Corporate Video Production Budgeting: How Much Should You Allocate?
Corporate video production is becoming mainstream and can be more effective than ever before, which is good news! Given the adoption of broadband, mobile, social sharing and video as a powerful communication platform, the ability to stand out online is unprecedented. Given theÂ power of video to build trust through client testimonials in a B2B environment -or- boost awareness and conversions for B2C, video is fast becoming accepted as one of the essential tools in an online marketing mix. Video can be expensive and complex so here’s a brief overview of what types of video content are effective, the main decisions you’ll need to make and what the cost ranges are.
A company overview video: This is the ‘Swiss army knife’ of online video. A general overview video can go on your website, social media, in an email marketing campaign or your sales staff can use it to introduce the company prior to a call or meeting.
Product announcement / launch video: Expand your reach and help your customers, partners or other audiences quickly understand the big picture of your products and services. “Explainer videos’ are very easy for people to share and a recent Forbes study indicates that 59% of their respondents are more likely to watch a video than read text in social media.
Educational content: After face-to-face meetings, video is the second best way to ‘Show and Tell’ the finer points of what your products or services are all about and how they work. These can generally have a lower production value since the audiences for these types of videos really just want to get the information- but it’s best to not bore them to tears!
*Video production has many pieces to the puzzle: First, there’s the concept, then the interview questions or script, the production planning, the type of camera, microphones & sound equipment, the amount of lights (if any), perhaps the software for graphics and of course, the skills, experience *and talent of the person or team that pulls it all together. In deciding how much you can/want to budget for production, there are 4 main decisions:
- Picking the right people
- Picking the right equipment
- Deciding how important quality is (more on this later)
Determining much time can be allocated (by budget or schedule)
You’ll almost always get a better product if you have specialists for each role (producer, shooter, editor, graphic designer, etc.) but for some projects it might make sense to use one talented person who can do it all fairly well. The downside of the ‘one-man-band’ is that that one person can only do so much, both in a day and at one time. They will usually be more talented at some aspects of production than others (editing vs shooting for example). Every time they switch tasks, there is some mental refocusing and distraction which leaves rooms for human error to creep in, not good when you’re on a tight budget and schedule.Â Video production tools have gotten very powerful and inexpensive in the last decade but knowing how to use them* technically and artistically* have big real world consequences of the final product.
As far as the equipment goes, it’s probably not helpful to go into great detail but I think the key takeaway is to just know that there are many options available that all can effect quality. All the small decisions – about camera & lenses, lighting, sound, etc. – well those all add up and are a big part of what separates average from truly stand out content. (By the way, you surely do want to stand out against all the online noise.) If you don’t do much video production, you’ll probably be relying on your production team to recommend what equipment/software can best help get the job done in your specific circumstances. Because equipment is generally ‘rented’ to clients for shoot days, the best way to keep costs under control is find a way to shoot in as few days as possible while still leaving enough time to get the right shots.
Everyone seems to first want to know how much a video will cost without getting into what might be involved. That’s very hard to determine in anything other than general terms because it so scalable (In many ways it’s like building a house: Q: how much is a house? A: Is it a cabin or a mansion?).Â Here’s the math involved in two typical scenarios:
Scenario One: A video based on interviews with clients and company representatives with some ‘b-roll’ footage of the offices, shot in one or two days at a few locations. Video crew: a producer, a camera operator, a sound technician, a production assistant and modest but acceptable basic equipment. Lets also assume all the footage was edited together, with some music, maybe with a company logo or two in there,Â in 3-5 days by an experienced and talented editor. In order to get all that work done well, without problems, you’ll probably want to work with specialists who do this all the time, which means they probably need to charge somewhere between 500-1,000 a day depending on the skills, experience, talent and seniority of each role. Adding in the equipment rental costs, this type of project would usually run somewhere between 5-20K and will yield a product that is professionally produced with a level of polish on it that clearly stands above what an internally produced video would feel like.
Scenario Two: A video produced, shot, edited and created – all by one person (with a wide variety of experience producing, directing, shooting, editing, graphics, etc.) This person will probably be better at a couple of the traits than others but will likely be professionaly competent enough to offer the service with confidence. There will be certain constraints on what this person can do in one day, but they will be far cheaper on a production day in particular than a full crew. Depending on equipment, talent, experience and how quickly this person can plan, produce, edit, design graphics, etc. –Â this scenario might cost between 2-8K and will probably have a noticeable difference in quality, still professional, but without the fine layer of polish that typically comes with a collaborative project produced by experts in their individual crafts.
One of the biggest hurdles in determining the ROI of a project is the somewhat intangible concept of quality. It’s not easy to quantify but bad quality will affect the outcome every time. When videos are planned well, they tend to come out better. When the shots are set up, lit and framed well, you can feel a difference. When the editing is done right, your audience can be convinced, inspired, excited and even spurred to take action. When budgets don’t match up with the business goals, the end results can fall short and affect the video’s potential effectiveness, ‘sharability’ and usefulness. If done correctly, your corporate video can be a source of new business, inspiration or even pride. You want something you can stand behind.
I’ve never heard a client complain their video came out too well!
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