I’ve heard the horror stories over the years, but the truth is, if you’ve been in the creative profession, you’re bound to hear clients rail about a former (and inept) video professional, designer, or marketing expert that was mistakenly hired.
Business owners and even dentists and physicians don’t often have a respectable track record in hiring skilled and reliable creative professionals, but why? These clients are rational and exceedingly intelligent people, so why do they often make such poor decisions in who they hire?
Some shop for bargains (that are too good to be true). Some are in too much of a hurry and don’t have the time to research their options, and still others unwittingly accept a referral from a family member or friend (and the creative professional is an amateur).
Beyond those common scenarios, I thought of another likely reason why smart, capable people hire inferior creative professionals: they don’t know what warning signs to look out for.
If you’re kicking around the idea of hiring a videographer, video professional, or even the neighbor’s kid who has a video camera, check out what I’ve shared before you part with your hard-earned money. I’ll keep you from making a momentous mistake.
Why would a video professional(s), who has immediate access to video gear, not have any video of themselves on their website? Are they camera shy? Are they grumpy or inarticulate, or are they in the Witness Protection Program? Whatever the reason is, they don’t want you and others to see them. Don’t you find that odd?
Jokes aside, not seeing video (or at least pictures) of a video professional would make me apprehensive about contacting them. And while I won’t speak for you, I need to see, hear, and get a real sense of who I might be working with BEFORE I invest the time and energy to reach out to them.
If you only seeing a handful of projects on a video professional’s website, be wary. The reason they aren’t showing a lot of their work is because they haven’t done much video work or the video work they’ve done isn’t worth sharing. Either way, only seeing a handful of videos on a videographer’s website should be a warning signal to you that the person could be inexperienced, unskilled, or both.
Note: when I first started filming, I didn’t know my butt from my elbow—that’s common for new video professionals. Much of what you learn as a video professional can only be learned through experience—taking courses and watching YouTube tutorials won’t help. When it comes to filming video—you don’t know what you don’t know, and the only way to know is to film, edit, and then repeat that process—over and over. Learning is a wonderful part of life, but don’t pay a videographer to learn on your project. Hire someone who’s successfully done it before.
In hiring additional help on set, I’ve pursued hundreds of videographer’s websites and demo reels. I doing so, I’ve come across some video content that left me wondering, “What the heck were these people thinking? Why would they film this? Worse, why would they make this video viewable by the public?”
Whether it was a corny sci-fi short, a violent rap video for an unheard of artist, or a pretend video for Coors beer (no Coors did not hire them, though the videographer was trying to make you think they did), all of these wacky videos that were proudly displayed on someone’s website had two things in common: they reveal a little of the videographer’s personality (whether that’s good or bad, I’ll let you decide). Second and more important, they had absolutely nothing to do with the type of videos I film (or the people I work with).
So what’s the point? When you’re perusing a videographer’s website, ask yourself, “How closely is the work this videographer does match the vision I have for video project that I want done?” Mind you, they don’t need to be an exact match for your profession (a podiatrist looking for a video professional who only specializes in working with podiatrists might be a challenge), but if you’re a small business owner who hires a video professional who typically shoots bikini-clad beach model videos to market your business, you may be in for a disappointing surprise.
Google, Angie’s List, Yelp, and of course there are many more—all of these online review sites make it incredibly easy for videographers to obtain client testimonials.
If you’re considering a video professional who doesn’t proudly display at least a handful of legitimate positive reviews, be wary (there’s probably a reason why they don’t have positive reviews, and they might not want you to know about it).
For computer/techie nerds like me, NAP is name, address, and phone number. Nowadays, not having a physical address or even a posted phone number isn’t unheard of (particularly a physical address). However, if the videographer you’re considering is exhibiting few of these other warning signs AND they don’t have a phone number or an address, you might want to look elsewhere. Admittedly, I don’t post a phone number on this site because most of the calls I receive on my business line are annoying robocalls. That said, I do have a handy chat function and an email form that potential clients can quickly reach me. Whether it’s phone, text, etc., make sure the videographer offers ways to reach them.
You might be surprised to learn that the cost (pricing) page of my website generates about as much traffic as my home page. That initially was surprising to see in the analytics, but it proves one thing: cost is on everyone’s mind.
I chose not to hide pricing from potential clients and competitors—I don’t want to waste a potential client’s time, being forthright with people is important to me, and I’ve found that what competitors charge has no bearing on what I ask to be compensated. I charge what I am worth—what I can generate in ROI for my client, rather than basing my pricing on someone else’s value.
I seem to be the exception with this upfront approach though, which explains why my cost page is so popular. The overwhelming majority of video professionals hide how much they charge. Why?
Video professionals will tell you, “Well, I can’t put a price on your project until I hear more about it…” In truth, that statement has some legitimacy to it, but there’s also a lot of bull crap in it too. Sure, to get an exactly quote on your project, a video professional needs to learn more about the scope of your project. At the same time, they should be able to provide you with an average range of their project costs. If they don’t, you have to decide whether it’s worth reaching out to them (or continuing your dialog with them)—you may be wasting your time.
Before diving into the different types of guarantees video professionals might offer (some are better that others) if you stumble of a video professional who does not clearly offer some kind of guarantee on their website, find someone else. They either don’t understand or don’t care about your position as a client, and they don’t stand behind their work.
Assuming the videographer you’re considering has a guarantee, ask yourself what kind it is. Take for example the following intentionally-nebulous declaration that I’ve seen on a lot of websites, “We stand behind our work.”
Huh? What does that mean exactly?
Does that mean that you’ll keep working on the project until the client is happy? Does that mean that you’ll refund a portion of the client’s money? Or does it mean something else entirely?
Video professionals who offer to “keep working on your project until you’re satisfied,” be wary in working with them. There’s something hidden and disadvantageous about their “guarantee.” Did you catch it?
The problem with this type of guarantee is that it forces you to keep working with the video professional (even if you’ve lost faith in them or just don’t get along with them). If you haven’t already guessed it, this type of guarantee annoys me—it really isn’t much of a guarantee at all, and it protects the videographer more than it protects you, the client.
So what kind of a guarantee do I offer? I let clients know that if they aren’t happy with the video I create OR the service I provide, they don’t have to pay me anything. They can walk away from the project—having not paid me a dime. My thought behind this approach is that I am not going to accept a client’s money unless they’ve gotten a good value out of the work I’ve done for them.
I am happy to report, that I’ve never had to honor this guarantee, but it has to be reassuring to clients to know that it’s offered.
Having a marketing video filmed isn’t like picking out a box of pens at Office Max. They require a notable investment in time, energy, and money, so take your time and look around. If you choose the wrong professional(s) to film your video, you could lose your hard-earned money and a little of your sanity, so exercise due diligence.
If a situation just doesn’t feel right—it probably isn’t (trust your instincts).
Last, remember that a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. The reason might not be obvious, but things are cheap for reason. Good luck and happy filming.
PS—If you’ve made it to the end of the article, I hope it’s been helpful. If you think a friend my benefit from reading the piece, forward it on to them. If concerns or questions popped up as you read the article, run them by me by using the chat function on this website (lower right corner). You can also click the following link to get answers and advice to your video questions. Click the following link if you want to continue to check out video marketing advice articles.