The Bar is Set Higher for Video Today
You likely don’t need reminding, but video is one of the most powerful forms of messaging around today. Video is not so new anymore, either. Audiences are increasingly sophisticated consumers of video. Amateurish, slap-dash, and unprofessional video content is no longer enough – if it ever was. A professionally produced video that befits your unique brand and marketing goals is required. And you should budget for that.
Aim for Fairly-Priced and Professionally Produced
Effective, polished, and professional video is what established brands and organizations require to connect with their audiences and keep them coming back for more. For a fair price, you can work with a professional production company, make a video you are proud of, and know it is designed with your organization’s requirements in mind. Visit a reputable B2B vetting group like Clutch or DesignRush and get an idea of what the market’s established, reputable, and reliable players are charging.
Pay More, and Expect a Better Quality Video
There’s a Wide Range of Quality Out There
Do you know what your budget is and what you can legitimately expect for that amount? There are some basics in our industry regarding what’s poor quality, average quality, and great quality. When you are assessing price for your animated video, it is important to know a bit about quality standards.
A video of poor quality is likely obvious. Some particular element is just awful. Maybe it’s the sound, the script, the voice, the design of the characters or backgrounds. Things look shaky, blurred, unfinished or unpolished. The animation doesn’t seem smooth. It feels jerky and unnatural where it shouldn’t. You would be embarrassed to have the work represent your organization on your website, social media, or during a presentation.
Hidden Poor Quality
Sometimes poor quality isn’t obvious. Maybe the music or images are pirated? Maybe the creators and other team members are being paid next to nothing for their work? Maybe you think the work is original and instead it’s being reused over and over again, unbeknownst to you. Suspicious? Show a sample to an animator, producer or sales rep at a reputable studio and ask them for their assessment. Often what seems too good to be true for a particular price is just that.
Average quality usually means stock imagery and stock animation effects are used. Using stock is cheaper than having everything designed from scratch for your video. There’s nothing wrong with this per se. Stock images are licensed and can legally be used by anyone paying the licensing fee. With stock imagery you risk the look and feel of your video being the same as who knows how many others. It’s challenging to create a video that is exactly what you envision for your brand when using only stock footage. Often you have to adjust the look and feel so it works with stock images – that’s a sacrifice.
Your video is the face of your brand and how your customers get to know you. You want to have the full range of professional creative tools available to showcase your brand. Great quality animated videos have custom visuals, custom animated effects and transitions and an original script. You have the benefit of everything purpose-built for your video.
The Lone Wolf
Are you hiring one person or a team of professionals? It often costs less if one person is doing the project management, design, illustration, animation, script-writing, voice and sound editing. Are they equally skilled in all areas? Is one person enough? Sole creators may not have the support they need to resolve issues quickly. If they are managing multiple projects at once and issues flare up all at once are there enough hours in the day for them resolve them all quickly and professionally?
Pay More, and Expect a Team With Skills and Experience
Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Group
There are numerous benefits that come with hiring a video production house that uses a whole host of professionals:
The Necessary Skills
Do the animators and writers on your project have formal training in their respective fields? This is important when it comes to seeing your vision for your video realized. If a solid skill set isn’t there, a smaller range of creative options are available. The tangible skills of your creatives are especially evident when unexpected issues arise. Making videos is technical. Knowing and following best practices for building videos and scripts means there won’t be issues down the line.
An Experienced Team Can Solve Creative Challenges
Skill is key. And so is having years of experience on the job. Experience is often the difference between successfully solving a problem or having the problem bog down an entire production process. Experience is knowing, even embracing and enjoying creative challenges. Solve them and you have a top quality project.
Experienced teams aren’t afraid to try new things and push their already wide skill set further. They typically don’t turn down client requests, instead they embrace new creative ideas and come up with a plan to execute on them. The best professionals aren’t stuck in their creative “safe” zone. They will pull out all the stops for your video and love a challenge.
An Experienced Team Understands Your Business Objectives
Experienced teams who work in video marketing have produced videos for a variety of target audiences in the past. They know what CTAs are effective, what styles are engaging, and what elements will work to drive the highest conversion rates. If your brand needs “safe and traditional” they get it and deliver. If your brand has to “push the creative envelope” they’re there for you too.
Navigating Brand Guidelines with Experience
Experienced teams know how to follow brand guidelines when that’s a prerequisite, how to create complementary materials when there is wiggle room and when the sky’s the limit they can execute on that too. Creative egos are parked at the door – it’s all about how you achieve business success no matter what.
All Hail the Producers and Project Managers
Professional production companies will assign a video producer or project manager to your project. You can’t put a value on a great one – they’re priceless. They are your devoted point person – a skilled communicator – who knows all the day-to-day details and manages the creative team – so you don’t have to. Think of them as your eyes and ears inside the studio. They guarantee that all project goals are achieved. The good ones may even help you manage your internal team! You should be able to reach your PM using whatever method you like best and you shouldn’t have to wait.
Separate Account Professionals
You don’t want the creative team to be continually distracted by sales or account management responsibilities. Reputable companies have a separate sales team. The sales team is in the loop throughout the video process, but they are not involved with developing the creative materials. Let individuals do what they do best and be able to focus all their efforts on it.
Operations People are Not Optional
Is there a named point person for “operations”, who looks after billing, payment, and invoicing? Procurement and invoicing systems of many organizations aren’t easy to navigate – you need a pro who’s assigned to do that job.
Tools of The Trade
Professional teams use our industry’s best tools. Whether it’s tools like animation software, an intuitive project management suite, or niche platforms for sharing creative deliverables like script, storyboard, and animation. The best tools make it easy to collaborate over distance. Using industry-standard tools for providing feedback means everything is tracked and traceable through the entire creative process.
Collaboration is Key
Do your creative director, producer, designers, writers, and animators all work together in the same physical space? Nothing beats close physical proximity for facilitating collaboration at every stage of the production process. With it, it’s incredibly easy to brainstorm, problem solve and provide feedback as a group.
Quality Control is Important
Professional production companies put all materials through a formal internal review before materials even get to you. An entire production team, creative director and additional sets of objective eyes are assessing the quality of the work before you see it.
Bargain Basement Prices are an Immediate “Buyer Beware”
A completely custom, 90-second video, completed in two weeks for $2000 that you’re happy with is…. likely too good to be true. Companies quoting much less than general market rates are usually flash-in-the-pan operations and can represent a sizeable risk to do business with.
Yes, it’s a crappy reflection on our industry as a whole, and we are sorry to say, but a not insignificant number of our customers come to us after horrible experiences with other substantially cheaper video animation providers.
These dodgy providers can “go dark”, abandoning their clients altogether, or for months at a time. As the customer, you end up a few bucks poorer and without a video, or with a video that isn’t useable because the quality is so poor. Fly-by night operations can close as quickly as they open, and are difficult to seek recourse with.
The Myth: Everyone Else is Getting Super Cheap and Amazing Videos
In our experience, established animated video production houses are all quoting in the same range. At first glance, it doesn’t always look that way, as some price in a more à la carte way. They start with a base price for a very basic video. They add fees for things like revision cycles, additional characters, more complex scenes, complex animation sequences etc. Other production companies have more all-inclusive pricing. But, at the end of the day, the total cost of the videos is quite similar. And none are bargain basement cheap.
Making Quality, Professional Videos is a Planned Investment You Make in Your Brand
We have our core group of regular customers who come back to us time and time again because we deliver a professional product on time and on budget, every time and we look after them throughout the entire production process. We’re not cheap, but our prices are fair and we absolutely stand by our team, product, process, price, and results.