The miracle of time: What allowing more of it can do for your results

21st October 2021

We often think of projects as an A to B process. There’s a start line and a finish line. And we tend to think of a project as a race: how fast can we get from A to B? We make a (hopefully realistic) estimate of how long that should take, and set that as the project deadline. On your marks, get set… GO!

But, (to extend the analogy to breaking point), this approach sets your project off on the wrong foot before you’ve even started.

The A-to-B-as-fast-as-possible approach is the right approach for an elite sprinter trying to cover 100m in under 10 seconds. And it might be the right approach for certain projects that don’t require any creativity or flexibility in their planning. But for video and content marketing campaigns, it allows no time for arguably the most important elements of the project: No time to absorb new information. No time for a pulse check along the way. No time to scope options. No time to adjust for best performance. No time to change tack. And, unlike the most recent James Bond film, plenty of time for your project to die.

At best, you’ll end up with a knackered team of barely satisfied creatives and planners sitting on a middling project. Great, if that’s what you were after. But it probably isn’t.

If you add space to your video content project deadlines, you’ll suddenly find the project has room to breathe. Flexibility and creativity need space. Results won’t improve until the campaign has a bit of headroom. And once you’ve got it, you’ll want to know how to use it. Here’s how…

Take time to find the right video marketing agency before you even need them.

Often, we are approached by people who have an immediate project need for our skills, and it’s easy to understand why an agency might be drafted in as the last step in the process. We’re happy to oblige of course, but we also know that if we’d been involved earlier in the process we’d have had a chance to offer consultation and guidance and the project might be in better shape by now. It certainly avoids any mismatch between goals, expectations, budget and time.

Get in touch with agencies before you need them. It’s easier said than done, but they are mostly very open to wide ranging chats, and they don’t need to be handed a brief at the first meeting. It’s actually better if you don’t have a specific project in mind. Without a specific need, you have the chance to look at the breadth of an agency’s strengths and how they can help you with any number of potential future projects.

Once you start out on a project – with a longer lead time – you can consult your shortlist of friendly video marketing agencies and call one up for a chat as the planning gets underway. The agency should be able to help you shape your brief, inject fresh ideas and instil a sense of control into proceedings.

Take time to consult internal stakeholders for video marketing projects

There’s a school of thought that if you drop a project on key stakeholders at zero notice and need an answer back in a hurry, you are unlikely to meet much resistance. After all, they are probably busy people who, given the lack of time appointed, are unlikely to come up with suggestions that might derail your existing plans.

That approach may seem like an easy route to greenlighting your project, but you will miss out on a set of valuable ideas that have the potential to lift your campaign. It’s true that you don’t want your video content marketing to be designed by committee, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult for the best ideas available. An agency can help you manage internal squabbles and keep messaging strong, while adapting the brief to embrace new input.

Allow time for procurement

It’s boring, but it’s important to consider. Never underestimate how much time you can lose going through the procurement process. This won’t be driven by your agency, it will be driven by your own systems and as much as you want to speed things along, you need to have realistic expectations and build contingency time into your plan. It’s not unheard off to spend three times longer in procurement than in project delivery Thats ok if you have long time windows but if you need something turned around in 6 weeks that can be a killer.

Creativity takes time

Creativity takes time. Less time means fewer ideas at the planning stage. Backing a single, hastily conceived idea doesn’t mean it’ll be wrong, but it means it probably could have been better. Make time to consult with your agency and in-house teams to gather ideas and think them through – did you end up with the same idea you first had in your head? Of course not.

Once the initial concept is in the frame, it’s easy to switch into a hell-for-leather run at production and post, but this is a flawed approach. Yes, you’ve got an idea, a good one, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be finessed during the process. In an ideal world, you would always have enough time to realise you’ve picked the wrong idea and start again. (In an ideal world, of course, you won’t need to).

Post-production is sometimes seen as a technical project, and the part of the project that doesn’t need added time to enhance creativity. I think this is another flawed approach and doesn’t allow for ideas to be tried, and to really think about video content marketing beyond the camera: infographics, captions, music, effects, colour and editing. These are the things that will bring your campaign to life.

Extra time in the edit suite also gives you time to create multiple versions of your film, either for different uses (ie. social media and YouTube) or for A/B testing when you run your campaign.

Make time for the shoot

For all that, it’s usually easier to book some extra time in post after the fact than it is to reshoot – and for that reason I recommend you book twice the amount of time on the shoot. The theoreticals of how much time it takes to, say, interview someone on camera are almost always underplayed. You need time to find the perfect location, light properly and allow organic creative things to happen.

I realise that a shoot is expensive and it’s possible that booking two days of shooting rather than one puts a nasty hole in your budget. But there are other ways to achieve the same thing without getting a phone call from the financial director. If you’re doing interviews in an office, you could cut the number of interviews you are doing (from six to four, say) and send over a note so that an area of the office can be prepared in advance for the crew’s arrival. A director might do a site visit to scout for ideas and start planning. The MD might read our six tips to improve your camera presence.

The extra time you make available during the shoot allows for exploration of ideas and creates an atmosphere of relative calm which is likely to smoothen the entire process and get better results out of the talent, and better footage overall.

Make time for campaigns to run

Finally, you need extra time for your campaign to run. This isn’t because I imagine you have a bottomless pit of cash earmarked for media spend, but because it’s vital that you are tracking your campaign performance data and adapting your approach according to what it tells you. If you can’t find extra cash to keep the campaign running, lower the spend and extend the length of it – you will still get the benefit of longer term data.

You’ll never go back to rushed video content marketing projects

Don’t get me wrong, if you approach us at the eleventh hour and need your project delivered yesterday, we will do everything we can to get it over the line. And we’ll do the best job we possibly can in the time available. But we know that had you come to us sooner in the project we could have delivered something better.

We know that time is money and money is not an indefinite resource. We also know how to create time in your process without creating an accounting crisis.

Projects can creep up on you and that’s why in my next blog, I’ll be talking about how to plan ahead to make sure you’ve always got – you guessed it – extra time.


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