There are a few different paths you can take to produce video content for your association or business. Freelancers, marketing agencies, production studios, recent communications grads with a DSLR and a twinkle in their eye are all fantastic options.
But what’s the right option for you?
To find out, you have to consider your content objectives. Simply put:
The way we market and communicate has wildly transformed. It wasn’t too long ago when the best way to cut through the clutter and have your association’s voice heard was to take out a billboard or bus bench ad.
“Need a real estate agent? Call me!”
The whole game was based on a value system of the number of eyeballs that hit your ad, also known as impressions.
But in today’s world, can you honestly say that simply being seen is enough? Do you feel comfortable going to sleep at night knowing that your marketing effort is simply to be seen, and with all the competition out there, that’s enough to grow your brand?
The truth is, you shouldn’t. But why?
There’s a good chance that as you’re getting ready to settle in for the night, you’re capping off the day the same way you and over 5 billion of us started it — some quality time with your phone or tablet.
The average person now spends three to four hours on their mobile device every day. For advertisers, brands and you, that’s a direct line into your audience’s bedroom, living room and let’s be honest, bathroom, right guys? No shame.
That’s three to four hours per day of opportunity to not just be seen by your audience, but to build a meaningful relationship with them through measurably valuable interactions with your brand such as liking, subscribing, clicking through your link or sharing your post.
We have officially pushed past simple impressions. It’s not just about being seen anymore, you could see 300 billboards a day but the one that really matters is the one you want to shout from the rooftops about, the one you want to tell all your friends to check out, the one that makes you want to jump into the brand’s convertible and take off down the rolling highway.
It’s one that you want to engage with, that builds a meaningful, sustainable relationship between a brand and an audience member.
Okay, okay, whoa, let’s slow down a bit. We want to go digital to have that unparalleled opportunity for access to our audience. But why video? Why not just make digital bus bench ads, like sponsored Facebook or LinkedIn posts?
To answer that, let’s go back to the realtor on the bus bench, but this time let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the audience.
Let’s say you want to sell your house. You’re going to clean it, maybe fix up a few things inside and get it ready for viewings, a new coat of paint will jack up that curb appeal, right? But then you need to find a real estate agent.
How would you, yourself, sitting in your seat right now, find someone you’re going to trust to get you the best deal, as quickly as possible, while keeping you and your family protected?
Are you going to drive to work, see a giant head on a bus bench and immediately call the phone number? It’s a good start but, if you’re anything like the 72% of Americans that say they feel it’s more important than ever for the brands they do business with to share their values, you’ll want to really engage with your prospective home seller on a deeper level before you decide. You might catch a name off a bus bench that you’ll Google later, but it’s when you pull out your phone and start searching that your buyer journey really starts.
You might message a few friends for recommendations, then Google a few names. You might find their website to learn more about each one, but quickly decide that a brand’s website is all propaganda anyway so you have to see what other people say about them. That’s when you search for reviews, look through their name on social media and check out their content to see how they look, speak, act and how you really feel about them.
You can waffle all day about prices and selling features and reviews. But when it gets right down to it, the one you hire is the one that you admire. The one you believe in. The one you could see yourself building a relationship with.
That doesn’t start and end with a billboard. That takes familiarity, trust and intimacy. That takes time and relatability through an emotional experience. Entertainment. Education. Honesty.
In today’s digital world you don’t build a sustainable relationship with your audience by tugging on their sleeve and shouting your features and slogan. You do it by letting them in, letting them see and hear who you are and letting them decide for themselves how they fit in. Because when they decide they do, you don’t just have a sale or a conversion. You have an unshakeable relationship with someone who believes in you and wants you to represent them, wants you to be a part of their life.
You do this by allowing them to access you anywhere, by showing off your value proposition and building a relationship not with clutter, but with engaging, educational and evergreen content.
You do this with video.
Eesh, chills right? Okay so how, how, how! Thankfully, your friendly neighborhood video experts are here to save the day and give you the definitive guide to choosing the best video vendor for your association.
Freelancers might be the most cost-effective, but will they have the capacity for all your needs? If you want the ultra-reliable option, then you might consider a production house or media studio. Although, you heard you might need something a little more advertise-y, and the communications agency will throw in some social media work!
These are all great options but to help you cut through the clutter and decide who you trust to build a relationship with, here’s a video company’s definitive guide on how to choose a video company.
Pick your search engine of choice (but not Bing, right?), and start punching in keywords. Simply googling “videographer” should bring up a healthy host of options. You can include your city or region if proximity is important to you which should even be more cost-effective if they don’t offer any sort of virtual videographer service.
If you’re looking for an extra degree of trust, find recommendations from friends and colleagues! If you’ve seen a video you liked anywhere on the internet, chances are you can find out who made it and hire them.
Pro-tip, you can search LinkedIn for freelance videographers and if they’re savvy, they’ll have examples of their work right on their page.
When you’ve got a solid list of five to ten options, you’re ready to carry on.
