There are tons of variables to think about when creating a corporate video. Even if you do have a general sense of what you want to say and how you want it to look creatively – price ranges and time frames are all over the place! You don’t want to go too cheap and get a video that is low quality and unusable. You also don’t want to overspend or worse, get ripped off.
Fortunately, I’ve been on both sides of the client/contractor equation. In this article I’ll give you insider information. With over a decade as a video creator and content strategist I have worked as:
- A solo freelance video creator (receiving contracts as a 1 man operation)
- A producer/director at a large video production agency (leading massive agency contracts)
- Lead Content Strategist at a large tech firm (On the client side, hiring out freelancers and agencies)
This blog post details what I’ve learned about the process of commissioning a corporate video and then working with the contractors you hire.
What Should You Know Before Hiring a Videographer?
If you want your video to turn out well and don’t want to get ripped off, it’s not as easy as calling whoever knows how to operate a camera or animate. Before you begin to reach out to a firm there are a few things on your end you can do to create the best video, select the best partners, and make the working relationship easier and more economical.
Let’s start with the work you should do on your end before reaching out or even searching for a contractor. Then we’ll move into video price ranges and the selection process.
Corporate Video Purpose, Placement and Viewer Benefit
It’s amazing how many people don’t think through why they actually need a video and what they want the corporate video to accomplish. You shouldn’t commission a video just because other companies have them. The backbone of a good video is a good purpose.
At this stage, it doesn’t mean you need to write the script or come up with the style. You simply need to articulate why you need a video, where that video will primarily live and what you hope the viewer does after watching your video.
By doing that, it will give everyone a better idea of the end goal. This ensures you’ll get a better product no matter your budget. Try creating a sentence similar to one of the following, but for your own corporate video:
- I need a video that helps already interested customers who come to my homepage better understand how our software saves them money.
- I need a video that captures organic searches on YouTube for people comparing hair dryers and deciding which brand to buy.
- I need a video that will run in a continuous loop behind our booth at a trade show and catches the attention of people walking by.
This is not to say one video can’t have multiple purposes. However, by knowing the primary purpose, place and viewer benefit, your video will turn out better and drive business results.
Beware of Trying To Make The Video Do Too Much
One of the greatest pitfalls of corporate videos is when they try to say and do too much. The customer will tune out complicated videos. Or, even if they like it likes it, they might not know what to do next if it isn’t clearly defined. Which brings us to our next point.
Corporate Video: Define Your Call To Action
Once someone watches your video what do you hope they do? Unless you’re a massive brand, your main goal is likely not just brand recognition. You need a measurable call to action. Common call to actions are:
- Click the link in the description to access our latest deal
- Download our app today
- Sign up at www.calltoaction.com
- Call 1-800-Didthisvideowork
As a client, you can leave the exact wording to the pros, but you should know the best call to action for your business. A call to action at the end of your video will help your customers and enable you to measure the effectiveness and ROI of your corporate video. Which brings us to the budget…
How Much Should You Spend On Your Corporate Video?
Before we thought about budget, we determined:
- The general purpose of your video
- Where your video will primarily be shown
- The videos benefit to the viewer
- The videos call to action
That’s a nice skeleton. There’s one last step before we start wrapping the creative messaging around it. We need to decide how much we can spend on the video. This will help you, or whoever you hire, dream within the correct parameters.
Corporate Video: Define Your Budget
Before you hire someone to start dreaming up the creative, or dream up the creative yourself, you need to decide how much you want to spend. Yes, deciding your budget usually comes before the creative ideas. Video marketing is a tricky beast.
There are corporate videos that cost $50 and corporate videos that cost $5 million. There is no sense dreaming up a video that incorporates elephants and 300 actors if you only have $1k to spend. Part of being creative is working to find solutions within a budget and other real world limitations.
There are hard costs for actors, locations, fancier cameras etc. A lot of the cost around video is time and talent, which translates to video quality. You are paying for the right person/group to dedicate enough brain space, hours and expertise to make an amazing idea come to life.
Why Does Corporate Video Cost Vary Widely?
To further illustrate the point of how and why videos cost can vary so widely think of this. I could whip out my iPhone, pick a spot outside my house and have someone walk across the screen.
