Holding a pencil doesn’t make someone a writer; nor does holding a paintbrush make them an artist. – Rick Schardein
Technology has made the creation of video and motion graphics accessible to anyone with a few gigs of storage, but it hasn’t made everyone a filmmaker.
You might not be able to tell from my fresh face and boyish charm, but I’ve been working in video production since the late 1970s. No, I wasn’t around for the Bolova Watch commercial noted in our recently-published white paper, Marketing in Motion: A Guide to Building Your Brand with Video, but I have seen many changes.
I remember when the preview feature was just a gleam in some SONY engineer’s eye. I saw video standards go from 3/4” ENG to 2” videotape. My first big time production was shot on 16mm film, and we had to drive all the way to a cavernous editing suite in Cincinnati to finalize those :10 spots.
But that all changed with desktop editing. All the control, accuracies and transitions held in that huge editing suite were now available on a Mac desktop.
As desktop publishing was washing over our business in the 90s, a consultant once asked us, “Aren’t you afraid this will put you out of business?” My friend Rick Schardein quickly shot back, “No, not really. Holding a pencil doesn’t make someone a writer; nor does holding a paintbrush make them an artist.” You might have the tools in front of you but without skills, experience and talent they’re as productive as a trowel in a carpenter’s belt.
Yes, you can DIY your next video project – to launch your new product, christen your new office or announce your new brand. But without a keen eye, the ability to say more with less and the polish that an experienced cinematographer, editor and producer bring to the table, what will that video actually say about you?
There’s one real benefit to all marketers — from Fortune 500 companies to the startup around the corner — of what I’ll call the commoditization of video brand storytelling. That is the ability to produce great video at virtually every budget level. But when a marketer asks, “What’s it cost to produce a video?” it’s like asking “How high is up?” or “How long is a piece of string?” It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, whom you’re trying to convince, what the time and space capabilities are and many more variables.
Asking three producers, “What’s a video cost?” will almost surely not get you an apples-to-apples comparison. More likely, you’ll get an apples-to-apple pie-to-apple sauce comparison, when all the while you were really looking for an orange.
Better to think about the end result — be that sales of a new product, contributions at a fund-raising event, pre-roll video on YouTube or just a good old fashioned :30 commercial. Treat video like any other communication component of your marketing plan. Peel off a percentage of your first year’s sales of that new product or a portion of contributions at that fund-raiser. Or allot a percentage of your television buy to production; I recommend somewhere between ten and twenty percent, depending on how long you expect the shelf life to be.
Once you’ve established your budget and your main objective for creating a video, engage a marketing partner that can help you fit the right tools to the budget. Everything from the camera and crew to lighting and audio are available in a range of budget and quality. But, at the end of the day, the production value of your video says a lot about your brand. Are you willing to put your brand’s reputation in the hands of an intern with a smartphone and iMovie? Something to think about.
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