August 23, 2017

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI, according to Adobe. But in order to maximize that ROI, it’s important to keep your video project on budget. With a lot of moving parts, video can sometimes be an intimidating project to manage. However, there are four easy and actionable best practices to keep in mind in order to make sure your video production stays on track and gives you the best results.

Understand The Goal For Your Video

The first key idea to understand in managing your video production budget is that the scope of work is the most important factor in determining the price of your video. Therefore, before you even approach production companies or your internal video manager about your video, you must understand what you want to achieve.

To understand your goals, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my key takeaway message/messages?
  2. Where will my video be distributed?
  3. Who is my audience?
  4. What metrics will determine my success?
  5. Are there any ideal visuals or audio that must be included for branding purposes?

Once you are able to answer these questions, you and your video team will be able to work together to determine the ideal length of your video (longer videos are typically more expensive) and the exact strategies that will best suit your messages. With these clear expectations of your scope of work, you will save time and money.

Finding the Right Production Techniques to Match Your Budget

If you are working with an experienced video production team, you will have a lot of choices when it comes to the production techniques that will make your video stand out from your competition. Some of these techniques come at a cost, so with that in mind, you and your production partner will need to invest in the right styles to make the impression on your audience that you’re looking for.

For example, any sort of smooth motion in the video’s frame is made with a piece of equipment like a jib or dolly. In the video below for the Urban Land Institute, sweeping views contrast with fast-paced whip pans to highlight the immense impact Dr. Cheong Koon had on Singapore’s Urban Plan. These techniques work really well to emphasize the goal of ULI’s video, but it was a conscious choice to make an investment in moving frames. Read the full video production case study here.

Purely Motion Graphic videos tend to have less overhead than on-site productions, and can be a cost-effective way to create an entirely new environment to express your message. With a scripted voiceover and visuals that tightly match your message, they are a great option to create a cohesive video that stays completely on target. In motion graphics, you can also swap out a voiceover and make minor adjustments to the animation to create a new but similar video customized to each of your different markets – saving you time and money later. Blackboard did this with the video below; it was made in several languages for each country their campaign spanned across. Read the full video production case study here.


Hammer Out Production Logistics before your Production Day

Be sure to figure out logistical details prior to production day, not during. This will make a big difference in the long run, allowing for a smooth day of shooting to go as planned. Schedule your interviews all on the same day and condense your production schedule wherever possible. It’s best to interview individuals back-to-back instead of taking long breaks between each. This avoids wasting time to break down equipment just to set it back up later.

That being said, don’t overbook your team. You want to get the best bang for your buck by finding that perfect balance of planning for the time budgeted for. If you schedule too many responsibilities in one day, the team is likely to feel rushed to complete everything and hectic actions may produce less than stellar results. Flaws during production can lead to more work and greater expenses later. Learn from past experiences in regards to timing to figure out what works for you—what your team excels at, struggles with, as well as tasks that require more time to accomplish.

Choose and test all filming locations beforehand. By sending an informed location scout prior to the production day to check out your setting, you will limit distractions and issues such as audio problems by planning ahead. Ask important questions like “how will it sound?” and “will there be privacy?” to get the full picture.

Carefully consider and prepare people who will be in the video, especially those being interviewed. It is vital that people react well when the film is rolling to avoid extended production days or labor in post-production to account for hard-to-fix problems. Choose the right individuals who are comfortable with being filmed and give media training beforehand. Without preparation, elements like nervousness or a stutter can hinder progress while filming. This may extend interviews and push others back, creating more work and a longer production day.

Although you want everyone to be prepared, never give your talent the questions beforehand. By encouraging off-the-cuff answers, you create credible authenticity in your video. Interviewees are more likely to struggle to remember answers they have prepared as opposed to just talking openly on the spot. Allow for unique personalities and feelings to shine through and let your talent speak. You can always edit out pieces that don’t fit later in post-production.

Giving Feedback and Involving Decision Makers

Many people may have a stake in your video production. Although it can be great to collaborate with others,this can create a challenge as multiple revisions and phases may be added to the production process in order to accommodate everyone’s point of view.

To avoid this, dedicate one member of your team to confer with your video partner. That way, there is no confusion on who’s direction to follow. That person should be skilled at synthesizing ideas and distilling them down to the essentials, as well as making compromises between the visions of many coworkers.

On the other hand, no one’s ideas should be discounted. In fact, according to the University of Ottowa, 33% of projects fail because senior management was not involved. That’s why this point of contact must share the video with their committee at each phase of production, especially during the post-production rough cut phase. While a rough cut is not a finished video, it is the point where changes can be easily addressed. If your VP of Marketing doesn’t see your video until the fine cut and wants to make major adjustments, it may come at an extra price. This budget increase can be easily avoided by getting approval before the work progresses to a final draft.

In the end, your video production team should feel like your partner. If you and your video crew can keep communication about goals and feedback clear, identify the best techniques, minimize issues on production day, and seek feedback from key decision makers, you won’t have any trouble sticking to your budget. The result? Greater ROI. And what does that mean? A bigger budget for next time!


A leading voice in digital video content, Tod Plotkin is Principal and Founder of Green Buzz Agency, where he oversees video content creation for iconic advertising campaigns, including Ad Council’s #1 Campaign: Love Has No Labels. Additionally, His agency created the most viewed/shared branded video on Facebook in November 2016 for Cricket Wireless + Upworthy. Tod is (2x) Emmy winner for best short format program and a (2x) Webby Honoree.

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