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DIY, Contractor, or In-house: Setting Your Business' Video Strategy

So, you’ve been talking to your marketing friends and you've started to realize that this whole "video" thing isn't going away any time soon. You find yourself up at night, watching other brand’s product videos, thinking about how it's time for you to really get into video.

But you're scared. Is it too soon? What if it doesn’t work out? Is your vision just clouded by all that exciting camera gear? What if your parents don’t like even like each other? OK, we're getting carried away here, but you get the picture.

One of the most common challenges managers face when deciding how to resource a new initiative, is whether they should try to do it themselves, hire an agency, or bring someone on full time. Luckily, when it comes to video, we've got some pointers that'll help you navigate this decision without wasting too much time or energy. Let's dig in!

Taking matters into your own hands

Pros:

Low-cost, authentic results, great long-term investment, convenience, empowers your team

Cons:

Time intensive at the beginning, learning curve, lo-fi results not well suited for all brand touches

It might seem annoyingly obvious, but first, ask yourself how many and what types of videos your business currently needs. Do you need to create some videos that answer commonly asked support questions? Are you looking to onboard new employees internally with video? If you're considering investing in any of the aforementioned videos, we’ve found that these types of “lower-stake” videos don’t necessarily need super slick deliverables. Plus, there are plenty of free tools out there that can help you get it done well without emptying your pockets (wink wink, nudge nudge, Soapbox).

So give it a go yourself! Set aside some time to read up on the many DIY resources you have right at your finger tips—the internet is a beautiful thing. Find some coworkers who may already have photography or video experience. And remember, regardless of how bad that first video comes out, there's always something to be learned about the process, your brand, and what you actually want to achieve with this type of content.

"Set aside some time to read up on the many DIY resources you have right at your finger tips—the internet is a beautiful thing."
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That said, we totally understand that not every team can devote this amount of time to tinkering and experimentation (especially if you aren't familiar with some basic video principles). But luckily, you have two more options to consider, which we'll get to next!

Doing it yourself? Here are some questions to ask before you commit:

  • Do you have basic editing software or access to other helpful tools?
  • Does anyone at your business have an iPhone X? We're talking Portrait Mode, peeps.
  • Is there a clear owner of this initiative? Who will have the final say?
  • Who will represent your company on camera? Are they willing to participate?
  • Are there parts of your business that could benefit from quick, lo-fi videos?
  • Last but not least, is there room to try and fail?

Hiring an agency or contractor

Pros:

Low commitment, video gear supplied by contractor, high quality video output, process is taken care of end-to-end

Cons:

Multiple videos gets expensive, additional edits cost money, less spontaneity, takes time to find and manage

Video can have a pretty outsized impact on how customers think about your brand. So if you’re looking for someone to create a ton of public-facing videos, you need to make sure whoever you bring in is fully aligned with your business, from company values to tone of voice.

Creative agencies that specialize in marketing videos have popped up everywhere lately—heck, there’s probably someone living in your apartment building right now that works at one. Pick an area of your business where a video could have a big impact, and then work with an agency to make it happen. The agency approach might require a decent financial investment, but experienced video professionals can help you understand the needs and wants of your company quickly. And of course, you'll end up with a high-quality asset!

"The agency approach might require a decent financial investment, but experienced video professionals can help you understand the needs and wants of your company quickly."
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If you're thinking, "This sounds great and all, but hiring an agency really isn't in the budget." Never fear, you've got options.

The combination of inexpensive video technology and a generation of people who had iPhones by high school, means today’s creative marketplace is flooded with young, hungry videographers. Try reaching out to local universities with production programs to get in touch with recent alumni. Find some local bands with high quality music videos—they most likely already have a pulse on the budding production scene in your area. And last but not least, don’t underestimate the wedding videographer your cousin just had at their reception!

Whether it’s an agency or a recent college graduate with a DSLR and a drone, the freelance route has far more reward than risk. If the video turns out great, that's awesome! You can collaborate on another project with that person. And if it doesn’t? Well, you didn't invest too much time and money into this one video, and chances are, you learned something new about what your must-haves really are when it comes to video.

Going the contractor route? Make sure you have answers to these questions first:

  • What budget are you working with and how flexible is it?
  • Who is your target audience and what do you need this video to accomplish?
  • Have you established brand guidelines to help contractors speak in your “voice”?
  • Do you have a clear goal in mind for this video? What does success look like?
  • Where will this video live—on your website, social channels, landing page, etc.?
  • Who is going to own the communication with the vendor?
  • Do you have a clear timeline for when this video needs to be delivered?

Bringing video in-house

Pros:

Accountable owners for video, producers understand the company strategy, iterative process, brand consistency

Cons:

Cost of a salaried employee, creative limitations of a one-person team, gear and studio expenses, daunting hiring process

When demand, financial feasibility, and proven ROI align, the decision to hire a video producer becomes a no-brainer. This can especially feel like the case when your work with an agency starts approaching the cost of a full time salary.

"When demand, financial feasibility, and proven ROI align, the decision to hire a video producer becomes a no-brainer."
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Through our own experience here at Wistia, we found that an in-house videographer wasn’t quite a necessity until video quality became super important. That being said, there are plenty of fringe benefits beyond glossy marketing videos that come with hiring an in-house video producer.

Compared to a freelancer, an in-house video producer has a more nuanced knowledge of the overall business strategy and brand, a personal investment in the company's success, and a greater level of comfort with the team. When either of our in-house video producers have some extra time outside of working on marketing efforts, we end up producing some pretty amazing internal assets. Our in-house team has also been instrumental in helping our sales, success, marketing, and support teams become more comfortable with DIY video, which is another added bonus of the in-house route.

Bringing video in-house? Think about these questions before putting up your job posting:

  • Do you want this person to build a studio and buy all the necessary equipment?
  • What types of content do you need—live-action videos, animated video, motion graphics, etc?
  • What will you be able to bring to the table that will help them to succeed?
  • Do you want this person be able to act on camera themselves?
  • Do you have someone at your business that would be able to onboard them successfully?
  • Is there a particular style of video that your business would like to achieve? Can you articulate that clearly?

All roads lead to video

Regardless of which route you take, it's important to keep your expectations somewhat low at the beginning of your journey. Like any other business endeavor, spinning up a video strategy and establishing a solid brand takes time. Don’t put too much pressure on blowing it out of the water with your first attempts—be prepared to fail and learn!

Everyone has to start somewhere, and to prove it, take a look our first homepage video compared to our most recent. (Spoiler: try not to laugh).

Our very first homepage video from 2008:

The homepage video we're working with in 2018:

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