Stack Media, Inc. was founded in 2005 as an athletic print publication, but it’s come a long way in the last eight years with a teen readership in print that now tops 4.88 million per issue. While the company was originally founded as a traditional publisher, it’s evolved to multiplatform media company—according to comScore, is ranked among the top 15 largest U.S. digital sports properties with 8 million unique visitors per month.

The company introduced video content into the mix in 2007 and currently has a library of 7,000 original videos that generate about 12 million views per month. In 2008, STACK Media launched a custom video initiative to include clients like Gatorade, Nike and Adidas, among others.

Here, we detail Stack’s strategies for building a business with custom video from co-founder Chad Zimmerman. Check back with FOLIO: this week for the second half of the list.

1. Determine if Custom Video is Right for You

  • Think about your core clients. Does your advertising base care about video?
  • Have you done research with your audience? Does your audience care about video? Don’t assume an ‘If you build it, they will come,’ strategy.
  • Will your brands translate to video? Ask yourself if your content niche lends itself to brand integration, sponsorship or truly custom content.

2. Getting Started—Production Capabilities and Budgets

  • When launching this type of initiative, you can start with freelancers if you don’t have internal staff, but maintain control and oversight. As volume grows, bring projects in house. A team of 1-3 talented producers-editors can do a lot to propel this business. Remember to keep things lean. A shoot for digital video shouldn’t require more than 1-2 cameras.
  • Remember that many RFPs won’t have a production budget. Use a percentage of the media spend to fund custom production—this will help to set the scope and scale of the project. If marketers like your concepts but want something bigger, this is a great opportunity to upsell the project.
  • Once you’ve closed the deal, always get the client involved to ensure focus and direction is on point. Don’t forget to be careful—agencies can sometimes get caught up on “new and innovative” and lose site of audience needs and/or budget constraints.

3. Be the Expert

  • Know what your audience wants from video—long-form or short-form? Entertainment, how-to or episodic? Heavily produced or raw and voyeuristic? Remember, authenticity is always key.
  • Don’t be afraid to suggest new concepts if the marketer’s ideas are off point—always bring ideas back to what’s best for your audience. If the audience doesn’t care about it why create it?
  • Offer format and concept options. Provide your client with product/service overviews and testimonials. Try to introduce product integration into more authentic stories. Offer sponsorships of existing or new content package, but avoid promising viral videos since this can’t be guaranteed.