I’m often asked what is the biggest mistake that companies make when they set out to have a video created. My answer is always the same: They do not trust the process. It is a complex process, but it is vital to follow it if you want a video that is effective and memorable.

The first step in the process is determining a budget that will allow you to meet your communication goals and also explore some options on the creative journey. At budget time, it’s important to know what a realistic price is for the kind of video that your company needs. There is no formula that I know of that equates length with cost, because there are too many variables for such a formula to be accurate. Try to get a ballpark price from a company whose work you like and give them as many facts as you can; factor in a reasonable cushion to anticipate added elements and various creative options. The motto “time is money” is very apt for video production. And the more time you can take with your production the better it will be. Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of a comfortable schedule in today’s fast-paced world, but your video will suffer from rushing. I’m not saying that the production should go on and on, but some elements just take time to get right and its worth it.

Before you shoot or edit anything, you have to invest the time to get the story right. After all, video is just a delivery medium for stories. If you can’t identify a great story there’s no point in doing a video. The reason I refer to YouTube as a cornucopia of crap is because, now that everyone has a camera in their phone, people have dumbed video production down to running around pointing their phone at stuff and haphazardly talking to people with barely a business objective established. “We need to use video in our marketing” is not sufficient. No video is better than bad video. What you do in PRE-production in terms of brainstorming and scripting will ultimately determine the success or failure of your video. This is where the selection of a video production partner is critical. Notice I said “partner”. Be prepared to spend a healthy amount of time in the process before shoot day. If you don’t, beware. If your production house can’t explain their pre-production process, or doesn’t have one, back away, quickly. Anyone can point a camera at something. Very few can find a story that creates engagement and get people to express themselves on camera in a believable, relaxed way.

At the end of the day its attention to detail at each step of the process that will elevate your video above the rest. Location choices, composition, shooting techniques, graphics, music choices and editing style are all areas critical to the success of your video. The best thing you can do at the start is provide URLs to videos that you feel are reflective of your brand and the goal you have in mind so that you can get your team and your partner into the same head space. It will also help your partner explain if what you want is in line with your budget.

It should go without saying that your choice of production house will also have a huge impact on the final product. But they come a dime a dozen. Be sure to CALL references. Obviously, the size of your budget will affect how much your production house can bring to the table but a good production house will always tell you up front how to best spend your money to achieve your goals.