Interview with Nausheen Ishtiaq-Chen
CEO and Director of Zen & Zany Films
1. What exactly do you do in Shenzhen?
I'm a commercial video director and visual marketing consultant. I'm originally from Pakistan and have studied and worked in NYC as a Fulbright Masters scholar. Our company in China, Zen & Zany, is an international video production company. We offer full-service video marketing and content creation solutions. We take the client’s idea and provide them with concepts, scripting, animation, product shooting and a marketing and release plan for their video assets. We work a lot with start-ups in the tech sector, but we are not explicitly focused on any business line. Many times the campaigns are for crowdfunding, trade shows, one-on-one investor meetings, or sales presentations.
2. How videos help start-ups and crowdfunding campaigns?
Videos are truly the most impactful way for startups to gain exposure, win investment and create a community that champions their products and services. We believe in enabling our clients to harness the potential of video marketing to build their business.
Our company follows a very structured process. When a client comes to us, we first have a discovery phase to understand their product or idea: What their brand is about, what is there already in the works that can be taken and built up. We analyse the client's target audience, their needs and desires and what kind of brand and product messages can target them in the most impactful way. We help our clients understand how to leverage different kinds of videos at different stages of their sales funnel - brand videos, customer testimonials, user reviews, social media videos and more.
3. What budgets the clients need to take into account for video production?
A lot of new clients who have not created professional videos before don’t understand where the investment is in this business. This is especially true in a young city like Shenzhen, where even marketing as an industry is quite new. We don’t have set prices; all plans are customized depending on client requirements.
Research has shown that in crowdfunding there is a direct correlation between the money invested and the money raised. With less money, fewer resources go into the production quality, research, pre-production, analysis and final evaluation. If you have a lower budget, you only get a cameraman. You as the client might need to work much more on the final video product: such as having to write the script, find talent etc, and you might not have professionals on board supporting you with optimized content. If you have a higher budget, you can have a video production or marketing agency like us handle proper research, strategy, scripting, pre-production and production. You get more and better-qualified resources for every step of the process.
4. What is a good video? What elements are required?
The key to creating a good video is to be able to show the right elements, using the right language talking to the right audience. Our company works with a marketing team looking at all the details such as: Who is the target audience? Where are they? How are they behaving? Are they on Facebook, Instagram? Are they not even online? Based on the audience, we look at how to tell the story. We break it down to adaptations depending on what and where it is used.
A video that is used for a trade show will be very different from one that is used on Facebook. They both connect to the brand, but they are very different. When you are at a trade show with visitors passing by your booth, they might glance at, and watch whatever you show on the screen. The video must give them a good understanding of whatever products or services are being offered at a glance. These videos are long, somewhat repetitive, simplistic, and the products and services are heavily featured. If the visitors watch the video only for a few seconds, they should still see the brand. On Facebook, you won’t be watching long videos and you expect more content; what you need to do is create short, catchy stories. Lot of them start with questions such as "Have you ever...?" "How would this make your life easier/better?" Facebook videos are text-heavy so that they can be watched and understood without sound.
What you have to do is to work backwards to figure out who is the video for, where you find the audience, and what they watch, and create something for them that resonates with both them as well as the brand that you're selling.
5. What is your recommendation to newcomers?
If you have a product and you are interested in launching a campaign, you must simplify things. You have to understand that there are multiple ways to creating a video. If you are a small start-up with a limited budget, you can create a video in-house. What you have to do is spend much time on research to understand what kind of video you can create, what tools you can use, and you have to have a good story. It is not difficult to create a video in-house, and you can buy all the basic equipment you might need for pretty cheap. However, you have to create a good story and you need to understand what elements go into creating a story.
If you have a mid-range budget, you can go with video production agencies. You have to understand that all agencies are not the same: Agencies might not have much time; they might not do a lot of deep-diving, and they may not necessarily do very detailed work. In this scenario, clients still have to do research and a lot of the preparation work. The best practice going into a video project is to be clear on resources, deliverables, and timeframes.
The key is to understand that you, as a client, have a significant part to play in the success of your video project. You have to be involved, engaged and empower the video team with the right tools and knowledge abut your goals and brand, so that the outcome reflects and surpasses your vision.
Nausheen is a director and visual marketing consultant based in China. She leads video production at Zen & Zany, working with startups to mould products and services into visual brands.