Video: Yes, It Can Be Done Well on a Budget

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Did you know that 80 percent of people recall what they see in a video? Here's how your association can create effective videos without breaking the bank.

By Erin Walpole

Video can be a great asset to an association. Home pages with videos have 20 percent better conversion rates than those without, and sites with video get visitors to stay two minutes longer. As a form of two-channel communication, meaning you see and hear at the same time, video also has some steep benefits as far as audience recall and comprehension. Eighty percent of people recall what they see in a video.

However, many associations shrink away from creating videos because they fear it will be too expensive. In their presentation "Video on a Budget” at Association Media & Publishing’s August 18th Lunch & Learn (sponsored byPicture This Video and Naylor Association Solutions), Patrick Mirza, an award-winning multimedia producer and magazine editor with more than 20 years of association communication experience; Brandon Ross, multimedia manager, Military Officers Association of America; and Joe Vallina, MSM, CAE, publisher and director of publishing for the American Nurses Association and treasurer of the AM&P board of directors, contended that videos don’t have to be prohibitively expensive to create.

Much of the work behind a good, inexpensive video comes before you even pick up a camera. Good planning can be more important than financial resources and is essential to keeping costs down. You can easily sink a lot of time and money into an ineffective video unless you plan and think carefully about who your audience is, what message you want to convey, and how exactly you want to do so.

Ross discussed how important "finding your story” is to creating a good video. Your story should both capture your audience’s attention and convey your message. He warned against what he called "story killers” — a lack of context, lack of interesting characters, slow narrative, or bad audio or video. However, Ross cautioned that once you have found your story, know your audience, and have established the message, think hard about whether you really need a video for this project.

Video isn’t the only kind of two-channel communication. Things like motion graphics and slideshows with audio work the same way and are less expensive to produce. Don’t pay for a video if a less-expensive option will meet your goals. Keep two-channel communication in mind when you are planning your video as well. If your video and audio are not both valuable, then you’re not really taking advantage of the full potential of this type of communication.

Limiting the length of your video is another important way to keep costs down. You may be tempted to include every scrap of detail you can, but the reality is that 60 percent of people click away after two minutes and 45 percent after one minute. Therefore, don’t spend your money filming hours of video if you know that you only need a two-minute video. Save yourself time and money by planning what you need to film before you get in front of the camera.

It is certainly possible to create good videos without spending too much money, but you don’t want production value to distract from your message. To cut costs without cutting quality, consider working with a smaller production company, do as much as you can yourself, and edit in-house if you are able. There are some very affordable and user-friendly editing software available. For novices, the easiest choice is iMovie. It’s available automatically on most Macs and as an app. It’s very easy to use with an intuitive drag-and-drop approach to editing.

Adobe Premiere Elements is also accessible for amateurs and is available for about $70 online. For more advanced editing, consider programs like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro; however, those are difficult for beginners. Choose royalty-free music and images, and be mindful of materials that may be under copyright. The cost to use music can be steep, so look for royalty-free music sites, and check to see if any departments at your association already have agreements to use music from popular sources. On sites like, you can find unsigned artists who may be willing to allow you to use their music (remember you still need their permission). There are also pay-for-use sites where you can find music for reasonable fees.

The important take away from this Lunch & Learn is that you can create effective videos without breaking the bank if you plan ahead and spend wisely.

Erin E. Walpole is editor/project manager for the Nursing Knowledge Center at the American Nurses Association. AM&P sincerely thanks Erin for covering this Lunch & Learn event.

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