If your brand is considering getting into video—or mixing up the way you do it—now is the time. Online video is only growing. (According to Cisco, global video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020.) That means there is tremendous opportunity to get your quality branded content in front of your consumers. But if you don’t have the in-house capabilities to produce that awesome video content, you might not know where to turn. In that case, a good video agency can help. But finding the right one is key. Here are some things to keep in mind, as well as questions to ask, during your search for the right partner.
Ask about their creative philosophy: The creative marketplace means there are plenty of resources out there. But you want to be selective with who you’re working with. Asking a video agency about their creative philosophy and approach will give you good insight into who they are and how they work. They may have a “one and done” mentality and are just looking to take orders. They may be looking to expand their portfolio with a different type of client. The best video agency will work with you and push to find the best creative solution. During early conversations, take note:
- Are they passionate about their work?
- Do they push boundaries and experiment?
- Are they creatively hungry?
Learn about the crew: A video agency might assure you that their creative team will handle it all. But keep in mind, video is pricier. Mistakes, miscommunications, or inefficiencies can end up costing a ton. You want to know you’re in the hands of experts at every level. Ask specifically what Director and DP they have in mind for your project. Look at those individuals’ portfolios. Also find out about the creative stakeholders on their side. (A long, detailed internal review process can trip up your timeline far too easily.) If it feels like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there probably are.
Ask about their collaboration process: Creative work is a process. In the best case, you and your video agency will work to make sure your concept is airtight, your creative treatments work, and your production schedule is accurate. But you also want to know who you’re working with when things get stressful, something goes wrong on set, or other conflicts arise. Some things to ask:
- What’s the ideation and collaboration process like?
- What’s their preferred style of communication?
- What steps do they take to avoid miscommunication?
Consider location: Los Angeles and New York will provide more talent, but locations, permits, and talent will also be more expensive. Your needs will depend on the project at hand, but it is important to consider location both in terms of how you will work together and where the actual filming will take place.
Find out how they gauge success: Pursuing video is a smart content marketing move to help support your efforts. Although you want a well-executed piece of content, it should always serve your goals. That said, you and your video agency should identify exactly what those goals are and, most importantly, how you’ll measure them. Whether it’s brand awareness, site traffic, or trial signups, you want to know your video agency will do whatever they can to help you achieve those goals.
- Can they explain how your video will achieve your goals?
- How will they determine success (views, placement, etc.)?
- Do they have a plan for distribution?
Peruse their portfolio: Good work speaks for itself. That said, it’s easy to be dazzled by the amount of projects or big-name clients you see there. These things are nice and can speak to an agency’s legitimacy, but you need an agency to help solve your unique content marketing problems. As you review the portfolio, keep the following in mind:
- Do they tell good stories?
- Do the visuals move the story along?
- Are their videos quality in terms of production value?
- Do they fit your stylistic sensibilities?
Ask for examples of work in your industry: When you’re starting to search a portfolio, it’s natural to gravitate toward a video agency’s flashy, edgy, viral video successes. These are certainly great indicators of talent, but an epic CGI spot for a B2C company doesn’t tell you what they can do with your niche B2B subject. You want to know what their capabilities are in a specific context. Ask for examples of previous work they’ve done within your industry to gauge this. You want to know that they understand your audience and sphere and can work within those guidelines.
Be upfront with your budget and timeline: There are more stages of video production than other mediums, from scripting and storyboarding to shooting, editing, and color-correcting. Many of these are out-of-pocket costs for a video agency, so it’s important to be honest about what you’re working with—and realistic in your expectations. A good video agency will work to deliver the best value for your budget, but they need to know how to scale based on your real budget. (It also doesn’t hurt to ask for examples of work they’ve done at similar price points.)
Ask for transparency in pricing (but don’t nit-pick): The same way it is vital for you to be upfront about your budget, you are also entitled to know exactly what your money is going toward. Video is costly, and there are a lot of moving parts. To avoid scope creep, find out what services are being used and what the estimates are for each stage. Just as your video agency will honor your budget, they should feel comfortable with this transparency—within reason (aka don’t ask for every PA’s Starbucks receipts).