Photo by Fed Man Walking
The demand for video marketing is skyrocketing. And, naturally, as demand grows some large companies, even some medium-sized outfits, are opting to produce their own video content, anything from event videos to web commercials to testimonial web videos. While this is an achievable and respectable endeavor, it reminded me of something I once took a shot at...making my own pizza. Let me preface this by saying that I’m a pretty good cook and that the pizza was totally decent. And I’ll never do it again. Here’s why.
1. It's Going to Cost A Lot More Than Using a Video Production Company
Let’s start with the really really important reason. The only one that matters for some people and the reason that will ultimately decide the fate of most in-house video production projects long-term.
Doing your own corporate videos will cost a fortune.
Let’s say a company staffs 2-4 people in their in-house video production team. Let’s say they own some equipment. Rent some other equipment for certain projects. Rent studio space for certain projects. Pay for actors or voiceover for certain projects. Do they need editing gear? Editing software? What about media liability insurance? Salary expenses could range from $100K a year to $500K. Buying gear could cost about $50K, conservatively. Rental/recurring expenses could cost another $25K a year, conservatively. In this scenario, we’re talking roughly $200K to $600K a year for, let’s say, 8 projects completed a year? Maybe some other smaller projects? And that’s being optimistic. Realistically, you’re looking at 4-5 solid marketing videos completed in a year.
Maybe that scope wasn’t what you had in mind. Fine. Maybe you won’t even staff one full-time employee towards video. Maybe you only buy basic gear and one camera. (Let’s not get into the limitations of only using one camera for now.) Maybe it’s going to be a young marketing person with a video background doing the occasional video project. (Here in Austin Texas finding employees with a good video production background or even experience as an employee at an professional Austin video production company is fairly easy). Well, let’s say their salary expense for devoting 25% of their time to video only costs you about $10K a year. Very conservative. The camera and gear expenses were only $10K for the initial purchases. Extremely conservative. Software and other recurring expenses are only $1K a year. Again, WILDLY conservative. With that amount of resources you’re probably only looking at 1 or 2 quality corporate video projects completed in a year, not including small scale stuff like video journals.
With the first higher-end (but more likely necessary) scenario, you’re looking at video production costs in the $30K to $100K range. PER PROJECT. Yikes. And in the latter scenario, you’re looking at something in the $10K+ per project range. And that’s for what, I think we can all agree, will deliver a pretty amateur product. But we’ll get into that later.
Many smaller video production houses offer video projects in the $5K-$7K range. Higher than that at some larger, widely-known entities. I happen to know one doing production in Austin that often works in the $3K-$4K range. Wink wink. If you do the recommended 4 web video projects a year you could be looking at a cost of $15K a year. All of the above mentioned expenses, both fixed things like cameras and variable things like voiceover, are already built into that pricing, The value of what that $15K can do for your bottom line can be seen here. Compare that to the $200K-$600K a year costs of doing video production in-house at comparable quality. Or, even doing the bare bones method, which would probably cost about $25K a year. For a product that you may not end up promoting at all.
Which brings me back to the pizza. When I made my own pizza I had to buy the following items I didn’t happen to own:
Bell Pepper $1
A total cost of $29. Whereas a pizza restaurant is making a lot of pizzas and buying things in bulk their cost per unit for ingredients is tiny whereas mine is astronomical because it’s just for the one pie. On the low end I could have gotten a restaurant pizza for $6 and $20 on the high end. And that’s not even factoring in the cost difference in their cooking equipment compared to my home oven. Again. Yikes.
2. It’s Going to Take More Time. And It Won't Be As Easy.
Now we all know that we can get a pizza at our door in about 30-45 minutes, it’s one of our basic American lifestyle fundamentals. My foray into pizza production cost about 3 hours of my time when you include the grocery shopping, prep and cook time. (I think the actual pizza consumption was about 6 minutes flat by the way).
And that’s always going to be a huge concern when you do anything outside of your element. It’s going to take a lot of time and energy to learn and improve through trial and error. Granted, if you outsource to a video production company you’re still going to have to spend some time with it. You’re going to have to go over ideas with the video company, coordinate things with your group for the shoot days and go over the edits during post-production. Let’s say you end up spending a total 8 work hours working with the vendor on a project. Compare that to what the office hours would look like if you had to do it yourself. Let’s say, for example, about four weeks for 2 people full time. Which comes to 320 work hours. What’s that time savings worth to you?
But the nice thing is that a good video production company will walk you through the process and save you a lot of aggravation. They foresee issues during production, they’re familiar with all the resources and understand storytelling techniques. They’ve seen it all, they know how to work through any issue because they’ve done it all before. They will do what they do best. And this will allow you to do what you do best.
3. It’s Just...Not As Good
And here comes the part where we have to be honest with ourselves. The video content you create may be fine and you may be proud of it. But it’s probably not holding a candle to real professional work. You’re probably not going to promote your in-house video content much and it’s probably going to end up somewhere on your YouTube page collecting cyber dust. A great piece of professional video may go to your website’s main page or another page, bringing in great employees and new clients. It may end up being the face of your company for any visitor to your site. What if the right product video got you an extra 20% in conversions on your site? It might also gain traction via other channels like YouTube and social media pulling in prospects you would never have otherwise had.
Like I said, I was pretty proud of my pizza and it really wasn’t bad at all. But to be honest with myself it wasn’t nearly as good as some of the great pizza options I have nearby. And to be really honest with myself it wasn’t even as good as cheap takeout. So there I was, with a $30 pizza that took an entire afternoon to make somewhere around frozen pizza quality. The pros have a built-in business model that keep their costs affordable, they know just what ingredients to get, they know just the right ratio for toppings and how much time is ideal for the perfectly cooked pizza. And they know a thousand other things I can’t even think of. Because they’ve done it a million times. It’s what they do. Your company probably doesn’t do its own plumbing. Or its electrical work. You could. But you probably shouldn’t, right?
They say you can’t have bad pizza. But some pizza may be a bad idea.
-Michael Mason is the Executive Producer at Perfect Chaos Films. Perfect Chaos Films is an Austin video production company specializing in corporate videos. We are an Austin Texas company that thinks your pizza and your video production companies should be local.