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5 Key Questions to Ask Before You Record a Business Video

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Think all you need to make a good business video is a camera and microphone? Think again! First and foremost, you need a plan. That means spending some quality time in what’s known as pre-production.

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Video production flat line illustration by Bloomua/Photodune

Pre-production is the least sexy stage of video production, but it’s also the most important. Hammering out the details beforehand ensures that you and your client are on the same page, and will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.

Here are five key questions you need to ask before hitting that record button:

1. What Is The Purpose of This Video?

Making video for its own sake is pointless. Defining a clear goal at the outset will keep your efforts focused and effective. What do you want to accomplish with your video? Do you want to:

  • Build brand awareness?
  • Demonstrate a product?
  • Promote an event?
  • Position yourself as an expert in your field?
  • Educate a market?

The list of potential purposes for a video goes on and on!

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Business Questions - Unknown by ptnphoto/Photodune

Find Your Goal

Knowing the goal will help you decide what type of video to make. For example, if you want to position yourself as an expert in your field, you might create an ongoing series of short tip videos. If you want to show clients how to use your latest product, you could create a demonstration video. But if you want to raise awareness about the product, you’ll want to focus instead on what it can do and how it can help your target market.

Either way, keep it simple: think in terms of one goal per video. If you have more than one goal, make more videos!

2. Who Is Your Audience?

“Everyone” is not an answer! You need to figure out specifically who you want your message to reach, and what they want to know. The more targeted the message, the greater your chance of success.

Speak The Right Language for Your Audience

Let’s say your business manufactures and sells orthotics for shoes. You have two potential audiences: people with foot problems, and doctors who prescribe orthotics.

If you’re targeting people who need orthotics, you’ll want to address their “pain points” (pun intended). An example might be a condition called plantar fasciitis. Your video could explain what the condition is, what causes it, and how an orthotic can help ease the pain.

If you’re targeting doctors, however, your focus will change. They already know what plantar fasciitis is. Instead, you’ll want to show them which orthotic is most appropriate and how to order one.

Knowing who you’re speaking to will also help determine the right tone and style. The video for the doctors would likely be straightforward, professional, and would include medical terminology. The video for the consumer would be likely be more casual, conversational, and would use layman’s terms.

3. What Are Your Key Messages?

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to try to cram everything into one big catchall video. Unfortunately, the more messages you include, the less likely your audience is to understand and remember any of them.

Focus On What's Actually Important

Try asking yourself: what are the three most important things I want my audience to know about my product (or business, or service)?

If you’re like me, you could talk about your business all day long. But when it comes to video, less is more. Knowing your video’s goal and audience will help you focus on what to include and what to leave out.

Try to limit yourself to three key messages. If you have lots of information, make more videos!

4. Where Will The Video Be Shown?

What works on YouTube doesn’t necessarily work at a sales presentation.

Ideally you’ll be sharing your business video on more than one platform, which could mean making a long version and a short version, for example.

Different platforms also have different technical requirements. A video that’s intended for a large screen at a convention will have different tech specs than a video that’s going up on Youtube (we'll cover the ins-and-outs of different video hosting options in a future tutorial).

Knowing where the video will be shown will help determine the appropriate format and style to use.

5. What Is The Budget?

Ah yes, money. No one wants to talk about it, but you need to know how much money you have to work with before you start—even if it’s just a ballpark figure. Video can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, depending on what you put into it.

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Money by zastavkin/Photodune

Think of it like buying a car: if your budget is small, you’re probably going to test-drive an economy model. A bigger budget might mean you can step up to a luxury sedan. Then there are all those options and accessories. Do you need to stick with the base model, or can you afford to add power steering and locks? How about a sunroof?

Video production is very customized—there’s no “one size fits all” solution. Every decision you make ultimately comes back to the budget. So be prepared to ask this tough question!

I've found it's best to get this out of the way so that everyone involved knows what the expectations and limits of the project are as early as possible. Remember: it's only weird if you make it weird! Everyone is a little nervous about talking money, but if you treat it like it's a normal thing, it will be.


So just to recap, pre-production begins by determining a video’s purpose, audience, key messages, distribution, and budget. There are still many decisions to come regarding crew, equipment, location, and creative elements such as graphics, music and narrative. But answer these five key questions and you’re well on your way to a successful video production!

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