Maybe you have been in a meeting like this. Someone chimes in and says, “Let’s do a video!”

Everyone loves the idea. The room is full of energy. The creativity is flowing. Everyone has an idea about what the video should be about.

Only one thing. The video is already on the way to failure.

Wow. Talk about a killjoy! I know. The thing is, as the founder of a Chicago video production company, I have seen far too many videos start this way and fall short of expectations and there’s a simple reason why.

They go into the project without a plan.

This is something I write about extensively in my book on how to produce better corporate videos, Lights, Camera, Impact.

You shouldn’t jump right into creative without thinking through every step of the video production process.

Now, I understand everyone is busy. I’m not here to create more work for you. When I say “Plan,” many people start envisioning 15-pages, single-spaced, bullet points, graphics… no. You don’t need to do that.

What if I told you that you could create a basic video plan based on five simple questions?

Not bad, right?

I’m willing to give you the questions, but here’s the trick. You’re responsible for answering them, and more importantly, holding yourself accountable to those answers.

Let’s give it a try.

Five Questions You Need to Ask at the Start of Your Video Project

  • What’s your goal and how are you going to measure it?
  • Who’s your audience?
  • Where are you going to show the video?
  • What’s the story?
  • How will you promote the video?

Some of you are giving me the 11-year-old eye roll. Trust me, I get it enough at home I know when it’s happening without seeing it.

What’s your goal? Who’s your audience? Yes. Some of this is PR or Marketing 101.

However, every one of these questions is important to answer. Let’s go over each one.

Goals & Measurement

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a customer this question only to get back a blank stare. They know they want a video, but they can’t tell me what they hope to accomplish with it.

Are you trying to push someone through your funnel or flywheel? Do you want people to sign-up for something? Maybe you’re going for the always popular awareness?

Whatever it is, you should write it down and decide how you’re going to measure it. Let’s figure out if we’re successful in meeting the goal. That way we can get more of the budget for the next video!


This might be the most important answer. It is absolutely critical you decide on who your audience is for the video.

The better and more detailed you can make this, the better.

Here’s why… you’re making the video for them.

It is so easy to lose track of this as the project rolls along. Everyone has ideas for the video. People are sending you emails about it. They’re dropping them in Zoom meetings. They offer them as you grab a cup of coffee.

And you know what? I doubt any of them were thinking about your audience when they came up with those ideas.

You have to be the champion for your audience. If someone gives you an idea but it doesn’t serve your audience, thank them for their input and file it away.

Everything you decide about the video should always come back to, “Does my audience care?” and “How can we serve them?”


Where are you going to show your video? The company website? Social media? Email campaign? An event? I could go on and on.

Deciding this in advance will help with the number one question people consistently ask me (besides price) which is, “How long should the video be?” Where you plan to show the video will help you figure this out.

First, pick a primary channel. It’s important to do this because you will likely share the video over multiple channels. I want you to pick the most important one.

Next, think push versus pull.

Maybe the primary reason you’re producing the video is for social media. In that case, you want to make a short video (1-minute or less) because you’re pushing it on people. They didn’t ask for your video, so keep it short.

On the other hand, maybe the video is meant to live on your website. Now you’re in a pull situation. People have come to your site wanting to learn more about you, so you can make the video a little longer (3-minutes or less).

Knowing your channels will be your video-length guide.


Video isn’t about facts and figures. Video is about emotion. We’re not going after people’s minds with our videos, we’re going after their hearts, and the shortcut to the heart is storytelling.

It’s entirely possible you might not know what your story is going to be centered around when you start answering these questions, so if you need to punt on this one, it’s okay. If that happens, please come back and write it down when you know.

As always, think about your audience as you’re deciding on this. What’s a story that’s going to tap into their emotions?

You don’t have to target big emotions, either. If you get someone to laugh or cry while watching your video, you get an A+. The good news is it’s totally fine to target smaller emotions.

Most of the time, when we produce videos for customers, we simply want the audience to feel good about that company, or we want them to feel confident in the company.

What emotion would you like your audience to feel?


Okay, you’re a communicator. This is probably the part of the project where you shine. You get that video file and you share, share, share!

But a few weeks or months go by… crickets.

When your video is the shiny new toy, it gets all sorts of attention, but then you move on to other assets, or you’ve shared that sucker so many times you’re like, “Enough already!”

No matter the reason, this isn’t going to happen to you because you now have a plan. Write down in advance where and how often you’re going to share it.

If this is a short-term campaign, easy. If it’s something more evergreen, keep at it! You don’t have to promote it every day, but make it a regular part of your content calendar.

Remember, you’re gaining new audience members all the time. Make sure they get the opportunity to watch.

You can produce the best video in the world, but if you don’t get anyone to watch… what’s the point?

A PR or marketing video is an incredible tool for your tool belt. A well-produced video with a plan is even better.

Create one of those and you’re on your way to video success.

Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions, a video production company specializing in PR and marketing videos.

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