Is their website riddled with typos? Do they seem unclear in what they’re offering, or are they selling too much? Are they just plain boring?
All these factors may not seem like they have much to do with making a good video, and they might not. But it’s all part of how a brand chooses to represent itself and if you want to interact with what’s being represented.
There’s plenty of hot-shot businesses with funky color palettes on their site, big promises on their products page and tasteful profanity in their copy. But look at their About Us page. How long have they been in operation? What do they actually believe in? Do they have a mission and values statement that’s realistic, actionable and aligns with your goals? Being a high-octane, work hard, play harder hustler is great but will they provide you with a strong, adaptable content strategy ten years from now?
Make sure that what you see is sustainable, in line with your values and actually offers what you want.
My camera’s dad could beat up your camera’s dad. But seriously this isn’t an elitism thing, it’s just sensible business. It’s said that a bad carpenter blames their tools, but a low-quality camera really does make a bad-quality video.
Having high-quality video and audio equipment is crucial to the quality of your final product. If they tell you they’re using this year’s budget-friendly winner in the amateur photographer’s best camera category, they may be a fantastic and budget-friendly and perfectly professional shooter but you know you’re getting a ceiling on the level of production and the level of investment they have in their business.
And maybe they’re just starting out! Not everyone can afford, and not everyone needs, the industry professional $10,000 camera level of equipment. But if they are still using a $1,000 camera, it provides you with tangible data on what you’re going to receive. It’s certainly worth thinking about when deciding on the person you’re trusting to represent you to your audience.
When you find someone who’s invested in a high-grade camera, know that it’s not their first camera. It should tell you they've worked enough that they’ve gotten to a point in the past where their skill level has surpassed previous tiers of equipment, and they’ve decided to upgrade.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be brand new, but it should be something you’ve never seen before.
The number of clients and projects a videographer has under their belt isn’t as much of a deciding factor as it used to be. When video was beginning to rise in popularity 15 to 20 years ago, that was when you wanted to be sure your shooter had any type of experience.
But now we live during an age in which video is an essential pillar in a brand’s marketing mix. It’s so commonplace for a brand to have, and so easy for anyone to make with cheap equipment and free uploads to sites like YouTube and Vimeo that having experience doesn’t always translate to being experienced.
If someone comes to your association and provides you with a portfolio with five years of experience making music videos for rappers, are you confident that person can effectively communicate your brand in a corporate environment? Can they provide you with footage to make educational or marketing content?
They may be amazing at creating a breathtaking video but if you’re making content for a room full of people wearing penguin suits and your videographer’s dressed as a polar bear, their product might not translate into your industry category.
However, diverse perspectives often make great work. All we’re saying is it’s a good idea to assess your environment, and build a relationship with a videographer who can adapt to that environment.
Not just on their website. Or LinkedIn. Or what their mom said about them (we’re sure she’s very sweet, we just don’t trust her with our annual budget).
Social media is a great place to start, but you want to look for external sources where you can be more confident that not everyone’s being influenced to say nice things. If you Google a business, you can see how many stars out of five their customers have rated them and read reviews left on their Google business page.
Star ratings and one-liners are okay, but if you can find someone who’s put the time into writing something substantial like a paragraph or more, it’s worth reading. That’ll be a person who’s had an experience impactful enough that they want to share, good or bad.
Ask for a rate sheet. Set up an introductory meeting, or phone call. This lets you know your potential range of cost for half days or full days, but the deeper purpose of this is to get to the heart of their mindset.
There are two kinds of service providers. One is focused on providing you services, and the other is focused on the service they provide you. They get you to the same conclusion, but the path they take through your pocket could be vastly different.
Say you hired a plumber to fix a clog in your kitchen sink. Would you expect them to charge you the hourly rate and cost of parts, but also for every single tool and movement and lunch and tank of gas? Or would you just expect them to charge you $300 to fix your sink
There are plenty of companies in the video industry that will charge you a day rate, but then come up with fees for light kits, sliders, different lenses, flashes and tripods, the cost of boom, lav and shotgun mics plus audio monitoring and optimization fees. Pretty soon, you're scared to ask for anything more than a 30-second clip on last year’s iPhone.
That’s certainly their prerogative, but if we were hiring them, we’d wonder if we were either being nickel and dimed, or if they’re charging us to rent that equipment because they don’t have it on hand.
Then there’s the videographer who says, sure we can provide you our service, but first let's sit down and help each other understand what you want, what’s the best strategy for you to move forward. Then when we’ve agreed on a shared goal and vision, we’ll provide you with a single fee for you to take or leave.
Being a professional doesn’t just mean providing a great product. It means creating a great client experience with your audience and your vendors. Trust, transparency and working toward a shared vision.
That’s what’s going to build deep, meaningful relationships, that’s what’s going to attract and retain customers and members. That’s what will sustainably grow your audience, your business and ultimately your revenue.
And we know this, because we live this. We'd be happy to keep chatting and change the way you think about sustainability for your association. To set up a call, hit contact us.