Six More Questions You Should Ask a Video Production Company BEFORE Hiring Them

Video production can feel like a huge undertaking. It shouldn’t be and it won’t be if you hire the right video production company. Before you hire a company, you should know the answers to some basic questions. Each question will garner an answer that will help you determine if they are a good fit or if you need to keep searching. Here are the six questions to ask before deciding on whom to hire:

1. Can you show me some of your work? When shooting a corporate video, for a website or for TV, seeing samples is the first thing you should ask to see. During this process, the video production company should show samples from their portfolio. While you view their work, you should be thinking about their quality of work, their style, and their level of skill.

2. Do you shoot and edit something nice or do you shoot to a specific script? While most video professionals will plan the shoot out ahead of time, many do not. This question is to determine whether they are good producers, shooters, or editors. What you want is all three…whether in one person or in a couple of people. Some video pros are very good at shooting the video, but struggle to get the edit completed on time and to your liking. Other video pros are very good at editing, but miss big opportunities during the shoot to tell your story. The key is the plan before the shoot. This is what will usually make or break a project…and when we usually get calls to fix.

3. What can derail this project? This is a great question to find out what problems may arise during the course of your project. The answer you get might be a bit vague, but may lead to follow up questions. One of the biggest items that derail projects for us is change in scope…or scope creep. Any change in script after a shoot can severely change the scope. Remember, the script is the plan. Change the plan and you change a lot! There are several things that can derail a project: script changes, change of actors (or person on camera), change of shoot locations, adding of shoot locations, change of messaging…and the list goes on.

4. When has a production gone over budget? This question is meant to trick the video production company. The answer is: it shouldn’t go over budget. Keep in mind, if you have a very small budget, the video pro may not be able to do everything you want; however, the video pro should offer some insightful suggestions to get it closer to your budget. Budget should be a factor, but not the deciding factor. If the shoot is not planned and executed poorly, the final video will most likely not meet your expectations…wasting your money. A larger budget doesn’t always mean better video…but smaller budgets might. Here are some factors that can increase a budget: length of the shoot, including professional talent, professional narration, special music (non royalty free).

5. Can you do what you say you can do? Because creative work is subjective, their answer is something you need to consider. What you think is creative may be mundane to another. Be very clear about your expectations. If you have a vision for your video, your video producer should be able to clearly see your vision and describe some details about how they’ll pull it off. Sometimes it comes down to having the right equipment for what you want in your video. Sometimes it is how the story is told. If you feel the video producer understands what you’re after, you should be fine…now it comes down to whether the quality matches your expectations. This is where you should be evaluating their work. Quality means having the proper sound equipment, the proper lighting, the proper framing, and an attention to detail (such as the background) can all make an impact on the final product. Look at the samples to determine if they have what it takes.

6. Have you ever missed a deadline? What happened and why? If your project is on a time constraint, ask this question. If it isn’t and time isn’t an issue, you may consider skipping this question. We get calls (a lot) where we’ve heard, “They (their video production company) has been working on this project and edit for 6 months, and I’m fed up waiting for them to finish. Can you help us?” Six months may the right amount of time for some projects, but for some of the calls we get, six months is completely inappropriate. Several problems can come up during a video project. Believe it or not, one of which may be the producer, the client, the shoot, too much work to complete in a short amount of time. A good producer can to tell you how long the project should last and when you can expect completion. Keep in mind, even the best producer can miss a deadline in his or her life, but this should be very rare. If they say they have missed a deadline, find out how often it happens. This should be a good start to picking a good video production company. Listening to the answers to these questions should lead to closer to a decision about the level of work they can do and identify some problems that may come up. If you need help or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us. We can answer any questions you have, even if we are not your video production company. We are here to help.

Want a few more questions? Check out Top 5 Questions to Ask a Video Production Company Before Hiring Them.

