Who is ‘right’ is not always black and white. And this is certainly true of the video production industry. As a relatively new field, online video production is an area that lacks general knowledge and expertise.
Whilst customer service remains paramount whatever the industry, I am going to argue in this article that ‘the customer is always right’ is a philosophy that needs to be corrected for the purposes of video production.
Ask yourself the following multiple choice question, and answer from the perspective of a client: if you approach a video production company with an idea that you feel strongly about and believe will work, but the video production company can see a number of flaws and other options that will improve the result, what would you want the production company to do?
a) I don’t believe for one minute that the production company could have better ideas than me – I know my company best.
b) Ignorance is bliss. I know what I want and why I want it so I would prefer them to just do what I have paid them to do.
c) I would never be in this position – I would expect the production company to come up with the solution to my problem. That’s their job, right?
d) I would want them to tell me what flaws they can see, of course, and work together to identify the best way forward.
All of the above are approaches that we see regularly with our clients at MWP. Our favourite approach is d). Ultimately, our clients are the experts when it comes to their customers and their company. By the same token, we are the video production experts with eight years of experience. A collaborative approach is most effective in our experience.
We feel strongly that we would be doing our clients a disservice by not sharing our knowledge and understanding with them to help them make the best decisions about their investments in video. In the same breath, by not working with us to share their knowledge and understanding of their audience and business, the client would be failing to equip us sufficiently to do the best possible job.
What a video production company needs from a client in order to get a video right
Working with a video production company collaboratively is the most sensible option when it comes to creating online videos for your brand. Granted, there are other ways of going about it. Maybe you have plenty of budget and don’t mind taking a risk when it comes to dishing out funds for video… but the likelihood is that you haven’t got money to waste.
Here is a list of what you can be expected, at a minimum, to offer to a video production company who you have hired to create videos on your behalf:
1. Goal of the video
Why have you decided to embark on creating a video? What is it’s goal? What are you hoping to achieve? It makes sense that you share this information early on so that the production company can bear it in mind throughout the production process.
It may be that your goal is to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel or more ‘likes’ on your Facebook page. Maybe you have a special promotion and want to maximise the number of takers. You might want to place a video on your homepage to encourage more people to sign up to your mailing list. Whatever the reason is, whether it is very specific is just for raising general brand awareness, let the production company know. This is a useful exercise because it will force you to think about what you are doing and pin down your goals.
2. Details on the end customer
Who your video is targeting is extremely powerful information… compulsory in fact.
Customer profiles are something that video production companies find useful. They explain who your customers are – in terms of demographics and in terms of their goals, needs and wants.
Tell the production company what your target market already know about your business. Then you need to explain how you are imagining that they will come across your video. In other words, how are you intending to distribute your video? On your website? On YouTube? In emails? This will enable the company to establish factors like how long the video should be, as well as technical specs.
3. Product/service details
What, in particular, do you want to sell or promote?
As well as the obvious literal details, you can offer some case studies or customer feedback around this particular product or service. This information will help the production company understand the impact that your business can have on it’s customers.
Storytelling is extremely important in online video and understanding your product/service in context will help to inspire ideas.
4. Your own thoughts and ideas about the video content
If you already have some ideas about what your video should include, or could include, provide details. Here are some examples that may have crossed your mind:
- Locations: you may have ideas about where the video should be shot (e.g. maybe you have just had some new offices built).
- Contributors: there may be some key personnel who it is important to showcase in the video.
- Archive footage/stills: if you have any existing footage or imagery that you are keen to include, provide details so that the production company knows what they are working with.
5. Any other relevant thoughts or information
The obvious ‘other’ information that the production company will need from you are the budget and the deadline. This will enable them to come up with a realistic production plan.
Other information to include is in terms of possibilities and limitations. If you know, for example, that certain things absolutely should not be included in a video – tell them.
I touched on this above, but be clear about how you are planning to measure the success of your video. Again, this is another useful exercise, as it will encourage you to think carefully about monitoring and evaluation.
Producing video for clients is a two-way process. The best results come from the best relationships. The client has a responsibility to engage fully with the process and to share information. The production company has a responsibility to educate the client where appropriate, to give them the tools to make good decisions about their videos. The customer certainly isn’t always right – collaboration is right.
I am going to leave you with this great piece of stand up from Jack Whitehall on customer service.
The Customer is Always Right: A Correction