I bet that every time you reach out to agencies or producers to get a quote, the first thing you hear is “it depends.” I hate to break it to you, but they are right.
The cost of creating a video does depend on a lot of variables. so why not control as much of them as you can? If you are trying to plan a budget for a single video or your entire activities for the year, here are 7 tips that will help you do more with less.
Someone wise once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” They weren’t marketers, but their idea translates tenfold into the world of communicating with your audience.
Don’t be like Leroy Jenkins, and don’t go in guns blazing. It’s better to put some time and $$$ into research, segment the market, and figure out who you are talking to and how to talk to them. If you have a plan for the entire year, fantastic. Making films is kinda like buying paper towels…. They are most affordable when you buy in bulk.
If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you work with an amateur. Ok, before I get a barrage of hate from amazing amateurs, let’s get this straight.
Professional is not a price bracket. It is not a certificate. What I mean by Professional is a set of fine-tuned skills, a wicked good understanding of their field, attitude, and excellent communication skills. Let’s face it, you pay well for a person’s ability to make your job easier.
On average, 33% of marketing budgets are wasted due to poor briefing. Signals get mixed, ideas don’t come across, and people think they understand when they actually miss the point… So, brief in, brief out and learn to write briefs. This skill will save you a lot of time and money, especially in video production. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a sound strategy in place (point 1) this might be difficult for you.
Fortunately for all of us, there is a worldwide study on briefing as well as suggestions for writing better briefs. https://www.betterbriefs.com/#guide
Though this may sound silly, but ensure your creative idea fits your budget. We all want to make high-quality content, and you will be surprised how minute details can derail a tight budget. If you are working with a creative agency that doesn’t have an in-house producer, bring on a video production company at the earliest stage. They have the insight to red-flag ideas that could get out of hand.
Hell is littered with excellent scripts that got ditched after weeks of costly development because the client got a production estimate that was waaaaaaay over budget.
Preparation, preparation, preparation. Remember that saying about measuring twice and cutting once? In our industry, that’s giving yourself time to prepare and plan. It saves you time and energy. Practically speaking, preproduction is cheap. We could use a more delicate term here like “cost effective”, but in reality, it’s simply cheap.
The mistakes you foresee in preproduction will be thrown to the side without a second thought. Why? Because they won’t cost you a thing. And ultimately… getting those problems and mistakes out of the way improves your videos. On the flip side, if you are rushing into production for whatever reasons, be prepared that it will be more expensive.
Remember “Field of Dreams” - that movie where Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield? And that whisper he hears, “If you build it, they will come…” Yeah, that’s not going to work for your sport.
You have to build it and promote, promote, promote your video. Only then will it happen the way you need it to. And you need to think bilaterally: Be specific in your targeting but go wide. Take the long and short approach - brand building vs short-term activation. After all, one feeds the other. Your strategy is actually an ecosystem.
Don’t forget that the little birds sitting on top of the rhino keep it thriving - and vice versa. For a more in-depth take, check out an article by Mark Ritson.
Last but not least, keep the message simple. The more you want to say, the longer the material will have to be, and the more expensive it will be to film.
But wait, I'm making an animated explainer video… Well yeah, even animated explainer videos work like this e.g., 5 mins of animation cost more than one. Some people from the marketing community talk about the 5-ball idea; throw a client one ball, and they will (most probably) catch it, throw them 5 and they might catch 2, but drop 3. Why pay for 5 if only 2 get through?
If there is that much information you need to share, consider a series of shorter videos. Sometimes, they can be easier to make than one long one. Here are some 90-120 second explainers as references. Outside the intro and outro, you’ll notice 3-5 topics covered, which quotas you for around 15-20 seconds per topic.
We started off with “more for less’ so I’ll leave you with a bonus tip. Be creative. This might go against conventional B2B logic, but creative videos are cheaper in the long run. Content that stands out is relevant for a longer time (that means shelf life) and won’t be boring to B2B buyers that watch tons of content in their research. You can’t fake brilliance and have to invest in getting it. Once you have a cool video, you can reuse it later, or if you want to change something, you can just modify a part instead of producing the whole thing from scratch. If that’s not budget-friendly, I don’t know what is.