I created a whole inbound campaign for $10. Here's how it went.

Jul 29, 2015Marketing Strategy

As a marketer, inbound marketing and content creation can be tough. The amount of time it takes to produce videos, blog posts, social media imagery and photography is substantial. The notion of doing it in-house likely just isn’t in the cards for many companies. So I decided to do a little content experiment and learning experience and measure how much effort is involved in producing this content.I set out to do my own mini content campaign to measure how much time (and therefore, cost) it would take to produce content much like a brand would do. Here’s what I set out to create:
  • One 2-minute video “story”
  • One 15-second video vignette (promoting the story)
  • Two blog posts or articles (this blog post you’re reviewing counts as one of my posts)
  • Social Media imagery to promote the videos & blog content
  • Extensive photography assets to support social media & blog post content
Look at all that content! Content like this could be rolled out over the course of 1-2 weeks and with the amount of photography produced (see below), I could be sharing these images on social media, like Instagram, for weeks or even months to come!

But wait, what is inbound or content marketing?

Inbound (aka content) marketing is the production of digital content targeting topics that align with web users’ research and purchasing process that draws customers into your brand. Check out the INFOGRAPHIC from Mashable in 2013 that explains the difference between inbound (pull) vs outbound (push) marketing.In essence, you’re giving your potential customers the information and power they need to make the decision to choose to do business with you. Outbound marketing, the opposite of inbound or content marketing, is essentially pushing promotional messages out to customers with little to no informational value in their decision-making process (other than perhaps the problem recognition or “awareness of need” phase).

My Content Marketing Experiment

This was a personal project of mine, but theoretically it would be similar to a “brand story” that I could be hired to do for a business or that I could participate in as part of my “day job” as well. The above content represents what are the key building blocks that can help a brand tell a story without feeling overly sales-heavy. This is my content marketing experiment.In inbound marketing, you want your content and messaging ultimately to drive back to your owned digital properties – in other words, your website. You can view the original story I wrote for this experiment on Dadtography.com, here. The blog posts would serve as the corner stones and would be where the potential customers “convert”. Dadtography.com doesn’t sell anything, per se, but it still has “customers” as content consumers.A bit more information about the nuts and bolts of how I produced these two videos is below. But first, let’s watch the videos!

The Full-Length Video (1m 53s)

Don’t forget to view them in HD, if you have the bandwidth!

The Video “Short” (15 seconds)

What type of equipment was used to produce the videos?

Being my first video, we don’t have a very elaborate setup when it comes to the gear. The downtown Orlando walking tour video you see here was shot using the Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras. All footage was shot free-handed (no gimbal, stabilizer or tripod) while walking around the city. Larger productions could absolutely require a “crew” to produce. We kept video production very basic for these videos.
Samsung NX1 + 50-150mm S Lens

Samsung NX1 + 50-150mm S Lens

The NX1 camera was used with the 50-150mm S lens, while the NX500 had the 16-50 S lens. I found this combination of cameras allowed me to easily get close-up shots and telephoto shots in both photo and 4k video formats very easily. Carrying around two cameras isn’t ideal, but the smaller size of the mirrorless NX cameras (especially the NX500) made it much easier than lugging around larger form-factor cameras with the same capabilities.

Video Editing & Post-Production

Incremental changes were key in assembling what would eventually become the final product for this video. I was trying out a new application – Wondershare Filmora video editor, for the first time. I don’t have a lot of experience editing video, so I needed something that was simple, but could still make relatively “polished” looking videos. Overall, I’d say I’m satisfied with Wondershare, however, I was disappointed to learn that the Mac version (6.01) won’t output in a resolution higher than 1920 x 1080, so I’ll have to wait for 4k support for now, or switch products.The song I used in the video is called Birdseye House by Marmoset. I wanted something lively but not annoying and I think this instrumental was exactly what I needed.