Or I could spend days finding the right street, the right actor with the right walk, the right lighting and equipment to capture that actor inside a perfectly art-directed scene.
The first one takes a little time and effort. The second one takes a lot of planning time, effort, and equipment, and you’ll get a Hollywood level result. Also neither of these accounts for who had the “genius” video idea of someone walking across the screen in the first place. S
ometimes access to a mind that can create a viral/effective video is far more valuable, and therefore costly, than the video itself.
Your Company’s Video Budget
Budget is different for each business, and how much you want to decide to spend on your business’s video is up to you. One data-driven method would be to decide on a value per conversion for your video’s call to action. This will enable you to estimate ROI based on various performance scenarios.
For instance, let’s say for each person that clicks through your video to buy a product you earn $100. If you think the video will drive 30 sales, $3000 would be your break-even point to spend on the video. How you get to your budget is your business decision. I will now give you some loose price ranges to keep in mind when searching for corporate video help.
Various Tiers and Price Ranges for Corporate Video:
For the below price estimates, let’s say we’re talking about the general types of corporate videos you see on a start-ups homepage. Either a 1ish minute animated explainer. Or a 3 to 5 minute interview video with founders/employees.
As a freelance video professional, my personal work tends to fall in the upper middle price range. However, having worked in video for over 10 years, I have a massive creative network that spans the gamut.
If you’re looking for something at any level please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org). Either we’ll work together or I’ll put you in touch with the best person for your project and budget.
Corporate Video General Price Ranges
Below are very general ranges for they types of videos you see on a start ups homepage ~ a 1 minute explainer or 3-5 minute talking head interview.
DIY or Low Tier Videos – Less Than $1k
These videos are created yourself with less professional software (iPhone + iMovie etc). Or you can find someone on fivver.
This option is cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Often times these videos can come off the most authentic. Every once in a while you’ll find that person overseas, or that perfect stock template that will perform at a high level for only a fraction of the cost.
However, this tier is risky. Low Tier videos tend to be lower in quality, require A LOT of hand holding and/or work from the client. Be careful not to waste your time and money on a final product you don’t end up using.
$1-3K Young and Learning
This tier is great if you are looking for that young person straight out of film/marketing school. The freelancer will still be learning the ropes of video making, corporate messaging, and how to interact/deliver on contracts. Working at this tier you can often groom and nurture some solid long term collaborators at a cheaper price than a seasoned vet.
As a creative, I operated in this category for a while. Freelancers who have little overhead and expenses and low end yet professional equipment can pass those savings along to clients. These freelancers are young and hungry. They are eager to scoop up projects that agencies or more experienced freelancers don’t want to bother with.
As a client the thing to keep in mind if you’re hiring in this tier are:
- You likely won’t get someone who has a lot of experience crafting an effective on brand message. This is a learning experience for them, which means more risk for you.
- You’ll need to do hand holding and grunt work yourself to get the video where it needs to be. Sometimes this hand holding can even extend beyond just the creative work all the way to teaching them how to submit an invoice etc. etc.
$3k – 20k+ The experienced Freelancer / Collective
Personally, both when hiring or when creating I’ve found this to be the sweet spot. An experienced freelancer usually has countless hours and even years of agency experience under their belt. Yet, they are cheaper than the full size agencies because they simply don’t have the same overhead.
They might still have great cameras, a co-working space, and large network, but they don’t have the large fixed costs and salaries of an agency. A big plus hiring at this tier is that you are directly hiring and communicating with the level of person who would be doing the work and making the tactical decisions at an agency level anyway.
An agency usually has you communicating with a young account manager who then relays the message down the line to the more experienced creator. With the client directly communicating with the experienced creator you can bypass the costs and inefficiencies of the account manager.
That is why I like this model best both as the freelancer and as the one contracting out. Incentives are more aligned, there is a direct line of communication and less fluff is around that indirectly adds to the cost of your video.
Also, this experienced contractor can temporarily scale up to accomplish any project by utilizing their creative network they’ve worked with over the years. All that being said, there are still advantages to working with top tier agencies.
$20K – Million Dollar Full on Agencies
There are smaller agencies. However, big agencies likely won’t even bother to chat with you if you can’t meet a minimum spend. It’s nothing personal. It just isn’t worth their time.
