You just saw the latest viral video and have decided that you NEED a video for your business. Before you pick up the phone or start sending out a gazillion emails asking for bids and quotes, step back back for a second and take a deep breath. First of all, you are probably right. Any business or organization could use good video to help market and promote their product or service. The problem is that producing a bad video or choosing the wrong video production company can be very costly, even with that “discount” production company you found at cheapvidz.biz. This is your time and money, and even more importantly, your brand and message on the line.

Video production is far more committing and expensive than designing an ad or a banner for your website. You want to make sure you get it right, the first time. That all begins with finding the right video production company. Here are 6 tips to help you start your quest:

1. Let’s start at the very…end?

That’s right. The end. Even if you don’t know anything about video production, you should have a clear idea of what you want your video to accomplish for your business. What is the goal? Do you want the finished product to be about your brand or product? A specific campaign that your are running? An educational video for your customers? How about a training video for employees? The first step is to think of the end result. Who are you making the video for, what is the goal of the video and what do you want the viewer to do after they watch it?

2. You can’t find good video production at the dollar store.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As you begin searching for a production company, you will begin to find a wide array of services and prices. When Company ABC gives you a great quote, be sure to find out what is included. Editing? Travel? Music licensing? Distribution? And how is their quality of work? Sure, sometimes people get lucky, find a great deal and end up with a great product. But, they were just that, lucky. There are enough variables in video and marketing as whole, the idea is to control what you can and focus your energy on dealing with the variables.

3. Professionalism.

Show up late, leave early. “Well, I think it’s good enough.” “Um, I need another week to get that to you.” We’ve all dealt with things like this on a certain level. With a little time and research, you can minimize experiencing or hearing these from your production company. What we really want is: reliable, accountable, and collaborative. These 3 characteristics will make pre-production, production, and post-production not just smooth, but actually enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and follow up with them. Do they show up? How were they to work with? Do they listen? Do they settle for good enough? Were they timely in getting the finished product to you? Creating video marketing pieces should be fun and exciting and if you pick the right company, it can be.

4. Experts. Experts in what?

When creating a video marketing piece, the ability to operate a camera is on a part of the equation. Of course you want a someone who is technically competent with the gear. Lighting, sound, camera, etc. A good video cannot happen without these skills. But for your brand, product or service, you need more. You also need a creative company. One who can work with you to create a compelling story, find the perfect location, work with the actors, find the right music, get the RIGHT shots and put it all together to create your final product. The third area of expertise is business and marketing. A great wedding videographer may not have the understanding of the concepts that make a great marketing video. What are the elements of persuasion? How do you incorporate those elements into video? A great marketing video should inspire your viewer to do something. Whether it’s buy your product or service, change their mind on an issue, change their behavior, or simply connect with your brand. It takes an understanding of your audience and marketing. So, in your search, look for and ask questions that reflect a company’s expertise in the technical aspects of shooting, as well as their creative and marketing expertise.

5. Friends and family. Maybe not for long…

OK, we all know how challenging it can be working with your favorite relative or good friend. No matter how hard you try, it is hard to separate business and personal relationships. The tension, pressure and emotions when working on a project are a lot to deal with, especially when your business and money are in the mix. While it is possible and there are great partnerships that started out personally, more often than not, it will be far easier to tell a company that you are not happy with the finished product if your relationship is purely professional.

6. I love it! What now?

You just received the final cut and you couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Now what? Do you have the knowledge and systems in place to get it out to your audience? Is the company you’ve chosen able to consult on future and/or ongoing projects? Can they offer new, fresh ideas and content? Marketing is an ongoing process and doesn’t stop when a project is completed. And as video becomes more and more a necessary part of marketing strategy, finding a production company that you feel comfortable with, knows who you are and what you are doing, can be invaluable for creating a long-term stream of great video marketing content.

Being involved in creating a video project can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. By taking the time to research, interview and compare a variety of options that match your personality, style and budget will not just payoff in your final product, but your experience as well. If you have any other pointers or tips to help find the right video production company, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.