Top 5 Questions To Ask a Video Production Company Before You Hire

When it comes to deciding which video production company is the best choice for your idea or project, there are several key questions to keep in mind. There are most likely a thousand questions you might have about video and the company you’re about to hire. We find that these are some of the good questions we’ve received over the past several years…and thought you’d like to know. Even if you don’t hire us, these would be good questions to have in your back pocket. Here they are (hint, number 5 is the most important):

  1. How long has the company been in the industry?  This question has a few meanings. Are you asking about longevity of the company or the people creating the video? How much experience? A good production company should be able to distinguish the two by also asking you a few questions. Sometimes hiring a company with 20 years of experience is important and sometimes this give you outdated ideas and concepts. It’s important you know what you’re looking for in this question. If you were to ask us about experience, you’d know that Jenn has many years of experience working in the video field. She’s worked at television stations and video production companies and started Plum in 2009 when she realized it was the time to do so.
  2. Are they creative?  Tough question because that’s a subjective question. What is creative to you may not be creative at all to us or to someone else. Here’s how you get past that. Find out if they are they able to provide examples of videos that took a dry subject and made it interesting? This is the sign of a strong creative. Ask them to tell you the story about how they created the idea and improved the story.
  3. What types of videos does the company produce?  Start with what you’re looking for. What type of video do you want? Interviews? Testimonials? Tours? Property? The list goes on. Once you know, ask them to show you some examples.  When you ask, keep in mind if you’re looking for a custom made video or a similar video to one they’ve already created. There are subtle differences and they should be able to distinguish between the two.
  4. What are some of the companies they have previously worked with?  Again, this begs a few questions. Are you looking to learn about what sectors they can operate in or are you looking for a fresh outside approach to marketing in your sector? If you’re looking for a company that specializes in your sector and wish to have a video that looks like everyone else in your sector, make sure you communicate that up front. If you’re looking for a fresh look that only someone on the outside would be able to create, communicate that up front…and for the same reason. You don’t have time to waste if the video production company doesn’t fit the requirements.
  5. What are some of the companies they have worked with previously? Same question, different reason for the question. You might be looking at this question and thinking, “No, I want to know what companies they’ve worked with…can they work with us?”  Also a good question. If you’re a larger company, concerns come up  like, can they be flexible, can they meet our deadlines, can they convert our message to an effective video, do they have the capability to meet our branding guidelines…and a bunch of other concerns. Have those questions ready when you start your interview.
  6. Bonus Question? How quickly can my video be completed?  Often there are specific deadlines that need to be met. Communicating that early is important because if they can’t meet your timeline, you’re wasting your time. Can a video be completed in a week or two months? That depends. It depends on the complexity of the project and a good video production company will be able to communicate with you a realistic and an aggressive timeline that you can work with. They should be able to tell you pretty quickly a general timeline and what is required to hit it. We’ve scripted, shot, and edited videos in a variety of timelines, including 6 days to 5 months, but each had requirements of the client and Plum to hit those deadlines. We find this to be the most important question one can ask when interviewing a video production company.

Need help picking a video production company? Call us. We can help. You might think we’ll just tell you to use us, but we won’t. If we’re not a good fit, that’s good to know…you’ll have just ruled out another company…we can certainly point you in the right direction.

Video Marketing Myths

With over 300 hours of video sent to YouTube every minute (on average) and millions watching these videos everyday, how do you know what to do to be effective when it comes to video marketing? It seems a very small amount of businesses actually know how to take advantage of these actions. People are starting to catch on and businesses increasingly are using video to connect with customers and potential customers. They are finding that video is a highly effective tool to illustrate their personality and authority in their industry.  So, what myths do these businesses sometimes believe?

Which of the following about video marketing are myths and which are facts?

