Scroll down your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat feeds and your eyes will be drawn to the images that move. As soon as we put cell phones in our hands, we started posting the videos we took with them on our screens. Millennials grew accustomed to watching all kinds of clips on the internet and now the Gen Z crowd’s appetite is voracious.

Adweek just published survey results that show more than half of everyone born in the eighties and beyond say they can’t live without YouTube. Today’s young people watch more clips from free online sources or social media than from TV. So if you want to get their attention, it makes sense for your company to invest in video.  

For many business owners, video production simply isn’t in their wheelhouse, so they may run a Google search to see what’s out there and promptly slam shut their laptops. Choices and prices can abound and bewilder. For the unfamiliar, here’s a guide to get you started on your conquest to go viral. After deciding how much money you’re willing to spend, identify your target audience and delivery date. Do you want a TV spot or just web and mobile? Once you’ve established the basics, here’s some insider information to consider when hiring a video production company.  

1. Size matters – How many people work there? Some production companies have small, full-time staffs and hire freelance contractors on an as-needed/per job basis. This can lead to inconsistency in performance and some rigidness when it comes to your budget. Most places have in-house producers, photographers and editors, but the larger ones will also have a post-production team. This is ideal, for instance, if your project needs a lot of graphics or animation and there’s already a graphic artist on site.    

2. Project files/footage storage – Does the company have the capacity to back up and save your project footage? Many smaller companies will not be able to archive your project because computer storage can be expensive. That means all your footage ends up getting deleted, leaving you to pay for an entirely new video down the road, when all you may really need is a single graphic updated. You can also get hit in the wallet paying for in-house file upgrades to properly archive the material on your own.   

3. Turnaround time – Ask about this up front. Some small companies won’t be able to get your project done efficiently without compromising quality. Companies with larger staffs can typically meet tighter deadlines.  

4. Project reel – Most production companies will offer to show you a compilation of projects they’ve created. Watch the clips and ask questions. How old is this video? Are the people who made it still working there? Some places have lots of turnover or again, hire a lot of freelancers, so their demo reels might not reflect their current capabilities.  

5. Quote/estimate process – How do they present what’s on the menu? You want transparent and line-itemed pricing. Some production companies may give an overall price, but not detail EXACTLY what you get for that amount.  

When you have to ask a lot of questions and seek detailed explanations, you may feel that sense of dread and intimidation you get at the mechanic or tax preparer’s office. This process shouldn’t be like that and if it is, it’s a sign you’re talking to the wrong people. Making a video to show off your fantastic company should be fun. No idea is too outrageous, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Good producers will have plenty of questions for you as well about your vision and what kind of creative support they can lend. Together, you can make magic on the small screen and get those customers clicking. 

Brian Annakin is the vice president of production at IMS Productions.

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