Ah, the age-old question. How much does it cost? As you are here, dear traveler, you have probably been around the block searching for insight into video production costs. Be it explainer videos, marketing videos, animation, testimonial videos, stock footage videos, instructional videos, video ads, etc., you have heard the answer, "Well, it depends."
Luckily, I'll remove the mystique behind the video production process, costs, and turnaround time. Let's check how much it costs to do a business video.
How much does video production cost for B2B marketing.
Before I dive deep, here is a quick caveat, we'll start with the lowest budgets and move up the cost ladder. After that, I'll explain what impacts the cost.
Animated content up to 60 seconds
This is the realm of motion design and stock footage. Starting at $1000 and easily ending at around $10k. Although I'm positive, you can find people on Fiver who can offer you a 10-second motion design based on a template for a few hundred bucks. High-quality stock footage, on the other hand, can cost you north of $500 a pop, but there are many alternatives on the market, like pond5.com or artgrid.io
Animated explainer videos 2-3 minutes.
There is much to unpack here, as explainer videos are a very useful and popular tool in your video marketing repertoire. You can make hand draw animations, 2D with people, abstract images, or complex 3D situations.
Your explainer video is only limited by your creativity... and your budget. Be ready to pay a minimum of $2000-3000 per minute of video. That should include everything, including script, voiceovers, and music. Ambitious explainer video ideas utilizing3D graphics can start at $6000 per minute and quickly move north to 10k$ or more.
So this is everything that's not paid media. There are some differences that I'll get into later, but for now, trust me. This can be anything that fits the broad definition of video content. So customer interviews, testimonials, painpoint & solution videos, product demos, employer branding videos, event videos, corporate videos, animated explainer videos too (that include actors), .... just any business video.
A good bet is to start at $10,000, and depending on the number of filming days, video length, and actors... the cost can quickly rise. I'd say a video that gives you and your audience great value and, at the same time, is an example of fine craftsmanship can cost around 25,000$. But, depending on the final product, video length, number of episodes, and many, many other details, the total cost can be higher.
Live action video ads.
Your core marketing video. As with explainers, there's a lot to unpack. Let's just say that if you don't want your video to look like an ad for a car dealership on a local tv station in the US, you should be prepared to spend at least 15,000$. There is no ceiling here, I'm afraid. I'd say the sweet spot is 50,000$, but depending on the idea and execution, you may need to pay north of 100,000$
Here are a couple of notable mentions. Some are youtube ads, some could be made for television, and some for reels... so length and format are not a constant.
Unique, epic business videos.
Video marketing sometimes requires a very unique asset. For example, an animated explainer video narrated by Morgan Freeman, an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure film, or maybe even a feature film.
Well, depending on your content marketing strategy needs... what can I say. Of course, a bespoke project will require a bespoke budget. Example? Sure. Here is an amazing video that took home many Grand Prix awards last year. Don't know the exact budget, but a couple of us video experts place the budget between $250,000 and $500,000.
And here's an actual, kick-ass B2B commercial for a cyber security company CrowdStrike. Budget? I'd say a minimum of $400K - there is quite a bit of CG (set extensions etc.) but great casting, set design, and costumes:
What makes video production costs high?
Glad you asked. Videos tend to have a complex production process. Even the simple and easy ones require a lot of thought and planning. There are several factors you should consider when planning to create a video.
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First, your brand.
If you are a big business, it may be easier for you to grow your share of voice, but as with any large organization, efficiency is not the greatest. Production companies know this and must plan for contingencies and last-minute changes. So they calculate that into their budget.
Another thing is visual quality. The best brands want to work with the best. And the best is not cheap. On the other hand, small businesses have a more challenging time breaking through, but because of this, they tend to make more risky decisions and are more efficient with their budgets. As a result, they are more open to working with up-and-coming producers and directors who come up with creative solutions that can pack a punch but are more cost-effective.
The second is quality.
Now we can debate the semantics of the word and that every other person defines quality differently. And although that may be true on some level, when you hear "high-quality visuals," you probably understand what that means.
In short, the better you want your video content to look, the more time you need to develop it and hire more experienced artists. Time X Experience = Money.
The third is the schedule.
If you ring up a video production company and order a video for next week, it's a no-brainer that it will cost you more than if you'd given them a month. Rush fees are no joke. Why? Because if you have time, you can research and find more cost-effective solutions and alternatives.
For example, you can look for promising actors in different places and test them to find someone that is as good but costs less than a super pro. On the other hand, when you don't have time, you call an agent and ask for the best actors available tomorrow. That's going to be fast but expensive.
The fourth is time.
