A Tale of Two Clients
Once upon a time there were two organizations. Let's call them Organizations A and B. Both were top dogs in their own right because of their excellent products and services. A and B were both growing so fast that they had begun to grab the attention of their respective markets and, voila, it became time to invest in a higher, more aggressive marketing strategy. Video was suddenly a must.
This is the story of why Organization A paid the same for their video and got less than Organization B.
Focus on products, services and "past experience".
"I have strong prior experience in the video world," he says over the phone. "I actually worked in it for awhile." Great. But benefit of the doubt is important so we continue. "What I am about to describe to you will take half a day to shoot, tops, and maybe a day to edit. No more. I know."
When talking to your video production company, approach them as an expert in the field you are asking them for services in.
The process began just like that. With an expectation of end product x for cost y with time z spent creating it. The problem was that, regardless of the expectation, the reality was different. When buying video, you are not buying the video, you are buying the process of creating it. The disconnect here was simple: for us to complete the service to produce the final video being asked for, it would require more time, more crew and different equipment than Organization A had past experience with (more info here).
When buying video, you are not buying the video, you are buying the process of creating it.
Think about it like this: anyone and their mother can show up with a camera, point it at a subject, and record them spouting off information about themselves. That same person could, hypothetically, take that footage, upload it into iMovie, dump in pre-loaded graphics, text and other pre-made content and export a .mov to return to the organization. The problem with that is that professional production houses don't make those types of videos.
A professional production house will not be comparative price-wise to your neighbor because you aren't buying just their ability to hit the record button. What you are buying is the pre-production, production and post production services that we offer (more info here). You are buying their expertise in creating a piece that will affect your audience. You're buying the fact that we do this for clients all day every day and have experience in what does and what definitely does not work.
A professional production house will not be comparative price-wise to your neighbor because you aren't buying just their ability to hit the record button... you are buying their expertise in creating a piece that will affect your audience.
Here it is important to note that not every company needs this service at this exact time. Organizations that do, however, need to ask themselves what they are looking for. "Just a simple video" is "just a waste of money". Trying to spend $5,000 into a video instead of the recommended $10,000 isn't a money-saver, it's a waste of $5,000. If you don't benefit from the expertise of crafting a story, scheduling the shoots, dealing with rentals, crews, casts, equipment, etc; just buy an iPhone.
Organization A's video will not be shown. Surprised? Don't be :)
Focus on problems, business and users.
"We want a video that conveys a message," she says. "What's the budget we're working with? Honestly, the range is ________ to ________. Can you explain what that will get me?"
That was the conversation that resulted in the video above. The secret to success? The special sauce? Here it is, lean in: when a production company asks for your budget, it isn't to gouge you out of the most money, it's to make sure they are creating the best project that you can afford. Why? Because you can spend as much or as little as you want on your video, but you will get exactly what you pay for. Does every organization need a commercial with kid actors riding on a school bus? No. Does every organization need custom content? Yes! And at different production and budget levels. That's why they ask for it.
When a production company asks for your budget it isn't to gouge you out of the most money, it's to make sure they are creating the best project that you can afford.
Hear that. EVERY ORGANIZATION NEEDS CUSTOM CONTENT AND THAT CONTENT WILL BE CREATED AT DIFFERENT PRODUCTION AND BUDGET LEVELS (more on the SEO benefits of custom content, here). The reason Organization B, which is RBCU, received the type of video they did in the end is because of transparency throughout the production process coupled with the ability to focus on the benefits their clients would receive over the bullet points they wanted to convey. It's the same reason you buy the things you do -- not because someone else told you to, but because you saw benefit for you. Period.
You can spend the same on a TV commercial as you can on redoing basic studio work again and again and again if you approach the project as the expert that you're hiring the production company to be.
In the end the video for Organization A cost the exact same amount of US Dollars as the video for Organization B. Now I will not share Organization A's video because the point isn't to mock them; it's to educate you, the reader, that you can spend the same on a TV commercial as you can on redoing basic studio work again and again and again if you approach the project as the expert that you're hiring the production company to be.
Why? Because Organization A continued to invest resources and time into a project they kept cutting corners on in the beginning instead of being transparent from the start. Had Organization A been transparent and focused on their clients over their bullet points, their video would have cost half the price and been completed on time and under budget.
The following are some insider secrets to make sure you aren't Organization A when you plan your next project:
- Be transparent about your budget range
- Identify your objective in partnering with a production company
- Weigh the benefits of having a professional and experienced team that will cost money against the downsides of "doing it yourself" or "saving on production"
- Discern what value-ads your production company is able to offer BEYOND the end-product that you watch on screen. Are they creating stories? Managing projects? Shooting on equipment that costs more than your budget?
- Ask A LOT of questions about how and why the process works the way it does.
- And finally... Be excited that you are working with people who have your best interest in mind!
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About the Author
Jake LeVoir is the Director of Sales at Slate and Main. He has built a career on helping organizations grow by developing engaging video campaigns that drive consumer traffic and increase brand awareness.
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