One Body, So Many Legs: How One Video Can Pay-Off Tenfold

“OMG!”, one of my previous clients said. “This video is going to cost HOW MUCH?”

And, you know what, fair question.  Videos are wonderfully impactful but complex creatures.  You don’t just show up with a camera, put someone in front of it, shoot a few scenes and “Poof”, like the Genie from the lamp, it instantly appears and is perfect in every way.

Sure, it can absolutely involve client speakers on-camera, sharing their passion, wisdom and personality, but if that is all the video is – a bunch of talking heads – you’re sure to get a less-than-enthusiastic response from the viewer.  Worst-case scenario, the video can begin to look so disgracefully self-serving that, if the intended viewers are potential customers or trading partners, you’re going to start losing them within a minute or less.  And, if it’s a TV commercial or short web video, you may only have 30 seconds to rock their worlds.

An engaging, well-produced video needs to draw on a variety of resources to grab the audience and never let them go. Think:

  • Background footage (we call it B-Roll) shot in any variety of locations, locally and afar
  • Graphics
  • Animations
  • Still images
  • Archival footage
  • Even stock video (sometimes it has higher production values and is less expensive than shooting such scenes from scratch)

One of our own getting some B-Roll shots for a client video

And there’s no way around it, skilled professionals are needed in every category: producers, directors, camera operators, sound and lighting engineers, hair and makeup, graphic and animation artists, editors PLUS the hard costs of equipment, props, travel and licensing of stock video or music clips.  With the inclusion of these professionals, each element will inevitably involve some cost.

Does it mean that every video has to be expensive? Absolutely not!  It’s all a function of what you’re trying to achieve and what skills and tools you need to accomplish your goals.  I’ve seen cases where a charismatic CEO needed only to communicate something important to the firm’s employees, and a little lighting and a lot of personality won the day.

But here’s the real point:  regardless of whether the video cost $2,000 or $200,000, if you’re smart about it and plan for multiple-use from the very beginning, that bottom-line budget can be amortized six ways from Sunday.

Let’s say we shoot a 5-minute video to promote a client’s new product or service. That same video can be up on the corporate website, included in face-to-face sales presentations, e-blasted out as a Vimeo link, shown in a trade show booth (or in some cases, as a gigantic image projected on a trade show booth), etc… Not to mention excerpts or cut-down versions can be used in TV spots, on YouTube, distributed for PR purposes and so on.

Now, all of a sudden, that one-time cost pays for itself many times over.  Once shot and edited, adapting it for all these other purposes involves minimal additional time and charges.

So, are the costs of video worth it?  I can say “absolutely yes” based on projects I’ve produced for clients, especially those prior to joining Catalyst (I’m the “new kid” here).  Just ask American Express, when a video we produced for them saved a $170 million business of theirs from crashing and burning.  Ask Fujifilm Medical Systems, where the video we produced for their trade-show booth impressed both the industry and their Japanese C-Suite executives, that it became the centerpiece of their worldwide sales presentations in the best year in sales in the history of their company.  Ask Citibank, when we put together a video presentation that brought a previously back-office division into the limelight, and they built it into a business that involved billions of dollars.

When we look at video from these standpoints, it starts to feel a whole lot more like an investment than an expense. Lights, camera, action…. reaction!



Cool under pressure