5 Ways to Bootstrap Your Next Video

Yesterday I got the pleasure of hanging out with the PSAMA posse, this time for an esteemed panel called ‘Bootstrap Marketing and Earning Attention without a Budget’.  This subject is especially relevant given that many of us are grinding down our 2014 budgets The speakers included Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ, Dan Shapiro, founder of Turtle Robots, John Cook of Geekwire, and moderator Liz Pearce from Liquid Planner. The take-aways from this collective brainpower were plentiful, including:

  • Great compelling stories drive great brands.
  • Great brands connect great stories to revenue.
  • Don’t focus on what you want to say, focus on what your audience wants to hear.
  • Use data to guide your business, not lead it.
  • Make a noise, and then wait to hear the echo.

A lot of us (and I’m raising my hand here) have probably been guilty of pushing, pushing, pushing without taking the time to really sit back and listen for the results. When we throw an ad campaign out there, are we actually taking the time on the back-end to measure effectiveness? When we spend good marketing dollars on a video, do we know what success looks like to determine if this appoach even works?  Or are we immediately onto the next shiny object?

Hey look, a squirrel.

When you’re shooting in the dark, which many of us are, it’s important to wait for the echo. This is Dan Shapiro’s advice – which got me thinking about bootstrapping as a whole. Sure bootstrapping is about saving money on the front end as much as possible, but it’s also about understanding the back-end results so we can do better/bigger/morebadass stuff next time. That’s the goal, right?

Here’s a few ideas on how you can bootstrap your next video:

  • Clarify your vision: Know exactly “What Does Success Look Like to Me” – and what you want your film/video content to accomplish before you jump in. This will keep your business requirements front and center, and make sure you hit the target of what your audience wants to hear.
  • Understand the process: What does it take to create good video content?  If you’re working with a vendor, understand each and every step in the creative process. Then decide which one of those steps you can do to potentially save some money. Maybe it’s as simple handling some logisitical/scheduling stuff, or maybe you have an idea or script already in hand. 
  • Never, ever, start shooting without a script: what it is you want, a script to get you there, and the associated shooting schedule. Want to increase budget two-fold? Start without these in place. 
  • Define your distribution strategy: how do you plan on driving eyeballs to your fantastic content? This might include social media, emails, press releases, word-of-mouth, tradeshows, etc – but understand all this on the front end so your project doesn’t gather dust. This plan should be locked in during the scripting phase or even earlier. 
  • Measure, measure measure: As a bootstrapper, you’ll want to know if you’re content is driving sales/exposure/rain to make the Gods happy. Be prepared to listen after launch. Determine if what you are doing is working. And then pivot based on results. 

As Rand and John pointed out, bad video can ruin a great brand. So though you don’t want to spend the farm, you do need to make sure your content is consistent with what you’re all about. Organic and simple is fine. Selfies can work. But just make sure you’re meeting the values and goals of your company.  And since, according to eMarketer, video is more popular than ever – you hopefully will find yourself driving crazy results. Which will make any bootstrapper’s mother proud.

Let’s roll,



Author: Chris Donaldson

Chris Donaldson is Executive Producer at HCFmedia. Can film making change the world? The Short Answer: Yes.