So you've decided you want a video to help tell your story. You have an idea you think might work, and you're ready to hire a video production company. Choosing a video production service to help you turn that idea into a visual masterpiece usually starts with a generic google search for "video production". But think about the last time you bought a car. Did you just google "car" ? Probably not. Before you even got to the dealership or went online, you knew a little bit about what you were looking for. That two seat convertible might look fun, but probably isn't going to cut it for the mom who has to drive three kids to lacrosse practice. And that same three row SUV might be great for the growing family, but it might not be the best choice for the empty nester looking to stretch that gas budget.
When shopping for a new car, we think about all of our needs before we even make it to our first dealership. It turns out this is a good strategy to use when you're looking to hire a video production company. All video production services are not created equal. Making a corporate video is not the same as making a music video. It's important to look for a video production team that makes the most sense for what you're trying to accomplish.
So where do you start? Many would say the first thing you should do is figure out your budget. We respectfully disagree. While budget is important, it doesn't matter much if you don't end up with the video you want. Think about it. In our car analogy, even if you end up way under budget and get a great deal, a two seat coupe won't work for that soccer mom, regardless of the price. Instead of focusing first on budget, set that aside and focus first on the message. Ask yourself - what is my key message and what is the absolute best type of video to get that message across? What video vehicle should you be driving? Just like car shopping, choosing the right video production service will get easier as your message gets clearer.
Now that you've honed in on your message, what is the tone that will best deliver the message that fits your situation? Humorous? Dramatic? Emotional? Hard hitting? For example, Dollar Shave Club and Gillette both sell razors. Gillette has long used a no nonsense approach encapsulated in their tagline "the best a man can get." To differentiate itself, Dollar Shave Club decided to use outrageous, quirky humor in its marketing. Deciding the tone of your video efforts can go a long way in helping you choose a video production company best suited to deliver on that tone. The next Transformers sequel will probably not be directed by the Farrelly Brothers (although it would be an interesting experiment- "There's Something About Bumblebee?" I would probably go see that).
Another important factor to decide is the viewing venue. When we say "venue" we don't just mean the physical location. We also mean format. Will your video be an opener playing on giant screens at your annual company meeting? Or will this video mostly be seen online in a small popup window on your company website? Knowing the venue can help you determine what tools you will need to make that video. A good production company will be able to match the right tools to your job based in part on the venue. For example, that meeting opener on giant screens might really benefit from being shot at a higher resolution like 4k. But 4k might not be as important for that video that will live in a small popup window on your website. Having a highly skilled set decorator might be a big factor on a fashion shoot where the set helps convey the style, but won't be much of a factor in an instructional video. Hiring a video production team who insists on a line item for a set decorator would just be wasting your valuable resources, no matter how great that set decorator's work.
Next, you need to answer one of the most critical questions-who is your audience? Is your audience well defined, or is it anybody on the planet with eyeballs? The video you make for an internal sales force is going to look a lot different than one you might make for potential customers you've never met. There have been a few cases where we've produced videos where the audience was literally one person. In one case, our client was looking to sign a particular celebrity to an endorsement deal, and as part of the pitch we put together a short highlight reel. Every element was designed to impress and sway the opinion of one person. Awesome video, party of one. Finding a production company who has experience creating videos for the person or people you want to reach can be a big plus.
Now that you've thought about your message, your tone, your venue, and your audience, you can finally dial in the b word-BUDGET. The reason we think budget is generally less important in choosing a video production company is that most producers can scale up or down to meet a particular budget. Because you've now spent a good amount of time thinking through the other critical factors, you can make better decisions on what to leave in and what to leave out. When evaluating companies to produce your next video, you'll probably ask to see some examples of the production company's work. If a company has relevant examples, a good follow-up question is how much did that particular video cost? This can be helpful to give you a range of what that video production company is used to being compensated. In a well established market like New England, many video production teams find a niche not only in the type of work they do, but in the budgets of the video projects they take on. No matter how much you love a video reel, having a budget of $5000 and hiring a "big name" Boston video production agency that usually works on projects for $55,000 might not be the best fit. The production company might become frustrated by the lack of resources they are used to having, and you might become frustrated at the lack of attention you might get as a small fish in their big pond.
The small fish/big pond mentality is partially responsible for our company. In the past, as a Fortune 500 client and a buyer of corporate video production services, I often felt the difference. If I had a 6 figure budget-immediate replies, the president of the company is calling me directly, extravagant lunch meetings, etc. 4 figures- lots of voicemails, lots of "let me check our schedule", and I'd end up heating mac and cheese in our company microwave, I wanted to start a company where no matter what the budget or the client size, you would feel Welcome. We try hard to not let the size of your budget affect the quality of your experience.
As a Boston video production company, we operate in a market where there is a lot of competition. Production companies in Boston have to be nimble. Approaching every job with a one size fits all mentality doesn't work for us, and it won't work for you as a client. It's important to find a video production company that feels like the right fit. Just like a car, nobody benefits if you drive off the video lot with finished work that doesn't accomplish what you want, and with a process that doesn't make you want to return. By taking a little extra time to figure out exactly what you want, and by answering some key questions before shopping, you'll have a better chance of driving away happy.