There’s a thought-provoking question that many clients have asked me over the years: How much do I really need to spend on video?

This might sound like penny pinching, but it’s actually a lot more profound than that. In fact, it exposes an important dilemma.

People who ask this are showing me that they understand that video is valuable. What they’re asking is, just how valuable is it?

They know that the impact of a video can be hard to measure, but they still have a responsibility to quantify it as well as they can. They need to find the line where the returns will be the most worth it so they can use their resources wisely, but not wastefully.

They’ve seen the data on what video can accomplish, but they’re rightfully asking: How much does quality matter?

If they spend extra five or ten grand on the better-made option, what will it really get them?

This is a problem that applies across the board, to investments in your building, your website, and more. How do you know when “good enough” is actually good enough?

While the answers aren’t clear-cut, here are some things it might help to keep in mind:

1. What’s the upside?

Of course it feels like a stretch to go for the bigger, more expensive option. At nonprofits, your budget is usually tight as it is. It’s going to take some real doing to convince you to splurge.

But take a step back for a minute. Let’s put this in more tangible terms of cost and benefit, so we can better understand the risk.

In the case of video, a film that goes up to the next price tier and brings in even one new student has often already paid for itself. And those are some pretty low expectations!

If you didn’t believe that video had the ability to bring in a whole lot more than that, you wouldn’t be investing in the first place.  🙂

While it’s understandable to aim for an economical budget, the risk of aiming just a little higher may feel a lot bigger than it really is. When the potential rewards are so great, it’s important not to overstate the size of the gamble.

2. How does your audience think?

You know your supporters and constituents better than we do. You’re better equipped to determine what they value and what will make an impression on them.

Will they be moved by a just-the-facts approach? Are they motivated by your cause, but less sensitive to the bells and whistles?

On the other hand, is it important for them to associate you with quality? In that case, it may be worthwhile to make sure that you project a sense of care and high standards.

We do have to say, there’s a reason all the big companies in the private sector invest so much in advertising. They know that branding works. They know that everything they put out will help or hurt their image, and that’s why they go big every time.

3. Go with your gut

If you want to build a passionate, dedicated following, the best thing you can do is invest in something you believe in.

You have an instinct for who you are and how you should be representing yourself. If an approach to video doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. But if you feel good about a certain production company, that means something.

It can be hard to find that good, professional fit. If you connect with someone who seems to understand your cause and your needs, don’t second-guess it, and don’t underrate it.

If you’re considering video options, ask yourself: How do the benefits really weigh against the risks? How will your target audience respond? And what is your gut saying?

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