Five common problems businesses face when working with a video production agency
Hiring a video production agency to make your business’s content doesn’t guarantee your projects will launch without a hitch. There are specific issues that could arise in the process, so here’s what you should consider beforehand.
1. Long creation process
This is something you may run into with a production company of any size.
There’s an estimated time frame from when a client makes initial contact with a video production agency to when the final product is delivered (and everyone is popping bottles and high-fiving).
However, that estimated time frame is likely longer than you think, for many reasons.
For one, the planning and pre-production process usually begins with one person acting as the contact for the production agency.
If pre-production is done sufficiently enough to ensure a deliverable schedule that’s properly aligned with your expectations, then there are usually anywhere from three to six meetings that need to take place.
These meetings are usually scheduled weeks apart and require much more prep work on your part, including example videos, creative asset gathering/sharing, internal coordinating, and decision-making about who will be a part of the video.
Then, even after pre-production and the production itself takes place, you’re on to the last stage of the creation process, which is (almost) always the bottleneck of every production agency: post-production and editing.
Many editors are consistently backlogged with other projects since it takes the longest time relative to every other stage.
Editing also often requires a minimum of two to three revisions. The back and forth communication between you and the agency via email usually is several weeks more of time and effort.
God forbid that you have more than a few people in your organization that need to approve the video. Then you’re tracking down your own people, trying to get feedback on each draft.
This long timeline can delay initiatives or other campaigns that rely on the content.
It also means that your team cannot create agile content that responds quickly to news or updates. The videos have to be fairly evergreen and not time-dependent.
The last thing you want is to start the pre-production of a video that’s obsolete by the time you actually get it.
With all of this in mind, quality agencies, small or large, must often be contacted six to eight months at a minimum prior to when the final video is needed.
It also requires you and your organization to do much of the heavy lifting as far as planning and articulate communication goes.
This brings us to a related problem…
2. Limited bandwidth and scope
No one wants to feel like they’re rushing their project just to hit a deadline. You want a PERFECT deliverable, not a “this is all we had time for” video.
The challenge with video production agencies is that you only have a certain amount of pre-production time allotted to define your goals.
Agencies of all sizes likely have multiple client projects they’re juggling at once. So, they will likely have to limit the amount of time spent in pre-production understanding your objectives and vision. This could lead to deliverables that only partially fulfill expectations.
Generally speaking, this means that you should be allocating ample time with your internal team to define exactly what you want.
If you want a video to look, feel, and accomplish what you’re hoping it will, it’s more dependent on your team being able to articulate those variables than it is for the production team to extract them from you.
Don’t get me wrong, the success of video planning and pre-production is not solely on your shoulders as the client.
However, I believe it’s important for clients of video agencies to recognize that this burden is again more on the client than the agency, especially when the client recognizes that the agency’s scope is small and within multiple projects at once.
You don’t want to be spending money on a video that is doomed to be ineffective from the start.
3. Video equipment limitations
This may sound obvious to some, but the equipment used to produce videos makes a BIG difference in the quality and consistency of output, and when working with a small agency, in particular, this can become a concern.
Many small agencies don’t always own the equipment used to produce the videos they make.
They will commonly rent gear on a “per day” or “per week” basis, which means you can’t really know for sure what tools will be available to use on your projects.
This is why it’s important to ask for examples of previous work created with the same audio/video/lighting equipment that will be used for your project.
Moreover, not only do you want to be confident that the right quality of production equipment is used for your production, but you also want to make sure that the team has sufficient experience with the gear being rented or used.
When a team rents new or unfamiliar equipment, they may not know how to use it most effectively or may need some time to get acclimated to it. All of these changes can add variables to the quality of production you may experience.
This brings me to the fourth problem with small production teams…
4. Changing talent pool
How do you know that your team is experienced not only with the gear, but also with each other?
It’s very common for agencies, especially smaller ones, to fill the additional hands required on a shoot with freelance video professionals (which can be a detriment to your video success...more on this later). Small agencies commonly do this particularly when the agency is not local to your business.
If your company is asking the agency to travel for production, it’s more cost-effective for the agency to hire local freelancers rather than fly a second cameraperson out with them.
Freelancers can keep costs low for the agency — and also for you — but problems arise when the contracted team members producing your content have different experience levels.
Freelancers are typically chosen based on convenience, availability, and cost long before the level of team compatibility is considered.
