DIY or Pro Video: Which One is Best for Your Business

by | Dec 3, 2018 | Content Marketing

DIY or Pro Video: Which One is Best for Your Business?

Almost anyone can shoot a video with a smartphone. Yet if you work for a company with an upscale image, should you?

After all most of us have iPhones so why can’t we just do it ourselves?

I asked Tom Symes, senior vice president of video at Fifth Story, a Toronto-based company specializing in content marketing, to provide some ammunition to counter the do-it-yourself argument.

Tom is qualified on the subject—last year Fifth Story completed more than180 video production projects, including 160 online videos, 20 television spots, and 4 PSAs.

In an email exchange, here’s what he told me to help your team decide between DIY or pro video.

Q1: Are there situations where it makes sense to produce a DIY video versus a professionally produced one (and vice versa)?

A1: It depends on your goals and your audience.

If you’re answering customer questions or showing behind-the-scenes action, such as office space, a production process or a special event, it can make sense to create a video using a smartphone, tablet or digital camera.

When Fifth Story was in the process of renovating our office space, we created 30 to 60-second videos using a smartphone. We hosted them on YouTube and included them in our monthly internal e-newsletter to update employees on progress.

However, if your goal is to build brand awareness or image, it is essential your video is easy to watch, hear and understand. You want to deliver your message in a professional manner.

Q2: What are the benefits of a professionally produced video?

A2: Most DIY videos suffer from at least one of these major issues:

  • The video is grainy or shaky
  • Lighting is poor
  • Audio is terrible
  • The video is too long due to a lack of scripting and editing

The length and style of your video are crucial so it resonates with your audience. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. As a result, it’s getting tougher to ensure a high video completion rate. Many experts advocate a video of one minute or less.

However, the length can vary depending on the creative concept. Understanding your audience and developing a creative idea that connects and engages with them will affect the preferred length.

Working with a professional crew and equipment to produce a video helps ensure the quality of shooting, background, lighting and audio. The post-production elements also make your video come to life through music, motion graphics, sequencing, and more.

Q3: What factors influence the cost of a professional video?

A3: Will it be a live action video or a motion graphic? How long will the video be? Will there be a French version?

Are there actors, kids, animals or food involved? How many cameras do we need? Are we shooting underwater?

And the list goes on and on….

Managing your video budget starts with analyzing areas where costs can be reduced, such as location, talent, pre- and post-production.

Planning multiple uses for the video footage is another way to optimize your budget. Use the same footage to create content for television, as well as online and social platforms.

Smart marketers are leveraging similar video content across paid, earned, owned and shared media channels. The paid elements have stronger brand messaging and imagery, while the earned and social components have more discreet branding.

Parmalat Canada is a good example. They worked with Fifth Story to develop and execute a national and bilingual content marketing campaign for their Galbani brand using video content.

By shooting enough footage to produce several videos, and promoting the video content through TV advertising, digital native advertising, earned media channels, and social media channels, the brand benefited from extensive exposure at a fraction of the cost.

Q4: What is the price range for a professional video?

A4: Costs can range from $2,500 up to $30,000 and more. At the lower end, you’ll get a 1-minute whiteboard animation video in English only produced with a limited number of stock images. The high end covers a custom, 3-minute video shot in various locations—including a sailboat—over several days.

Leveraging budgets appropriately, without the restraints of disciplines, departments or agencies, is a key to successful video content marketing. In other words, marketing, advertising, PR, digital should all work together on a video project, helping to find the budget and achieve greater results.

Q5: What is the process for producing a video with professionals?

A5: At Fifth Story, we created a production process – outlining every step of the production process – for each of our video production services. We send it to our clients when they submit their signed contract.

A video project usually starts with the client completing a concept development document. This document helps define the objectives, the target audience, the key messages, the call to action and the budget. It also provides our video production team with insights into the client’s creative vision—look and feel, branding, tone, etc.

Our scriptwriter then drafts a script based on the concept development document and sends it to the client for approval. When the client approves the script, it’s translated into French (if applicable), and then the video is produced.

Production typically includes a shoot, motion graphic design and/or the use of stock images or footage. If narration is involved in the video project, we send narrator samples to the client for selection.

Our video editor then edits the video and sends it to the client for approval. Depending on the scope of the project, editing a video can take 1 to 3 weeks.

After producing a branded video, some marketers fail to leverage the content and maximize its exposure. Knowing which media channels you are going to use for promotion and making sure your target audience gets the opportunity to see the video, are crucial to its success.

The Bottom Line: Do-It-Yourself or Pro Video?

Most of the time, we don’t recommend a DIY video to our clients except for a few exceptions. If you work for a small company with a negligible marketing budget, use your smartphone.

On the other hand, if you work for a reputable brand, avoid the do-it-yourself route. Invest the money for a professional video that’s easy to watch, hear and understand. It’s a small price to pay to build brand awareness and image.

If you need help with your content, including video production, get in touch.

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Shelley Pringle is the regional VP, Canada for Advisor Web Marketing and a public relations professional with more than 25 years experience. She works with financial services professionals across North America helping them generate qualified leads, increase their customer base and assets under management, and improve profitability. In addition to this blog, Shelley has been published on Marketing Profs, Spin Sucks, Social Media Today and Business 2 Community.