Top five downsides of hiring a video agency

By Tim Cumming and Helen Pain, 19 Feb 2021

You're ready to start your first video campaign and suddenly, there's a niggle at the back of your mind. Did I hire the right agency? Has my brand been properly represented? Will my audience engage? In short, you're thinking: what are my risks?

Below are the top five calamities of using a video agency.

Top 5

1. The risk of selection (or not working backwards)

An agency that doesn't listen or hasn't understood your brief is the highest risk of all. You may well come to the table with a high expectation of publishing videos which will generate a high response. This is not unreasonable. Your agency, however, may lack the skill in delivering the response.

Perhaps a polite way of saying this might be that you have selected the wrong agency.

When you choose an agency, it's your responsibility to ensure that it has the ideas, the awareness, and the capabilities to think backwards. In other words, to work from audience response back towards messaging and audience understanding.

Do List

  • Agency: check it can win audiences by working backwards, not just make lovely videos
  • Goals: draft goals for internal agreement first, then add to the brief

Don't make the mistake of buying creativity for its own sake. Choose your video marketing partner wisely.

Top 5

2. The risk of insufficiency (or not placing videos)

This risk is found in two places. The first is inside your agency. If you choose a production partner who lacks the skills in deployment and placement, your video project is going to struggle with the important aspects of being seen and generating response. That's huge.

The second place is inside your marketing team. Dare it be said, on your desk. If you're not thinking about response, and what it takes to elicit that response from the word go, you're setting yourself up for a beautiful project that will never be seen.

Do List

  • Audiences: estimate your target audience size using LinkedIn search
  • Conversion: estimate a reasonable response rate
  • Value: estimate a reasonable average value per response
  • Gain: do the maths - quantity x value = gain
  • Commit: Build this into the team's goals, and into agency briefing

Think positively about the kind of response you would wish for, even if it's simply from what you might consider to be 'branding' videos. If people have understood who you are and what you're capable of, the all important question is: what do you want them to do about it?

Circuit board with marked strategic path and chess pieces

3. The risk of rigidity (or not split-testing)

Committing to a huge project without really knowing that it's going to work, or having any contingency for revision, is a big risk. Because video tends to be more expensive than many other forms of content, the temptation here is to see video as an unchangeable format and a kind of content.

That's not really the reality. If it's entirely possible to shoot multiple endings for movies, it's entirely possible to shoot multiple calls to action and multiple variants of the videos which you launch with.

Viewing video as a trial-and-error medium is strongly encouraged. And, while the fundamental truths and stories that you have to explain to your audiences don't vary, the endings and calls-to-action (particularly the endings of those stories) can be changed easily and republished. You can move to an optimum when the analysis starts to flow in and proper learnings can be applied to audience behaviour and response.

Do List

  • CTA variants: write out 3 possible CTA variants (or have your agency do it)
  • Ending variants: write out 3 possible narrative end points (or have your agency do it)
  • Platform: You'll need to track your tests on Vimeo or Wistia (Youtube is too limited here)

This is critical for slowly improving your video campaigns effectiveness. There's only one platform that really helps you here and that is Vimeo. YouTube will simply not permit you to update videos in a convenient or split testing kind of way.

Flowers hiding behind stalks

4. The risk of hiding (or competitors before clients)

Historically, many financial and knowledge firms have developed a tendency to hide their expertise by simply writing about or illustrating their capabilities. And if that's you, and you're pivoting to something new, we hail you. Your hope now might be that by producing new videos, you will reveal more. Shine brighter.

So don't hide your intellectual property, or talk in general rather than specific ways, or mask your key processes, beliefs, or strengths from competitors. Unless you have a wholly patented and totally original process, this kind of hiding is dangerous.

Video gives you an enormous opportunity to express valuable proofs to your online audience. And that's where they expect it now: online. Not in a meeting or a Zoom call.

Besides, your competitors almost certainly know what these so-called secrets really are. Look at your own knowledge of your competitors; you have a pretty good idea of how they differentiate, and what processes or unique aspects of their business they claim. If you already know that, they almost certainly know it about you.

Do List

  • List out secrets: write down thirty secrets that you give away in client meetings
  • Strike out super-secrets: check with your senior team what is wholly secret
  • Brief the video team: share this with the production team
  • Grow this ethos: make a habit and virtue of client-facing helpfulness

The risk here is investing in video while still wishing to hide your key advantages - this dilutes the messaging and the efficacy of your video campaign.

Flowers hiding behind stalks

5. The risk of stopping at leads (or not helping sales)

The greatest return on investment (ROI) in video marketing often comes when you migrate video effort to further down the pipeline. Towards supporting sales initiation, nurturing, development and closure.

Sales teams are simply unaccustomed to the idea that they might have videos to support them in their work. Yet, sales videos that strengthen their case can have an enormous effect on the desire of a prospect to come on board.

Examples include films that deal with objections, demonstrate products or services, and explain clearly the client experience, whether that's onboarding or right the way through the year.

Do List

  • Nurturing: could nurturing improve 50%, say, with prospecting and actionable films?
  • Development: could sales development climb 33% with interactive or personalised films?
  • Closure: could closure build 33% with objection handlers and case studies?
  • Gain: do the compound maths - 1.5 nurture x 1.33 development x 1.33 closure = 165% net gain
  • Commit: Build your numbers into the project.

Ignore these kinds of videos at your peril. The remedy is to plan for videos which support the attraction and development of leads, and also support the sales and closure processes.

Conclusion

Video agency risks are hugely reduced by only a small amount of thinking:

  1. Selection: choose an agency that can work backwards from your goals
  2. Insufficiency: choose an agency that can place videos, not merely make them
  3. Rigidity: choose an agency that can split test your videos, and optimise conversion
  4. Hiding: choose an agency that has interviewers capable of really finding the good you do
  5. Opening: think of sales as well as marketing when you define your project

The very process of assessing risks will generate more ambitious thinking. It's not hard to think, just hard to find the time. When you do, you'll be helping your marketing, finance and sales directors all at once. And your project will succeed.

So, now you've de-risked hiring an agency, you've moved towards your goal. Time for a chat about process?

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