Video production can be complex and difficult to price if it’s not your specialty.
It’s always good to get a perspective from outside your bubble, so you’ll have a better idea of what to do. Creating video, like other marketing other communications services, is a complex and nuanced task.
If you want the video to help your clients “move the needle” with storytelling their customers will love, the stakes are high. Audiences will judge your client’s brand or business based on your video’s quality of messaging and production value.
You have to get it right, but you don’t want to overspend.
All minutes are not created equal
A common mistake is when people quote their clients on a per-minute commodity-style price for the video. For example: “A great video will cost you $4,000 a minute.”
This pricing model hasn’t been accurate since the 1980s. The only video agencies who quote by the minute are the ones who still shoot in Betacam. Quoting this way assumes that every minute of video is created equal.
Today’s audiences have much higher expectations for storytelling and production quality—and much shorter attention spans.
How do you estimate cost?
The cost of production depends on two factors: scope and story. This rule applies regardless of the type of video you’re trying to produce.
One method for pricing video is to compare it to the approach used when buying property. When you want to buy a home, you meet with a real estate professional and you give them the information they need to help you meet your goals.
The same principles work when considering video for your client. If you contact a video professional first, they can develop a quote customized to your client’s needs. Talk to a few qualified video agencies to get proposals for your client’s project.
Here are some tips to get the process started:
1. Who is the client?
It matters if your client is a mom-and-pop family business versus a Fortune 500. The client expectations and the amount of approvals are very different. The industry also matters because certain norms are expected, depending on the client’s industry.
2. Who is the audience? How will the video be used?
Is this video to be a TV or streaming commercial? Is it a brand film or a corporate video?
3. What is the vision?
You should have some idea of the shared vision for this video.
This isn’t just for higher-ticket commercials and brand videos that might include actors, multiple locations, and visual effects. It’s vitally important for corporate videos, too. When you share your initial vision for your client’s video from your agency perspective, you help us get an idea of the breadth of resources needed.
This is true even when you expect an agency to help you with scripting.
4. How will you measure results?
How will you know if this video meets the client’s idea of success?
Is the goal to increase brand awareness or aid in customer retention? Maybe you want to attract new customers or new investors. Most video agencies want to make you and your client look good. Sharing how you plan on judging its effectiveness, in concrete terms, is a beneficial thing for them to know.
Be ready to dive in
By approaching a video production company with as much information as possible upfront, you allow them to help you quickly and efficiently. An experienced video agency will then be able to create a custom proposal that makes sense from both a story and a budget perspective.
Moreover, by doing your homework, you show them how focused you are on the project. It will help make your initial contact with a video agency productive—and that could be the beginning of a “beautiful” relationship.
Patrick Ortman runs his eponymous video agency in Los Angeles and New York. A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.