Not all corporate videos are created alike so I will break the discussion down into different categories of video. Additionally I will give a range of costs in US dollars with the core assumption that professional resources (aka people and equipment) are being used and any travel expenses are separate. All videos are no more than about 5 minutes in length.
Keep in mind that if you can get Joe in the Marketing Department that has a video camera and can edit to help for free that does not mean the cost of the video is free. There is an intrinsic value in Joe’s time, expertise and the use of the equipment.
Category 1: A basic talking head video. Example:
The first category is a basic video with just one person talking to the camera. No script, no graphics and little or no editing. Can be done with a cell phone for a cost of $0 but quality could be an issue. At the other end of the range would be a camera crew of 1-2 people to setup a camera with nice lighting, maybe a teleprompter, and an hour or two of editing out the mistakes for a cost of up to $2,000. So, a Category 1 video has a cost range of $0 to $2,000.
Category 2: A basic 1-2 person video with limited graphics. Example:
Add some basic graphics and perhaps a second person to the Category 1 video and you have increased your costs slightly. Now you must do some editing to insert the graphics or do the taping with more elaborate equipment to “switch” in the graphics. If the two people are on camera together then quality sound is an issue that might require 2 microphones and an audio mixer. If the people are taped separately then more editing is required. Cost range $1,500 to $4,000.
Category 3: A basic scripted video with narration, on camera talent and limited graphics. Example:
Category 3 takes the jump into simple scripted videos. Perhaps it is an internal training video or a product overview. You have 3 core costs: script, 2-3 person video crew and editing. There are a lot of variables such as non-professional talent vs. professional actors, professional scriptwriter vs. in-house writer and the numbers of days and locations for taping. Typical cost range $5,000 (non-professional writer and talent) to $25,000 (professional writer and talent).
Category 4: Testimonial or success story. Example:
Category 4 is the basic testimonial or success story. The core expense is the on-location tapings with an experienced video crew that can setup quickly and not be too invasive. Selecting and editing the comments into a cohesive story can be time consuming. Typical cost range $15,000 to $40,000 (remember that travel expenses are not included in the ranges).
Category 5: A complex scripted video with narration, graphics and on camera talent. Example:
Category 5 moves up the scale to create a more engaging or fun video. Perhaps it is a marketing video or something motivational. Costs include: professional scriptwriter, actors, 3-4 person video crew, professional graphics and/or animation and editing. Every component becomes more critical in this type of video and lack of quality in any component can hinder the effectiveness of the video. Typical cost range $30,000 to $70,000.
Category 6: A complex scripted video with an analogy, motion graphics, and complex location video shoots. Example:
Category 6 pulls out the stops to create a visual experience. The script must be more precise and visual. The video crew and type of equipment required is high end. Editing becomes much more expensive to incorporate the graphics. Typical cost range $50,000 and up.
Of course not everything fits into these neat categories but this can help identify a budget and frame the discussion with your video production resources. Good luck….
“What will my video cost?” Is the number one question I’m asked. It’s also the toughest question to answer. I could just answer: “How much do you have?” But I think I should be a bit more polite. So here we go….
First, I set the stage that the cost of video production can vary greatly.
Let’s take an example of creating a video explaining how Cisco sees the future of the Internet of Everything. I could hire my son, pay him $20, tell him to hold my cell phone and record me explaining the concept for 60 seconds. Upload to YouTube and I’m done. Cost $20.
Now take that same video message and create a TV commercial with professional writers, actors, graphics, editing, audience testing, and well… you get the picture, expensive. Cost: $$$$$
Here’s the Cisco message that I’m sure will have different results than my $20 version would have:
Second, I bring out the analogy (us video people love analogies).
“What will a video cost?” It’s a bit like asking what does a car cost. Cars come in all types, ranging from a mini Smart car, to a basic Ford, a nice Honda, a luxury BMW, or a supercar Lamborghini. Now complicate the picture with size, from sports cars to sedans, SUVs, or pickup trucks. They will all get you to the airport but with different reliability, capacity, and speed -- of course all in much different style.
Now let’s get back to the video cost question at hand.
Video production and visual content development can be compared to cars in exactly the same way. There are budget entry solutions that may well be just a single camera shoot, similar to the mini or basic car analogy, all the way up to a multi-camera, multi-crewed studio or location shoot that is the supercar of video production. In essence both use a vehicle to transfer the message (or people) in a dynamic engaging way, taking the viewer (or passengers) to the final conclusion (or destination).
Remember your image affects your audience and is just as important as your message.
Before price is even brought into the video production equation the most important point to consider is to take time to decide who your viewing audience is and what style will best suit them. And most importantly, best affect them! Will the mini video analogy work for you, staying true to the product, brand or message that you are promoting, or will you have to accept that the audience will need and may deserve the luxury or supercar video experience?
Seek professional help (and I don’t mean a psychiatrist).
This final decision is always the tough part for anyone looking to commission a video product. You don’t want to make the decision of selecting a mini solution where a luxury or supercar should have been used, nor do you want to select a supercar when a mini would have been perfectly adequate. This is the point where I always say that engaging with experienced media professionals or video service teams can help guide you to make the correct choice for your budget, and most importantly, your audience.
The bottom line… your bottom line.
