Top ten things you never want to hear from your video production company.

Sorry, you just said what…?

Video production continues to play a larger role in the corporate marketing mix. This growth brings with it complexity, experimentation and a host of issues that many corporate clients may not be aware of.

Here are the top ten things you never want to hear your video production company say:

1. “We don’t have general liability or errors and omissions insurance.” 
What could possibly go wrong, right? Quite a lot, as it turns out. One of the film crew runs over your boss, someone forgets to get a permission form signed, your production company uses licensed material that nobody has a license for… etc. Chances are things won’t go wrong, but if they do you had better be working with a company that is well insured. Standard insurance coverage today for a video production company is $2,000,000 for errors and omissions and general liability.

2. “We do a little bit of everything actually – websites, PR, SEO, Graphic Design, Print, Advertising… oh ya, and video too.”
“We dabble in a bunch of stuff” should never engender confidence. The market will always support a range of generalists and specialists that service the same business audience. That said, a good rule of thumb is that if the number of services offered by a company is greater than the number of employees you might want to consider getting a second quote.

3. “Ya… we don’t really understand the web, or social media, or marketing .” 
The vast majority of corporate video today is being delivered either exclusively or predominantly on the web. Creating video for the web is not the same as creating video for broadcast, or for theatrical release, or for presentations at an event. Viewing behaviours, priorities and attention spans are significantly different online. You have to consider delivery platforms, hosting options,  interactivity,  conversion techniques, social media sharing of your video and many other factors that are unique to the web. If your video production company doesn’t understand video delivery, then someone on your marketing team or ad agency better have this covered.

4. “We do corporate video to pay the bills, but we’re primarily entertainment focussed.”
Very few people pursue a career in video production because they want to help businesses sell more products or services (marketing and sales stuff). Film or television is usually the goal. Doing corporate work is often just what pays the bills. While there are a number of great companies that do both very well, unless your video production company is working under the direction of an ad agency or marketing firm, or they specialize in marketing video you shouldn’t be surprised if your video turns out to be wonderfully irrelevant.

5. “We’re not really focussing on business results “per se”, but… we really think this video could win an award.”
Creative work is wonderful if it serves a business objective. If it doesn’t, then you’ve wasted your money. Very few industry awards consider business results in their selection criteria – which is unfortunate because business results are the only thing that matter.

6. “There will be lots of different folks working on your video project.”
You just met the president of the company and his senior team – they all seemed pretty sharp. Are they all going to be working on your project? Every service-based organization operates with some form of distributed work model. It’s up to you as a client to ensure you get the best talent in the company working directly on your video project. If you’re not sure, ask… up front.

7. “No, we don’t start with a script or a storyboard, we prefer the project has room to ‘breath’ and evolve as we go.”
If you don’t know exactly what you are shooting and why, you’ll likely end up wasting your time and money with video. A script tells you what key messages have to be communicated in your video. Even if you are shooting a testimonial video project you’re still looking for specific messages rather than random musings. If you don’t have a storyboard, how do you know what to shoot and what should be communicated?

8. “We can always take money out of pre-production if you need to keep the price down.”
This is like saying ‘we can take money out of the design and architecture phase of building your home.’ Pre-production is where all the value in your video is created. This is the last place you want to cut corners.

9. “OK, sure we’ll shoot that, whatever you want… it’s your video.”
The best video production projects are collaborations between client and producer. Both sides should have ideas and both sides should have opinions. You won’t always agree on every point but your video production company should have a lot of experience and that experience should add value to your project.

10. “Do you want this thing to go viral?”
That’s sort of like asking ‘do you want us to write a hit record for you? Viral isn’t just a lucky outcome – it’s part of a specific plan that is built in from the very beginning of your project. If you goal is for your video to be shared by thousands (or millions) of people then you had better build something into your video that you know people are really going to want to share. Explosions, people acting dopey, being shocked or getting hurt is a good place to start. And then you need to spend a whack of money to promote the ‘viral’ spread of the video. True “viral” success is very, very difficult. {Do you really want your brand to be associated with exploding sheep?}



7 Responses

  1. Definitely some scary responses to receive! You have to do your due diligence when shopping for the right video production company. Not all are created equal. Make sure to analyze portfolios for their core strengths to make sure they can satisfy your video goals.

    1. Matt, I think most companies are smart enough not to own up to those suggestions… but that doesn’t mean they are not true for some companies.

  2. Love this article.. You’d be surprised how many people say that they can do it all, or you meet one set of people up front and a whole different set of people actually work on your project!

  3. Number 9 is a difficult one. Finding the right balance between understanding clients and their goals and being passionate about visual storytelling is never easy. Having a large portfolio to present ideas visually can really help!

    1. Yep – that’s one of the most challenging situations Tina. Even when you understand your clients business problems it’s possible that you won’t see eye to eye on the vision. That’s were experience plays a large role (that includes having a large portfolio to reference) in solving your clients business goals.

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