When you are ready to talk to a video production company about a project for your business, think through the following points beforehand. No matter what the video is about, the first conversation about it will be the same; the video production company will ask the same key questions every time, and you will have questions of your own.
- Purpose. Why do you need a video in the first place? What information or feeling do you need to convey to your audience? Is this about a new product that the world has never seen and perhaps doesn’t even know how much it needs it? Or just a better mousetrap whose purpose is clear but the method of trapping that mouse is improved? Do you need to motivate people to quit smoking, sing in the shower or vote Republican? What is your audience doing now and what should they be doing? In short, why make a video?!
- Audience. Who will see the video program? Motivating high school students is obviously different from motivating seniors. Tech bros are not the same as stock analysts, drill sergeants differ from yoga instructors. A video program must always keep its audience in mind because it will speak to each group differently.
- Venue. Where and under what circumstances will the video be shown? What’s the context? If it’s embedded in ABC Widgetmaker’s website and it talks about the latest widget model that’s one thing, but if it’s on a video display at the neighborhood hardware store it requires a different approach. Is a training video shown in a classroom setting? Is there also a live instructor present? Does the video accompany a printed manual? Is this program to be shown on a noisy trade show floor?
- Three takeaways. When your audience walks away from the video, what should they remember? Boil it down to three main points, we don’t hold more in our heads very well.
- Call-to-action. What should the audience do when they turn off the video program? Find out more on a website? Visit a store? Write their congress representative? Or just feel good about working for your company?
- Your resources available. What do you have available that could help in the making of this video program? Do you have laboratory test videos proving how well your widget performs? Historical photographs of your company’s early days? Names and contact information of delighted customers? Brochures, data sheets, previous videos and other collateral material related to your subject? A content expert with creative writing flair who can write a great script? Offer what you can to the production company.
- Timeline. When do you need the program to be finished? Is there a particular event during which this project will play? Can the production company deliver in time? (See our FAQ How Long Does It Take to Make a Video Program.)
- Length. How long should the video be? This item is buried toward the bottom of the list for two reasons: It has little to do with the budget and all the previous questions probably already answered this one. Videos are normally not priced out by the minute but by the amount of work which goes into them. And length is generally dictated by the audience (what is their attention span?), by the venue (a 30-second TV commercial must really be 30:00), and the purpose of the video. You can have an idea of how long you want the video to be, but be prepared to discuss this with the video production company.
- Budget. It would be great to start the conversation with this item, but it’s generally left to the end. Budgets for custom video production can be all over the map, depending on many factors. Some aspects can be negotiable: if you’re flexible in your expectations, the production company can be flexible in their approach. They can, up to a point, accommodate your budget by designing the video so that it can be made for what you had in mind. But it’s similar to pricing out the building of a house: a larger budget can build you a nicer house in a better neighborhood. With a tight budget you may have to compromise on the number of bedrooms or the quality of appliances. At what point would you find yourself building a house you wouldn’t want to live in or couldn’t fit your family in? (See our FAQ How Much Does a Video Cost to Make per Minute.)
- Sample videos of similar approaches. A great way to start the conversation with a video production company is to search the internet and your competitors’ websites for inspiration. If you find a video you like, even if it’s on a different subject, share it with your production company. Tell them what you like about it and what you’d like done differently. It’s a great way to quickly cut to the chase in terms of all the points discussed above.
Choosing the perfect video production company for your particular project can be a fun process because you get to bounce ideas around. But do a little thinking beforehand to make your first conversation with the video production company meaningful.