This "time" is different than prep time. The longer the pre-production, the more cost-effective the project. The "time" I'm talking about now is how long it takes to create the video. For live action, it will depend on the number of filming days, and for animated videos, it will be the number of days of drawing and animating. So a video that requires five days of filming will be more expensive than a video that requires just one.
So make sure you know how long that script of yours is going to take to produce.
The fifth is crew, talent, and rights.
I mentioned before that people with more skills will cost more. It's a no-brainer. However, some videos can be easily created with a 3-person crew, while others need 40. Talk to your video production partner to determine what is best for your project. Similar thing with actors. Do you want to feature an A-lister or a celebrity in your video? Then prepare to throw some cash their way.
A part of this is IP and usage rights. The contracts with actors or talent often have rules for showing your video and where you cannot. For example, if you buy internet rights ONLY and want to show your ad on television later or at a conference, you will have to extend the contract... and pay more.
A cost-saving method here is to negotiate the terms of extensions early on. Or just buy them in a package deal. It will be cheaper that way.
The sixth is equipment and... everything else.
I think that by now, you get an idea of how this works. Sure, your iPhone can record some very nice videos, but you don't want any surprises when spending money on a filming day. You want consistency. You want a camera that will capture amazing visuals... but also make you feel safe. As with every other element of the video, from how the actors are dressed to the location of the action, set design etc. etc.
From experience, I know that when brands spend a big budget on a video, they want it to be perfect. They want to have a say in every minute detail. And if you don't like the color of the wall in the background... hell, the video production team will paint it another color. Or build a different room altogether. The list goes on.
A way to cut costs is to... let go of the need to control everything. It's kind of like micromanaging. If you have hired the best, let them do their magic.
The seventh is post production.
It's all the fine-tuning done after the filming is finished. It's the editing. Color correction. Sound effects and design. Music. Voice overs. Computer-generated visual elements and effects. Let's just say that the more complex and time-consuming process is needed for your video, the higher the price tag is going to be.
Is there a way to minimize video production cost?
It's overwhelming. I get it. Fortunately, there are ways to produce great video content that engages your target audience and does not break the bank. Here are some tips on how to cut video marketing costs.
Have a marketing strategy.
Simple? Obvious? Yeah, but you wouldn't believe how many brands don't have a detailed roadmap of how a new video will work within their b2b marketing ecosystem. Do the research.
Hyper focus on your target audience.
That's part of the strategy, but it is easily the most important aspect of it. First, know who you are talking to. Rather than relying solely on personas, take the time to observe how your audience behaves and consumes content. Then, consider how your video content can enhance their buying journey. A strategy aligned with a concept and effective video production can help you reduce CPCs by up to 75%.
Poorly written marketing briefs can consume 33% of your video marketing budget. 80% of marketers believe they write good briefs, but only 10% of agencies agree. There is room for improvement and cost savings.
Be transparent with your budget.
To save time and money, it's best to be upfront about your marketing budget when working with agencies or production companies. This allows them to create a proposal specifically tailored to your needs without playing a game of "How much will it cost?" & "What's your budget?"
Take your time and prepare.
Pre production is a lifesaver and a cost-saver. The most expensive part of any video project is the filming. So why not mitigate any unforeseen problems with extensive planning? Pre production is cheap. Surprises are not.
Invest in creativity.
Creativity makes your B2B videos interesting and keeps your audience engaged for longer. Instead of making the same video as everyone in your industry, why not stand out? Why not be memorable?
Good creative work is also evergreen. It last longer. You can reuse it, and modify it, which is more cost-effective than creating a new one
Less is more.
Overloading your marketing videos with key messages and marketing speak will just make people quit watching mid-way. That's a wasted marketing budget. If you know your target audience fully, you understand precisely what to focus on. That's efficiency.
From a visual standpoint, consider minimalist visuals. Be it animation or live-action, they look great and are less costly.
Hire in-house talent.
If you know you will make many marketing videos in a year, you can easily lower your video marketing cost by hiring a filmmaker or a team. Of course, large complex projects will take up much of their time, but it may work if you are not trying to run multiple video production simultaneously.
If all fails, consider outsourcing.
A slew of freelancers, agencies, and production houses worldwide are experts in creating great videos for less. If you don't know where to find your new foreign BFF, check out global review sites like clutch. co or agencyspotter.com.
B2B video marketing as a long game.
As you can see, starting a video project requires a lot of thought and planning. Be sure you are ready and have a video production partner you can rely on. Of course, fuck ups will happen, like in any project, irrelevant of the budget. But with the right people around you, it will be smooth sailing.