As an outsider to the industry, you’re swimming in totally unfamiliar waters. You know that not all firms are created equal, but maybe all the options look good on the surface, or maybe you’re not even sure how to tell the difference. How can you know that your money is being well spent? What features and services should be on your mental checklist? What are the deal breakers and warning signs?
Before you throw your hands up and just go with the cheapest option, let’s break it down a little. Information is power, right? The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make a wise investment that results in the right video for your needs.
Video is an important transaction. It’s not just a shiny gimmick, but rather a promotional tool that can help sustain your organization in both the short and long term. Making an effective video requires a production partner with knowledge, technique, and creativity.
The first thing to know is that not all companies offer the same range of services. Whether you realize it or not, you probably have some expectations for what they’ll be taking care of, but you can’t just assume that this is what’s on offer.
If you’re familiar with our approach to filmmaking, you’re probably looking for a marketing-based firm that will help you clarify your message, define your audience, and plan the film’s utilization. You want them to build a concept, write a script, plan out interviews, and work with you to ensure that you’re satisfied every step of the way.
If that’s what you have in mind, you’re not going to be happy with a videographer who only offers some simple filming and basic edits. You may think you’ve gotten the deal of the century only to find out that you’ve just thrown your time and money away and now have to find someone new to fix the problem.
The cost of your video will vary depending on your objectives, and so will the companies that are equipped to produce it for you. Make sure you’re getting what you need before you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re going to be partnering up with this company — not to mention paying them large sums of money — you want to know that you’ll be able to work with them without driving yourself crazy.
Are they professional and responsible? Can you be confident that they’ll be on top of things, or will you be constantly chasing them down? Will they meet deadlines? Will they be honest with you about their limitations, or will they promise more than they can deliver? Will they plan efficiently and make the most of the footage they produce? Will they communicate well?
Furthermore, will they value your organization and listen to your feedback? I think Ezra Productions put it best:
“You want to make sure that the people you’re going to be working with are positive, upbeat, creative, and a pleasure to interact with. You don’t want to work with people who are going to belittle you, give you that look of “How dare you question my artistic vision?” or tell you your idea isn’t possible because they’re actually just lazy.”
The easiest way to find out is to reach out directly to some of the organizations listed on the firm’s site and ask them: “Would you work with company X again?”
You never know what you might hear. Based on the website, you might think you’re inquiring into a long and fruitful relationship, only to hear that the organization got locked into a contract and bitterly regrets it. That’s useful information to have!
You can get a good sense of a company culture from the image they project. There are dozens of little things that really can tell you how seriously they take themselves and, by implication, how much pride they have invested in doing the best work possible.
Look at their website. This is the public face of the company, the first impression they’re aiming to make. Does it look like they put real time into getting it right, or is it full of typos?
How involved are they in the wider field of video marketing? Do they have a blog, where they join in the conversation about how their industry functions in theory and practice? Are they active on social media, engaging with consumers and other professionals?
Do they respond to emails in a timely manner? Or do they seem slow-moving, scattered and inattentive?
How familiar is the company with your nonprofit’s mission statement and branding? When you speak with them, do you feel that they truly understand your overall identity as well as the goals you have for this specific video?
You need to feel confident that you’re on the same page as your video marketing firm. If they have the wrong idea of who you are and what you want, they’re going to go ahead and produce something that is completely inappropriate.
You can spend weeks completely oblivious before discovering that you’re on the wrong track – at which point you won’t just have to start from scratch, you’ll have to counteract all the wrong notions and mistaken perceptions that now dominate the project.
At the end of the day, your video marketing company has to suit your personal taste. If other people tell you they’re talented, but you just don’t see it, you’re never going to be happy with the work they do for you.
So take a look at their past videos. How do they make you feel?
Are they professional quality? Are their ideas creative? Do they capture emotion and tell a story?
By answering these five questions, you can get the info you need to make an educated choice, even if you’re not a filmmaking insider. It’s all about you – what you need, what you deserve, and what you like. When you understand what you’re getting for your money, you’ll be able to spend it prudently, avoiding common mistakes and ending up with a video that sees quantifiable results.
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