When I start on a new project, the client’s first question often is, “How much will it cost?” Unfortunately, the answer is like someone asking “How much does it cost to build a house?” — it’s not immediately apparent. With more and more vendors and practitioners offering their services, understanding what’s behind the number can be the key to the success of your video and the client’s satisfaction.
Let’s break it down: first and foremost is the story or message you’d like to communicate. Once you’re clear on that, the next step is coming up with a creative corporate video strategy that will best serve your message and budget.
Making Video: Multiple Disciplines
Decisions you make when creating a video are just like the ones you’d make if you were building a home. You can start from the ground up or renovate an existing structure; you can hire an architect or design it yourself; you can have Italian marble countertops imported or just use faux marble from Home Depot. Each decision affects cost.
And just like building a house, creating good video content for your company requires multiple craftspeople. Each person’s experience and skill level will affect quality and price. One person cannot be equally proficient in all disciplines. Therefore it’s important to understand that reducing specialists to cut costs could result in a video not as powerful as the one that was created by a team of specialists.
How deep are your pockets?
The first item on your video pre-production checklist should be budget. If you already have a budget range in mind, tell your video partner early on. It’ll save a lot of time. With this information, a video partner can give you the most bang for the buck and also suggest ways to marry your message with your budget. If a video partner has no idea what your budget is, then they may budget for a central A/C instead of a window air conditioner.
No idea of what your budget should be? Then ask your vendor to show you examples at each price point. Pay close attention to get a complete explanation of what they were responsible for in these samples. Did they come up with the idea and produce the finished film from beginning to end, or were they responsible for just a single component of the finished video? Occasionally vendors will take credit for more than they’ve contributed.
Fast, Good, Cheap: Pick Two For Your Company Film.
If you want to create something fast and good, it won’t be cheap. If you create something quick and cheap, it won’t be very good. Understand that your schedule will have an effect on the price. Typically, rushing through the preproduction process will end up costing more in the long run. A great video partner will help shape your schedule and creative into your budget and vice versa.
Here are two basic rules that affect video price.
Rule One: Communication, Rule Two: See Rule One
The constant factor throughout pricing a video project will be communication with your video partner and key decision makers. Having a clear understanding of expectations will make it easier to deliver the right video at the right price. If you leave out a key decision maker during the pricing of a video, especially in big video markets like New York City, you’re opening yourself up to a potential budget disaster. After pouring the foundation to a house, it becomes very costly to move it to a new location if you change your mind. A good video partner will make sure your house is firmly rooted.
Sometimes it’s easier to choose based on price alone, but you can’t compare video partners the same way you shop for bricks or wood. Someone who has little experience and charges less may take longer, cost more, and cause more pain than a team that has experienced pitfalls in the past and knows how to avoid them. The best video production companies know how to budget realistically for the scope of work whereas an inexperienced partner may be unrealistically optimistic in trying to win the job.
Why Reinvent the Storytelling Wheel?
Unless your video is a revision of work previously finished, you’re creating something new and unique. A great video partner will inform and educate you about the process and how each part affects price.
Each kind of video requires different kinds of workflows and your video partner will have milestone approvals to help manage cost. For example, an animated video requires storyboard approval before going into production, so your video partner will ask you for it before engaging animators. Understanding each step in the process will keep everyone happy.
Whether you’re constructing a house on the water, building an apartment building or assembling a birdhouse, there’s no easy answer to “How much will it cost?” However, if you give a lot of information and communicate your hopes and intentions, it won’t be such a mystery.