Is Your Video a Commodity or Investment?

[The following guest post is by Shawn Arora who is the founder of LaunchSpark Video, a Toronto-based explainer video agency with a focus on ROI. LaunchSpark works with SaaS / tech vendors to distill complex messaging into clear and concise insights that increase conversion rates.]

With the explosion of explainer videos, startups and other businesses are starting to feel like they’re getting left in the dust without one. A startup would never think of foregoing a website for their company, and now explainer videos are getting the same treatment.

But what differs across startups is the way in which they approach their video – are you thinking about video like buying gas at a gas station (where the cheapest price is the only consideration), or like purchasing a house (where cost is still a consideration, but where other things like location, build quality, and lot size also play a key role)?

That thought process changes the way the video is treated and can affect how successful it is for the company. These four topics can be seen entirely different depending on whether you view your video project as a commodity or an investment.

Cost

For those that consider their video to be a commodity, their choice is based on cost. They’re just looking for the cheapest gas in town because they feel it’s a necessary cost that they want to keep as low as possible. These companies say things like “that other company can produce the video cheaper” without understanding why it’s cheaper. They generally choose their agency based on the cheapest cost, which may mean someone with less experience or lacking a certain creative set of skills (these videos typically cost in the $1-3k range).

Those that treat their video as an investment are also considerate of budgets, but they understand that various costs translate into corresponding video qualities, which impact conversion and revenue – and they choose the balance cost and quality that maximizes ROI, not simply the cheapest one (these videos tend to cost in the $4-8k range, and up).

Branding

When your video is a commodity and your choice is based on cost alone, you don’t consider how the video fits in with your brand identity. With the number of explainer videos that look out of place on a company’s website, the proportion of companies that consider their video a commodity isn’t a trivial number.

Those that consider their video an investment understand that a consistent brand identity is a valuable asset, and that an outside agency needs time to understand your brand and generate valuable ideas (much like a realtor needs to know the ideal home for you and your family). It’s generally a good investment to match the visual quality of your video with the visual quality of your website and brand characteristics. For example, if you’re a big data analytics platform with enterprise-style branding that interprets huge volumes of data which undergoes intelligent analysis, a simple and run-of-the-mill animated video just won’t work.

If brand quality and consistency are important, it requires an investment. Companies generally understand this when it comes to websites, since the industry is mature, but not so much for video.

Perception

Have you ever visited a website that looked so outdated that you hit the back button immediately? We all have. The marketing materials a company utilizes communicates to a customer the quality they can expect to receive when they work together, and a video is no different.

When you treat your video as a commodity, your customers come to expect that they will be treated as just another number (i.e. a commodity), which has an obvious impact on whether they continue to watch the video long enough to see the call-to-action.

A video that you invest in, on the other hand, says that you’ll make an investment working with the customer that comes to see it. It’s no coincidence that companies with enough attention to detail to provide great customer service are also the ones that also use that attention to detail to wow their prospects and customers.

Return

Companies that consider their video a commodity, complete the production process, post their video on their homepage and/or YouTube, and call it a day. They just want to scratch “Video” off their to-do list and move on. If you ask them how the video has performed, they say things like “people love it” or “we think it’s really helped”.

Meanwhile, companies that understand that their video is an investment learn everything about the video’s performance. When LaunchSpark produced a video for Resume Genius, they immediately split tested the video, and learned that we increased their conversion rate by 11% (and understood how much this translated into additional monthly revenue). If you put in the research upon launching the video, you can discover new, effective ways to use video to drive your business.

Summary

If you’re in the early stages of your video production, understand that the approach you take will have huge impacts on the outcome. If you’re not at the stage to consider your video an investment, that might be a sign that you’re not yet ready for a video.

Here’s a quick list of things you should be looking at when considering a video agency:

  • Are we confident that they can create a tone for our video that will match our brand personality?

  • Are we investing enough in our video to give our customers confidence in our ability to deliver on our brand promise?

  • What are our goals for the video? Be specific — write down a tangible goal like “lift homepage conversion rate by 7%”, rather than something like “lift conversion rate”.

  • Do we have the budget to invest in the quality of video that will achieve our goal? If not, consider holding off on a video.

With video, you’re not just pumping gas into your business – you’re creating part of the foundation in which the future of your company will be supported by.

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