When in discovery meetings with potential clients, I know at some point in the conversation they are going to ask me the question they ultimately came to ask – “How much is this video going to cost?”

My response? “That depends. Why do you want a video? And once you have it, what are you going to do with it?”

Many people can’t answer those question thoughtfully because they haven’t taken the time to really think about why they want a video.

A common response I often hear involves something about updating a website. The potential client thinks their website needs a video because they heard from someone how important video is in search rankings, or they read somewhere that video is the future and they don’t want to get left behind.

When asked what they plan on doing with the video once it’s created, they again answer vaguely. “It’ll go somewhere on our website and probably on our Facebook page and maybe on YouTube,” they say.  

Why do I answer their question about cost with a question of my own? Because if they don’t have a concrete idea of why they want to create a video and how they plan to use it, they can’t determine what the potential value of that piece is to their brand. Without the perspective of value, it’s difficult for me to guide them in the right financial direction. There are a multitude of ways to create video content and an equal number of budgets to bring that content to life. How much you should spend on your video ultimately comes down to how important that video is to your organization and how you plan to distribute it in order to maximize its impact.

If you want a video that tells the unique story of your company, that connects emotionally, and that is going to be a focal point of your brand and marketing efforts for the next one to three years, then I’d advise you to consider putting a solid budget behind it because it could be the first impression, maybe the only impression, a prospect has of your brand. It could be the piece that sets the tone for the public persona of your company and how the public should feel about you.

If you commit to an adequate budget and timeline to tell your story in a way that is professional and timeless, you’ll be able to use that piece for many years – a motion picture asset, if you will.

It’s not uncommon for our clients to use pieces we created for them for at least three to five years. If you look at the long-term value of the content with this perspective in mind, it makes it easier to see why it might make sense to spend five or six figures on a project.

Conversely, if you want a video that promotes a one-time event and you’re just trying to get information into the hands of as many people as possible, or it’s strictly for social media posts and will likely see a limited audience with a short usage period, then it wouldn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on that project. In fact, you might be able to pull that one off yourself with a few YouTube tutorials and your cell phone. 

Or, maybe it’s a combination of the two and a middle-of-the-road budget makes the most sense. 

Even after 11-plus years of creating and producing motion picture content for clients all over the world, I don’t think I will ever be able to answer the “How much will this video cost me?” question at the discovery stage. But if they know why they want a video and how they plan to use it, we can almost always get to a budget that achieves their goals at a price point that makes sense.