With savvy executives realizing the value of online video, there will inevitability be more funds set aside for video projects in 2016. Some of those videos may require you to work with an outside professional video production company. Here’s what you can expect and should know when evaluating these vendors.
One of the most common questions we get at Clear Online Video is “How much is this going to cost?” There are many rules of thumb floating around, like $1,000 per finished minute, for example. They may hold true for some cases, but the truth is that it’s difficult to throw ballpark numbers around in the video production business.
Without knowing the details of a project, the numbers provided may not even be close to the actual cost of a production. Additionally, some big-ticket items that can determine the final price are quality, turnaround, and allocated budgets.
One analogy I like to use is that creating a video is like preparing a meal. Today, almost everyone has the tools and ingredients to make a meal. What the results of that meal turn out to be will depend on a lot of variables.
For example, what type of ingredients are you going to use? Are you going to use the high-end and top-quality stuff or will generic ingredients work for this meal?
I like to compare this to the equipment that your production company might bring to the project. Do you need the 100K Hollywood camera or can a DSLR camera get the job done?
Oftentimes, the quality of equipment used depends on how your final video will be delivered. Is it going to end up on Instagram or is this video going to be shown to a room full of customers or industry peers on a large screen? Back to the meal analogy, the presentation of your meal will look different served on a paper plate versus some fine china!
Finally, experience matters. Even if you have the finest ingredients, cooking tools, and china, it still doesn’t make you a chef. The same goes for production companies. My next point below discusses how experience is critical to finding the right fit for your video project.
Experience is everything when it comes to most industries. This is especially true with video production. Sure, there are countless college and high school students who can make things look cool on their laptops and video editing software, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your video.
Marketers need to evaluate a video production company based on their work, references, testimonials, and overall experience in producing video content. There is a reason that some production companies charge more than others.
Most likely, they know exactly what it’s going to take to produce your finished product, whereas someone with less experience may end up short selling a project. No one is happy when they’re told a price and it ends up costing more, especially your boss!
Marketers also need to take a deep look at the aesthetic style of a video production company. We always say that video is a reflection of your brand.
Sizzle reels can show a lot of bells and whistles and can produce a lot of oohs and aaahs, but does the company have experience producing videos that are similar to the content you need? Not only do you need to look at vendor’s portfolio of work, but you should also make sure their style of video production matches your brand and will connect with your target audience.
Some directors have a specific vision that is different than your company’s. More importantly, this vision may not align with your audience, which can defeat the whole purpose of producing a video. Take the extra time to look past the sizzle reels and evaluate whether or not a production company can produce content that fits your goals.
One often-overlooked point when it comes to hiring a video production company is evaluating the efficiency of the video agency’s pre-production process. This is one of the most important items to discuss with your internal team and it can make or break a video campaign.
Oftentimes, I suggest going with your gut feeling when it comes to this conversation. How did you feel after speaking with said company during the first few phone calls or meetings? Did the vendor ask the right questions about your company and your goals? Did they take the time to research your brand? Do they know what your competition is doing? Did they take the time to speak with you before providing an estimate or quote? Did they make recommendations on equipment, crew size, and creative direction to align with your needs?
These are the questions marketers should be discussing internally before making a hiring choice. Doing so ensures the production company you hire is showing dedication and is committed to the success of your video, and is not just trying to collect a paycheck. Furthermore, they should be raising questions and offering insight on things you may not have been thinking about. This is often what sets professionals apart from amateurs.
While all of the items mentioned above are important when picking a video production company, marketers also need to consider differentiators amongst the companies they consider. For example, does one vendor offer extensive knowledge on a platform such as YouTube or Facebook? If so, then they might be able to provide an added value to your videos.
Having an in-depth background in online video is especially important as videos produced for television may not work on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Some production companies are not as experienced with online platforms like Periscope, Meerkat, or even YouTube, so marketers should evaluate this during the planning process if it’s important to the campaign.
Take note of these added-value services and see if they complement the goals of your marketing video. This will ensure that your vendor knows exactly where the video is going to live and how it should be crafted—all of which adds up to a more successful production for you!