How to use video (strategically) for case studies

Case studies are often viewed as siloed deliverables, one-off projects that result in one or two high value deliverables.

While in some cases, that may be acceptable, the reality is a single production opportunity can do so much more. In fact, video case studies can form the foundation of an entire content marketing strategy, providing the raw material for all types of content including written deliverables like blogs, white-papers, and landing pages.

Through this approach, an organization can diffuse the costs of video production across many deliverables to build a large library of content across multiple channels. This is a similar strategy to my approach to event marketing video: take a single production opportunity and create a ton of content around it.

One production opportunity, many deliverables

I like to think of content marketing like two interlocking triangles. At the top, you have a few high value, higher cost content pieces and at the bottom you have many lower-effort items that you would typically produce more regularly like social posts or email sends. Together these form the basis of a healthy content marketing mix.

Two adjacent tangles. The left one has the base at the bottom and the point at the top and is labeled 'quantity'. The right is rotated 180 degrees and is labeled 'cost and complexity'. This diagram reflects a healthy video marketing content mix.
The video marketing version of the conjoined triangles of success. From this talk.

Through capturing interviews and visuals on-location, video case studies provide an opportunity to generate the raw materials that can power all of these content types.

At the top, you have a primary case study video which might be 3-5 minutes and tells the broader story of the customer relationship. Moving down, you can produce shorter cuts of these videos that focus on specific topics, product features, or target audiences. And at the bottom, short teasers and clips are perfect for everyday social posts to build engagement on those platforms as well as to help lead your social audience to your website.

These content opportunities aren’t just relegated to video, the transcripts of the interviews can power written content for all levels of the content marketing mix. At the high end, this might be a written case study or whitepaper, in the middle this can be blog posts and email newsletters, and at the bottom you have social posts.

The bottom line is that this approach to video case studies makes the most of a content production budget, and provides a straightforward structure to generate a lot of evergreen content. Plus it’s easy to scale, you can start on a project-by-project basis and eventually move to a regular production cadence down the road.

What the production process looks like

The most time and effort is focused on planning so that the content production process is smooth and predictable. This ensures that you walk away with everything you want and have a foundation from which to improvise as opportunities or challenges present themselves. 

Internal kickoffInternal meeting with marketing stakeholders to identify customer points of contact, narrative ideas, and content opportunities.
Customer kickoffExternal meeting with the customer to confirm story details, discuss logistics, workflow, and co-marketing opportunities.
Creative jamCreative team meeting to develop the story and align on primary and spin-off content.
Pre-productionVideo team leaders tackle logistics and production planning action items.
ProductionOn-location video production. Typically broken up into an interview session and time for capturing visuals. Often 1 day for each but can be compressed/expanded as needed.
Post-productionIngesting and organizing raw material. Producing transcripts and paper edits. Creating graphics and finished video deliverables.
Spin-off productionProducing written and other follow-on content based around the interviews and visuals captured on-location.

Budgeting for case study video production

A key aspect of this video-first content marketing strategy is lowering the overall cost per deliverable so let’s talk about those costs. Broadly, there are four buckets for budgeting this kind of work: Planning, on-location production, video post-production, and spin-off content production.

CategoryTypical line items
PlanningMeeting preparation and hosting time as well as planning deliverables such as co-marketing pitch decks, production schedules, interview guidance, etc.
ProductionCrew costs (position day rates) and production expenses (equipment, travel, lodging, transportation).
Post-productionVideo editing, motion graphics creation, interview transcription.
Spin-off productionWriting, social media management, additional edits.

So what does this actually look like in terms of dollars? The short answer is there are a lot of variables and it depends. There are many levers that can be pulled to adjust costs depending on goals and constraints. Based on my experience, I would plan to spend anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for a “typical” video case study project depending on complexity, desired production quality, and of course number of deliverables.

These costs don’t need to be borne alone. Case studies are a great opportunity for co-marketing and sharing the costs with the customer or in some cases a relevant third party like a technology vendor. Partners can be offered a variety of incentives including access to copies of deliverables that they can post on their own channels, dedicated video edits for their use or simply access to raw video that they can edit themselves as they see fit. These incentives can be advertised as part of a co-marketing pitch deck developed and delivered during the planning phase.

To wrap things up, video case studies are fantastic pillars for a content marketing strategy. Leading these types of projects have made up the bread and butter of my video marketing career for a good reason, they’re effective. Case study content is a foundational sales enablement tool that allows you to turn a relatively modest upfront investment into a long lasting resource with real ROI.