Top Ten Reasons Why Your Last Video Project Failed (…and ten solutions to those problems)

You finally succeeded in convincing your management team to green-light your video project. It’s now one month post-launch and the painful truth has set in – your video was a bomb. Nobody watched it, the video never achieved what you hoped it might and now you’re stuck explaining what went wrong.

Here are ten reasons why marketing video projects fail:



The best promotional videos work on a visceral level. When executed well they make you think… or believe. Even better if they make you feel something.

If your video is dull (i.e. a basic talking head delivery) or if you don’t use video effectively (show me, don’t tell me!) then you will quickly lose your audience. Facts and figures inform, but a good story will engage and persuade an audience.

While it may be interesting to note that your lubricant is 27% more viscous than that of your competitor, it is more compelling to showcase the fact that your product is the one your local fire department depends on.

Translating the key benefits that you’re trying to illustrate into simple ideas and then building those ideas into a compelling visual story is the important work that needs to get done before a film crew shows up to start shooting. This is the hardest part of video development to get right.

How do you develop videos that resonate with an audience?

    • Start by telling a really good story. Your story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It should demonstrably overcome an important problem and you and your product should be the hero that saves the day. Everyone loves a ripping yarn!

    • Include an emotional hook. Your video should clearly illustrate how your product or service solves a specific customer problem and it should do so in an engaging fashion. There is always a personal or emotional hook that can help you deliver your message – you just need to determine what that hook is.

    • Do your research first. Determine what matters to existing and potential customers and make sure you include this information in your video. (If you don’t know what matters and why, you’re likely wasting your time.)

    • Do a little soul searching to determine ‘why’ your business exists and look for customers who care about the same things you do. (Watch this Simon Sinek video to understand how answering the question of ‘why’ can be a very powerful way to reach an audience. (Warning: This video may send you and your braintrust spiralling down a rabbit hole of pointless introspection… so … caveat viewor.)

    • Steal from others. Use techniques from other marketing videos that you have seen. Watch business videos from other industries and employ some of the techniques they employ to connect with the viewer. (It’s okay, all creative endeavours are derivative.)



    “ABC Consulting is a world leader in the provisioning of leading-edge solutions and robust, mission critical systems for its global clients.”


    Even if you have a well defined audience, a specific problem to solve and you’ve identified obvious customer benefits that your product or service delivers, you still need to communicate, in a clear and convincing manner, what it is you do and for whom.

  • The viewer has to easily relate to your message and they should be able to understand exactly what it is you do, why you do it and how you solve their specific problem.

    Ways to avoid common messaging mistakes:

    • The video shouldn’t be about you. No one cares about you or your company, they only care about how you can solve their problem.

    • Avoid B2N (Business to No one) If your message is so general that it applies to everyone it likely won’t resonate with anyone. (“Our customers are our top priority!”) Be specific. Pick one audience and deliver a single, powerful and concise message tailored to the specific needs of that audience. Don’t try to ‘save money’ by building a single video that explains how you solve multiple problems for multiple audiences.

    • Stop ‘jargon-loading.’ Seriously -Stop. Doing. This. If you “utilize leading-edge best practices to incentivize and leverage your best-of-breed base through groundbreaking, synergistic and outside-the-box thinking” then you’re just another blow-hard business with no clue about how to communicate anything of real value.

    • Be succinct. “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter but I didn’t have time to write a short one”. {Mark Twain.} It’s very difficult to be succinct. Being concise seems risky. Script-by-committee is death to most video projects. In video, shorter is (almost) always better.

    • Start with the storyboard. That’s where the messaging is finalized. That’s where the approach and actions in the video are finalized. No amount of clever filming, funky editing or cool creative is going to fix bad messaging. (..although you may still win an award!)



    Why are you making this video? What’s your business objective? What specific problem are you solving? (‘Updating the website’ isn’t an objective, it’s an activity.) Who is the specific audience for this video? How is the video being delivered and promoted?

    How to define your business objectives:

    Can you easily fill in the following blanks?:

    This video will help ___{this audience}____ understand that our product or service solves ___{this problem}___ and provides ____ {these benefits)____ . We will measure the success of this video by ___{this rating mechanism}____.

    If you can’t clearly and succinctly fill in the first three blanks chances are your video will fail to achieve any measurable results. If you can’t fill in the last blank you’ll never know what was achieved.



  • “Our VP of Marketing has this really cool idea he wants us to try.”

  • “I just watched this amazing video that used that new ‘fill-in-the-blank‘ creative technique to position the company… we should try that.”

  • “I just saw the coolest animated video thingy…”

  • etc.

Just like graphic design is one of the last steps in the development of a website (too often it is first), ‘creative’ should be the last step in the development of your script and storyboard. Creativity should never be the ‘tail wagging the dog’.

Sure, if you have a budget to create a whack of branded entertainment, that’s a different story – but for most corporate video projects, branded entertainment is not the goal.

How to avoid starting your video project with creative:

Start your video project with a clearly defined business objective and end it by measuring whether you achieved this objective.



The most important part of the video production process is pre-production. Chances are that if you are either surprised or disappointed by the results of your video it’s because your planning process was either flawed or non-existent.

