When it comes to distributing your brand’s message, video is an invaluable tool. Video tells a more captivating story about your business, drawing customers in with an engaging and highly informative experience. According to Wyzowl, 97 percent of businesses found that an explainer video increased user comprehension.

A report from Cisco predicts that 82 percent of all internet traffic will be video by 2021. The number of businesses using it to promote their products or services is increasing, but seamlessly incorporating the medium into an overall marketing strategy is not without some hurdles.

Overspending on a lackluster video, missing your target audience and losing sight of what is best for your company while chasing the elusive viral video are scenarios we see business owners run into on a daily basis.

Learn from others‘ mistakes, not your own

Going over budget is one of the most common mistakes companies make. It’s great to exercise your imagination when devising a plan for your video, but elaborate concepts can overshadow your brand’s message and put your cash flow in the red zone for months.

Insisting on a thorough outline is a great way to ensure you know what you’re paying for, and it allows you to keep an eye on how the budget is being allocated throughout the campaign. The quality of a video generally comes down to the relationship between time, experience and budget. Time especially can be leveraged to keep costs down. Before you hire a production team, let them know if you’re not in a rush. If time is of the essence, be ready to pay extra for a quick turnaround time.

Because you’re making a substantial investment in your video, you want to ensure it’s reaching the right audience. Consider who your target customers are and work backward – determine what they’re looking to hear and then deliver that message in a clear, concise way.

Brevity and clarity are critical to ensuring your video accomplishes your goals. To build a strong foundation, start by summarizing your entire brand in a few words. If you can’t do it, you risk losing viewers‘ attention with a long and complicated brand story. Imagine you only have three seconds of your customers‘ time – if your video still delivers value, then you’re on the right track.

Google’s commercial for its Pixel 2 phone does an excellent job of speaking directly to a potential target audience for the entirety of the ad. Instead of wasting time talking about the company’s history, it focuses on key features that users will love, with informational acting and visuals interchanging at an exciting, compelling pace. Even if viewers catch a short glimpse of the video, they come away with a certain knowledge of the product.

How to ensure a quality video production

When it comes to video production and marketing, ensuring quality can be hard to grasp without fundamentally understanding certain technical aspects. Video production tools and concepts can be highly technical, and it takes years to wrap your head around how it all fits together. Combine that with trying to determine marketing return on investment, and it can leave you feeling like you are exploring a mysteriously intangible world.

Similar to physically navigating unfamiliar geographic territory, you want a local expert to guide you who is truly aligned with your goals. Find a friend, hire a consultant or partner with someone in your company who understands the video marketing terrain and can warn you about potential hazards. Then create a detailed map of the steps required to ensure quality and consult with your team painters.

Fortunately, a great video doesn’t require a Google-sized budget. Aside from doing your research and finding experts to work with, remember these tips to create a video that will communicate your brand’s message most effectively.

1. Look out for No. 1.

That’s you. Do what is best for your business first. Don’t get sold on someone else’s grand plans. Always consider what your main goal is for the outcome of your video marketing campaign. Before everyone gets carried away by concepts of filming at exotic locations or hiring the latest celebrity to be the face of your campaign, consider the simple version of the story you are trying to tell.

What is the minimum you need to effectively tell your brand’s story? Next, consider adding more elaborate elements, like featuring the host standing in the Hawaiian islands.

Take time on the front end to outline exactly what you want to accomplish. Find 10 examples of videos you like that are all a little different and see what makes them effective – don’t get sold on one idea. Be open-minded and explore your own creativity to come up with unique ways to communicate your message as directly as possible so your audience can easily understand it.

2. A longer video isn’t necessarily better.

Research has established that 15-second ads are about 75 percent as effective as 30-second ads. The kicker is, 15-second ads could be half the cost, which is why they’re very common, while 60-second ads are rare.

Yet, time and again we see people try to incorporate multiple aspects of their business in a single video — their history, team, their innovative products, their plans for the future and so on. Instead of trying to tell your brand’s entire story, outline key aspects that are the most important to get across with your video marketing campaign. Producing a long video not only costs far more than creating a shorter one, but it runs the risk of losing your audience’s attention.

You know the most about your business, so you’ll likely want to include a lot about the brand. Hold yourself back and write down your three key features and only talk about them. Also, get feedback from your current customers: What features do they like the most? Why do they use your services? Focus on those.

3. A video is only effective when people see it.

Distribution is critical. The most obvious place to put your video is on your brand’s website, but many business owners make the mistake of stopping there.

You should search for every outlet, every way to show the world your video and tell your story. A great video is like having a pitchman ready to give more information to anyone willing to listen. Your video will not get tired; it does not need sleep; it can play 24/7. Use this duplicating power to your full advantage.

Host your video, repost your video, and create shorter versions of your video for social media. Do not think of the marketing as a passive step in the equation. Too often brands view the completion of the video as the finish line when in reality, that’s when the race really starts.

Simply commissioning a brand video without doing your due diligence is a great way to end up with a finished product that fails to reach its full potential. Before you sign a contract, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for. Outline your target audience, figure out where they spend most of their time online, and research the specs of those outlets so you know the technical details of the video you’re making. (For example, how long is the video? What’s the best format: square or 16 by nine?)

Optimize your video for these platforms and make sure it meets all of the above criteria. Your completed video is just the beginning. Leverage your new asset in a variety of ways, and you’ll get the best return on this valuable investment.