How Much for That Video? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

How much for that video in the window?

Very often one of the first questions we get from potential clients is “How much will it cost to produce a (fill in the blank) video?”

A former associate’s standard reply to this question was–in his salty dog voice–“Well Doc, how much does it cost to build a house? We can build you a nice little three bedroom brick ranch or we can build you a mansion.” Personally I prefer using “how much can you spend on a date?” Dates are much less expensive than houses and there’s exponentially greater rewards for creativity.

The cost of video production and post production is determined by a variety of factors–and yes, just like building a house, how much you can afford is at the top of the list. However there are a number of considerations in determining the cost of production, as well as a steps you can take to control cost.

What is your budget? 

Instinctively, this question raises a very simple fear: “If I tell them $15,000, they are going to  propose a $15,000 project, even if a $10,000 video will suffice.” Admittedly, it is true that given the option of producing a video with more Jing Tinglers and Flu Floopers than less, most producers prefer to have the largest budget possible to produce the best finished project. However, measurement of the success of a video–or any communication vehicle–is not just in the quality of the end product and its projection of the brand, but in the response it elicits from the intended audience. Internally, answering the questions below makes it easier for you and the producer to determine an appropriate budget.

1. Who is the audience? 

Is the audience internal or external? Client or colleagues? Superiors or subordinates? Investors or potential investors? Defining your audience in the most narrow terms gives you the opportunity to craft a message that resonates with these individuals’ most pressing needs. Avoid the tendency to try and reach diverging audiences with the exact same video. Producing a video to recruit new clients and raise investment capital will lead to two watered down messages. However, there are attainable economies of scale by producing videos for two different audiences at the same time.

2. What do I want the viewer to do?

Drink more Ovaltine? Go to my website? Wait for my call? Think well of our company? Perform better on the job? Vote for me? Invest in our idea? In the simplest terms every communication persuades the viewer to do something. Starting with the end result in mind helps the production team craft a message that leads to the desired results.

3. What is the message? 

Once you have determined the audience and the desired result, work with the producer to develop a concept and script that achieves this outcome through the combination of images, words and music.

4. What type of video?

You likely know if you need a commercial, training tool, corporate identity, infomercial, how-to, etc., however, have you identified videos you like that you think would be successful with your audience? Try to come up with several examples. And don’t be hesitant about your desire to emulate a big dollar campaign. Throw it out there and see how the creative team responds. Keep in mind, however, concepts loaded with actors, talent, multiple voiceovers, multiple locations, travel costs, etc. drive up costs.

5. How will we disseminate the video?

There are a multitude of ways to dangle your freshly produced story in front of your target audience. The web, social media, email marketing, DVD, flash drives, commercial television, and more. The combination of traditional outlets and new media, mean greater bang for the Benjamin for a well produced video. How you get your message out is a critical factor in content development, style and length. And don’t spend all your money on production just to have your video play in the background in your booth at trade shows–yes, you’re hearing this from a video production company. Factor in distribution costs upfront. Remember, you measure the success of your video by the intended results of the message delivered, not by the “ohhs” and “ahhs” when you show it senior management. Yes, the “ohhs” and “ahhs” are nice too!

Answering these five questions are a great starting point for developing an affordable video that affectively communicates your message to your target audience and achieves your business goal.


Article written by Tim Sanford.

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