What is the biggest challenge of hiring a video production agency?
There are a lot of video production companies out there to choose from.
How do you pick the best one for you?
Going through all the choices can be overwhelming.
The paradox of choice piled onto your daily decision fatigue can make the process more challenging than it seemed - especially if it's your first time.
To help you decide, we've put together a little guide. Use this to help you find and choose the video production company that will be the best fit for your organization.
Whenever making a big decision, it’s often an advantage to have a decision-making model before even starting to consider the options. Spending time right now identifying what successful outcomes you want can save you a lot of time and headache in the future.
Here's the framework we would use to pick a video production agency.
Asking for in Personal referrals
Personal referrals are hands-down the best way to find agencies. You just can't beat someone you trust recommending a video production company they trust.
There's just one catch - you need to know someone that you trust, who can recommend a studio that they trust. Not always possible.
Asking around at networking events or in online communities you're a part of can give you ideas, but it's risky relying on these recommendations. The video studios might end up being great, but you also might end up working with someone's little nephew.
If you've already asked most of the people you trust and see regularly and still haven't found any options, making a post on Linkedin can be a good idea. You'll be getting input from people that you've met personally, that are interested in maintaining a good professional reputation.
If you get a few options from this method, you can also rate the recommendations by how much you trust the recommender.
Checking out the video or portfolio work quality
Next, you want to consider your shortlisted agencies' portfolios. What if I didn't find any personal recommendations? Don't worry that's next, remember we're just developing a decision-making framework for now.
Look through some videos the company has produced (They don't have a portfolio? Probably not a good sign). You're not only looking for the quality of the video and animations. This can vary depending on the price, and you can't always tell which price range each video was in.
Instead ask yourself:
- Do the videos capture your attention and keep it?
- Did the video capture a particular tone, a feeling, an emotion?
- Was the product or service properly explained?
- If you're familiar with the brand already, did the video capture the brand's image/personality/story?
- If the agency does share pricing for its videos, compare how their product at that level compares to other studios'.
- Are there any particular examples you like or don't like?
Make sure to ask different members of your team too. Different perspectives and skill-sets will often see different aspects of the videos.
Do they have Industry-specific experience
-> there can be lots of nuance to your industry. They might have a good idea of what's important to capture in marketplace solutions, but not have a good understanding of the nuance of restaurants
-> can save you time through less revisions
-> if they specialize only in a specific niche, it might disqualify them a priori
-> understanding of your audience/demographics/clients
Also: marketing vids vs explainer vs training, etc
Are they budget-focused or quality-focused or deadline-focused? Are they a boutique agency that will go above and beyond, or is it a factory studio that gets your video out on time but treats you just like a number. This can also play into how involved you want to be with the project.
Do you need a video that's going to wow viewers, that's going to distill your complex solution so the viewer understands the first time, or one that's going to convert prospects on the spot? Different agencies have different strengths in these areas, so you want to pick one that has appropriate experience.
There can be huge variation in pricing between video production companies.
At the low end are completely outsourced companies that are essentially putting together animation and scripting templates for you, and on the other end there are high-end animation studios that have entire in-house teams dedicated to making every video a work of art.
Be aware, the difference in pricing can be huge, we're talking 10-50x differences in price.
Lastly, it's a good idea to check online reviews for agencies.
This can give you a good idea of what other people have to say about the production studio, and what they say about it.
Don't just look at the star rating though (they're probably all going to be highly-rated). Look at what their customers are actually saying about them. This can give you a good idea on what to expect from working with them, if they prioritize what's important to you, as well as reveal any weaknesses they might have. If you're liking a particular agency but noticed some negative feedback in the review, don't take it as a veto.
They might have improved that part of the process - a good idea is to prepare some questions for them about it during the sales call.
There are few sites you can find reviews:
- Google My Business
- The manifest
- designrush (these are the guys that will link to us
Are they growing? Hiring animators, illustrators, any creatives to their team?
This is easy to spot but great teams are constantly hiring.
Take a look around their social media, blogs and see if you can spot any video content creators for hire posts, or something of that nature.
This can give you insight into what their strengths, weaknesses and future plans for expansion are. Also great ideas for topics to bring up on your discovery call.
**NOTE: While not conclusive, some users report that negative reviews are scrubbed from certain marketplace platforms. It’s still another point of data to consider.
Just take it with a grain of salt.
Arranging all the the video agencies into an excel table
Now you've got a good overview of the different production companies you might want to work with. You can consider putting all your ratings together in a grid to see if any of them really stand out.
Once you've got a shortlist of your top companies, the best thing to do is actually get on the phone with them.
- Do they understand your product?
- Are they familiar dealing with your particular concerns?
- Do they currently have the capacity for a project of your size?
Unless you're part of a government organization or a company with a more formal decision-making process.
You might need to develop a video production RFP that specifies more clearly what your video's requirements are and your decision-making criteria. This can help the video production agency be more prepared beforehand, and also even give them a better idea of whether they're a good fit for your project.
In both cases, you're also looking for how timely they are, how professional, what their service is like.
If they take days to answer you, if they have a disorganized sales and onboarding process, this can be a red flag not to work with the agency - regardless of how promising their portfolio looks.
About Rocketwheel, we’re a San Francisco based video & animation agency, but post COVID we’re working mostly remotely all over the world. We think video.