Navigating the Search for the Right Video Production Company – Tips for Decision Makers

So, you're in charge of finding a video production company for your business. Choosing the right company can feel like a daunting task in a market inundated by video and film companies all vying for your attention in search—especially if you're not familiar with the ins and outs of video production.

As a producer, I am often tasked with finding production companies for a project requiring work in an area far from Sandpiper's home in Seattle. Rather than fly a crew to the location, which adds to the cost of production and is not all too environmentally friendly, I sometimes vet and hire local production houses and remotely produce those projects. I've included below some of the strategies that I use when searching for remote production companies as I think they'd be useful for really anyone just starting out their search.

1. Investigate their portfolio

A great place to start your search is by checking out a company's portfolio, and I'm not talking just their website. Often, at the bottom of a production company's site, you'll see the Vimeo icon and a link to the Vimeo page for that company. Vimeo is ubiquitous among production companies as the host destination for all of their content. Frequently, you will find more than just their carefully selected content on their homepage

You want to see if they've created videos similar to the one you envision for your business. Their portfolio should showcase a range of projects, giving you an idea of the quality and variety of their work. Think of it as window shopping; you're browsing to see if their style and expertise align with your vision.

One red flag is a predominance of narrative short film content. I find it unprofessional for a production company to include this kind of content on their homepage or on their Vimeo page. To me, it indicates a lack of focus or experience. If this is how they present themselves, then how will they present you? How will that translate to marketing performance?

2. Company specialization

When searching for a video production company, it can be beneficial to find one with experience or a niche in your industry. Sandpiper, for example, specializes in content for the sustainability industry. These companies will have a better understanding of your business needs and can communicate your message effectively to your target audience.

If your products or services are highly technical or require a nuanced understanding to effectively translate the messaging to your target audience, then consider narrowing down your search to those who specialize in your specific field, rather than going with a "one-size-fits-all" generalist production company.

3. Explore their social media presence

Don't overlook a company's social media—it can provide valuable insights into the scale of their productions and resources they use. Check out their behind-the-scenes photos, videos, and equipment setups. Are you seeing 3-person crews or seeing 40+ people all huddled around a camera?

A method for getting a ballpark idea of the cost of a production is counting the heads in a photo and multiplying that number by $1,500. If you see a majority of productions way out of your budget, consider looking elsewhere or at least give them a call and ask for references to companies who they trust. Bigger production houses will often have the pulse on who's the best in the area, so giving them a call can be a fast lane to finding the right fit.

So, source their social media. See how big they are. Use that as a gauge of their capabilities to bring your vision to life.

4. Examine the complexity of their work

It's essential to assess the complexity of a video production company's work on multiple levels. How do they handle production size, from crew and equipment to locations? Are their editing techniques polished, able to tell the story of whatever product or service that they are marketing in a way that you, from your experience with your customers, find compatibly engaging? Take a close look at the details; they're what can make a video stand out from the competition.

5. Determine if they are legitimately local

While searching for a production company in your area, be mindful that some national companies might pretend to be local. Finding a genuinely local company can offer many benefits, such as familiarity with your community and a personal touch to your project. It is also more environmentally friendly to hire locally, rather than to fly a crew in. I wrote up a few pointers on this here. So, do your due diligence and verify that the companies on your shortlist are truly part of your local market.

6. Contact and communication

Once you've narrowed down your list, it's time to reach out. Don't hesitate to call multiple companies for estimates. Comparing price ranges and services offered can reveal which company offers the most value for your business. And remember, clear and open communication lays the foundation for a successful partnership. If they take more than two days to reply, I would consider that as a red flag for working with them. They're either too busy to reply or their do not have systems in place yet to handle incoming leads, which could be telling of how they handle logistics in a production (or both!).

7. Focus on objectives and marketing performance

While passion and creativity play a significant role in video production, it's crucial that the company you choose understands your objectives and can create content with marketing performance in mind. The right partner will be able to align your goals with your video content, ensuring that your message leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

In the estimate phase, come to them with your objectives, not what you want created. See what they offer as a solution; determine if that offering aligns with your objectives and/or initial thoughts on what you think you needed for production. By coming to production companies with your objectives rather than your desired deliverables in hand, you will end up with more ideas for how to hit at those objectives and filter out potential projects that might not performance as well as expected.

8. Production company structure

When researching video production companies, you'll find that many are run by a single person who contracts out crew members and editors. Although it may seem unconventional, this arrangement can offer more value than an established company with full-time employees. Subcontracted crew members often have extensive experience working on a diverse range of projects and can bring a fresh perspective and specialized expertise to your video.

Remember, the partnership you choose will play a crucial role in bringing your vision to life, so invest the time and effort in making the right decision. Good luck on your search—and here's to creating exceptional content for your business! If you have suggestions for how to improve this guide, reach out!

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Posted Apr 05, 2023