Video 101: Who is your target audience?

English: Director of Photography Mark Schulze ...

English: Director of Photography Mark Schulze videotapes Revolution 20 at Belmont Park in San Diego. Photograph by Patty Mooney

For any message, you need a specific target audience in mind. Not multiple audiences. One cohesive audience. We writers and producers depend on a one audience to tell our story.

Your might think your audience is “the general public,”  but whose business or interest do you really want to attract? Is it your top funders? Decision makers? Homeowners? Single fathers? Physicians?


  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education level
  • Geography (e.g., North Dakota? A region? The entire United States?)
  • Career e.g., do they all work for your company? Are they welders or engineers?)
  • Current knowledge of your topic (e.g., a little or a lot?)
  • Nationality (e.g., if it bears on your topic or requires language captioning)
  • Special needs (e.g., a video for a low-income veteran may require captioning for the deaf)
  • Socioeconomic status

Some seemingly disparate audiences are actually a single audience. A video about landscaping, if done well, can include clients who are very rich and not so rich.

A video about the importance of breast feeding also might well speak to all women in their child-bearing years, regardless of socio-economics, age, education, nationality, or career status. Or maybe not.

However, a video that tries to address both physicians and patients will fall on its face. Experts and non-experts each require information just for them. One audience, please.

I know you’re thinking, “What about commercials? Commercials have more than one audience! Not everyone buys the same products!” OK, point taken, but (with all due respect) it’s not a really great point.

Consider what commercials are selling: underarm deodorant, laundry detergent, cars and trucks, energy drinks, beer, and so forth. Good commercials try to draw in more customers. Same audience base: people who drive cars or who will drive cars one day.

Definition of a single audience: an audience who wants or needs the same specific information.

If you need a video for more than one audience, consider a “master” video with alternate versions. Alternate versions are a cost-effective way to make your video more flexible.

Yes, with alternate versions you will have to record a separate voiceover and perhaps other material, but that voiceover may not cost any more than the original alone, if you include it in your planning — another reason to hire a seasoned producer to help you manage your budget.

If all versions are produced at the same time, you can reach more audiences for less money than you might think. You’ll require some tweaking in the script and in the editing, if all versions are created at the same time, but that’s it.

BIG SECRET: Corporate producers and directors work very hard to spend LESS of your money. Yes, we want to be compensated fairly for our time. But good producers, writers, and directors have an aversion to spending money unnecessarily. It runs against our grain. We’re a thrifty lot by nature, AND we’d like to curry your favor for future projects. We have no interest in disappointing you or creating change orders. But we’ll do so if we have to.

SECOND BIG SECRET: Out of the three production phases: pre-production, production, and post-production, the most important is pre-production. We can only help you get your message right and save money in the first phase. Planning is everything.

Seventy-five percent of every production’s success is in its planning. Production (shooting) and post-production (editing) make up the remaining 25%.

In short, good producers, directors, and writers are like the proverbial Greek Chorus. We’ll warn you to navigate away from the shoals. But, AFTER pre-production, if a new current heads your boat for a big rock, we’re powerless to prevent the wreck.

We will, however, do everything we can to keep your project on track and within budget.

Video 101: Do I need a video?

Video crew, Virginia State ParkYou’re about to spend a significant amount of money.

Did you first ask yourself, “Do I need a video?”

Why are you doing it? Everything begins with understanding the goal — the purpose—of your video or other media product.

So, what’s your video goal? (more…)

What is bounce rate and why is it important?

The Sexy Metric: Bounce Rate

The Sexy Metric: Bounce Rate (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your web site (on any page) and leave without exploring a single other page.

I have known companies with huge bounce rates (not good) and low (excellent!).

You might have terrific content on your web site and still … your bounce rate is high.

You’re lying awake at night wondering … what’s going on? I’m doing everything possible to drive traffic to my web site! Where is everyone?

Honestly, there is a clear answer.

I know a company like this, Company A. Fabulous content. Plenty of blogging and tweeting and Facebook action. Also, mad marketing skills, including writing, newsletters, and social media marketing. Still? This company has a bounce rate of over 80%. Only one in five visitors choose to explore more than one page on Company A’s web site.

I often read search engine optimization (SEO) experts’ blogs, and they say, among other things, developing content is the most important thing. Develop the content, they say, and people will come. Well, yes and no.

For instance, what about my friend, Company A? Company A has fantastic content!

My answer is this. You have three goals to reach on any web site.

  • Your site has to be great looking. Not amateurish. Not on GoDaddy’s “Web Site Tonight.”
  • Your site has to be well SEO’d (search engine optimized) … meaning that you’re bringing in well-qualified visitors.
  • Your site has to help visitors reach what they’re really looking for. THIS IS THE DIFFICULT ONE.

Company A succeeds at #1 and #2.

What’s the problem?

In a word, usability.

Company A has made the mistake of not engaging its customers (#3).

Look, if people have gone to all the trouble of actually reaching your site, and you’re turning them away, something is wrong.

It’s as if you run a hardware store and people reach the parking lot and are disappointed before they even enter. They move on. They don’t like your look. Perhaps they go get an ice cream or a Cuban dinner, and then go to a hardware chain. Or not. Whatever. They’re not buying from you, even though they had every intention to when they first showed up.

The solution?

  • Make your web site about your customers. What are they looking for (not what you’re selling)?
  • Make sure your navigation (tabs) reflect what customers are looking for
  • Make sure every page offers a way to get in touch, buy, or sign up for something special (an ebook, for example)

In short, solve your customers’ problems, and they’ll solve yours. Answer their questions.

Now, your ideal bounce rate might be 1 or 2%. I have two clients with this bounce rate. In other words, 99 people out of a hundred, after reaching their businesses, are engaged enough to leave the parking lot and walk through the front door. In other words, visitors are so excited that they click where you want them to click. And, I hope, get to the information that matters to them most.

I think, for most businesses, a bounce rate of 10 to 20% is a great goal. It may take you a while to attain it, but that’s what help is for. I can help you get there.

I’m fond of saying that a web site is like an employee. If that employee isn’t bringing in money (e.g., earning his or her keep), you need to fire that worker and hire a new one.

Web sites aren’t designed to just sit around. They should work for you.

Again, solve your customers’ problems, and you’ll solve yours.

If you want better results from your web site (and you deserve them), contact Basecamp Productions at 410.404.5559.

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