Choosing the right company
There, spread out on on your desk, are three proposals for the same video. You’re stuck. You need to figure out which video production company to select, but clarity is not ‘jumping out’ from these three very different bids laying before you. The good news is you’re not alone. Help has arrived.
One of the biggest challenges for you, as a client, may be selecting the right video production company for your project. After all, you’re getting ready to invest a lot of money, time, and effort into a company that will play a key role in the success or failure of your initiative. It’s enough to leave you with stress, anxiety, and frayed nerves.
Here’s a letter we received from someone who wasn’t a client. (You can read the full post here):

“I apologize because perhaps out of embarrassment I did not stay in touch, however, I’ve always wanted you to know that I wish so much that we had gone with your company! You were out bid by $50,000 and that’s why you didn’t get the job. However, saving $50,000 came at a terrible cost to us and shame on us for not knowing better.” Speaking of the other producer they hired, “He tried to extort more money for the master tapes, never did what was promised and we actually had to go on a high speed chase on I-95 throughout Florida to retrieve the master tapes.”

How NOT to Decide

The quote above is the perfect set up to how NOT to decide on a video production company, and we will expand on that by looking at three flawed approaches to selecting a video production company:

Flawed Approach #1 – Cheaper Is Better

For many clients who are not as experienced in the video production process, this can be an easy trap to fall into. After all, who doesn’t want to save money? However, the cost alone doesn’t provide a complete picture because the scope of the project determines the cost of the video. So, if you have two proposals and one is based on a sit down interview and a few hours of b-roll while the other involves multiple locations, talent, custom animations, and more, then cost alone will not give you a complete picture of the very different end products.

Flawed Approach #2 – The Latest Tech

For those who are technologically challenged or those who thrive in technology (I’m the latter), then you may be led to believe that this is the most important consideration for the success of your video project. But is it really? For most of our clients, technology is not the answer. The answer is found in the goal of your video, (remember that Creative Brief?), and how well it communicates that message to your audience. At best technology is a transparent tool to help your video producer deliver on your project. At worst, it draws attention to itself and detracts from your message. So the latest technology may not be your Knight in Shining Armor after all.

Flawed Approach #3 – Amazing Creativity

It’s easy to be “WOWed” with creativity; however, creative for the sake of creative may not be what you’re looking for. I’m NOT saying that the creative approach to a project is unimportant, I am saying it’s not the ONLY thing. If the creative screams, “I’M CREATIVE LOOK AT ME!”, your audience may be so amazed at the creative that they miss the message. So creativity alone is probably not the single best solution to your video.

As you’ve gathered by now, each of the above in and of themselves, may not be the best reason to select a company. So, now that you know how NOT to decide, here are 11 questions you can ask to help you make the right selection:

Questions To Help You Decide:

1. Do They Understand Us?

Communication comes from understanding and understanding comes, in part, from asking the right kind of questions and listening. Are they listening? Do they get you, your company and your industry?

2. Are They Responsive?

In your communications with this company, do they respond in a timely fashion to your calls or emails?

3. Do They Understand Your Project?

Does their proposal reflect the message, audience, and desired outcomes you want your project to achieve?

4. Do You Like Their Work?

When you look at their reel, do you like what you see? How do they at communicating to their audiences? Do they have work that is in the style you want? If not, ask.

5. Can They Produce Your Scope of Work?

If your project requires a much larger scope of work, i.e.: a really big, long or international production, does the company your considering have the expertise to pull it off? Or a better question may be, have they produced projects like that in the past?

6. What’s Their Reputation?

Interview their clients just like you would a former employer for a new staff member. You can also check sources like their Better Business Bureau rating, but don’t stop there. Ask around. What do people say about them?

7. Do They Have The Experience To Pull It Off?

There are a lot of people and companies ‘making video’ out there. Some are young and new, some are seasoned and experienced. Neither is better than the other, just be sure you understand the level of experience you need.

8. Do I Have It In Writing?

You want a proposal that is detailed and clearly articulates the goals, objectives and desired outcomes of your project, not just the creative. You also want a proposal that includes a LOT of detail about what you’re actually getting. Make sure the proposal is clear when it comes to: the number of shoot days, the size of the crew, the number of cameras, etc. Also look for clarity on those items that are NOT included in your project – things like travel, lodging, duplication, changes, etc.?

9. Are They Well Insured?

For good or bad, we live in a litigious society. To protect yourself and your company, know the types of insurance coverages you need your video producer to have. For this industry make sure you get their certificate of insurance includes things like: Negative Film/Videotape , Faulty Coverages , Equipment Owned & Rented, Third Party Property Damage, Personal Injury, Fire Damage and Medical Expense to name a few.

10. Is My Media Protected?

Almost all video is now captured on a card or hard-drive. Which is really convenient and really frightening. Why? When it comes to hard-drives, there’s a saying that you should consider. “It’s not a question of ‘if’ the drive will fail, it’s a question of ‘when’ the drive will fail”. So ask the question, “What kind of redundancies, structures and archives do you have in place to protect our digital assets?” See a previous post on this subject.

11. What Does My Gut Say?

A recent article by Janice Wood highlights research that validates what our grandparents knew all along, intuition can be “a powerful and accurate tool”. So weigh all your options, but in the end, “go with your gut”.

Not every company is right for every video. What you want is the right company for your project. But to get there will probably require a little digging and some patience. In the end you want to consider a more balanced approach, one based on something more than price, technology or creativity alone.

QUESTION: What are the factors you’ve used to select the right video production company?