How To Plan a Winning Marketing Video

Posted: November 15, 2023

Joy George Proofreader

In the increasingly competitive higher ed marketing landscape, marketing videos – whether commercials, website videos, or organic social media videos – can be what makes your institution stand out in the sea of sameness. And sharing videos that show your university or college looking the same as any other school is not going to win you the right-fit students you want on your campus.

So how do you create videos that make you stand out from the crowd and show prospective students who you really are as an institution? We’ve got some tips for planning, scripting, filming, and editing a marketing video that will make you stand out regardless of your budget.

Budgets for videos can range from nothing – do it yourself with your phone and free editing and music – to $100K for a professionally produced, shot, and edited video. These tips and best practices below will help you create effective marketing videos that showcase your unique offerings and campus culture no matter your budgetary restrictions.


It’s easy to think “I’m just going to go record,” and then end up with footage that doesn’t work. But just like any initiative, it’s important that you take the time to plan. Know what you want to shoot and plan for different versions of those shots. The pre-planning will pay off, especially if you’re on a limited budget.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to get students in the communications (or other) department involved. They are looking for experience, so use the talent and experience you have within.

While planning, it’s important to know your limitations and work within your means. If you have limited equipment and no lighting, consider filming mostly outdoors. If you don’t have microphones, consider having a voice-over or onscreen text rather than someone speaking on set. 


Before even planning and ideating a script, you’ve got to understand (1) the goal of your video and (2) the audience of your video. Your audience and the goal will determine many aspects of creating this video, such as:

  • The tone you set.
  • The shots you get.
  • The vocabulary you use.
  • The music you place.
  • The call to action you push.

Knowing the purpose of the video and your audience before you start can save a lot of time during planning, filming, and editing, allowing you to create videos perfect for attracting attention to your message and your institution.


Most likely, your institution has a marketing plan. This means research and discovery have been done, a campaign concept has been created, and you have messaging points and a visual direction already at your fingertips.

This information will help you in planning your script to fit other marketing already happening at your school. Looking at the tone, language, and audience of any campaign can help you focus your script and the images you plan to gather.

And regardless of the tone or audience, you want to ensure that the script and video you use showcase your school’s unique offerings and culture. Featuring student testimonials, highlighting academic programs, and showcasing special moments of your campus life can really help your script to stand out.

Looking for more tips? We’ve actually done a deep dive into writing a video script here.


Know length of your video

The runtime of the video you shoot will greatly impact the message you communicate, so you should know in advance what length(s) the videos will be cut down to meet. A 60-second (or longer) video allows you to really explain who you are and what your message is. A shorter (:06- or :15-second) video is better for social media, allowing you to punch the point and get out. 

Know the intended platform

There are so many places where video can appear now. Will this video be for your school website or on television? If so, it should be a little more polished. Will it be a YouTube ad that has the potential to be skipped? In that case, you’ll want to make sure you open with an attention-grabbing shot so people will remain engaged. Or will it live on TikTok and other social media channels? Those videos can be a lot more casual (and very likely will need to be shot vertically).

Know what shots you need

Do you have a video database that may have useful video? Which people will you showcase (think about your audience)? Shots with people almost always do better. What is unique about your campus and students – many colleges look similar, so how will you make yours stand out? Is it a special event? Is everyone wearing school colors? Do you have state-of-the-art labs? What will you use as establishing/ending shots? Drone shots are nice, but is that the right tone? Does your college appear empty? You want it to feel alive and active.

Know what equipment and crew you need

The type of video you’ve planned (and the assets you have available) can make a big difference in how you plan. Will you use your phone camera or a professional camera? Do you need a tripod or lighting equipment? You’ll also want to consider the help you have around you. Will you use students, faculty, or staff to help film? Will you use students, faculty, or staff in the video? And when it comes to audio, will you want someone to speak on camera or will you record a voiceover later? You’ll need to plan for this, especially if using a phone, as it can be hard to capture audio outside without special equipment.


We hope you can use all of these tips to begin planning your institution’s video content. You can also move on to our next articles about writing a script, filming your video, and editing your video. Want to continue the conversation about crafting standout video creative? Fill out the form below and we can talk!

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