It’s marketing 101: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Doubly so, if we’re talking about explainer videos. The margin for error is very slim here as you have mere seconds to put your best foot forward, stand out from the clutter and draw in potential customers. Therefore, choosing a video animation production company is truly a make-or-break decision. Here are five helpful tips on how not to come up empty-handed when you’re fishing for an animation studio “with the mostest.”
1. Start with yourself
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many clients skip this important step in the decision-making process. Before you power up your Mac to search for “best animation production companies in my area” or reach for the phone to make some frantic calls, think of what you are trying to accomplish. Why do you need an explainer video in the first place? Is it because all the cool kids are doing it? Or because you’re stuck with promoting your brand on a shoestring budget? Or is it because this is the best way to reach your target audience? Set clear goals for your campaign, define the opportunities and limitations, clarify the message you want to deliver, jot down your expectations for what kind of response the video will need to evoke. This way, you’ll make a more informed decision about which type of production company you should be looking for and what the best style for your video is. For example, if your goal is to create a tutorial about the product or service, whiteboard animation videos are an obvious choice. So you’ll be looking at studios that excel in this particular video genre. Alternatively, if you wish to focus on building a personal relationship with potential customers through testimonials, you may opt for a live action spot. Understanding this will further narrow your pool of production companies to choose from.
2. See the goods
Once you set your sights on the production company you like, take your research to the next level. Review the studio’s show reel and, more importantly, a few of their recent projects. Even perfunctory analysis will give you an idea of their style and tone, breadth and depth of their creative talent, technical prowess and visual mastery. You’ll be able to assess the quality and professionalism of their work, too, and see if what they deliver goes in line with your own quality standards. Read up on some of the studio’s case studies, if they provide these. It’s a good idea to find a past project that matches your current needs and evaluate how well the studio has risen to the challenge of tackling the client’s communication objectives. Most importantly, trust your gut. How often the videos prompt an “I love it!” response is a good litmus test of the overall quality of the studio’s creative output.
3. Look for more
A quality production company will offer you a full range of different services – and the one that’s ready to go the extra mile will customize them to your requirements. Ideally, this should be a one-stop-shop for all your marketing needs. What is their level of customization? Are they able and willing to create an exclusive video marketing strategy? Can they produce compelling written content (social media content, PR, etc.) for a brand campaign? Will they recommend innovative advertising channels that will broaden your reach? Look for a studio that has the capacity to oversee the whole process from start to finish, take care of the distribution of the video and supply you with a variety of different promotional tools.
4. Ask around
It would be wise to find out what kind of feedback past clients share about this particular company. There are two ways you can go about collecting feedback: 1). Ask the company directly for testimonials of their clients; 2). Consult objective sources (check out the company’s business ratings, read independent reviews, reach out to your personal business network for a second opinion). For all the great variety of video animation production houses out there, it really is a small world where word travels fast. If there is any bad news about your prospective partner, you’ll waste no time in finding it out. Also, ask yourself this: does this production house handle any major accounts? Do you spot household brand names on their client list? If the production studio is playing in the big leagues, chances are, they do indeed deliver.
5. Apply the triple A rule
Now that you’ve come this far in the evaluation process, it’s time to administer something we at Darvideo call the triple A rule. Your video animation production company of choice should be:
In this scenario, “affordable” does not equal “cheap.” Rather, it means “able to give you the most bang for your buck.” Package deals are not the norm in video production industry: be prepared that costs will vary greatly, depending on the complexity and timing of the project. What sets a good production company apart for its less scrupulous counterparts is that it will propose a number of production routes and consult you on identifying the realistic level of investment that fits your budget and the studio’s capabilities. They will offer guidance as to what you can expect within your particular price range, without sacrificing the quality of the final product. The budget estimate for a project on the studio’s side should be as transparent and clear as possible and should not contain any hidden costs or unnecessary expenses.
“Available” refers to how client-oriented and committed the company’s team is. The animation studio should not be judged on the product alone: it’s the team and talent behind these videos that matter the most. And we’re not talking only about the level of technical expertise, although it helps if the company’s personnel bring years of professional experience to the table. The production company’s customer service and communication should be top-notch: the team should respond to your queries quickly and efficiently, providing daily updates about the project’s status; the workflow should be seamless, and you need to be walked through all stages of production in advance so that you are all on the same page. The willingness to work not just for you, but also with you, is of paramount importance. Do they obsess about every little detail and lose track of production schedule? Do they stress out when you introduce any changes or suggest revisions? How well do they handle the pressure of working under a deadline? Make an effort to gauge how well you’ll fit together. Meet with the company’s team in an informal setting, read their blog, follow them on social media. Don’t forget, your collaboration should be fun!
And last but not least, the production company’s team should remain “active.” Do they really offer you their best or just go for a tried and true approach regardless of your unique needs? Do they challenge your vision and come up with creative suggestions? Or do they say “yes” to everything in order to please you and secure your business? Yes-sayers don’t always have your best interests at heart. Those who don’t take risks don’t drink champagne, remember? Take a leap of faith and reap the benefits of working with an international studio: for maximum competitiveness, these teams usually go to great lengths to keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry. In addition to that, they are guaranteed to offer you a unique creative perspective that might be missing closer to home.
Hopefully, you feel more confident now to embark upon a quest for the perfect video production partner. We recommend you start by checking out Darvideo Animation – see how we fare against the criteria outlined in this article (hint: we pass with flying colors!)