• APV brand girl jumping image

    If I were a potential client how would I choose a Video Agency?

    I am not a potential visual content client…

     

    I currently have no need to find someone to produce stunning video and animation for me as I am lucky and I could quite literally walk into the office any day of the week and accomplish this with the amazing capability of the team we have at APV.

     

    But it is a hypothetical question I am often asked…

     

    What would you look for if you were a client? What do you think matters when choosing one video agency over another? What should a client look for? What should a client try to avoid?

     

    Is it all about the showreel?

     

    How do I decide???

     

    It’s a great hypothetical…

     

    So today I’m going to answer it with the 8 steps I would use to evaluate a visual content agency…

     

    STEP ONE: FIND A PARTNER

     

    Finding a partner not a supplier is the first major step.

     

    Don’t find someone who can just make videos…

     

    You can make videos…

     

    Your phone can make videos.

     

    You need someone who can collaborate with you, who will be with you all the way – on the journey of understanding your audience and your objectives, then finding a way for these two to mesh in a meaningful way that generates a result for you.

     

    You need someone who understands if a piece of your content has a short life span in which production values aren’t the be all and end all, or if a piece of your content needs longevity, is designed to reach more people and have a higher level of craft and sophistication…

     

    You need someone who doesn’t just worry about you when your message matters…

     

    You need someone who understands that every message matters…

     

    Every piece of content you put out has to have meaning and relevance to your audience.

     

    You need to avoid the one-stop shops who will sell you just what they do and find the partner who will collaborate to work with you to make what you need.

     

     

    STEP TWO: ASK ABOUT THEIR CREATIVE PHILOSOPHY

     

    The visual content marketplace grows busier everyday…

     

    There are plenty of options out there…

     

    So, you should be selective about who you are working with…

     

    During your research phase, you should meet with potential agencies and you should quiz them about their creative philosophy and their approach to making and measuring content.

     

    This will give you a greater insight into whether you are going to be working with a supplier or a partner, someone who is just looking to make budget or build an ongoing relationship.

     

    The good agencies won’t wait for you to ask…

     

    They will want to work with you…

     

    They will want to challenge you…

     

    They will want to push you to find the best creative solution…

     

    And they will walk you through their approach while demonstrating their passion for their work and exciting you about why you should partner with them.

     

    STEP THREE: LEARN ABOUT THEIR TEAM

     

    No matter who you meet, they will assure you that their creative, production, post production, animation and distribution and analytics teams will be able to handle whatever is needed when it comes to your projects.

     

    This always sounds nice.

     

    But in reality, mistakes, miscommunications or inefficiencies can end up costing you a lot of time, effort and let’s face it… Cash.

     

    You want to know if you are in the hands of experts all the way – does their creative director have pedigree? Have they worked with big clients? Or are they one step-up from a junior copywriter and this is their first gig?

     

    If you are doing live production you should always ask specifically who is the director and cinematographer that they have in mind for your project? What are they like to work with?

     

    What does their work look like and under what conditions (and budget range) is their best work produced?

     

    The team needs to be more than a photo on a website or a powerpoint presentation.

     

    STEP FOUR: DO THEY HAVE PROCESS?

     

    You’ll know from any other creative project you’ve ever worked on that creative work is always a process.

     

    You need to find out what theirs is and if it’s going to work for you…

     

    How do they develop concepts and strategy?

     

    How will they collaborate with you?

     

    Do they have any preferred methods of communications? And how fast are they?

     

    What happens if a problem develops and how will they fix it?

     

    STEP FIVE: FIND OUT IF THEY BENCHMARK

     

    Good organisations big and small benchmark their success and their failures.

     

    They measure and they learn from their mistakes to improve their offering.

     

    You need to know if you will get a chance to objectively give your opinion on their process and how they work with you.

     

    If your potential agency doesn’t do this or seems pretty arbitrary about it… They may not be who you are looking for.

     

     

    STEP SIX: HOW DO THEY MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CONTENT?

     

    If you’ve been impressed with the answers you’ve received from your potential new visual content agency so far… Things are looking good.

     

    But step six is pretty critical…

     

    And if I were a client it would be a deal or no deal type of situation.

     

    When you are in your research phase you should ask any potential new partner how they will measure the success of each individual piece of content?

     

    If the answer is either nothing or just view counts…

     

    Be afraid…

     

    Be very afraid.

     

    View counts are a misleading measurement and a good agency will have a range of measurement tools in place to show you how each and every piece of content is performing.

     

     

    STEP SEVEN: WHAT DOES THEIR WORK LOOK LIKE AND IS IT CONSISTENT?

     

    Like anyone trying to make that first sale with a new client, most visual content agencies will show you their best work.

     

    But as we all know…

     

    Good work speaks for itself.

     

    Don’t be impressed by the pretty stuff and the fancy effects and the endless parade of big brand name after big brand name…

     

    Ask to see examples from a variety of budget ranges and if possible ask to see some examples of work in your industry or a similar industry.

     

    Ask to see entire videos (not just snippets or a montage of ‘best-ofs’) where you can too as this will help you understand if the people you are meeting with:

     

    Know how to tell a good story

     

    Know how to visually tell a story and keep it moving through

     

    Have a consistent level of production value

     

    Have the ability to tell stories within your stylistic sensibilities

     

    Understand how to produce work of quality and at scale

     

     

    STEP 8: WHAT DO THEIR BUDGETS LOOK LIKE?

     

    So, they’ve ticked all the boxes so far…

     

    Now it’s time to talk about money…

     

    Now I know some of you are saying why don’t you talk money up front?

     

    Well…

     

    I like to wait to know what I’m going to get first then I want to know what it costs.

     

    I want to know if there is value in the offering…

     

    It’s not just about the price tag. It’s what is delivered for that price tag.

     

    A good agency will work to deliver the best value for your budget, but they need to know how to scale based on your real budget. (It also doesn’t hurt to ask for examples of work they’ve done at similar price points.)

     

    It also pays to benchmark their pricing against their work and the pricing and work of their competitors (understand what you are getting for your spend).

     

     

    IN CLOSING:

     

    So, these are the basics I would be looking for…

     

    The mandatory must haves…

     

    There are certainly more things you can look for…

     

    I imagine you will have specifics that are important to you also…