This sets up a quality variability that you don’t want to show through on your end deliverable. Particularly if you’ve made multiple projects with the same agency. You will want the same hands working on your content to maintain consistency across creativity and expertise.
The same can be said if the crew working on your project hasn’t collaborated before.
There’s a real collaborative rhythm required on a shoot to make near-perfect content, and that rhythm requires a serious level of understanding and gelling between all involved.
It’s important to ask if the agency has worked with the freelancer(s) in the past, and how often. Asking for example footage that was created by the same team is also a smart idea.
If not, you’re going to feel like the agency is acting as the “middleman” between you and the local freelancers for hire.
5. High cost per video
When you combine both the time and money investment required to create each video with an agency, you’re looking at a big-ticket cost item no matter how you cut the cake. You need to pay for another company to hire a crew and purchase or rent equipment.
The cost of using an agency three to four times each year is equivalent to hiring an effective videographer in-house (starting at roughly $45,000 salary plus benefits), but minus the flexibility.
Every organization wants to save money, and you might think that outsourcing your video production is a way to do so. But as you can see, if your business is planning to create more than three to four videos for its content marketing efforts (and you should be), the costs can add up quickly.
How to avoid these common problems when outsourcing your video content
Now, the “problems” I mentioned don’t automatically spell disaster for your deliverables. In fact, many of them might not even come up!
However, it’s important to recognize they could be the thorn in your side, and then do as much as you can upfront to avoid them.
Once you decide that it does make sense to outsource a video to a small production agency, asking these questions can help avoid potential issues:
How will communication work?
Who will our team be communicating with during planning and pre-production?
How much time will we have to articulate our objectives and vision together? And how will we easily be able to communicate with the team when we need to?
Are there extra costs we should be aware of?
What are the ways that this project could have extra costs throughout the entire creation process?
What extra planning and preparation can we do to minimize costs along the way?
Now that you know the scope of our project, what is the best and worst-case scenario of a time frame to receive our final deliverables?
What equipment are you planning to use for our products, and why does it make sense?
How often have you used this equipment in the past, and do you have any examples of client work created with the same gear list?
Are you going to be requiring freelancers and, if so, how much production time has this team spent together in the past?
These questions will help avoid misaligned time frame expectations. They will also shake out any potential grey area with the project’s final cost and give you as much control as possible over the people and equipment being used for your production.
Above all else, they will show the agency that you mean business. You’re educated in the video production world, and there’s no wiggle room for cutting corners.
Should you outsource video production?
Even though you can avoid these common problems with hiring a video production agency, is it beneficial to your business to hire one?
After years of working with hundreds of clients — and at one time even doing the video production agency work ourselves — we can tell you that time and time again, our clients earn the biggest ROI when they embrace a culture of producing video in-house.
The reason? No one knows your company, your vision, and your goals better than your own team.
To get the best possible results with your video marketing strategy, you must hire a full-time videographer to own your business’s video production process. Otherwise, you’ll be spending far too much for a deliverable that barely makes a difference to your bottom line.
You might be thinking, “Why would my business need a full-time videographer? There’s no way we need someone working on this 40 hours per week.”
But the truth is, our clients would tell you that if you could experience the business growth that hiring a full-time videographer has on your sales and marketing numbers, you wouldn’t hesitate.
You might even hire another.
Work with IMPACT to grow your business with video
We’ve helped hundreds of B2B and B2C businesses like yours create winning video strategies that build trust with prospects and enable sales teams to sell better than ever.
The best part is this growth can happen for you in months — not years.
Examples of businesses using this approach to bringing video in-house, (as outlined in Marcus Sheridan — co-owner and principal here at IMPACT — and Tyler Lessard’s The Visual Sale), include:
Mazzella Companies: After creating The Lifting and Rigging Channel with this process, they now have over 4,000 YouTube subscribers and have generated over $20 million in revenue.
Lucidchart: Since it kicked off its Lucidchart Explains the Internet channel, this B2B company that provides diagramming, data visualization, and team collaboration software has reached over 20 million viewers and gained over 400,000 YouTube subscribers.
Loyola University: By hiring an in-house videographer, the university created an acceptance video that received more than 15,000 views from almost 12,000 people, along with over 4,000 online reviews. Because of their video program, Loyola had record-breaking attendance for first-year students.
Once you have the right person in place, creating lots of videos for your small business will be a piece of cake. You will be amazed at the dramatic increase in traffic, leads, and sales — and wonder why on earth you didn’t hire an in-house video production team sooner.
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