Why your video team needs Retrospectives (and how to run them)

To start, a quick disclaimer. Retrospectives are an Agile thing and while I’ve worked at places that used bits and pieces of Agile, I am far from an expert. This write up is for noobs like me looking for a way to learn from their mistakes rather than repeat them.

So, you wrapped a big project. Deliverables delivered, clients happy, all the hell of actually making the thing behind you. At this point, you’re eager to move on to the next challenge. At this point the last thing you want to do is litigate that difficult conversation with the client about budget, or the unintended consequences of that last minute timeline shift, or how you really should have stuck to your guns on that script revision.

It’s natural to want to get on with things, but if I could impart one lesson as a moderately seasoned video marketer, it would be this: always do a retrospective.

What’s a retro?

A retrospective (or if you’re goth, a post-mortem) is a follow up meeting directly after the end of a project. At this point, your memories are fresh and it’s the optimal time to take stock of how the project went and most importantly write that assessment down for posterity.

Why do I like them?

Firstly, I believe that one of the keys to creative success is self-reflection. Looking inward and examining our process is the first step to improving it, and practicing this idea as a group can be revolutionary. Regardless if you’re freelance, in-house, agency or non of the above, we all have times where we feel stuck. The same (bad) outcomes keep happening and we don’t know how to improve them. Well, fixing those things can be hard but if you can’t identify them in the first place it’s nearly impossible.

Conversely if you don’t identify your successes, you can’t lean into what you do best and figure out how to do more of that.

Retrospective meetings combine this idea of self-reflection with the idea of being actionable. The goal is to come out of the meeting with a better understanding of what happened, and insight to help you and your team do an even better job on the next mission.

For video teams especially, we do a lot of different kinds of work. Throughout the course of a project your team is not only doing creative things like concepting, script writing, filming, animating, and editing… they’re also doing managerial things like scheduling, budgeting holding meetings.

Because the team has so many things to think of and production has so many moving pieces, when it’s all done it’s so easy for potential insights to get lost without a formal process for immediate review. Doing a retrospective as a team right after you finish a project ensures you gain as much insight as possible before memories fade, and you make changes collectively as a team rather than dictate changes from above.

How do you run the meeting?

Despite all this lofty talk about introspection, retros are easy. The way I run them is based around what I learned from the excellent team at my very first agency, Sculpt. We’d pick a project and answer the following questions as a team:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What things did we learn?
  4. What new questions do we have?
  5. What action items do we have moving forward?

That’s it. It’s really not hard.

What’s important is that people have time to think about these questions and discuss them as a group. In a larger team, it can be helpful to put these questions on a whiteboard or have folks come prepared with thoughts in advance.

The most important question in the retro is the last one: action items. Talking about what happened is great, but learning from it requires making changes and being able to articulate next steps is the key to make retrospectives empowering and actionable, not just a forum for commiseration.

When the meeting is done, make sure you’ve captured everything in your notes, share them with your video team, and put those insights to work. Continuous improvement is a powerful motivator and creativity multiplier, retros are an essential tool to achieve that.


Read more posts about the business of video here.

Have more questions about running video teams? Let’s chat.

Inbound Video and the Death of Impersonal Marketing – Digital Summit/Revolve Conference 2018

Every marketer knows doing things “the old fashioned way” is unsustainable yet most people still don’t think this same way about video. Agencies and brands alike keep getting stuck viewing video through the lens of the “deliverable,” meaning a snappy 15 or 30 second spot that you make once, then syndicate across platforms. 

That’s no longer good enough. We’ve seen email and social marketing thrive on the notion of personalized content that resonates with a hyper-specific audience, and we have to approach video in the exact way.

V

Going from Video Marketing Vendor to Strategic Partner – Wistiafest 2017

This is my workshop from Wistiafest 2017. In this talk, I run through the my philosophy on modern video marketing from coming up with awesome ideas to selling them to clients, to actually bringing them to life. We cover a lot of ground.

Video Marketing 101: Tactics to go from vendor to marketing partner from Ian Servin


More from the Wistia website:

Ian Servin, creative director and strategist at Animus Studios, says there are three crucial phases to video marketing: before you have a client and you want to land them, actively working and showing value, and distributing all the value you’re creating. Here he talks pitching, pricing, and performing to create better partnerships as well as specific tactics for each topic.

Typically, agencies have no problem thinking strategically, but when it comes to video, they approach it like a videographer. Agencies will only think about deliverables. Only working project to project doesn’t establish a strong relationship. Instead, it’s best to think about entire campaigns and focus on building long-term relationships with your clients. By spending time understanding your client’s business challenges and focusing on impact, you can foster better relationships and add trust to obtain more creative freedom.

For partnerships, the pitch isn’t actually the beginning of a client relationship. The real beginning starts with discovery. Learn all about your client’s business problems, who they are, and their goals so you can help outline a path to success. Hold a meeting with client and creative stakeholders to identify story opportunities for content. Establish a collaborative relationship during this creative jam.

When pricing, offer value-based pricing, which is the price a client is willing to pay given the amount of value your solution provides. Value-based pricing is a combination of positioning and calculating your value. It requires an understanding of your client’s business as well as the cost to budget out a project based on time and materials. To build a budget, segment your budget by individual projects, define your activities, and track your time.

Performing is the final phase, and it’s all about executing. Understanding distribution is the most important thing you can do besides making content. Every channel has different benefits and use cases. Client goals determine which channels are important, and audience determines what channels are relevant. Think about distribution at the beginning of a project, but remember not to fake your knowledge of distribution. Take time to learn how to distribute effectively.

Partnership is all about asking the right questions and making collaborative decisions based on learnings.

Credit: Wistia

You Can’t Reach Your Audience without Understanding Them First

An excerpt from a post on the Wistia blog:

Making engaging video is all about communication, and if you can’t empathize with your audience, it’s really hard to communicate effectively with them. When it comes to producing videos for clients, understanding the audience is key.

Your client’s audience should determine the tone of the videos, what content goes into them, and even what channels you choose to share them on and how you target ad spend.

A little extra thoughtfulness in the audience discovery phase will change how you make videos and strengthen your client relationships.

So how do you begin?

Read the full article at Wistia’s blog.

Consulting and coaching

Growing a video business is hard, but you don’t have to go it alone. These offerings are for people that want dedicated support and accountability. 

A coaching engagement includes monthly 1:1 consulting and private access to me via email/messaging in between calls to track progress, triage issues, and prep for upcoming calls.

Not looking for a long term commitment?
That’s ok,
click here to book a one-off consulting call. We’ll spend an hour talking through your situation and I’ll follow up afterwards with resources and recommendations to help get you sorted.

What you’ll get out of this…

📈 Confidence in you and your business’ trajectory

🎬 Freedom to spend more time creating, less time on everything else

🛠 Tactics to package and position your services strategically

💰 Value based pricing for video and easy client upsells 

📄 Workflows from my experience working in-house for agencies and direct-to-client as a freelancer

🏋🏽‍♂️ Customized coaching based on what you want to learn and accomplish

🔐 Access to information I can’t share publicly

What do you get specifically?

  1. An onboarding call to set up the engagement
  2. Monthly hourlong consults via phone/video conference
  3. Direct access via email, text, phone, whatever
  4. Custom proposals for projects that go beyond consulting  

Pricing

The fee for a 6 month engagement is $2,500.

Getting started

After you schedule your onboarding call, you’ll need to answer a short questionnaire. It’ll cover some foundational information that I need to make sure we hit the ground running from day 1.

This goes beyond your contact info and that’s by design. Feel free to skip any questions you’re unsure about or don’t want to answer.