  • View Count – “We are successful if our video goes viral,“ or “Our video is a success if we have over 1 million views.” False. While this may be true in some respects, views do not equate to action taken by your customers or purchases by customers. If views were your goal, we would have to ask why. Why are views important? If you have a new product or app that no one knows about and views will help educate people who didn’t know your app existed, then maybe viewers is good…but it shouldn’t be the only measure.
  • The appearance (quality) of the video is more important than the message.  Myth. While we believe quality is very important in video, it is not what generates sales. The message is just as important. We’ve seen some videos that are a little poor on quality convert more sales than a flashy video. That said, if your goal is to show people that your business is trustworthy and professional, appearance is very important; however, the message must compete with competitors (both direct and indirect).
  • My video should sell to the viewer – Myth. There are all kinds of reasons to create and post a video…and only one of which is to sell. Many times clients contact us to create videos for other reasons, such as, recruiting video, office tours, professional expert video, and the list goes on. The client often wishes to tell their story, not sell it, by taking an approach of, “We’re experts in this. Watch us, listen to us, and let us help you when it’s time.” This is a much more useful tool to use than, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”
  • We must have actors in our video – Maybe true. Maybe not. While you can add actors and actresses, typically this just adds costs that may not be needed. It really depends on the video. For instance, if an employee or the president of the company can speak on camera about the topic rather than a paid professional, then why spend the money? On the other hand, if the topic needs a bit of an expert (like a doctor when you’re not), then an expert actor (actress) might be required. We can help with that.

We hope this helps you decipher and navigate through the video production process a little easier. We are always willing to help and answer questions. It’s OK to call us, even if you’re not ready to decide. In fact, we welcome it. We’d rather you go in with both eyes open than guess.

4 Tips to Maximize Your Fundraising Efforts

Video is fast becoming the most useful tool in getting your message out. We feel that people have moved from, “Let’s try video,” to “We have to have video.” It has become a mainstream medium and nonprofits and for-profit organizations alike. How do you maximize your efforts (hint: this works for both nonprofits and non-profits)? Waaaaay back in 2014, a study about trends in fundraising technology described the profile of a successful fundraiser. Here they are:

  • 3+ Software Management Tools
  • 5+ Communication Channels
  • 3+ Web-Based Tactics
  • 3+ Payment Acceptance Methods
  • Online Donation Acceptance
  • Contributions Management Software Usage
  • Video Content Sharing, and
  • Blogging.

Most nonprofits do some of these, but most do not do all. One that we feel nonprofits are missing is the use of video.

  1. Tell The Story. Tell it Vividly. Fundraising is tough. You have to find the likely contributors, deepen the relationships with current supporters, stand out from other nonprofits…and among all of that, find new, creative ways for fundraising. The story you must tell, however, is your unique story. The story of your success and the awesome work that your organization does. Video will ultimately do this and provide the viewers with content they can relate to, share, and improve the awareness about your organization’s efforts.
  2. Please Share! It’s interesting, people like to share stuff. We don’t know if it’s because we were taught to share when we were kids or if we just think something is so cool and awesome that we want to be the first of our friends to show it off… What we do know is that people share. This is where a strong video makes all the difference. It must show the viewer your story and end with some form of call to action…It can be a “Call Us” or a “Donate Now.”
  3. Short is Sweet. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine, etc., people only have a short amount of time to determine if they want to continue watching. It’s also important to remember that most viewers now watch video (from the services above) on their smart phone or tablets. They want quick videos to get the message and move on.
  4. Front-load the Message. Adweek’s article about Video Trends suggests front loading the message. No one wants to watch a 30-second video commercial on their iPhone (but most will on their computer when researching you)…so if you’re creating a short message for social media purposes, front load the message. Let them move on if they’re not interested. They aren’t your type of customer.

We hope these suggestions help you maximize your fundraising efforts and bring in even more dollars. We suggest that if you are a nonprofit, follow the links above to do the research on what you might be able to improve. We’re always looking for ways to improve, so we hope you don’t mind us sharing!  

Source: HandCrank Films, 2015, http://handcrankfilms.com/5-tips-to-improve-fundraising/

5 Reasons To Include Video in Your Marketing Plan & Strategy

Why Video? Why Is Video Important?

Most businesses have a business plan and a portion of it usually includes some form of a marketing strategy. If you’re like most, you’ve seen a lot of people starting to incorporate video into their marketing strategy, but you might wonder why. If you’re wondering this, you’ve come to the right place.

