Choosing the right video agency boils down to three questions:
- Does the agency have a formalized process for approvals and changes?
- Do we feel confident they’ll meet the expectations, deadlines and budget we agree to?
- Do we like them?
Three “easy” yes-or-no questions, right? As long as you ask the right exploratory questions, that’s true.
Here’s how we would approach the search for the right agency.
Define Your Wants
The first thing to do is define what you’re looking for:
- What’s the purpose or objective of the video?
- Who’s the target audience?
- Where (and how) will the video be used?
- What’s your budget?
- How will you measure the success of the video?
You’ll share this information with the agencies you consider, but long before you start reaching out, it’s best to identify some sample videos you like.
Find Examples of Videos You Like
If you already have something specific in mind – either share the specific video or spot that was your inspiration, or find examples of videos that illustrate the characteristics you’re looking for. This could be anything from the style of the video (humor, drama, documentary, etc.) to specifics like how a product is presented, the lighting used for interviews, etc.
If you aren’t sure what you like, take a look at the portfolios of several video agencies that rank well in online lists or that colleagues and other companies have used and recommend. Other places to view high quality video work include : Vimeo Staff Picks, Telly Awards, NY Film & Television Awards, W3, and the MarCom awards. For big budget examples, check out the Clio Awards, or the One Show.
Find the Agencies to Review
As mentioned above, top video agencies can be found in a number of ways – through recommendations from industry peers, on-line searches for Best Video Agency, or even looking into some of the companies that produced the sample videos you liked.
A list of 10 agencies is great — and maybe about five too many. A little bit of “Google-Fu” will lead you to reviews for each of those companies. And yes,, all the reviews will be great — what else can you expect? But there’s information in those reviews to help you whittle down that list. Look for the characteristics that are important to you — meeting deadlines, good communication, staying within the budget, bringing creative ideas to the table, being easy to work with, etc.
By now, that list should be no more than five agencies.
Call the Brands who worked with the Agencies
In those reviews you found, get the names of the brand representatives and call them. Ask three simple questions:
- What was it like to work with the agency?
- How did they synthesize your vision into a finished product?
- Would you work with them again?
This due diligence will yield a short list of three agencies.
Share what’s in your head
Before you put these agencies through their paces to win your business, you and your team need to go through a process yourself. It’s time to create a solid creative brief that you can share with all three agencies. Don’t waste your time on a standard RFP; you’re looking for a creative partner, not a copier.
Be sure your creative brief includes:
- Brand statement: describe the company, its mission and its culture
- Project overview: describe the video you want to make. Provide more than a sentence but less than a page. Links to example videos are great, too.
- Purpose: describe the goals for this video. What actions do you want the viewers to take?
- The One Thing: what’s the single most important point to be made in the video?
- Target audience: who – in the most detailed terms possible – are your viewers? Are they potential buyers, your own employees, shareholders, community leaders? What’s their average age, gender, what do they currently think and feel about your company or product?
- Uses: where will the video be viewed? On a website, at a trade show, on social media, streaming or on TV? List every platform or outlet you intend to use.
- Budget: Ok – we know this is a sore subject. You’re thinking that if you mention a specific number, you’ll miss the opportunity to find someone who might offer a lower price. We get it. But consider this. If you can’t give your agencies some kind of range, they have to GUESS whether you’re wanting a bargain basement approach, an all-the-bells-and-whistles approach – or something in between.
You have no way to do an apples to apples comparison. No way to know if that agency that came in way too high could have done an amazing job on a much lower budget. Etc.
Not sharing a budget means you don’t get to see what the agency can do at your specific
What’s definitely not good is leading an agency to believe you can afford a video like Brand A produced, when your budget is only a fraction of what Brand A paid.
In the end, to share or not to share is up to you. But there are some other ways to size up a company’s approach to pricing.
Interview the Agencies
You’ve defined what you like, the vibe/style video you like and you’ve written a solid creative brief to share.
As you talk to the agencies, be sure to ask about the following:
- How does their typical process work? What are the steps and who will communicate with you?
Tip: the more defined this is, the easier it will be to work with the agency. They already have workflows in place.
- How many approval points will there be during the process?
Tip: the more approval points, the fewer surprises!
- What if changes are requested after the contract is signed. What happens then?
Tip: “change orders and budget impact” is what you’re looking for.
- Are they a full-service agency, including concept development, scripting, auditions, props, producing and direction of the shoot, soundtrack and post production)?
Tip: look for the services you’ll need. Not all agencies are adept at every aspect of concept development through final editing.
- Who will own the video assets? What rights does the agency expect to retain (use in their own marketing, for example)?
- Portfolio review: Ask for examples of videos they’ve produced at three budget levels: $25,000, $40,000 and $60,000, for example. Be sure at least one of those numbers is on or near your expected budget.
Tip: this approach gives you an apples-to-apples way of comparing agencies. It also lets you see the level of qualitythe agency will produce within the budget you’re planning for. Even better, it helps you confirm that your budget is realistic for the style of video you’re looking for while it lets the agency give you real examples at real price points.
When you have answers to all these questions, you’ll know which video agency will be a good fit with your culture and your team.
Blue Marble is a Video Agency headquartered in Atlanta, with a 30-year track record of creating strategic, brand-moving videos that hit it out of the park for clients like SAP, the State of Georgia, Fiserv, Manhattan Associates, Sage, Pitney-Bowes, LEVELOR, Verizon, Georgia-Pacific and many more. From brand manifestos to new product rollouts to customer support videos and more, we use the unique power of the medium to create an emotional connection with your viewer. Clients come to us for our award-winning creative — and then come back for our easy-to-work-with attitude and bullet-proof video production process.