“Show, don’t tell.” It’s the golden rule of narrative – and case study videos prove it.
Essentially, they’re about showing that your business can walk the proverbial walk: that what you do is real, that you can be trusted, and, most importantly, that your customers like you so much that they’re willing to sit down under the harsh glare of a studio light and enthusiastically praise you. They’re also often interesting to the media: in a world where well-meaning PRs bombard inboxes with press releases about new kinds of drones (how many can there be?!) the media are often hungry to cover products and services that make a tangible difference.
So what’s the case study video production process, and how can you make it work for your business?
The case study video production process broken down
The question everybody needs to ask before commissioning video content is simple: Why are you doing this? For case study videos, that may seem too obvious to think deeply about. But it matters more than you might think: sure, you’re getting a client to sing your praises – so figure out which particular praises you want them to sing. Are you looking to highlight your flexibility, your product’s superior performance, your value for money?
Identify the audience
This may well be your regular audience, but if you’re looking to branch out, this might require some research. Seek background information into the ideal viewer of your video: what do they care about; what kind of company do they work for and who are their competitors (if B2B); what products or services would be most appealing? When you’ve done this research, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of viewer you’re after – and the kind of customer story you should focus on in the final video.
Find your customer
A good case study subject is judged by three main metrics: willingness, happiness, and relevance. Willingness, of course, is obvious enough. Happiness is related to willingness, but they’re not quite the same – you want someone who you’re overdelivering for, and who damn well knows it. Relevance is trickier, but you want to think of that ideal viewer and select a customer who’s both similar to them and able to serve as a kind of aspirational figure. It’s especially useful if they’re a well-known brand or business.
Prep for the interview
Before the interview proper, create a list of sample questions to serve as a guide, and take detailed notes of their answers – remaining positive and interested the whole time. If they have an approval process, find out what it is, but in a gentle, unobtrusive way that makes it easy for them to reveal this information. It’s also worth establishing how willing they are to support you in terms of promoting and marketing the video – a simple tweet or LinkedIn post can often work wonders, particularly if they have a large social following.
Recce the site
You never know how suited a site is to filming until you’ve visited it. Now, obviously you aren’t going to be able to film crane shots indoors – but maybe the lighting leaves something to be desired, or the angles are particularly tight in a room you’ve earmarked for filming, or maybe it’s an area heavy with foot traffic and you can’t easily film there undisturbed. Any of these complications is possible, and all of them can be dealt with easily if they’re identified in advance. Recce the site thoroughly before the day of filming.
Plan the questions
You should, at this point, have a good idea about the customer and their history – enough to introduce the video with a quick blurb on who they are and what they do. But once you know all that, it’s time to ask the questions that will form the spine of the overall piece. These will focus on three areas: key challenges, the solution, and the end-user benefits. We’ve provided a list of these questions on our blog.
Shoot to thrill
When you get on set, remember: your case study subject may be enthusiastic, engaged, and sincerely willing to help, but they’re still taking time out of their day to do this. Respect that time – make them feel special, important, and like the centre of attention. For a day, at least, they’re a celebrity, and they’re starring in your story. Make sure they feel like it. Extend this attitude into post-production, too: every editing choice, every motion graphic you use, should be seen as an opportunity to make them look amazing.
Finally, get written sign-off from the client, and then publish and distribute it – ready for the world to see. Make it a core component of your video distribution strategy, and get the client to help (if possible, and if they’re willing). If you’ve done a good job of the case study production process, your client should be enthused and excited about helping!