  1. Social Media Loves Video. Social media is most likely a portion of your marketing plan, but adding video can make it even better. By adding video, you create engaging content. Your fans will stay on your page longer because they’re watching your video (this is the same reason you should have video on your website, by the way). But, just because you have a video doesn’t mean you should only post it on social media. Consider the type of social media you’re posting it to, for example: a Twitter video post should be short; a Facebook video post must not contain certain elements and might be 15 to 30 seconds; and, a LinkedIn video might include a different message than either of the other two.
  2. Make Your ‘Call to Action’ Come Alive. Any marketing effort requires a call to action…unless you’re Apple (and even they are subtly calling you to action). Because video is rather passive (push play and watch), it’s important to include a call to action…if not a couple of them. Need an idea of what a good call to action looks like? Check out some of our Non-Profit Videos. It’s important to have a call to action that is subtle enough to not annoy, yet actionable to not be missed.
  3. Your Fans & Your Viewers Want It. Video is just more effective. There are several studies that have stated that product videos have a significant increase in sales when accompanied with a sales informational video (Kissmetrics, Wingify, and Video Brewery). More importantly, think about yourself. When faced with a page full of words versus a video of the same message, which would you prefer? Makes you wonder why we wrote this and didn’t record a video about this right? We have our reasons.
  4. Analysis. Video inherently contains analytics if placed correctly. Using YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, or even Facebook, you can see how many people watched your video, where they came from to arrive at your video, and even, in some cases, how long they watched. Depending on where you place your video, tools to analyze your video engagement might even include learning when most people stopped watching. This can be very helpful. What if they fell off because they went to the “Donate” or “Buy” page? You’d want to know what was happening in the video at that very second, right?
  5. Respect. We believe that video has become the new business card. We may be pushing the thought envelope here, but think about the transition from, if you’re in business, you must have a business card…to, you must have a website…to, you must have a website that is mobile friendly…to, you must have a video on that website. Your prospective clients want to know who you are and what you stand for before they call you. In fact, most people who take action and call us have already reviewed our videos on our website and even checked out a blog post or two. This is just part of the research.

These are 5 reasons why we think including video in your marketing plan/strategy is important. If you have other reasons, we’d love to hear them… Oh yeah, and we didn’t event include SEO as a reason to include video. Google owns YouTube and loves it when you post a video to their video site…you get extra bonus points in SEO when you have a well-tagged, well-placed video on YouTube.

Best Platform to Host Video

When we create videos for our clients, they often ask, “Where should I put this video?” Unless they’re creating their video for a commercial to run on cable or broadcast television, this is a very good question. Yes, the obvious answer is to place it on their website, and this is often where it starts, but should it be hosted somewhere else? There are a few schools of thought on this. The SEO companies of the world say to host it on YouTube because it’s owned by Google. Some like to host it on Vimeo because it plays much cleaner and give you options not easily set up on YouTube. Both might be right, but now there are many other players entering the arena.

YouTube just celebrated it’s 10 Year Anniversary and much has changed since it’s inception. YouTube was first started in 2005 and later purchased by Google in 2006 for $1.65 Billion in stock1. Most of the early users were the general public…but not so much by businesses. Since then, many business host their videos on YouTube. In fact, checking Internet Live Stats, as of 11:30 AM on September 23, 2015, there have been over 2,481,613,747,000 YouTube Videos Viewed today! Think of that…from Midnight to 11:30 AM. Mind boggling!

So…Where SHOULD I Post My Video?

YouTube

While YouTube is one of the most often used locations to post your video, it’s not the only one. A couple of pros and cons to YouTube. First, YouTube is easy to embed into your website (or anywhere else), they have highly reliable servers, you can analyze your data from multiple angles, excellent search capacities and search results are viewed as you search (even in a Google search). One of the main cons to YouTube is that content can often be hard to find. Unless someone stumbles upon your video or it’s embedded into your website, most people may not find it easily. YouTube doesn’t lend well if you’re looking for your audience to find you accidentally.

