By Greg Ball, President of Ball Media Innovations
When it comes to quoting the budget for a production, like many in the creative field, people in the video business, often refer to “The Triangle.”
Basically it is the old adage that says, “we can deliver your project cheap, fast, or good… pick any two!” If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be completed fast. If it’s fast and cheap, it won’t be good, etc.
That having been said, what is the right price to pay for a corporate identity, or marketing video, and why is there such a disparity among corporate video production companies when it comes to costs?
Let's talk about some of the elements that go into pricing, and why prices vary so drastically between video production companies.
Three reasons why prices vary so wildly between Video Production Companies:
Reason 1: The final content in customized videos can vary wildly!
One of the main reasons why prices vary so greatly for a business video is that there really is no such thing as a “typical” corporate video. There are so many factors that go into a video production -- from the length, on-camera talent, # of days of shooting, the use of graphics, animation, or other special effects -- that you can get a range of prices or budgets even within a single company, let alone from company to company.
Since there’s such variation, two companies can bid on the same project, but give you a different video in the end. Each company can give you all the bells and whistles, none of them, or somewhere in between.
Reason 2: Varying degrees of quality in crews, artists and equipment
There are also differences behind the scenes with things like equipment and crews. For example, many Miami and Orlando video production companies will use inexperienced crew members to cut down on their costs. This can cause the video to have a less than professional appearance. You’ll want an experienced crew that can handle things like lighting, framing, and sound in a professional way.
The differences can also be with on-screen elements like graphics or voiceover quality. Some companies we know of use amateur talent or hobbyists to get cheap graphics or voice over talent in order to save money. This is not what these people really do for a living, and unfortunately, you can really tell the difference.
My opinion: Most businesses don’t need the most expensive options. For example, if your video will be seen on the web, you don’t need a 4K camera because the difference in quality won’t be visible. However, the cheapest companies tend to use a level of people and equipment that won’t produce professional-looking videos. Viewers can discern this, even subconsciously. This can reflect poorly on your business.
Experienced and talented crew members and artists, with good quality equipment, are necessary to create videos with a professional appearance. This is what you’ll want to seek out, but at the same time, you’ll want to avoid paying for “overkill” with things you don’t need. More about that later…
Reason 3: Video Quality can vary wildly!
One thing that anyone needs to keep in mind when looking to hire a video production company to produce their marketing videos or promotional videos, is that video is no different than any other business – you get what you pay for!
Quality Is King in Business Videos.
Marketing professionals like to say that “content is king.” That’s always true, but when it comes to video production, “quality is king.” You have to understand that your business videos are, first and foremost, a reflection of your company.
A marketing video on the web may be the very first touchpoint with your customers, so a poorly made, amateurish video, reflects badly on your company. While it may be tempting to save money by “doing it yourself,” most non-professionals do not have the skills to produce a top-notch marketing video.
It also may be tempting to hire a Video Production Company that’s comparatively inexpensive. Again, you get what you pay for. There are a lot of companies in Florida that will work dirt cheap, but your video is likely to reflect their lack of experience, knowledge, and quality. Your viewers will notice it, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
For more on this, see our articles entitled, The Secret to a Successful Video, Should You be the Director of Your Own Promotional Video? and The Top Five Things Every CEO & Exec Needs to Know About Business Videos.
There may be a few instances -- for example, an internal training video on a simple subject -- where you may not need to go to the expense of hiring a production team. Of course, the video still needs to be shot and edited in such a way that it actually trains an employee and doesn’t confuse them in the process. But any videos that are going to reach the public, and especially videos whose purpose is to promote your brand, should always be done by professionals who have the skill, experience, and know-how to create an effective, high-quality video.
Which brings us back to the basic question, how much should I expect to pay for a corporate video? The answer is still, “it depends.”
Only Pay for the Video Production Level that You Need
If we understand that quality is the bar for business video production, then, we can equate quality to “levels” of skill and experience. We can start ground zero at the amateur or “do it yourself level,” which will cost you little or nothing, and move on up through broadcast quality productions, with prices moving up accordingly. However, while very few productions should be done at the amateur level, not every video shoot needs to be “Star Wars,” either.
From a cost, experience, and quality standpoint, you can hire at the:
- Basic level
- Professional level
- Premium level
Costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The point is, do not pay for what you may not need.
At the least expensive or basic level, you can expect to get someone that has some experience in video production, perhaps a film and television student, or a recent graduate, an event videographer, or “prosumer,” hobbyist. He or she will have a basic knowledge of lighting and camera operations and have some experience in video editing software. Such a crew may not be your first choice for a branding video or television commercial, but, they could be okay for internal communications, or a video blog.
You can expect to pay more at the professional level, but again you get what you pay for. At the professional level, you can expect a producer and crew that has several years of experience. They will be able to show an impressive list of clients and a professional “demo reel.” Video producers at the professional level will have a track record of producing quality videos, on time, and on budget. Video production companies at this level will have extensive experience in video editing. Hire at this level to produce product demo videos, promotional videos, explainer videos, training videos, and most marketing videos.
The cream of the crop is the premium production level. At this level, you will be working with a crew that has experience in movies or broadcast television. This is the company you hire when you know you want the very best, and a video that may require complex storytelling, animation, professional, or even “celebrity” talent, and special effects. Television commercials, high-end branding videos, and corporate identity pieces need to be produced at this level.
One thing to watch out for – There are companies that will bait and switch. They’ll show high-quality demos and talk about their experienced crews and artists, but in the end, they’ll send their lower-tiered people in order to save money. Make sure that anyone working on your project has the experience and knowledge to do a professional job for you.
Managing the Cost of Your Video Production
Regardless of the level of quality, you think your video requires, any producer operating at the professional or above level will know how to maximize your budget and manage costs.
At every stage of your production, a professional crew will know how to keep costs down, without compromising quality. In video production, time really is money. You will most likely be charged “day rates” for the days you are shooting your video, and “hourly” for time spent in post-production. A good producer will be prepared, and have processes in place, to ensure that time on set, and time in the editing room is spent as efficiently and economically as possible.
Ask your video production company before you hire them about their processes.
- Do they create shot lists before the shoot begins?
- Is the script prepared in advance of the shoot, along with any and all interview questions?
- Are locations for the shoot scouted by the director and videographer before the shoot day?
- Do they understand the right length to tell your story? The longer a video is, the more expensive it will be!
- Do they have access to stock footage, and do they know how to use it to minimize costs?
These are just a few of the questions to ask when shopping around for the right video production company at the right price. Of course at Ball Media Innovations, we believe that you can find producers that will be cheaper than us and those that will charge more than us, but you are unlikely to find anyone that stands behind our work and quality as we do.
About the Author & His Company: Greg Ball, is President of Ball Media Innovations, Inc. Prior to starting the company, he ran the Burger King World Headquarters video operation. Greg founded Ball Media in 2002.
Ball Media Innovations specializes in producing videos for businesses as well as the medical community. This includes web videos, marketing and training videos, social media videos, convention, conference, and trade show videos.
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