By Rob Crombie
With video content becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix, brand owners are finding themselves faced with an almost bewildering array of options when it comes to choosing a production partner.
Do you approach a traditional agency? Do you approach a video production company? Or do you approach a freelancer directly? There are, of course, pros and cons to each choice: a traditional agency will oversee the whole project, but is perceived by many to be complex and expensive; and while a video production company may give you more specialist production skills there are so many out there, that making a choice can be daunting. One new client of ours told us they’d Googled ‘video production companies within half-a-mile’ and discovered there were no fewer than 15 of them. And while working directly with a freelance producer can reduce your costs you need to consider whether you are sacrificing the peace-of-mind you’d have using a more established company.
Today, it seems that if you have a DLSR, a laptop and Final Cut, you’re a video producer – and why not? A quick look at Vimeo will illustrate the vast amount of outstanding freelance and even amateur talent working today across all production disciplines. You can even make a great video on your iPhone.
As fun as this may be to the amateur or aspiring video professional, the democratisation of video production has misled brands into thinking that to fulfill their video requirements they can cut costs by recruiting freelancers direct and procuring purely on price. After all, why pay anything more than the cheapest quote because anyone can do it, right?
Of course, price is an important consideration, but, in reality, procuring on this basis alone is akin to saving money by hiring dozens of individual contractors to build a house without using an architect.
One recent production we completed with a high-end department store offers a case in point. The retailer was looking to commission a series of animations illustrating its vision for 2013 and the project was being handled by the department head’s of both Graphics and Design – probably the two most senior people in charge of the brand’s the look and feel. To fulfill this requirement, they initially approached a freelance designer directly via Vimeo on the strength of their work.
So far, so straightforward.
But as the project developed, it became clear the client required a lot more support than a lone – albeit highly talented – designer could contribute. They needed consultation and advice to help clarify and articulate their vision, an original creative idea, scripting, storyboarding and assistance in presenting that vision internally to get people on board. On top of this, the deliverables needed to align with other initiatives across the company, be re-purposed for different platforms and securely archived in order that they could be amended in future as information changed. All this meant that a wider creative and strategic input was necessary, backed up by a more robust production infrastructure.
In this particular incidence, the freelancer they approached happened to be someone we regularly work with, and once they realised the additional expertise required, suggested the brand involve us. Our team – including the original freelancer – went on to complete the project successfully, making for a very happy client.
For me, this is a the perfect example of a client’s journey from thinking a low-cost, purely executional production service was required, through to understanding the value of the strategic thinking behind the actual production process. Fortunately, for the client, in this case the end result was a success.
If brands have a clear requirement, have planned and arranged all the elements, and are looking for someone to simply carry out an existing plan, then freelancers and small executional production companies are the perfect, cost-effective solution. However, although many brands know they need a video component to their communications, they frequently don’t know what that should be, how it should be implemented or how it can be distributed to maximum effect, invariably this means working with a bigger, more established partner.
As video is only going to become more important over the next few years, brands will increasingly need to understand the long-term strategy behind their video content; it’s consistency, it’s creativity and it’s quality. On top of this, they will need to have a clear vision of how it fits into their wider strategy. By working with the same partner over time they can create an archive of valuable and informative content.
It’s here that the difference between price and value becomes apparent.
A good video partner should be able to work with you on all of these objectives, helping you maximize your return on investment and develop a video content strategy that fulfills not just the requirements of the brief, but the wider requirements of the brand, too.
About the author
Rob Crombie is Head of Video at ‘Group FMG’ and manages their specialist video arm ‘Sneak’.