Vimeo

There are many similarities between YouTube and Vimeo; however, one of the most noticeable differences is design. Vimeo is used by many who are very conscientious about design elements and visual components important to their brand. You might have noticed a lot of professional filmmakers listed on Vimeo for this reason. Also, one of the drawbacks to Vimeo is the number of people registered as users. It is a significantly smaller community that YouTube.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the newest members of the video hosting companies. We all know Facebook in a social way, but now they are offering the ability to host a video within your feed…while giving it priority over posts without video. The current algorithm improves your post to be seen if it has video (especially when uploaded to Facebook directly, not hosted elsewhere). With one of the largest audiences on the planet, Facebook will soon be one of the larger video players in the near future. If you already have a Facebook fan base, using video will improve your engagement with your fans. They key is to have a large enough fan base. Without the base, your video will only be seen by a few. One other thing to keep in mind is that people usually log into Facebook to get updates about their families and friends, not learn about your business…so be tasteful in your post quantity!

Wistia

Wistia is a relatively new video hosting website that is a paid site. This might be for you if you wish to embed video and get extreme analytics on the backside such as how long someone watched the video, at what second did they leave (or stop watching), where viewers skipped to, where viewers rewatched, etc. They have a feature called Heat Map that shows you a timeline with color coded action points. You can also integrate email programs with Wistia. This is a little more complex, but worth it if you’re into data.

We know there are many more places to host your videos, but these tend to remain at the top of the list in terms of popularity, ease of use, and providing embedding capabilities with some analytical features. Do you have any sites you use to host your videos? Do you have any better options that we don’t know about? Post them in our comments section. We’d love to learn about them!

1 Wikipedia – History of YouTube

How to Use Video on LinkedIn

Did you know that LinkedIn has added the ability to add video to your profile. There are a couple of simple steps you need to take, but, it’s simple. Under the section you want to add the video, click the video option after “Add Media:” You can add a document (think PDF), a Photo (maybe a project you’re working on or a photo of your office building), a link to a website, Video, or Presentation (you can even upload a PowerPoint).

When you link the video, it will embed the video into that section. All you need to do is go to your Profile page, click the little pencil at the top of the section of your Description. A new window will open and allow you to enter your Name, Position, etc. and all the way at the bottom is an area where you can either upload a video or provide a link to media. This is where you’ll want to upload your current, most interesting, video. Once you’ve added the media, you can add a title and a brief description. That’s it! Now, Add to Profile.

The next question is, “What should I put there?” That’s the easy part! We think an explainer video might be best, but here are some other options:

  • Explainer – Essentially a video that tells your potential clients a little about you.
  • Customer/Client Testimonials – Let your clients tell potential clients why they were happy working with you.
  • Product Demo – Show your potential customers something important or new about your product.
  • Service Demo – Show people what you do.

A couple of questions you might have after reading/watching this is “How long should my video be?” While you can click on the link to find out the answer to this, we can sum it up here with: that depends. A commercial is typically 15 or 30 seconds. While commercials are nice, they’re not your best option for LinkedIn. A 60 to 90 second video should do perfectly for LinkedIn because someone who has searched and found you will most likely want to spend a little time learning about you, and 60 to 90 seconds is adequate for that.

This is an example of an Explainer video:

Regardless of length, the key is to tell a story and make the viewer relate to you and your business. It’s very important to help the view understand why they need to hire you. Remember, you’ll be able to host your video on Vimeo or YouTube and embed it anywhere…including LinkedIn. Create one stellar video and use it everywhere! It builds your brand and it builds confidence in you.

If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call or post the question in the comments below.

The Three Types of Videos Your Business Must Have This Year!

Make 2017 a Video Year – Stay On Trend!

First of all, we know that video has made a HUGE stride in this past year. You can’t scroll through Facebook, LinkedIn, or a site like CNN without seeing ads with video. Having the right kind of video for that medium is critical. This article isn’t about that type of video; however, it is about the three most important videos you should have on your business website. When reading the three types below, think, “What does my prospective client want to know?” Then ask yourself, “Do these three videos answer their questions?” I’ll bet they do.

