You’ve decided you need a video production company to meet your company’s marketing goals, which is a fantastic step in the right direction. It means you’ve considered and understood the importance of video production in your company’s overall digital strategy. One of the first steps for a company to take once they are serious about video production is to draft a request for proposal (RFP) that outlines the target audience, the scope of the work to be completed, marketing points to hit, and perhaps a few general ideas for the video. Many companies both refuse to provide a budget and refuse to provide clear direction, which is a mistake if you want the best possible video.
The traditional thinking from a company’s marketing department is the budget should be withheld and a bunch of companies should bid on the project, but that approach only works if the concept for the video is crystal clear and you just need a company to execute your vision. If you neither have a clear vision nor a clear budget, how do you expect to obtain any kind of accurate quote? Nobody contacts a landscaping company and says, “I want a nice yard, how much?” The question makes no sense. Do you want pavers? Do you want synthetic grass? Do you want exotic plants? Each company may be able to give you a random idea and then generate a quote based on their random idea, but how useful are any of those quotes going to be? None of them will be apples to apples comparisons.
Though the idea may sound controversial, the whole process of finding the best company for video production should be reimagined. You need to give the production company some idea of a budget range, otherwise you’re wasting your time and their time. What we would suggest for a company with a $3,000 budget is completely different from a company that wants a highly polished $15,000 video, and vice versa. The logic of not explaining your budgetary constraints comes down to wanting the cheapest possible video and not wanting a company to “take advantage” of the budget by offering the same production for $10,000 as they would for $3,000. While there are risks associated, those risks will be mitigated by requesting quotes from multiple companies anyway.
If one company tells you they can make a two minute video with a crew of two people and some basic equipment for $10,000 and another company offers you professional actors, a crew of four, and script help for the same price, you don’t have to know anything about video production to know the first company isn’t trustworthy. If, however, you don’t tell any of the video production companies even a rough budget range, you may reject the best production company because they gave you the highest quote. Rather than decide after each company tries to guess at your vague RFP, look at the proposals in detail and see if the creative ideas of the higher budget proposals are worthwhile. If they are, approach the companies again and thank them for the estimates, but inform them that you’re looking for a more affordable approach. Give them a second chance to come down in their pricing.
A production company may think you want a $15,000 high-end corporate video and they spent hours coming up with some creative ideas, doing a ton of budgeting work, and researching your brand along with similar videos. The $3,000 quote took 10 minutes of someone’s time who didn’t even visit your Website, but because the $3,000 quote matches your idea of what the budget “should be,” you choose the company without any further thought. Such an approach sounds more like awarding a company for guessing correctly rather than for the work they’ve done in the past, their concern for your brand, or any creative considerations.
Instead of rushing to a decision — it’s your marketing budget, after all — come back to the high quote production company and tell them you are looking for a $3,000 video, what can they do for you? They may turn you away, but they may offer a better package than the other quote with the advantage of having already put more research work into understanding your company. When you need a video production company, a large part of your selection process should be based on the work the company has already done in the past and your overall impression of their customer service, understanding of your company, and willingness and ability to meet your goals. You have the right to go back and forth with companies again and again until you commit to one. Don’t hesitate to accept a series of quotes from your RFP, then circle back with each of the companies once you decide on a plan.
A great reason why many companies choose not to include a budget in the RFP is because they simply have no concept of what their video should cost. You aren’t expected to know what video productions cost because it’s not your job. Gathering a number of initial quotes, though, may help guide you. Perhaps you notice that the quotes came in from $1,500 to $20,000, which surprises you at first, but each company gave you a much different approach. You decide you love a few of the ideas from the higher budget providers, but really don’t feel $20,000 is a good use of marketing resources. Based on the quotes, you decide you could probably attain a high quality video that works for your goals in the $3,000 to $5,000 range, so you approach each company again and refine your initial RFP.