Video Essentials

Do Your Business Videos Suck? Here’s How to Fix Them

For many businesses, online video is still a new area. Do it right and customers will share your videos for you, netting you tons of free publicity. Do it poorly and the video’s faults will overshadow its message.

“We spend so much time praising those great examples of quality branded video that it’s easy to forget how much bad video is out there,” says Mark Robertson, founder and publisher of ReelSEO.

The problem is that much — if not most — web video produced by businesses today is of poor quality. In fact, some of it is so downright awful that it sucks.

Don’t expect today’s viewers to forgive suckiness. They can be harsh critics. To avoid that fate, settle in for a lesson on why some videos suck and how to make them better.

Poor Video Execution Is No Longer Acceptable

In the early days of web business video, simply getting content online was the most important objective. Now, as viewers become more savvy and businesses adopt web video in their marketing campaigns, professional quality is important. Audiences are less forgiving of poor lighting and audio. High-definition video is a must, and businesses had better have a clear story to tell.

“Video for business is all about communicating your message.” says Chris Savage, CEO of cloud-based video hosting and analytics platform Wistia. “There is no incentive for your audience to watch your video if it looks like crap.”

When businesses put out web videos with poor production quality, it communicates a lack of professionalism. That poor video experience distracts from the company’s message.

For advice on not sucking, we turned to Steve Stockman, a film and television producer and the author of How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck.

“Simply put, nobody watches business videos that suck…The stuff audiences watch on the web is no different than watching video anywhere else. What people are willing to watch has to be up to a reasonable standard of information delivery. Whether it’s television or online video, the same rules of engagement apply,” says Stockman.

Bad business video leads to two results:

  1. It gets turned off — fast — by viewers that might have become customers.
  2. It gets shared by viewers making fun of it. Ouch.

What it Means to Suck with Business Video

To suck is not just to produce a poor quality video; it’s to deliver a video experience that’s so unintentionally bad that it creates a lasting negative impression with the viewers.

Here’s how a business web video might suck:

  • Any one feature could be so poor that it overwhelms other redeeming features.
  • It’s can be so obviously disingenuous that audiences are left with an overall negative impression of the business.

Sucking can also happen when a few poor elements combine in a video, such as:

  • If doesn’t speak to the target audience.
  • There is no clear business goal behind it.
  • It doesn’t engage the audience.
  • It doesn’t come off as genuine
  • The sound quality is terrible.
  • It’s only talking heads with no camera angle variety.
  • The video player is ugly.
  • The speakers have thick accents
  • The speakers are obviously reading from a teleprompter
  • The music is inappropriate.
  • It uses unattractive virtual sets or poor green screen effects.
  • The content isn’t unique.
  • It goes on too long.
  • The creators tried too hard to go viral.

Sometimes What Sucks Is Relative:

  • Time: What impressed viewers a few years ago might be passé today.
  • Industry: Creators in the video marketing and video production industries can expect much higher scrutiny.
  • Brand: Viewers expect higher production quality from major brands than from startups.
  • Placement: Viewers will have different expectations for videos promoted on blogs than videos promoted on the homepage of a website.
  • Consistency: Sometimes it’s not one single video, but a poor series of videos that leaves the audience with a sucky impression.

How to Make Business Videos that Don’t Suck

  • Ask the audience for feedback. Soliciting feedback is a useful way to avoid making the same mistakes.
  • Pitch the video before making it. Can it be summed up in one clear sentence?
  • Take notes. Create a script or at least an outline of what will be said.
  • Test the video with an audience. “Soft launch” the video with a trusted group during the editing stage to get feedback.
  • Practice, practice, practice. No one gets better at creating videos without practicing.
  • Be humble. If suckiness can’t be helped — perhaps because of a short deadline — acknowledge that from the start.
  • Hire professionals. For the big important projects call the big expensive pros, when the budget allows.

Conclusion: Create Quality Video (and Don’t Suck!)

“While making truly great video requires practice, skill and, yes, art, it’s easy enough today to make video that doesn’t suck,” says Stockman.

Creating business-quality video is within reach for companies of any size. Take the time to learn and practice, and get some guidance.

The bar for online video is high and it’s only getting higher. Businesses need to spend time refining videos in-house before launching them online. Demand quality results, as with any other type of marketing.


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  1. Creating compelling online video content can certainly be difficult for businesses. I agree with your tip to create a script first–businesses should run through this a few times to ensure they sound conversational on camera or when recording audio. Remember, you don’t always need professionals to create your video content for you–companies like mine ( help companies to create, distribute, and manage their online videos without prior experience.

    Posted by Andrew Hauser | August 13, 2012, 3:05 pm
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