Better video marketing? How to avoid death by committee

11th February 2021

“A camel is a horse designed by a committee”
Sir Alec Issigonis, designer of the Mini


Successful marketing is about communicating an idea in its purest form. On paper, that sounds simple. In reality, well… it’s complicated.

When developing video marketing campaigns there are always multiple dynamics in play. Different departments have different priorities, different people even have different priorities, and there will always be more messages that you could use than you have time for. It’s all too easy to try and please everyone… and that instantly leads to ‘death by committee’ – a fatal affliction that is the scourge of brands around the world. In order to deliver success, some “priorities” will have to be made “not a priority”, indeed, some priorities will have to not just take a back seat, but travel in a separate vehicle altogether! (we’ll come to that later).

Video marketing – death by committee

I’ve lost count of the number of brand marketing campaigns that had great potential but withered on the journey from idea to execution. And the cause is almost always too many people trying to have their own way. It dilutes the creative vision. It’s death by committee, one bludgeon at a time.

Video marketing needs a core message. To be really effective, it should keep to a single purpose, whether that’s a product or an idea or an emotional pull. The more ideas you add crammed into one place, the less impact a video will have.

At this point, you may be thinking that getting everyone in a room to decide on the vision for the video will be easy. You might think that the strongest idea will come from a group thinking as one. And you might be right. More likely, in my experience, you will end up with the idea that offends the fewest people – the lowest common denominator – and that’s not a good place for any campaign to start.

You’re trying to cut through the noise. If you wanted to make an entrance, you’d wear a striking and beautifully tailored garment. So why are you trying to make the video equivalent of a patchwork quilt?

If you’re lucky, you’ll work in an organisation that can set clear goals and deliver a brief with purpose. If you’re not entirely sure that’s the case, I’ve created a list of 10 things marketing professionals can do to help produce a truly compelling video. This tool kit will help you guide your project through the rocky waters of boardroom politics and into the clear ocean of video nirvana.

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10 steps to laser-focused video marketing

1: Get everyone to agree on the message

We’ve already discussed this, but it’s really important to get everyone in one place (even the people who are most likely to be obstructive or difficult later on – in fact, especially those people) and drill down to the core message you want the video to convey. One sentence. No ‘and also this’ or ‘we’d also like to talk about that’. Just one purposeful, clear idea. If you can’t manage this step, may I suggest you are not ready for video marketing?

2: Line up your allies before you start

Who are the people who can help you deliver a brief of singular clarity and purpose? Get the most senior stakeholders in the business to buy into where this video is going before you begin. There will be detractors to the strongest idea in the room. If you don’t have the firepower to manage those voices, you risk sidelining what’s in the best interests of the business.

3: Invite the agency to the idea session

No, it’s not because as a specialist video production agency we know better than you what your organisation needs. We don’t. But it’s exactly that impartiality that helps us to cut through the vested interests of the different parties involved. An outside voice is consistent and definite, and harder to argue with than a colleague who’s priorities may clash with what’s actually best for your video.

4: Manage the feedback channel

When we send the first edit of a corporate video or brand film to the client, we ask for feedback on one thing: is this film factually correct? If it’s not, we’ll change it, but at this stage, it would be a mistake to hear the full gamut of complaints. Don’t like the music? Fine, but at this stage that’s not the important thing. Limiting the feedback channel allows you to focus on one thing at a time.

5: Don’t take a piecemeal approach to amends

As with the pre-production ideas meeting, amendments need to be made in a group – as one brand. A flurry of emails with everyone’s pet hates threatens to derail all the efforts you have made so far to avoid death by committee. Get in a room and agree on what’s important. Check it against your original mission statement. Then deliver purposeful, clear feedback that serves your original idea.

6: Invite the agency to the feedback meeting

Sound familiar? Yes, we’re treating the edit in the same way we treated the idea. The video production agency can bring in the director to explain how the video is delivering the big vision. This is the point of the project where lots of small tweaks might be suggested. Some of those will dilute your message if they’re allowed to slip into the edit brief. Having us in the room can help keep everyone aligned with the original brief.

7: Dole out some peace offerings

Someone’s going to be unhappy about what got left on the cutting room floor. If they try to insist on getting it shoehorned into the video, dampening the messaging in the process, pacify them. Earlier we talked about some ideas having to travel in a separate vehicle. Offer to package the interview they want as a separate entity, for instance. Don’t let them ram it into your product.

8: Listen to others

Don’t try to trammel everything into your vision. Listen to what other people are saying and take note of the good points, not just the ones that agree with what you think you’ve already decided. But do this within the context of your agreed message. However good an idea, it mustn’t detract from what you have set out to do or why you are doing it.

9: Be seen to listen to others

Eventually, you are going to have a strong marketing video. You have asked for feedback and listened to ideas. You have not been distracted by suggestions that didn’t fit with the core message. You have pacified some of the stronger voices with offers of alternative assets. But someone somewhere will feel they didn’t get what they wanted. Make sure they don’t feel ignored and that they understand their ideas were put aside for the best reasons.

10: Get the boss on side

The most senior person in the room is – at every stage – your greatest ally. Make sure they are totally aligned with what you are trying to achieve and the limits within which you’re working. This is your fallback for when things get heated. It’s the red button. Protect it and use it wisely.

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At Hurricane, we are obsessed with making your video marketing content as good as it can be. We want to show your brand in the best light. But we also have to take a brief, so if we can help you make your video more successful, we will. If you would like to make a vague video addressing various parts of your business offering, please shop elsewhere. We don’t do death by committee.

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