By Kevin Elliott

Video is awesome and effective, but it’s also expensive to produce. Every second counts, so you better have a plan for success or your client won’t ask you back. 

Funny thing is, many video projects lack focus and don’t accomplish their goal. 

That is mainly because the goal of the video was not defined well enough ahead of time. You may have had a script, but defining the goal of the video is different and should come before scripting. Many miss this step in their excitement to get started. 

There are lots of techniques for defining goals (a popular one is the SMART method), but I learned a trick years ago for clearly defining the goal of any project. Just ask (and answer) this question. 

“What does success look like?”

It may seem simple, but try it and see what happens. 

More often than not, you will get silence at first. Then you will get a meaningful conversation about what specifically your project is trying to accomplish. 

The power of “What does success look like?” is that it makes your client put into words what he or she sees in their head.

Ideas can be deceiving. Your client might have seen a video they liked and want to emulate. They might have a vague idea of a story they want to tell. 

The problem is that when we imagine something, it can feel like we have really thought it through. We convince ourselves that we have a plan for bringing it into the world. 

That is not good enough, not when budgets are on the line. Clarity is everything in video projects (we wrote a post about it). You have to bring those ideas out of the clouds and put them into concrete words. “What does success look like?” makes that happen. 

Do not start a project, even scripting, until you have a clear answer to that question that everyone agrees on. Then write it down somewhere and keep it close. It should guide your entire project.

It is tempting to skip the hard work the question will create, but don’t do it. If you jump the gun before answering it and your project fails, your client will not remember that he forced you to start prematurely.

This question will save your skin and make a much better product, for you and your client. 

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