Unfortunately there is no magical number that relates to how much a video production will cost your bottom line. A budget production price will vary if you use a “bedroom business” to produce it or if you engage with the latest and greatest Hollywood studio. To me, video production all depends on who your audience is and how you take responsibility to produce the best content that stays true to your brand and gets across your message. Find a media professional or video service provider who understands what car analogy you need and can provide this for the audience.
So to summarize, if you ever need to commission a video think about the car analogy when evaluating how much money you’ll need. Every car gets you from A to B in varying degrees of comfort, speed and style so select the car that will best suit your audience. Then use this car analogy to explain your objectives to a professional video production provider whose knowledge and expertise can make it happen. Having a definitive idea of what type of video experience that you want to deliver can make the process much smoother and fulfilling for all everybody involved.
I dare you not to communicate. Go ahead, I dare you. Try it. Try not to reach over to your smartphone. Try not to open a new e-mail. Try not to type a quick instant message. Try…
My point is you can’t not communicate. Yes, I realize the blaring double negative, but it’s true! Communication is innate to our being. It’s one of the many fascinating things that make us human. We communicate—all the time, every time, about everything.
This desire to communicate is no more apparent than in the workplace.
Let’s face it, we all have a lot of work to do that requires the minds of many talented people; and so we not only want to communicate, but we need to communicate. Whether you are setting up conference calls for team communication or rolling out a mass e-mail to inform your company of a major development, you have a message to share, you have something to say.
And while war room meetings, telephone conversations, written e-mails and newsletters are tried and true methods for getting your message out there, video proves to be one of the fastest growing communication platforms. In his 2014 recap of CES for The New York Times, Nick Bilton writes, “Ooyala, a mobile research firm that collects data on the viewing habits of 200 million online video watchers, reports video consumption on smartphones and tablets continued to rise rapidly through 2013.”
Even more compelling—100 million Internet users watch an online video every day according to Sarah Mincher’s blog for DigitalSherpa.com. It’s a no brainer—corporate video should be at the forefront of our communication strategy. Why? Because corporate video is efficient, both collaborative and interactive, and most importantly, it’s connective and engaging.
First and foremost, corporate video provides efficiency.
Take for example a major product launch. Let’s pretend you need to share with both customers and your employees new developments in your product offerings. Have a look at how Cisco promoted its latest ACI roll out:
You lock down a conference room large enough to cram a few hundred people inside to recap the key points of your announcement, but how do you get that message to people based in different parts of the world? Do you fly out to each country to deliver the same presentation? Seems costly. Do you schedule multiple sessions to accommodate everyone’s schedule? Seems time consuming. However, recording that session and making it available for your team to watch on their own time allows for a cost effective and efficient solution. The beauty of corporate video communication is its reach. Video knows no limits—whether your audience is small or large, local or international, readily available or challenging to schedule, a video can get your message to its intended target.
Furthermore, corporate video communication is collaborative and interactive.
It takes a lot of talented people to produce and green light a video. Rarely is corporate video the creation of a single visionary. Instead, it requires a team effort to create a unique concept, to plan a realistic execution, and to mold the final piece. Check out how Cisco University Careers highlights the Finance Rotation Program for career seekers:
The collaboration of content experts, producers, directors, editors, and many more improves the chances of getting your message across successfully. Your bases are better covered as multiple people view your video to provide insight and feedback that you may not have considered.
And in the off chance that your corporate video slightly missed the mark? No worries, your audience is going to tell you why it didn’t work and likely explain what they would have wished to see; because video communication is not only collaborative in making, but interactive in its distribution. Often, we share our corporate video communication on interactive platforms—think YouTube or internal websites—sites where people can leave comments, rate content, and provide feedback.
Sounds like a scary invitation for critique? No! Think of it as market research, audience analysis, metrics that will help you to better craft and hone your communication strategy.
Finally, corporate video is connective and engaging.
It connects people to people, to narratives, and to engaging discussions that they wouldn’t necessarily have access to in their ordinary workday. Watch how Cisco CEO John Chambers invites and welcomes thousands of attendees to Cisco Live!:
In fact, 75% of executives watch work related videos at least once per week according to DigitalSherpa.com. This is especially important for those major corporations where thousands of employees dispersed all over the world must find some way to stay connected to the heart of their company’s mission. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to our work, to focus on what we need to do to be successful as an individual, and to assume that everyone else is aware of our tasks. However, we are one of many, and corporate video helps to keep us accessible to one another.
I once had a client ask me if I’d ever seen our CEO in person. At first I thought she was joking, as I assumed everyone must bump into him at some point in their career. However, she further explained that she’d only seen him in videos, and like a ton of bricks I became hyper aware of the importance of corporate videos. How would some of the employees of a global corporation “see” their international colleagues, their CEO, and their executives without corporate video? I was reminded of the many communication opportunities corporate video provides employees as things like company-wide broadcasts or streamed conventions allow thousands to watch their leaders have discussions, introduce new strategies, celebrate accomplishments, and work through challenges. I began to wonder if a company as large as Cisco could maintain a sense of unity, pride, and success without the connectivity provided by corporate video?
Luckily, corporate video will continue to grow as employees and customers look for collaborative, interactive, engaging and efficient ways to connect people to their messages.
Ah, but at what cost you ask. We’ll tackle that issue in a future blog.