So you know you need a video or animation to bring your project alive and convey what you need to express with creativity and intelligence, in a format easily delivered and digested by your audience.

Now you might be wondering, “How do I hire a company to create something I don’t know anything about?” You may not (and probably shouldn’t, but we’ll get to that soon) even know the specific parameters of your project yet.

It can be daunting to launch into a field with which you’re unfamiliar—and there are some bases you want to be sure and cover. But finding talented, reputable people who want to do an excellent job for you isn’t difficult, and might even be fun. Here are a few steps to making a confident decision.

If you’re not sure exactly what kind of production you want yet, that’s good. Let your production company help you consider your audience, message, and the desired outcome—they’re the professionals, after all, and may have options you’re not aware of—and then select the appropriate medium. For example, you might want an animation to explain a complex concept, or an actor-based how-to video for a new product or service.

Because you’re not quite sure of your direction going in, the production company you choose needs to have a broad range of capabilities, including video animation and mixed-media, so that no matter what you decide you want, they can deliver it without compromise.

As with any such choice, ask others you trust for recommendations, and research a few companies. If you like to work with people face to face, you might prioritize local companies; if you’re comfortable working online, you can go further afield. You will probably end up with a couple of companies that you want to interview in depth.

Who are these people?

Each company’s website should introduce its primary players and clearly communicate their specialties, education, and years of experience.  Websites may also list awards and organizational memberships that indicate recognition from and participation in the field.

In initial conversations, listen for the ability to understand your project thoroughly:

  • Are you able to communicate easily?
  • Do you feel you are being heard?
  • Are you hearing a range of enthusiastic ideas for how your project might best be tackled?

Ask about the process:

  • How does this company work with clients?
  • Are they clear about decision trees and deadlines?
  • What happens if you need to make a change somewhere along the line?
  • Will the budget be clearly documented, so you know bottom-line impacts for changes?

Know what you’re looking for

You want a video production company with three clear strengths: creativity, technical skills, and project management. You want people with imagination and vision who know their craft and will deliver a product to you within the deadlines and budgets set.

So what can you ask for that will demonstrate those characteristics and abilities?

Ask to view a portfolio of their work.

Ask for a Portfolio review

You should be able to see a selection of productions that are similar to the one you are planning. Some projects are proprietary, but an experienced company will be able to share a fair sample of their work with you.

As you view each piece in the portfolio, inquire:

  • Was the organization responsible for the entire production or just an element of it?
  • Were they collaborating with other organizations?
  • What facets of each sample might be similar to your needs or project?
  • What technical skills does each piece illustrate? For instance, does the portfolio reflect a range of software and media?
  • Is the technology used older, or is the company keeping up with new options?
  • What was challenging about the portfolio pieces? How did the company meet those challenges? (Listen for creative approaches and the willingness to learn new things.)

Learning about the people in the company, interacting with them, and viewing a portfolio of their previous work are fundamental steps in deciding which video production company to hire. It’s an important decision, and with due diligence, you’ll reap a satisfying experience and a great product. Then you’ll be the experienced customer recommending the company to others!

For other insights, watch the vBook and download the eBook titled “Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Promotional Video Production Company.”