Videography Lessons Learned

In this experiment, I thought it was important to reflect on lessons learned, given that this was my first video “project”. I had done numerous photo projects in the past, but video is a bit different. I set out to tell a story, where the “brand” is essentially downtown Orlando. My goal was to make two videos – the “full” video would be targeted at under 2 minutes and a 15 second clip, good for sharing on Instagram.I’m happy with the way the final products turned out, but there’s always room for improvement. Here’s how I’d improve my next project:

I’d create a creative brief.

I’m sure not all videographers do this, but the left-brain dominant me thinks this will be a good idea. The purpose of the video creative brief would be to outline how the video will “feel” and a bit about the creative aspects but also the strategy and purpose.I would write down a few more of the details around “why” I am doing the video (what’s the purpose) and what will (or won’t) be included in the video and shoot. I think this would be helpful to stay focused in future projects. And also because I like a plan.

I’d create a shot list.

Still in the “planning” vain, I think it would also be helpful to make a list of must-have shots. Once you define your “why” and spell out what it is you’re setting out to do, a bit of brain storming on what shots best represent your idea could be helpful in making sure you don’t miss something. After wrapping up shooting and heading home to begin editing, there were a number of times I had the thought, “I wish I had a shot of…“.

I’d focus a bit more on image stabilization.

The cameras and lenses I used all include in-lens image stabilization, but being fairly new to videography, I have now come to realize how important stability in each shot is. I’m thinking a basic gimbal or stabilizer could go a long way to putting a bit more polish on my shots.

Social Media & Supporting Imagery

For this particular set of videos, I did a single article on Dadtography.com along with some supporting imagery. Typically, I would do a unique image for each social platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+) but I opted for a single image instead. The image will work okay across most of the platforms, but won’t be optimized. Here’s the image I produced for social media for this “campaign”:
Social Imagery - Downtown Orlando Walking Tour Video Project

Social Imagery – Downtown Orlando Walking Tour Video Project

In addition to the social media image above, I also created a “header” image for the article itself. I pulled this image from a large gallery of images I produced during my photo and video shoot for the movie. A few of the images produced during this shoot are below.The above is only a small sub-set of the photos produced during the shoot. In total, I also managed to produce nearly 225 photos. That was with only myself as a photographer & videographer. That’s not bad, right?

Time Estimate, Costs and Savings Opportunities

Finally, with all my content produced, it was time for me to calculate the effort required. I sat down and calculated how long I thought it took me to produce both videos, two blog posts (this one and the post on Dadtography.com). Here’s what I came up with:
  • Video & photo shoot – 3.5 hours
  • Photo processing – 1 hour
  • Video shot review (reviewing the videos for the shots I would use) – 1 hour
  • “Feature” video (1m 53s version) editing, music selection, incremental changes and fixes – 5 hours
  • Video “Short” (15s version) editing, incremental changes and fixes – .5 hours
  • Dadtography.com blog post – 1 hour
  • This “Review” blog post – 1 hour
  • Social media images, gallery images & optimization – 2 hours
So, let’s see, if I add all that up, the total time it took me to make the videos was approximately 15 hours. That’s not bad, all things considered (like it was my first time using Wondershare Femora). That means if I charged around $75 per hour, I would charge $1,200 for the video, photos (around 225 edited), social imagery and blog posts. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

But how could I cut this time down even further?

  • Workflow Improvements – I’ll identify ways to make my workflows work for me. For example, taking my total photo processing time from 1 hour to .5 hours through automation in Lightroom and other tools.
  • Knowledge of video editing suite – this would be a pretty big one for me. The more I know about how to use the video editing suite, the faster I’ll go. I bet by the time I’ve done by 5th or 6th video, I’ll have this time cut in half.
  • Shorter shoot time – as you can see from my estimates above, the shoot itself took nearly 4 hours, not including travel time. With a shot list (see below) and a better plan during the shooting, I’m sure I’d be able to reduce this time significantly as well.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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