In this first article on the process of selecting a video production company, we are going to explain some of the “information you should have” when making the call to a company because you’re thinking of doing a business video production. In subsequent parts, we’ll get into information you should know when; planning a presentation recording, training video, trade show video, and several other types of video for business projects. We’ll also cover what you need to know and ask about the video production company you are contacting.We’ve found that often when a company calls or looks to meet with us about video production, a lot of times they’ve never been involved with the actual production process and aren’t quite sure what to ask or how to go about getting the answers they need. More often than not they haven’t really thought out what they want the video to do for them and/or what should be in it. We try to help people like this by leading them through a series of questions and giving information designed to crystallize their thoughts. We try to make the process as easy to understand and stress free as possible.Hopefully information we are providing in this article will help.With all the videos people see on YouTube some think that the way it works is that you show up, shoot, and a video is magically created. This can happen for some types of video projects, but for business video to be successful it requires a lot of planning both before and continuously throughout the process.The three phases of video production are; pre-production, production, and post-production. They can and will differ depending on the type of project that you want.Any legitimate and experienced video production company you call will want to ask you questions about your project. If they just say, “OK, we’ll show up and shoot your job”, that should raise a big red flag.The same warning signal applies if the company can give you a price without knowing the details of your needs. Invariably, when this happens they won’t be able to do the job or there will be more charges later.Doing a business video project is like doing any other business project in that you need to first decide what you want to do and then gather information and plan how to accomplish your goal. A video production company should start by asking potential clients questions to learn about what is needed.Questions We AskA video production company should start by asking a client;Why do they want a video?Hopefully, this will uncover a reason where the video will satisfy some need. It could be that they need to show viewers why their product or service is better than the competition, publicize what they do, or train on something where they want the best practices taught in a correct, repeatable message. More often than not, today it is because a company needs to use video to explain something for marketing purposes on their website. They recognize that video gives them tremendous return with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value and can get their message to millions of people.Sometimes it is to satisfy a requirement that is mandated on them. An example of this is that in certain states, when operating equipment is installed in buildings, the equipment manufacturer/installer must provide a training video as part of the bid.Knowing the reason will shape the direction the video will take. So using the above state requirement example, whatever video is done must conform to the structure and directives that state gives, and anything else is a waste of time and money. If we didn’t know the reason it would be easy to go down the wrong path.How do they want the video delivered to viewers?A video made for a TV Commercial which is limited to less than 30 seconds and has to deal with broadcast specifications is different than a video which is designed to be on a website, where the exact length isn’t as critical.Who is the audience?Different demographics require different treatments. If the target is a Spanish speaking segment, then a video in English wouldn’t make much sense. If it is a certain category of workers, then the video needs to target what is important and use the jargon familiar to convey to that category. If it is to appeal to a customer base, it usually needs to be structured to give them either an appeal or reason to buy, or information they need to use.What do you want the viewer to do after watching?This is extremely important because the entire video has to be directed at this goal. If it is a sales video, we need to make the appeal to buy not only attractive, but that it is something they feel will really solve a need they have. If it is for training, we need to be certain it is designed to train and that we insert training theory such as repetition and summary throughout.What collateral material do you have?If a company has a particular image with graphics branding, that would usually need to be maintained. If they have successful marketing material that they feel can be used, we want to try to use it. If it is for training and they have practices they want us to develop into a script, we need that. If they have other videos they want to match in style, we need to know that. If they have an outline or rough script, we can start with that. If they have a PowerPoint presentation, that is often a start. Sometimes there will be specific company people, customer testimonials, company locations, or subject matter experts that need to be worked in. Going back to our state requirement example, we might need blueprints of the site, or operation and maintenance manuals to develop a script.Often in this questioning vein, the company should ask the caller;What makes you different from your competition?Why do your customers say they like your company or product?These questions must be asked in hopes to uncover what their competitive advantage really is. If they don’t know the answer, we’ll ask them to ask their customers. All this material and ideas gives a sense of the direction and what the video can be.What is your budget range?After the necessary information described above is covered, we can determine if the budget range the client wants is reasonable and discuss what can and maybe shouldn’t be done regarding their budget. We can work with any budget large or small, and what we ultimately design will be dictated by the budget.I can’t tell you the number of calls we’ve gotten where people who really don’t know all that is involved with video production want months worth of work by multiple people and the use of hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, and they expect it for a few hundred dollars. In their defense, they’ve never been involved before and have no familiarity with the process so we try to help them understand. A video production project is variable, like choosing a car with the many brands and options available. Depending on what goes into it, the cost will vary. A web commercial can require a half day of shooting by a 2 person crew and a portion of a day editing, and ultimately may only be around $1000. Or, the same web commercial could require; a month of scripting, multiple locations, multiple shooting days, a 3 member video crew, a full 3 member lighting crew with a truck of equipment, a teleprompter and operator, a makeup technician, multiple cameras, a green screen studio, etc. Of course with all these added resources, the latter project will cost more.