There are dozens upon dozens of video production companies swimming around in the media ocean; ranging from the international giants based in London to the smaller, locally-focused agencies operating all around the country. We know that the endless options can make it difficult to confidently decide on who you should hire to make the videos you want to see come to life. While there is always the right company out there to suit your needs, plenty of reputable companies can turn out to be a bad fit, and there are always less reputable companies hanging around looking to play on the average businesses lack of familiarity with the media production industry. And so, although a quality video is always worth the money, a bad video can be a dangerous drain on the client's treasury and harm their ability to reach out and affect audiences. Below is a roadmap of all the questions you should answer before making your choice; questions that we believe will help you navigate all the confusion and get the biggest bang for your buck.
1. Have they worked with a client like you before?
This question, although the most obvious, has the biggest impact. Get a grasp of the defining features of your company going into your hiring process: its size, the particular industry, and the media spend are the three most important. From there, go look at the company's portfolio and see if they've worked with a client who has similar characteristics. The video production company's experience, or lack thereof, with a client like you shouldn't be an immediate deal breaker; but getting a handle on the particulars of their experience will help you vet them better and give you a clearer picture on the assurances you will require from them. There's nothing wrong with being a new video production company's first big client, or their first client in your industry, but having this knowledge beforehand will help you make a more informed decision and, from that, create a better working relationship with them when it comes to filming.
2. Do they have experience making the type of video you want to make?
Video production companies come in all shapes and sizes; some focus entirely on live action, others solely on animation, and a few do both and more. The experience, flowing from their focus, also varies greatly. Oftentimes, companies find their groove making certain kinds of videos even when they have the capability to make any type of film under the sun. Other times, however, companies advertise capabilities in making all types of videos when, in reality, their skill set is rather limited. Because of this, its important to, again, take a good look at their portfolio and compare it both to the services they claim to offer and the specific type of video you would commission them to make. If they have no experience making animated videos when you want animation, or if they claim to make the sort of live action case studies that you want but have no experience producing a video any longer than two minutes, you should go forward with caution. If they have demonstrable videos creating a film similar enough to the one you want them to make, you can jump in with a little more confidence and a lot less anxiety.
3. How clear is the company's messaging across the internet?
A big indicator of a company's worth is how much effort they put into the clarity of their messaging and how active they are when it comes to engaging with past, present, and potential clients across the web and social media. If a company has a messy website, filled with too much information and lacking an engaging user interface, they are signalling to you that they either lack the focus or the will to present themselves clearly to the people they want to work with. It shows that they aren't concerned with how they look and, consequently, will likely apply little care to how you come across in your effort to engage with your audience through film. If a company has mixed Google reviews, or no such reviews at all, and a limited or non-existent presence on social media; they are showing a lack of investment in the digital space that, nowadays, is vital if a production company wants to stay informed on and engaged with the people they intend to work with. If you're going to trust a production company to craft or further define your company's image, you best make sure that, at the very least, they have successfully crafted their own image first.
4. Does the production company show you how their clients feel?
A subtle indicator of a production company's confidence, and also their ability to create long-lasting relationships through positive collaborators environments with those they work with, is how much stock they put in the feedback they get back from them. If you find direct quotes planted throughout their website, or a strong focus on client satisfaction through a client testimonial video, you can see first hand that their work has, at the very least, left their clients satisfied that they worked with them. Combine this with the presence of independently positive reviews, and you get the sense that the production company cares about the quality of their work and the impact it has; and this alone demonstrates dependability and integrity. You want to be able to trust them; and whilst a video production company that expects you to take their word alone might be trustworthy, a lack of external validation means that you can never really get a reliable answer.
5. How transparent are they about budgets and costing?
An honest production company will always be upfront about how much everything will cost and, most importantly, why it costs as much as it does. Although there is no fixed figure for how much everything should cost across the industry, they should be careful to make sure that the figures they provide are accurate and consistent with what other companies doing similar work, both in type and in quality, with what other companies are charging. A good production company will also be upfront about how long the production process will take, and the better ones will even suggest changes to your idea or proposal to reduce costs whilst also retaining the power of the film itself. If the production company provides you a clear, methodical quote before any agreement is made, and if they work to provide you a schedule that details out how you might work together, you've got a big sign that they care enough to make sure you understand where your money is going and how they're going to use it. This alone should help you eliminate some shadier companies on the scene.
5. Do they take the time to listen to your ideas?
The best video production company's have learned that, in order to make the best film possible, they have to jump into any collaboration with the least assumptions possible. Listening to a client before crafting any proposal allows the production company to fully understand their needs and avoid imposing their own vision on what should ultimately be a client-focused film. It also ends up leading to the best outcome, too, as the film will likely be a result of a genuine collaboration of ideas and objectives instead of a one-sided delivery; and it'll likely only be as expensive as it needs to be to fulfil the original vision. Take note of how the production company acts towards you when you first approach them with your idea. If they give you film details before even sitting down to talk with you about your business and your intentions with the video, then perhaps you should part ways with them. More often than not, this one-sidedness doesn't go away during the production process.
Hopefully, these tips will help you pick the production company that will help you best realise your vision and make the films that best spread the message central to your brand, product, or service.
To save you some time, though, take a look at our diverse project history using the link below. Before becoming a fully fledged marketing agency, we were Dashing Bear Productions, a video production company, and all of our video services are still produced in house. When you take this into account, perhaps your ideal video production company is a lot closer than you think...