When you’re ready to hire a production company for your next (or first) marketing or corporate video, there are a lot of questions to ask to make sure you’re getting what you want and that the company you hire is a good fit. You’ll need answers to everything from timelines to financial considerations to experience. When you make that first call, here are 10 questions that we feel are critical to a successful partnership and ensuring you end up with a product you’re happy with.
1. What kind of videos do you specialize in?
This question generally requires you, the client, to know what kind of video you’re looking for from the start. For example, there’s a big difference between a company that produces marketing videos and a wedding videographer. Some companies specialize in videos for live events, or short films, or music videos. Finding the right fit starts with defining your project.
If your product or service is unique it may be in your best interest to find a company with experience in that field.
2. Can you provide examples of your work?
The proof is in the pudding. If their portfolio or showreel (also known as a demo reel or sizzle reel) doesn’t knock your socks off there’s no reason to continue the conversation with them. Make sure you see a good number and cross-section of videos. Once you’ve compared the quality to other production companies it will be easy to spot which ones stand out.
3. How long have you been in the video production industry?
This boils down to experience and competence. If the company is well-established, they’ve likely ‘seen it all,’ meaning they can adjust to unpredictable problems or circumstances, last-minute curveballs, tight deadlines or tight budgets.
The level of experience can also be indicative of the quality of the production. Chances are the longer they’ve been in business, the more contacts they have within the industry. Does your production require actors? An experienced company will know where to find those actors, host auditions, and make casting decisions. Have a larger project and the need for additional crew members to capture more content in one shoot day? An experienced company will have pre-vetted partners they turn to in such situations.
While newer companies may not have as many clients or may have more time to spare, the lack of experience in the industry might actually slow them down as they’ll be learning things along the way.
4. What type of companies have you previously worked with?
Does the company work with enterprise corporations, non-profits, or mom-and-pop shops? Similar to the kind of videos the company specializes in, this can help weed out a business that doesn’t work for you.
If you’re a mom-and-pop shop with a low budget, a company that primarily works with enterprise corporations won’t be a good fit for you (or your budget). If you are an enterprise corporation, having a production company that understands brand guidelines and legal reviews would be a good match. Investing in video is a smart business tactic, so it’s important to find a company that’ll meet your video needs.
5. How do you market your own company?
Does the company you’re looking to hire have a social media presence? Do they have relevant and updated work samples on their website? Do they use video to promote their own services? If the company doesn’t successfully market their own work, how can you trust them to do so for your project? This question then leads into the next…
6. Can you advise us about marketing our video once it’s done?
You now have an engaging and impactful video for your brand, but you’re not sure your target audience will see it. A video production company should be able to provide you with suggestions that will improve your video’s performance and help reach a wider audience thus gaining maximum exposure.
7. How long will it take to produce my video?
This one’s a little trickier because the answer most likely will be, “it depends.” But it won’t take long to get a more solid answer once you’ve explained the type of video you need.
If it’s a one-minute marketing video with interview testimonials, no b-roll, and no motion graphics, the turn-around time will be substantially shorter than a two-minute video with scripting, actors, b-roll from multiple locations and extensive motion graphics. In general, a well-produced marketing video will take anywhere from 4 – 8 weeks.
8. How much will the video cost?
Much like the timeline, the cost of a video will depend on all sorts of factors but once you’ve given the vendor a general description of what you’re looking for they should be able to give you a rough estimate of what you might expect to pay. If you’re only looking to spend a few thousand dollars on a video and the production company is quoting you ten times that number, then you’ll immediately know this will not be the right fit.
9. How much guidance will you give me?
Another way to think about this is whether you want a vendor or a partner? Some clients come into the process with a fair amount of video production experience while others have none. How much do you want to be a part of the process? It’s important to find out if the vendor is willing to shepherd you through the project. Will you be able to participate in the script writing? In the casting decisions? Do you want them to take full control and just keep you updated on progress?
Get clarity in advance on how much involvement you wish to have. If your video knowledge is limited this is a very important question to get answered.
10. How will we communicate?
Communication is key throughout the life of a project and how the client and vendor keep in touch cannot be oversold. Some people like email, others like phone calls, others prefer a project management program.
A preferred method should be established early on and lines of communication should remain open. This will carry on through every phase of the project, like when you have questions about script revisions or design elements. How will the vendor post the latest revisions and how will you be expected to reply? A project management program, basically an electronic communications hub, like Basecamp, is an excellent way to keep everybody in touch.
There are plenty more questions that you’ll have but getting answers to these (which are listed below for your convenience) will get you pointed in the right direction and give you a sense of whether or not you and the production company will be a good fit. Asking these questions up front will also save you and the company you’re inquiring time.
- What kind of videos do you specialize in?
- Can you provide examples of your work?
- How long have you been in the video production industry?
- What type of companies have you previously worked with?
- How do you market your own company?
- Can you advise us about marketing our video once it’s done?
- How long will it take to produce my video?
- How much will the video cost?
- How much guidance will you give me?
- How will we communicate?
Synergy may be a trite buzzword, but its undeniably important. It’s critical for you and the vendor to mesh well and be on the same page.