However if you do have the budget, don’t want to risk putting all your faith in one or two individuals, and are really just looking for that pro result, a full on agency is the way to go. I don’t think I need to explain a full agency, but the benefits are that they’ll have tons of people they can turn to for ideas.
They have back up if someone quits, dedicated account managers, a full physical office building you can visit for meetings, and more projects, connections and brand equity under their belts than any one individual could possibly acquire alone. As a creative, my time in an agency was a great experience.
As a business owner, if I had the budget and the desire to put most things on autopilot, knowing every detail is being double checked, an agency is likely the way to go.
Other Miscellaneous Thoughts About Evaluating Video Professionals
- When moving up the ladder it isn’t only that you’ll likely get a better video it’s that it also becomes less risky. Even if you go top of the top, you still might not like the final product. However, they have tested processes and you’re less likely to pour time and money into a dysfunctional nightmare the higher up tier you choose.
- A more expensive camera DOES NOT equal a better video. It’s more about the idea. My professional cinematographer friends are going to kill me here, but for the most part once you’re over a certain level of equipment you don’t need to worry about the camera. The surest way to show you’re a marketing novice is to judge a potential hire by the price of their camera.
After Your Choose Your Corporate Video Team
Now that you know the price ranges, you can now reach out to your contacts or search the internet with confidence to find the right video solution for your business. I’d love if you reach out to me first. I am a Video Producer myself and am connected to a massive network of freelancers and agencies. I’d love to see what we can create or even advise you on how to proceed next.
Use me aw a starting point and then from this point out, it is all about feel. You need to find someone who matches your brand’s vibe. That isn’t bullshitting you and is a good person/hard worker.
Once you get through the search and negotiation process. The real work begins.
The Art of Managing Artists
One of my favorite books is Creativity Inc. It is by Ed Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar. In it he discusses how to create an environment to manage creatives and get the best feasible product out of what is basically an open ended problem.
When working with your chosen freelancer or agency, it is important to strike the right balance of authoritative, but humble. You know your product best, but they likely know what translates most effectively for a video.
From a contractor side, I can’t tell you how many times I have to practically beg clients to cut scripts down in length — even when that means I’ll make less money for a shorter video.
I do this because founders want to mention every detail of their product. It’s their baby and they’re proud. I get it. But the truth is the customer doesn’t care about 90% of that and simply won’t watch the video – making it thorough, but completely ineffective. It’s about making what works for your business. If I can make what works for your business you will continue to have the money and desire to hire me and my business.
When brainstorming an initial concept, it’s all about creating the right space for ideas to breathe. It’s amazing how creative everyone (client or contractor) can be if given the opportunity. I can’t tell you how many times as the client I have hired a freelancer with a very specific vision in mind.
I’m certain it should be a certain way. However, if I give the contractor a little leeway to add their own creative flair, I tend to get something back that is better than I could have possibly imagined.
From the flip side, when I’m hired as the creative I like to truly listen to a client. Sometimes they’ll give a suggestion and I’ll think “Damn, that’s a great idea — and you hired me to think of these things?” It’s all a balance.
As a client I never like to be too micro mangey, but I also don’t want to give complete freedom. As a creative contractor, you want to let artistic expression flourish to give the video soul, but you also need to make sure it remains relevant and on brand.
Where To Start With Video Ideas
The starting point should usually come from the client. As mentioned above, clients should have a skeleton and call to action of the things the video must absolutely mention or show.
- We need to show that the product opens from both directions
- We need to say the price
- We need to say that it comes in both blue and red
- The video must be exactly 30 seconds long From there, I like to see what the freelancer can dream up. After that, iterate, and pick the best ideas to bring to life.
It’s truly amazing to collaborate with people. If you’re all working toward the best idea, a magical final product will be born and everyone will have learned something.
Corporate Video Conclusion
I hope this article on contracting a corporate video was helpful. Ideally, you have a good start for what you need and understand the general options and prices ranges available. If you have an interesting project, I would absolutely love to collaborate.
I work with clients in a number of ways, from soup to nuts creative, to a consultant who helps with the content strategy and outsourcing process. I can also pass the project to someone reliable in my network. So, whatever need you may have please don’t hesitate to reach out.