"The essential thing is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a flying trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it." - Orson Welles
The results of certain types of market research projects become very accessible to large numbers of people when documented in a video format. In the past year, I have conducted three projects in which clients chose to invest in a highlight video to provide a quick and high-interest method of reviewing the key findings. This article outlines the benefits of a highlight video and the process Next Step Consulting uses with clients to ensure a high-quality and useful product.
Each of the three previously mentioned projects using video documentation was for a different industry (Financial, Publishing and Software), but they all shared a common characteristic. In each case, the nature of the research project was germane to important future business decisions. The studies each defined a foundational element of the client's business and explored possible options for the future. Each company now uses the video as an educational tool for employees. Additionally, a couple of these clients used the videos as the centerpiece of presentations made at critical meetings.
Next Step Consulting has refined an efficient process for creating video highlight tapes that allows several opportunities for client input. This ensures the creation of a useful product and saves time and money by minimizing the need for post-production editing.
A brief description of this process follows:
At the end of each day of research, the audio-tapes are shipped to our transcription service and the videos to our videographer. Transcription of the groups, the most time-consuming aspect of the process, begins as soon as possible. Usually, within days of completing the research, the raw data for assembling a Master Script is available.
At the conclusion of the research, Next Step Consulting creates a slideshow presentation of the main research findings. This presentation serves as the foundation of the video, and does double or triple duty if used as the outline for a written executive summary or personal presentation. Reviewing the slideshow is the client's first opportunity for input regarding the highlight video. It is essential that all concerned parties agree that a video fleshing out the points of the presentation will serve its intended purpose.
After agreeing on the appropriateness of the presentation, Next Step reads through each transcript of the research and captures segments from the focus groups or personal interviews that support each point. An effort is made to represent all the groups or individuals, as well as the range of opinions on each issue. The resulting Master Script recommends several segments for each of the points in the slideshow, as well as a few alternative segments. Reviewing this document is the client's second opportunity to provide input and help shape the final product. Time considerations often require prioritizing some segments over others, or recollections of specific moments from a group or interview dictate including or deleting them from the video.
Once the Master Script is approved, it goes to the videographer. This talented and dedicated individual builds a digital draft of the video. He combines the slides representing each main finding with the appropriate video segments (one of the projects also effectively incorporated telephone interview segments), and adds headers, footers, music, transitions, and opening and closing screens. Like magic, about a week later you have a video in your hand, and a final opportunity to request changes, revisions and refinements. As you watch the rough draft of the video, you follow along with the Master Script and list your recommendations. Since the entire video is in digital format (think of it as a collection of individual files on your computer), changes are easily made. At this stage, I typically delete some segments to save time, or change the sequence of segments, or the wording of the slides, headers or footers.
It only takes a few more days to finalize the changes and ship you as many copies of the final version as you desire. The process is fun, surprisingly inexpensive, and provides you with a compelling record of the key findings to use as an educational and presentation tool.