Your company has been thinking about hiring a video production company to create a video and you have been assigned the task to find someone to create it. With all of the video companies out there, how can you make sure that you pick the right company that will be the best fit for your project and your team?

Here are eleven tips for hiring the right video agency:

1. Know your budget

Money is something we were told to never talk about as kids, so as adults, it makes us very uncomfortable. However, having this conversation early in the process will save you a lot of time. A freelance videographer is going to cost less than a video agency. Cost also depends on what market you are in. Video costs more in Southern California than it does in North East Texas because of the difference in the cost of living. In your process, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. There is a video creator for almost every budget. Keep in mind that you are not going to get something that has the look and feel of a Nike commercial if your budget is only $1,000.00. There are also trade offs. A collage kid might know how to turn the camera on but they may not understand marketing or how to manage your product. Your web company might be full of nice guys but they probably don’t understand story sequence. A photographer has a camera that can shoot a video but he might not know anything about script writing or coaching someone on camera. Good video production is about the details. The more details you want, the more it is going to cost. It is like comparing Disneyland to the pumpkin patch. Each has a fun and unique experience but Disneyland is better at it because of their attention to detail and, as we all know, that detail comes at a price.

2. Know what you are looking for

What do you need? Do you need a team or just a guy who can do what you ask him to do. Film making is a team sport and the more detail you need the bigger the team required to make it happen. You can provide the team or you can hire a team. A good agency knows how big the team needs to be for any given project. It just depends on your needs. A recent college graduate simply can’t compare with the collaborative tried and true methods that an agency with years of experience can bring to the table. Do you need technical support or full service video production? It’s good to have an idea of if you want to drive the project or have the agency do all of the heavy lifting. Don’t make the mistake of getting too involved in the process. Some companies feel the need to be in complete control. They want to rent the camera, write their own script, and on and on. No matter how cheap cameras are, it doesn’t make creating a good video any easier. Some companies will do the creative part and write a script and then look for someone to create the video. Keep in mind that a good script is the foundation of your video and it’s best left to professionals. You are the product expert because you live and breath your company every day, but a good script writer will guide you through the process to help you determine which features and benefits are important to help your video reach it’s goals. A good agency will challenge you in a good way, helping you think about things in a new way.

3. Keep your team small

Creating a video is very exciting and people love to be part of the process. Choose a few different people. If your target audience is in their 20’s, make sure someone in their 20’s is on your team. Avoid using people who may not understand the culture or language. I have seen many great creative ideas killed by people who start their opinion statement with, “Well, I don’t watch much TV.” Decide who in your company is going to make decisions and then let that small group do their assigned job.

4. Don’t give yourself too many options

Google is great because it can give you so many options for video companies, but it can be overwhelming because it can give you so many options. Unless you want to spend the next five years debating the pros and cons of 20 different companies, don’t invite too many agencies. Less is more. I would recommend comparing no more than 3 agencies, but really sticking with 1 or 2 would be better. The more agencies you interview, the more it will cost you in time, money and other resources.

5. Don’t be distracted by effects or cool tricks

Look for a company that will solve your problem. Though it may not always seem obvious, businesses create videos for one main reason: to solve a problem. For example, a customer service protocol video may be in order if employees are causing problems with clients. Likewise, if a company is not getting enough sales, a clever marketing video may be the best solution. When you’re creating a video, it is essential to understand what the problem is that you are trying to solve. Don’t get distracted by shiny effects in sample videos or big high tech camera equipment, when what really matters is whether the video company will be on the same page as you regarding: a) what the problem is and b) how you want to solve it. Just because a video agency has directed a commercial in Hollywood doesn’t make it qualified to solve your problem.

6. Competence

If you already have a picture in your mind, it can be difficult to find a company that has created that exact thing. Four questions that can help you in your search are: 1. Do they know their business? 2. Do they know how to tell a story? 3. Do they understand the marketing and psychology that go into making a quality video? 4. Can you find hints of what you are looking for in their other work? If the first thing that they talk about is their camera or equipment, they might not be the right fit to solve your marketing problem. I am always amazed when, for example, a company that sells flashlights doesn’t want to work with us because we have never recorded a video about flashlights. We have, however, recorded a video about car headlights. They are the same idea, just in a different package. Also keep in mind that, while they may have a few video samples that you may not like, you need to think like the target audience that those videos were intended for. The videos were created for that particular target audience and won’t necessarily affect your video. Those past experiences will help the video agency solve your unique problem. Does the agency that you are looking at have a diverse skill set?

7. Make time

Give all agencies time to present their solution. Our solution meetings usually take 1 or 2 hours, depending on the project. The agency you choose has spent a lot of time figuring out a way to solve your unique problem. The least you can do is give them the time to walk you through it. Beware of companies that shoot proposals over to you via email without giving you any real explanation of their plan. That is a sign that they are focused more on production than solving your problem.

8. Find a video team that will work with you the way you want to work

While technical competence is necessary for a good video, it’s equally important that your team and the video team have styles that can work in synchronicity. Some businesses hope to allow the video company to do most of the legwork, while others will want to be more involved in each step of the process. When interviewing video teams, ask questions about what the production process looks like and how the company approaches collaboration. In the end, look for a team of people who are compatible with your work style and seem willing to meet you on your level. Can they assimilate your company’s traits into their work or will their brand overshadow yours?

9. Care

Do they care about solving your problem? Do they respect your time and budget? How will they protect your investment? What happens if they break something or burn down your office? Are they insured? Do they have a plan for how to handle the things that can go wrong? Do they have the experience to know what could go wrong?

10. Be courteous

Many times an agency will go through hours, if not days, of prep to present a proposal to a company and never hear from the prospect again. When follow up phone calls are made by the agency to the company, the phone is never answered or the calls are never returned. Get back to the agencies in a timely manner. They were nice enough to get back to you with a solution quickly. Call the winning agency first. They will be excited to hear from you. Call the other agencies and let them down with courtesy. I can’t count the number of companies who have treated us poorly in just a small phone call. There are a lot of places I now think twice about doing business with because of it. Being courteous to everyone you come into contact with will help build your brand and make the business world a little easier to be a part of.

11. Beware the marketing expert

Look out for companies that say that they know video marketing and that they can create a video for you. We see a lot of SEO and website design companies do this and, while they may understands SEO and websites, they are often poor video creative and, more often than not, they don’t understand how to create a social video strategy.