When considering promotional video for their business, many people ask, “Why can’t I just do it with my cell phone?” And, of course, they certainly can – and they should. But when doing “selfie” content for your FaceLinkInstaTweet feed, pay attention to the light, buy a clip-on microphone that plugs into your phone, and download a free editing app so you can trim the beginnings and endings (and maybe take things out of the middle).
“OK, great… then why do I need professional video?” And the answer is simple: It’s the same reason you eventually need a plumber, legal representation, or a cabinet maker. Sure, fix a leaky faucet, fight a traffic ticket, or build a simple shelf in a backroom closet – you’re up for that. Low risk if you get it wrong. But if you’re motive for creating a video has a bigger picture, like the story of your business culture or some other “evergreen” message that you will use for years and years, don’t hesitate; hire a professional. Kind of like fixing the pipe under your house, facing jail time, or needing a centerpiece for your living room.
You will be creating a long-term asset. You will be eager to show it and proud of how your business is presented. A quality soundtrack is one of the first differentiators between amateur and professional video. An editing flow that does not detract from the message; appropriate lighting that flatters people and places, and creates a three-dimensional feel; and mature, elegant composition and camera movement are all elements of professional video production.
The production company will most certainly ask you what you want. You may or may not really know. You may say, “Straightforward… just show what we do.” You may say, “Branding is huge… and show our personality.” You may want “edgy, cinematic storytelling with deep subplots,” or funny, dramatic, impactful, meaningful, or shocking. Clients have asked for all of the things. Often, if the client can imagine the video, and then articulate what they see and hear in their minds, that is a great starting place.
When you’re looking for a video production company, watch several of their samples – they may do everything the same (or close to it). If they have a variety of approaches and content, they may be better to work with. Also, look for videos from businesses similar to yours. How is the competition using video? If you see a video style you like (regardless of the business type) show that to the producer; it can be very helpful.
No matter who you hire or why you’re creating video to promote your business, remember three things: you will need a script (or at least an outline), the cost can be amortized over the time span the video will be used, and any budget should result in numerous video assets that can be used anywhere your customers are watching media.
San Diego native Bob Sly is a 33-year multimedia professional who has worked on award-winning documentaries and television series, as well as corporate, commercial and educational projects for clients such as ESPN, DIRECTV, Qualcomm, UCLA, Hewlett-Packard, Fox Sports, YWCA, Postal Annex, Parkway Plaza, and numerous San Diego businesses and organizations. He is currently in development on a documentary called, “Root Cause.” Married for 26 years, he and his wife Donna are proud of their two children (one in college, one recently earning a master’s degree). He holds a master’s degree in Postsecondary Education Leadership, has been teaching video production classes at two community colleges for over 10 years, is a long-time advocate of zero waste, and he enjoys crosswords, English football, cribbage, ancestry research, and geography trivia.