Jeremy Tuber

Insider small business advice—Unraveling the hidden truths behind a video marketer’s demo reel or designer’s portfolio

Five essential questions every client should ask when reviewing a videographer’s demo reel or graphic designer’s portfolio

Before you give a nickel to a videographer or creative professional you want to make sure you’ve thoroughly gone through her demo reel, past videos she’s filmed, or creative portfolio. Make sure that you’re impressed with what you see. If you see average creativity and quality, expect the same if you hire them for your project. While a video marketer’s or creative professional’s skill set and talent will improve over time, be careful not to hope that she will hit a flash of brilliance and create something spectacular for you. Use their portfolio as a guide to the quality you can expect if they work on your project.

Keep in mind that videographers or creative professionals have different creative styles. Some video marketer’s and creative professional’s styles are edgy while others are soft and elegant. Some are corporate and clean; others are organic and less bound by rules. Ask yourself, “Based on this video marketer’s or creative professional’s portfolio, can she design in the style that I want and the quality and creativity that I expect?” If your answer is “yes,” you should hire them, right? Maybe.

Looking at a video marketer’s or creative professional’s portfolio is a good place to start your evaluation, but there are often (I mean almost always) concealed facts behind what you see. Not knowing the whole truth behind what you’re looking at can cost your company big time. The videographer or creative professional isn’t going to volunteer the information, so it’s your job to be informed and ask the right questions to uncover what you need to know.

I’ve gone through hundreds of videographer or creative professional portfolios over the years. I know what to look for. More important, I know what insider questions to ask to make sure I can make out the contenders from the pretenders. Below I’ve shared some of my methodology so you can make an intelligent informed decision on whom to invest your hard earned money in:

Question 1: Were all of the videos and marketing projects in your video marketer’s or creative professional’s portfolio done for real companies?

Younger and or less experienced videographers or creative professionals are instructed to fill up their portfolio however they can. Their portfolios often include factitious companies, school projects, and creative projects they came up in their spare time. So how can this hurt you? Remember that an essential skill videographers or creative professionals must have is the ability to extrapolate real information from real business owners, and then take that information and create a video or marketing project that’s effective and unique. If the videos and design examples you are looking at are primarily from companies that don’t exist, how will you know if the videographer or creative professional can really listen and understand the unique vision and strategy you have for your small business?

Question 2: How long did it take you to create this (or these) projects?

Whether it involves filming a promotional video or designing a marketing project, when there are no time restrictions, things are a lot easier. I once heard from a recording artist say “Cutting the first album is easy, you have your whole life to put it together. The second album is tough. The record label only gives you six months.”
You’re in business—you’ve got deadlines, so it’s critical that you know your videographer or creative professional is not only skilled, but also fast and efficient. Many video marketers and creative professionals adamantly complain about deadlines. I understand where they’re coming from, but I’ve advised them, “If you don’t like or can’t handle deadlines, it’s probably best that you find another career.” If deadlines matter to you, choose a videographer or creative professional who can keep up with you.

Question 3: What results did the company get from what you’ve created?

This is a killer question, so make sure you ask it! Most videographers or creative professionals (I mean almost all of them) don’t evaluate the success of their project based on results. Instead they’re focused on whether the project looks good and if THEY feel good about it.

If you’re a small business owner spending hard-earned money on this person, you’d better get more than just a good-looking project. So ask the videographer or creative professional point blank, “Other than looking nice, how do your projects help companies?” If the videographer or creative professional doesn’t know, this tells you that she isn’t interested in getting results.

Whether we’re talking about an online promotional video, sales flyer, brochure, business card, or website, if it’s just interesting or cool, it’s an expense and not a tool to bring in new business. Only work with video marketers and creative professionals who evaluate the success of the project based on the positive reaction and the results they help you achieve.

Question 4: Did the clients that you created these online videos or marketing projects for hire you again?

When you buy a new car, sure, you want to make sure the car looks and operates smoothly, but you also want to inquire that the customer service is exceptional as well. Likewise, working with your videographer or creative professional should be easy, convenient, and enjoyable. Make sure you choose someone who is good natured and helpful. Knowing how many and what percentage of clients come back on a regular basis to work with a videographer or creative professional will give you insight on how easy she is to work with, and if clients appreciate her service.

Question 5: Did the client(s) provide a testimonial?

When a client goes out of their way to write or record a testimonial is a good indication the videographer or creative professional has gone above and beyond what was expected in their creativity, results, or service. Look for a videographer or creative professional with a good number of credible, verifiable testimonials. You can check out my testimonials here.

Wrapping things up

This list I just shared with you isn’t comprehensive by any measure, but asking just these five questions will save you a world of headache and good deal of time and money. Videographers and creative professionals, like most, are hard-working, honest people. However, it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure you’re making sensible decisions about where to invest your money. Trust your instinct, ask intelligent questions, and invest your money wisely.

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