If you’ve decided to bring in a video agency to help tell the story of your brand, you’ve made a great decision.

Video is one of the stickiest forms of content marketing and, despite it also being one of the oldest, shows no signs of being usurped. There simply aren’t any new forms of content on the horizon that beat it when it comes to the ability to drive high levels of engagement.

Yes, you can create pretty good looking video in-house, but if you really want to make the most of your video output, you need a professional hand.

This is where a video agency comes in, but it’s easy to get this particular partnership wrong.

So, where can you go wrong with a video agency?

Picking a video agency is tough enough, but once you’ve made your choice it’s vital you don’t waste the opportunity.

This is surprisingly easy to do. For instance, you may not provide a solid enough brief, or you might give the agency too much autonomy to get on with the project without your input.

Basically, if you take your eye off the ball or don’t provide a good enough brief, the end result will be expensive, unfit for purpose and incapable of delivering a decent return on investment.

So, with that in mind, we decided to ask Slinky’s Scott Ledbury for his thoughts on how to make best use of a video agency.

What questions should people ask video agencies when looking for the right one?

Start by digging into their client roster and ask if they’ve worked with clients similar to you, in the same industry.

They should be able to provide full video examples, too – not just a flashy showreel. It’s also important to encourage an open conversation about money and the budgets you need to work to.

Magdalena Velkova assisting on shoot for Aston business school.

How much should you be involved in the video planning, filming and editing as the customer?

Each video production company works differently, but at Slinky we always use the analogy of “the client shops for the ingredients, then Slinky will bake the cake”.

This means the client must steer the main brief, objective and (some) creative direction), and usually provide a script outline to give us points to work from.

Lastly, the client usually needs to give us access to the people and locations involved in the project.

What red flags should you look out for when initially speaking to a video agency?

Look out for companies that continually talk about their gear and cameras.

“All the gear, no idea” is totally relevant here. After all, you wouldn’t hire a plumber if all he talked about was his new SpannerMatic 2000.

A video company should be far more interested in the client’s objectives and creative content, rather than the equipment needed to get there. Cameras, for instance, are just a tool to get the job done.

What questions should you ask about the planning phase?

It’s the usual stuff, to be honest – the who, what, why and when.

Those four ‘w’s will help the right video agency maximise the filming time available and put their skills to the best possible use.

What questions should you ask during the filming?

Well, put it this way – if you need to continually ask questions during the filming, you probably haven’t undertaken the planning phase properly.

Checking in occasionally and highlighting anything that has kept you up at night is important, but continual questions during the meat of the project once it’s underway suggests you should have planned things better.

What questions should you ask during the edit?

Providing the planning phase has been undertaken thoroughly, there shouldn’t be too many questions needed during the edit.

More importantly, a good video company should know how to estimate and budget for the editing time required. If it turns out that the footage captured is likely to take longer to work with, they should let you know early on.

Editors in the Slinky Productions Edit Suite

How much should the agency get involved in the storytelling?

This is an easy one.

Throughout the entire project.

One of the video agency’s most important tasks is to lead and inspire you to craft the best story possible.

Should the agency help distribute and, if so, how?

This depends on a few factors.

Most good, focused video production companies will focus on making a great video and will leave it to marketers to distribute the content effectively.

This is because distribution for video content is seen (quite rightly) as a separate area to filming and production. They may get involved by adding their thoughts on how to best distribute it, but the mechanics of this element are usually a marketing task.

How should you approach creative disagreements?

It’s vital that full expectations are laid down from the very start. That means everything from mood boards to storyboards, scripts and style examples.

These initial expectations should then relate directly to the client’s budget. If creative disagreements or opinions of taste become an issue downstream, it’s important for everyone involved to have an open conversation about how to deal with them from a time and budget perspective.

What shouldn’t the agency be expected to do?

The video agency is there to play a pivotal role in the project, but they shouldn’t be expected to come up with the client’s core objective or to get the in-road and access to people and places required for filming.

Lastly, name three things the video agency should nail every single time

These are absolute no-brainers as far as I’m concerned, and totally non-negotiable in terms of expected delivery:

  1. Manage expectations right from the first draft quote.
  2. Provide first-class client communication throughout the project.
  3. Make the whole process – especially post-production reviews – as streamlined as possible.

Wrapping up

We hope Scott’s input above has given you an idea of how best to work with your video agency.

If there’s one key takeaway, it’s that any video content project is a two-way affair. It needs honest conversations, transparency and a desire to communicate effectively throughout the process.

Get that right, and the video your business produces will perform brilliantly for an awfully long time.