Why a video strategy is more important than ever
During a recent meeting with a prospective client, I was struck by a couple things she said. First, she told me the most important thing to her in moving forward with a business relationship with was making sure the production company was invested. They would not just receive a creative brief, but rather be a part of it's creation. The production company would know everything about the business and, as a result, help create the best video content to achieve the company's goals.
Second, she wanted this production partner involved with everything they did, not just one project. She previously had a production company focus all their attention onto a glamour project while neglecting the rest, which were more mundane, yet equally important. She expressed the desire for a creative team to help craft all video content, not just a per assignment basis to which production companies are typically accustomed.
She and I couldn’t agree more. You have to know something before you create a product to sell it, and if you make a lot of products, you better be sure they work together. We’ve been doing this type of work for years now and we’re only seeing more and more of it. Why?
Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of companies specializing in producing video content. There’s a growing realization that video is the best type of content in a time when people live with multiple screens and prefer to watch things in motion. Companies of all sizes need this content, therefore there is a large demand for companies to produce it.
Also worth considering is the steep drop in the cost of quality video equipment. Anyone today can buy a prosumer $2,000 camera and start a video company. This successfully removes the barrier of entry for truly gifted filmmakers, but it also floods the market with those that are not as gifted.
At the same time, we have seen a decline in the traditional agency. Over the last decade, companies have been using more specialized shops for their needs. They are hiring internal marketing people with agency experience, or just creating their own internal agencies. By bringing creative and digital efforts in-house, they are bypassing agencies and working directly with production company partners. A 2015 eConsultancy study showed that the share of brands claiming that they don’t work with any agencies at all doubled in 2015, to 27 percent.
Fact is that many companies aren’t using agencies as much as they used to for much of their marketing, including creating video. In many cases they are relying on the production company to act as the agency. So what does this mean?
Comparing the Production Company vs. The Advertising Agency
Let’s look at what the typical type of each does well:
|Production Company||Advertising Agency|
|- Expertise on staff that many traditional agencies just don’t have||- Spends the time to know the business in and out|
|- Bring talent together efficiently specifically for a production||- Create a consistent strategy that can be built over time|
|- Think big for one project, for one creative idea||- All campaigns (including video) are strategically aligned with all other campaigns.|
And not so well:
|Production Company||Advertising Agency|
|- Doesn’t know about the business except for what’s in front of them for their project.||- Can be slow moving|
|- Typically not concerned about future projects, only about current one||- Can rack up hours and become extremely expensive|
|- Past this one project, aren’t invested in the company's long term success||- Don’t have on-staff film/video producers and directors|
Clearly these two are typically very different types of companies. So, if you have a company that wants to work directly with a production company, what’s important to keep in mind?
What to look for in a production company
Make sure they are invested in an ongoing relationship with your company. In the production world, many of us view ourselves as artists first and business developers second. As such, risky or flashy commercial (B2C) work is often viewed in a better light than more conservative industrial (B2B) projects. Many production companies may get excited for the commercial or brand content project, but look down at other needed pieces, such as product demos, and thus not be invested in making it great.
Make sure the production company has experience and can thrive when creating for your industry. The B2B world is very different than the B2C world, and it’s not just the audience. Many B2B companies have upper management stakeholders that review projects in a later stage of the process. This could become problematic if the creative is not agile.
Make sure the production company believes in strategy across all video channels. The main difference between the production company and the advertising agency is the all encompassing view of the whole campaign. While production companies focus on the one project, agencies look at everything. If a production company doesn’t look across all channels and towards the future, a project can become obsolete in just a few months with no salvageable assets.
Here’s an example of two production companies with very different ways to work for a client. We’ll call them Production Company A and Production Company B.
Production Company A
Company reaches out to a production company about creating an explainer video to showcase their product. Production Company A asks for the branding guide and a creative brief outlining the main points they want covered. Production Company A produces storyboards that get approved, and put into production.
In the end, the production company produces a four-minute video stating all ten of their marketing messages. All is well for a few weeks. It looks good and everyone is happy. But they soon notice in analytics that most viewers are turning it off in 30 seconds, way before all the points are covered. Also, for their significant investment, they have just one video which in a few months, looks old. They posted it to their social accounts, and re-posted, and re-posted. Their Youtube page has one video.
Without having more budget to create more videos, a marketing person in the company decides to shoot interviews in the office to beef up the youtube page. While their effort is in the right place, the quality doesn’t look good as well as not having the same branding qualities as the original video.
Now their catalog on YouTube and their website is all over the place. A viewer watches a video and doesn’t know where it came from. The vision of the brand is non-existent. Finally, the CMO demands a new video with current branding. Unfortunately instead of building on what was built before, they have to start over. Back to ground zero.
Production Company B
Company reaches out to Production Company B who understands strategy. They are initially tasked with creating an explainer video to showcase the company's product. Instead of just asking for the branding document and main messages, they ask questions regarding the main goals of the company, including forecasting possible future deliverables.
Together they create or augment a video strategy to be used for at least the next few months. Within this discussion it is agreed that instead of just one video being produced, Production Company B would create ten 30-second videos instead of one four-minute video. Each thirty-second video would have a uniform end-tag which would read, “If you would like to learn more about this and other advantages of brand X, visit our website at brandX.com.”
These videos could live on the company and YouTube page immediately upon completion of production. A simple social strategy is put in place that would “release” each video every two weeks on all social networks, creating a twenty-week campaign. Not only does this keep the social strategy fresh, it keeps them short and digestible for the online viewer.
Also, by having the videos separated by individual message, a user can choose what video to watch based on their personal interest. This opens to door to analytics in showing what topics or features are most important to the viewer; vital information for business strategy.
Additionally, as an even larger bonus, Production Company B creates a template style for all other types of videos, complete with branded opening and closing sequences. This way, if the company would like to shoot their own videos, they can brand them with provided assets so they work with the professionally-produced videos on the channel. All of this for the same relative budget.
Quality video production is expensive. Make sure your partnerships with production companies yield the highest return on investment for your company. Hopefully you can form a great partnership that not only results in great videos, but also forms a more efficient workflow for campaigns in the future, ensuring that your brand speaks with one unified voice.