10 Steps on How to Create Great Videos for Your College

videos for college marketing

Even more than images, videos resonate with audiences. That’s because even if a picture is worth a thousand words, its value is raised exponentially when you add some eye-catching movement and build a story. The most effective videos tell compelling, relatable stories that connect with your audience to build loyalty and inspire action.

But how do you tell those stories? It’s not as complicated or as costly as video producers would have you believe. Follow these 10 steps to create great video for your college:

1)   Embrace Your Identity

Your video should be an authentic representation of your institution. Take a look at your mission statement and your reputation. Speak to relevant stakeholders. What is your college brand? Do not steer away from it unless your goal is exactly that: to entirely rebrand.

2)   Know Your Students

Take a look at your current enrollment. Those students are a pretty good indication of who your future students are likely to be. Particularly for on-campus programs, future students need to connect with who you are so they can decide if they’ll fit in. But even online programs need to be relatable.

3)   Find Them In the Funnel

The video you create to urge someone to apply before a pending deadline will be much different than one intended to introduce potential students to your institution. Consider where your target audience is in its decision-making process.

4)   Decide Upon the Video’s Goal

Similar to the need to know where your audience is in the funnel, you need to set a goal for the video and build content around it. Is it recruitment? Fundraising? Program awareness? You can’t build a story without an ending.

5)   Check Out Your Competitors

Your competitors probably already have video assets online (or if they have the budgets, on television). What do they do well? You don’t want to copy their ideas but you can draw inspiration from what you like. Moreover, you can make sure you don’t make the same mistakes they do. And make sure to consider what you believe is better about your institution so you can hone in on positive differentiators.

6)   Grab Your Viewer’s Attention

Okay, this is a lot easier said, than done. But it isn’t impossible. If you know what you want to say and to whom you’re speaking, you’re halfway there. Now consider what might resonate with that selected audience. Is it humor? Emotion? Logic? Tell an authentic story, quickly and with purpose. Use images and action that make sense for your school and your audience.

7)   Write Your Script

This is the hardest part. But it doesn’t need to be. Just tell a story. A really good story. Then, add in plot, narrative, character development, climax, resolution, actors, setting, costume, voiceover, direction, camera angles—okay, maybe it isn’t that simple.

8)   Shoot

By the time you’re ready to shoot, you will likely be at the crossroads of exhaustion and exhilaration. Shooting a good video can literally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But today’s easy access equipment can also make it very affordable.  Some of the most engaging videos online are shot with a couple of video cameras, tripods and a few decent microphones. This simplicity doesn’t just work; it lends an authentic quality to the final production that often appeals to the exact target you want.

9)   Edit

Editing is a time-consuming and painstaking process. If you do not have the right equipment or personnel, this is one area that is more than worth the investment of outside resources. Done well, your video can capture attention, boost your brand and increase applications. Done poorly, your shoddy video can damage your reputation now and into the future. Internet content doesn’t disappear, so beware.

10)  Disseminate

Consider where your audience lives online and hit every channel. Add it to your website. Put teasers to it on social media. A great video asset can also be repurposed. Turn it into shorter clips. Or if it does well, build out additional content around the same theme. Can you create a series? A life-in-the-day series for students in particular majors or jobs your students might find upon graduation can grow far beyond a single video.


If you haven’t tried video yet because it seems a bit complicated, let us show you how to simplify. Contact the Content Department at ESM Digital today to learn more.


~Linda Emma