Company Overview Video

Almost two-thirds of all customers shopping online find a video about the company helpful in making a decision whether to buy from you or not. It can be simple or complex, but it needs to be there. Talk about your mission, why you exist, a founder’s story, or highlight a key employee. This makes your potential customer relate and want to get to know you more. Here’s an example.

Product / Service Demo Video

An informational video about your product or service can be extremely helpful. Is your service a little complicated? Does your product need some explaining? These are questions you can answer very quickly with a Product or Service Demo Video. Support that logic with a full 95% of those making purchases feel that a video is helpful while researching what they should buy.

Customer Testimonial Video

Prospective buyers don’t want to feel alone. In fact, they want to see and hear from those who have already purchased from you. Think about the last time you made a purchase on Amazon. Did you read the reviews? Most people do. In fact, most people who read the reviews also make decisions based on what they read in that section. Just remember, don’t promote…let your customer do the talking. Let your prospect connect with your current customer.

Extra Credit!

And, for extra credit, we’d recommend the video blog series. This is one you have to be ready to put some time into. There are two ways to approach it: (1) Do it yourself using your computer, audio, and desk lamp, or (2) Do it professionally, but cost effectively. We recommend that if you’re going to do this yourself, you do so in batches. If you want to create six video blogs to push out over the next several months, book a professional for a half day and shoot all six. Then, once they’re edited, you can release them like clockwork, something Google and your followers will like. Here’s an example of one of those video blogs now…

Source: Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1BAq9tX

Why Your Trade Show Booth Needs a Video

Trade shows are tough, aren’t they?  So many vendors, so much noise; it can be hard to make your booth stand out.  In fact, we at Plum Productions just exhibited at our first trade show, and we learned a big lesson we’d like to share: video draws visitors to your trade show booth.  It’s true!  An eye-catching video makes it near impossible for someone to walk by without noticing you.  For the best impact, set up a flat screen TV, hook it into your laptop and place it on the table in front of your booth—not behind you.  In a pinch, you can play your video right off your laptop if you don’t have an extra TV handy.  Ours was so effective that we gained several new clients, one of them being a custom video for—you guessed it—an upcoming trade show! As great as trade shows are, you might approach a video for your booth differently than a video on your website.

  • First, chances are the room you’re in will be loud.  Narration on your video might get lost.  You’ll want to make sure your video includes “punch words” or short phrases about your business.  Remember, a trade show video isn’t going to get into the nitty gritty about your services. It just needs to get people to stop and talk to you.
  • Second, go for flash.  Bright colors and quick edits grab attention.
  • Lastly, keep it short.  Remember, it only takes a few seconds for someone to pass your booth.  Keep your video concentrated to the exact information you want a passerby to see.

You can check out the video we created for our new client and see a real life example of an effective trade show video.

Good Luck! If you need any help, let us know!

How Do I Create An Event Video?

Event Videos: Not Just For This Year Anymore!

Here’s a question we get frequently:  “We have an event coming up and would like you to record the event so we can use the video to promote next year’s event.”  To that, we respond, “Yes! But why wait!?!”

When we get this question, we often suggest that they don’t have to wait until next year to get that promotional video. Once we know a little about the event, we can create a video that piques interest. For example, if the event was targeting business owners that want to know how to use technology to help them in their businesses, how would you help them understand that before the event? You’d use a video like this:

The first 0:34 seconds is the promotional video followed by the actual event. In this case,  there were three messages that were important in this video: Where you should market your business (mobile), where you must list your business, and what are the helpful mobile apps helpful in business?  The top three reasons you must attend the event.

Marketing an event is important. It takes flyers, postcards, social media, and word-of-mouth…Add video to the mix to help people explain the upcoming event more clearly. When the video is added to the mix in social media (or through QR Codes on printed materials) you give people the method to share what the event is without losing the quality of the message. It’s like that old telephone game… you tell me, I tell someone else, they tell someone, and before long…the message isn’t the same. Video prevents this by maintaining the message and providing the platform needed to share quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

If you have an upcoming event and need a promotional video, let us know. We can certainly help you fill the event with interested people!