The purpose of the storyboard is to show everyone involved exactly what is being said and what visuals are being utilized to support those messages. You should know exactly what’s going to be in your video from reading a storyboard – the ideas, the messaging, the locations and the people.

Some clients might claim they are ‘visual thinkers’ and really need to see an edited video to formulate an opinion. If this is the case then you’re project is going to fail.

The storyboard tells you exactly what is being said and exactly what is being shown in the video. It’s up to the director and cameraman to ensure that those tasks are done in an appropriate style, but no production crew can save a bad concept, script or storyboard.

How to ensure you start shooting properly:

  • Always create a storyboard even if it’s a simple video.

  • Always create a shot-list before your shoot that tells you exactly what shots you need, with whom and when.

  • You need to be collaborating on the storyboard and script process with the video production company. Unless your video production company has intimate knowledge of your business and the market you serve, they shouldn’t be the ones telling you what to say.

  • Share the storyboard with everyone who should see it. Asking people who should have provided input (but didn’t) for their opinion after the video is completed will likely end in tears.



  • “We took a couple thousand out of our cleaning budget to do this video.”

  • “Yep, that’s all we’ve got, but we still want it to look like Avatar.”

  • “My cousin Eddy said it would only cost him $500 to make the same video.”

The cost of video production has decreased dramatically over the last ten years. That said, there is little point in developing a video if you haven’t allocated a reasonable budget for the project.

Pro tip: Communicate your budget with your video production company. What’s the point in making them guess? If they guess too high, or too low, they’ll likely present on option that doesn’t fit your needs.

How to budget a video:

  • Take a look at this video production cost calculator to get an idea as to what different levels of video production should cost. Then, find a video similar to what you are thinking and talk to a few production companies about the cost of making that type of video.

Not knowing what video production costs doesn’t mean you don’t have a budget. Every business has a budget.



Too often, videos are created in isolation. Video should never be a stand-alone endeavour. Your brand is the sum total of all of the experiences people have with your company – that includes video.

Your video needs to support and complement the tone and key messages that you want associated with your brand. (Warning: Wacky viral videos often do more harm than good.)

Video production is not an isolated activity. Your video production company has to understand how you market your business and has to be willing and able to engage with your marketing department and /or the marketing agency that is helping to guide your brand.

How to ensure your video complements and supports your brand:

  • Whoever is doing your video should work with your marketing folks to ensure that they have a clear understanding of your brand – what you stand for, what value you bring to the marketplace and how you want people to feel about your company.

  • It’s incumbent on you to ensure that the video production understands your business. Show them who you are, and what you stand for and show them examples of videos you like, videos that reflect values and styles that are consistent with your brand. (Either yours or someone else’s.)

  • video production brief is a great way to start your project.



There are many different styles, structures and types of corporate video.  A two minute awareness ad is too long and a 30 second recruitment video is likely too short.

Hiring actors to speak to a technical audience isn’t a good idea. Putting your President on camera may (or may not be) a good idea. A talking head is often a waste of time. A detailed technical video won’t resonate with people in the awareness phase of the sales cycle but can work very well for people in the consideration phase.

What type of video you develop and what structure you use for the video is just as important as what messages you choose to employ.

How to determine the best type of video to use for your marketing promotion:

Do your research. Here are 51 different types of video you can develop to promote your business.



What do you want people to do after they have watched your video? If you don’t know, your viewer won’t either.

Add a call to action in your video.



Did anyone actually watch your video? Even if your video is amazing, if no one sees it you’ve wasted your money. Making a great video is just the first step.

How should I promote my video:

  • Are you optimizing a webpage or specific landing page on your website with targeted keywords, calls to action and supporting information to support your video?

  • Are you promoting the video on Facebook, on Youtube, on an industry portal or other related sites where you intended audience may be lurking?

  • Have you developed an email campaign to promote the video to known audiences?

  • Do you have a process to move prospective viewers through your sales cycle once they have viewed the video?

  • Have you tested the video before widely launching it to make sure it accomplishes what you want it to?

  • Do you have any budget for changes or do you assume that you’ll get it exactly right the first time through?

  • Do you have a social media campaign, a PR campaign or some other promotional activity to build interest and awareness for the video?

  • Do you have a plan in place to measure any of the above?

The video production piece (shooting and editing) represents about one third of the total value in the video development process. Planning (building the right messages for your audience) and promotion (making sure the video is seen) are equally important.


Note: This post is also found in the Top Ten Posts for this blog.

30 Responses

  1. Very helpful. Thanks for the direction, which was just as valuable (if not more valuable) than the cost information.

  2. Jimm…I enjoy your writing, extremely informative and well thought out. I’m a firm believer that authenticity is a requirement in a successful video. I’d say your first point embodies that as well. Great content.

    1. Scott, great point. There are still examples of over-the-top, zany, whacky videos that produce results but there’s no question that authenticity is the new coin of the digital realm.

  3. Your video can be entertaining, but if it doesn’t have a clear message, you won’t achieve your production goals. You want to make sure people know what you’re selling. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Clear message about video marketing now I understand why didn’t get sales through video marketing because I’m using old method Jimm write something about business growth with paid marketing

  5. Clear message about video marketing now I understand why didn’t get sales through video marketing because I’m using old method Jimm write something about business growth

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