.
2. Start with audience data and insights
Yes, producing outstanding videos and animations does require a creative spark; but this spark will not come out of nowhere – you will need to create the right conditions. In today’s world this means being familiar with ‘data’: who are your audience, what are their interests, what channels/media do they engage with, etc.
However, data isn’t enough – you also need to ‘get’ your audience more intuitively, and often that means engaging directly with them. This doesn’t need to be a series of focus groups, but can be as simple as a few video chats, or engaging in some social media sleuthing yourself, and ideally with your production partner, so you are building common ground for the creative process.
The big tech companies really have taken this to heart, often sending entire teams to meet customers and users where they are before they start creating products (here’s an account of how they do it at Google).
3. Make it memorable and share-worthy
You’ve probably heard enough about ‘viral’ successes. Though while the term is a bit worn and also certainly inappropriate in today’s climate, there is some truth to this concept. Animation and videos that trigger an impulse to share, or that are memorable, will demonstrably perform better – for the same budget.
There are many checklists (e.g. Forbes, Mashable), old and new, but in essence they come back to a few simple ingredients: an element of surprise or suspense, a strong emotional appeal and upbeat tone, kittens. OK, the last one was a joke, but in seriousness, it also highlights the danger of pricing ‘virality’ above all. Yes, kittens will make your video measurably cuter, but if they are not aligned with your core message or audience expectations, then your ‘creative’ will be a negative multiplier.
This is another reason why it’s important to choose your agency partner carefully and to ensure they truly understand YOUR needs vs. pushing what may have worked elsewhere.
4. Pathos, logos, and ethos
Big words, but Aristotle did really describe something that still holds true today. A great story is what makes a great video or animation. And great stories have a clear dramatic arc, as well as a balance of pathos (emotional appeal), logos (substance, data, logic), and ethos (credibility and sincerity).
Of course this not something that lay forgotten for millennia, good advertising and film making has heeded these principles for decades (The Hero with a Thousand Faces).
5. End with a clear purpose or call to action
You’ve started the creative journey with a clear definition of the purpose of your production, and it’s important that your audience is left with a clear sense of what’s next as well. Part of the art in the creative process is translating your purpose statement into a call to action for the audience. We often see productions fail creatively (and thus in terms of impact) when this translation isn’t done at all or without sufficient care.
The result can be an ending that may ring true to the marketing department but will fail to connect with the audience. It is here that again close partnership between agency and client will pay off manifold.
Following these five simple points will help you approach your film production with the right focus on creative investment, and that in turn is what sets apart a winning film from a middling one – for the same budget.
Every single of these five points requires deep mutual understanding and trust between client and production partner. Success, from our experience, is really less about the size of the budget and more about the partnership and care taken from the start of the creative process.
Over the last decade we’ve partnered with 100s of clients to produce 1000s of award-winning videos and animations across education, health, tech, and other sectors. Give us a call to get our creative partnership started.