DEAD ENDS
Don't go this way. There are mistakes we want you to avoid making.

Remember (or, maybe you have heard) back in the 90s, when the World Wide Web was just gaining traction and the question was do you really “need” a web site? It wasn’t yet a necessity, and to dabble around in something so foreign using actual budget dollars seemed, well, risky.

Some curious companies let their employees try their hand at it (I was one of those lucky employees), and in the 90s it wasn’t that hard to figure out how to copy someone else’s code to create your own website. By the 2000s it was essential to hire a professional because the days of “View Source” being helpful to us non-programmer types were long gone. By the mid-2000s, user experience was the driving force to upgrade websites and get in tune with how visitors interacted with websites. Today, web developer is a standard role in most companies, either in house or outsourced.

Video production, like web development, is best done by experts. Because, when a tool is so comprehensive and universal, you can’t afford to screw it up. If you aren’t valuing video content as a fundamental driver of your marketing success, you have a gaping hole in your strategy, because it is very likely your competitors and your potential clients are using it.

In the next few years video content is expected to account for over 90% of web traffic. Video has gone viral. Everyone is doing it, everyone is watching it, and so many of the people doing it are doing it badly. It’s moved beyond just “making a video” into cultivating a body of content that is truly magnificent in all aspects, if your standards are like ours.

I’m not going to give you a long list of reasons you should hire a professional video production team (Google it!) But I’d rather give you two scenarios from my personal experience that illustrate what can go wrong when you cut the pros out of the mix or hire the cheapest option.

THE JACK OF ALL TRADES (MASTER OF NONE) SCENARIO

You know this guy or gal. They are an indispensable part of the company, the “yes” person who figures out a way to do everything, just not always exceptionally well. They love to help and they know a little about everything. Including how to set up a film shoot on the cheap. When my employer needed a training video to illustrate how to operate certain feature on a product, instead of seeing it as a marketing opportunity, it was seen as a low priority need. The final product was filmed in two takes on my colleague’s iPhone 4 with fluorescent lighting, no mics, background noise and no introduction or closing. I was aghast at having to share this video, as any marketing professional worth their salt would be.

Every interaction with a client is a marketing opportunity, and product training is important! Even if this was not a marketing message, we missed a valuable opportunity to show potential and existing customers that we cared about their success using our product. The core mistake here is that we didn’t put resources into creating a training piece that demonstrated quality and professionalism.

Relationship building doesn’t end once you make a sale. Putting scant resources into anything that your customers interact with is riskier than ignoring it.

“LET’S USE THIS GUY I KNOW” SCENARIO

Don’t pick a video team using the strategy of “I know a guy who knows a guy.” This is a sure way to end up cut-off from the process. Once I inherited an existing relationship with a “film guy” who was the “only guy we know who does video.” I made the mistake of not protesting loud enough. I’d never gone through the actual professionally-led process of creating a video from conception to final. And this particular director did nothing to help me understand what was happening or the role I should play.

I went through the film shoot (a grueling 12 hour day) feeling very disenfranchised and uncertain about the outcome. I learned very quickly, pre-production is the most critical phase if you want a shoot to go smoothly. It’s nearly impossible to change direction on shoot day, and if the shoot doesn’t go smoothly, you don’t get the footage you want, and the final piece will also NOT be what you want. What I failed to do (and was not properly coach on by the director we hired) was to create a storyboard that would closely resemble the desired end product. The final product I received required so much tweaking to match the original vision, my employer eventually gave up on it.

RACE TO THE BOTTOM

Here’s the rundown on the costlier parts of about video production: most of the cost is in the equipment, the expertise it takes to operate it, and the editing. Those three aspects are mostly inflexible costs for video production teams because they are tied to skills acquired through years of experience, and hard goods, like cameras, drives, lenses, etc. that need to be upgraded and replaced to stay on the cutting edge. If you are paying rock bottom prices for a video, you’re getting rock bottom results: low quality equipment, inexperienced operators, and minimal editing time. 

We run across plenty of potential clients who want to make a video to promote their company but aren’t able to spend what it takes. We get it. Many small companies don’t actually have a marketing budget, so video sounds like a luxury (read why this thinking is misguided). But, in most cases, video is the best way to reach the most people through free channels. It’s a bargain compared to digital advertising and traditional media, which can have hefty placement fees attached to them. In fact, cutting a cheap video WILL be more costly than doing it right the first time. You’ll pay in stress, missed deadlines, and disappointing results.

FIND A WAY – TALK TO US

Your brand represents everything you have put into your business and there are many opportunities to build it or trash it. When your budget is a worry, chose a company that understands and won’t play games. We are believers in treating your brand and your customers with dignity and respect. If you simply can’t come up with a budget for video (or marketing for that matter) this might be a good time to consult a business coach or find a marketing partner who can share expenses, because competition is everywhere, and you deserve to have your business fairly represented in the marketplace.

We help clients of all sizes deal with their budget challenges. Before you draw a line through video marketing, get in touch with us to discuss the options.

Ask Us for Help!

Susan is VP Marketing & Client Relations for MF&M. Previously a client of Manley Films, Susan is a writer/editor and marketer with 20+ years’ experience working with nonprofits, municipalities, economic development, startups, small businesses, political campaigns, environment, technology, higher education and the arts.

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