7 Ways to Keep Video Production Costs Down

“There is no victory at bargain basement prices.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight was, of course, right.  If you want to win (in business or in war…) you have to pay the price. If it’s important to you you’ll incur the necessary costs that will guarantee success. If being successful is not that important… then why bother. That said, there is always opportunity to be more efficient.

There are many factors that affect the cost of a video – I.e. you can pay a thousand bucks for a talking head video or you can pay a million bucks for a world class broadcast commercial. Both are video.  Assuming that you have a budget in place to produce good work and a video production company helping you that is very good at what they do, how can you minimize the overall cost of your video project? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Know your content before you shoot. Yep, this one sounds like ‘motherhood’ but this is the single most important thing you can do. Don’t wing it. Don’t wing anything. You should know EXACTLY what you want your on-camera people to say before you arrive on set. If you don’t then you’ll likely be disappointed. This even applies to testimonial videos. You never show up for a testimonial video and hope you’re going to hear something good – that would be silly, right? Senior business leaders are the worst offenders here. “Don’t worry, I know exactly what I’m going to say…” Uh, huh. My experience is not good with ‘execu-wingers.’ If you don’t have a script you should, at a minimum, share an outline with all participants that includes all of the talking points that have to be captured.

Everyone involved should also know the outcome and purpose of the video before you begin production. Knowing how the content is going to influence the person watching the video (why they should even bother to watch your video) is what will guide every decision you make.  Old-school corporate video production used to be all about the ‘how’- cool camera angles, cool animations, cool locations etc. Today it’s all about the ‘what. ‘ What matters is the content.

2. Plan efficiency into your schedule. This takes a bit of forethought and creativity. If you’re shooting a corporate video, why not plan on doing two, three or more at the same time. Gang your production and post-production into a more efficient schedule. Do you really need multiple set-ups for every shot? Perhaps. Or perhaps capturing your presenters all on the same green screen is the most efficient way to go. Even if you are planning a large scale production it’s very easy to ask the folks who are on-camera to record a little extra content for other purposes.

The video production company’s job is to ensure that the video they produce is top notch. Your job as a company employee or owner is to ensure the maximum use of resources that generates the best results for your company. It’s a dance. (If you and your video production partner are not in step, change partners.)

3. Use your employees as actors and presenters. This is getting easier to do simply because authenticity is valued as much today as ‘polish.’ Certain types of video (i.e. broadcast commercials) lend themselves to actors. Steve Jobs never appeared on Apple Commercials, but he was brilliant at product launches. If you are selling to a technical audience then that audience will trust someone just like them a lot more than a suit. If you’re promoting a lifestyle consumer product or service then you have to use people that best represent that lifestyle.  For a great deal of corporate video projects however, (there are many different types of corporate video) using one of your owners or employees is not only cost efficient, it’s also a great way to showcase the folks behind the brand.

4. Keep the length of the video short. Shorter is almost always better and it’s usually cheaper. Granted, a 30 second tv spot costs a great deal more than a one hour talking head video but, all things being equal, it’s prudent to cater to today’s A.D.D. afflicted business audience. A web-based business promo or corporate overview video should be between one and two minutes. The closer you can get to one minute, the better. (Here is a link to some broader video length guidelines.)

5. Minimize the use of graphics and animations. Back in the day corporate video used to be all about motion graphics and animations. Today real people saying real things is what generally matters. There are still many specialized options and uses for animations such as in animated explainer videos, but on the whole, there is less and less need for combining animations and motion graphics with live-action video outside of a few specialized formats. (Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned 8 second flying logo at the beginning AND end of your video?)

6. Use events to capture your thought leaders thoughts. Events (your own, conferences, local meetings, etc.) are the ideal opportunity to capture your thought leaders ideas (your business leadership, clients, suppliers, industry experts, etc.) You have a confluence of people in one location all primed to learn and to communicate. Find or rent a room, set-up a camera and start capturing all of the video content that you could never afford to otherwise capture. Testimonial videos, thought leadership videos, industry updates, promotional videos. there are lot’s of opportunities to make hay at your next event. Most companies totally miss this opportunity.

7. Prepare a video production brief for production firms to bid against. If you plan on getting two or three firms to bid on your next video production project make sure you have prepared a thorough video production brief to help them with their proposals. Why? This way you can ensure that the companies interested in bidding on your work fully understand your business objectives and this also ensures that they have the best opportunity to add value to their bid rather than just filling out a check list of hourly rates. As well, this document is critical when production starts as it serves as a guidepost against any unexpected increases in production costs.

While it’s true that you get what you pay for, being proactive you can help you find new ways to save money.

8 thoughts on “7 Ways to Keep Video Production Costs Down

  1. Those were really useful tips Jimm,
    Video are really important for marketing these days but the cost is one of the factors that keeps people from producing videos.
    For the beginners, I would recommend to use slideshow videos as it is the most cost effective way out. Slideshows could be a best way out, especially for the new startups who cannot spend much on video production. Using tools like WMM or iMovie, one can create videos to support their marketing campaign at very low cost. There are many online web tools too, that allows you to create videos easily.
    So one can use slideshow videos for their business considering its lower cost of production and use of technical expertise.
    Hope this is useful for the readers.
    Have a nice day.

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