Starting the video production process with questions is a great start. Once you have your internal team and goals established, it’s time to reach out to potential video production companies for references and cost estimates. The below steps can help in the evaluation process.
You’ll know pretty quickly looking at a production company’s website if they are professional and qualified. Review the whole website and watch project samples. Reviewing past work is essential. Sample videos will show you the level of quality, storytelling abilities and diversity the organization has within a variety of industries. Look for sample videos similar to your organization goals. If you can’t find something exactly like your project, that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
Does the organization have references or testimonials available on their website. Written testimonials are acceptable, but video testimonials are a much deeper commitment on behalf of their client. How did their video perform? Did the videos achieve their client’s expectations?
Pay attention to potential video partner’s website activity. How current are the demo reels and client sample video? How long ago did they write their last blog? How often do they Tweet? Update their Facebook page? How recent is their “Recent News?” These elements don’t tie directly into whether or not they can make a video, but it’s a clear indication of where they stand in terms of understanding your video’s digital presence.
Once you’ve determined which companies feel right for your project, reach out to the production companies for further discussions and cost estimate. While in review keep these questions in mind: How quickly do they respond to your request? Do they answer your questions? Do they ask you the right questions? Do you like the tone of their response? Was the proposal intuitive and straight forward? How detailed are their responses?
Here are a few helpful questions that help paint a picture of potential production partners:
Ask the top companies that you research for an Estimate. Ask for an Estimate from someone you would not consider and treat it as a frame of reference. Pay attention to the production company’s response regarding the turnaround time for the Estimate. Depending on the level of complexity of your project, make sure you allow enough time for an adequate response. But don’t give them too much time. A couple of days is standard. Anything over a week (for most projects) is pushing it.
We often use the analogy that producing a video is similar to buying a car. If you called a dealer and said, “I want a car.” they should respond with a round of follow-up questions. What type of car do you want, or what is the car for? New or used? Is gas milage your primary concern? Knowing the answers to these questions gives the dealer a good idea as to where to point you.
We use this analogy because video is much the same way. Certain resources or pieces of equipment add to the value of a production, but they are not always necessary. You may not need a rear-view camera, but it serves a purpose. This is where production companies asking the right follow-up questions comes into play.
We mention this because there’s misconception with cost analysis between vendors is the old myth that all estimates will be “apple to apples” do to the drastic flexibility as to what goes into a video. This makes it hard to do a direct comparison based on cost. To help mitigate this, share information with all vendors equally. If the last company’s questions uncover something the others may not be aware with – such as the shoot requires actors and not volunteers – share that information with the other companies putting together their proposals.
Then, when reviewing an Estimate, consider the following: Did the organization supply a well-thought out proposal? Does the proposal clearly outline all requirements and expectations for the project?
A professionally developed proposal shows the production company not only invested time to understand your organization’s needs, but they clearly thought through the project and have budgeted accordingly. If they invest time in developing the Estimate, there’s a good chance they’ll invest the time in your project.
Proposals should be evaluated based three criteria’s: professionalism, qualification, and budget. In most cases, budget plays the determining factor in selecting a production company. But with this investment, keep in mind that the most qualified production company may not be the lowest bidder. Deciding on price alone – i.e. selecting the lowest bidder – may ultimately wind up costing the most. They may mis-calculate the level of effort or produce a video below your standards that requires using another production company to do the job right. This why we suggest that if your organization has a budget in mind, relay that to the selected vendor. A well-rounded, professional production company should be able to adjust accordingly for your organizational expectations.
If time permits, get get together with the video production companies you are considering. A small investment of your time up front can save a ton of headaches down the road. Trust is essential when producing a video, an an in-person meeting goes a long way. If they show up late for the meeting, you’ll know what to expect moving forward.