These are certainly tough economic times that we live in right now.  Many businesses from the Fortune 500 giants to very small businesses are forced to cut down budgets.  Every cost is scrutinized – supply chain, fixed and variable overhead,  MARKETING, etc.  Businesses do what they have to.  In order to cut down costs, sometimes businesses are tempted to become what they are not in order to save a buck or two.  In my experience a lot of this temptation develops within the marketing division of the company.  Companies know that certain elements of marketing are crucial.  One of those crucial, must have elements are videos.  Businesses are quickly discovering that video is the new frontier so to stay relevant and competitive, they need to be developing video content.  This is one of those crucial, must haves that businesses, particularly small to mid-sized, are tempted into trying to become a video production company with a Do It Yourself (DIY) mentality.  Unfortunately, video production is not really an area that you want to DIY because of so many unforeseen problems.  I call it the DIY Pitfall.  “Saving a buck or two” toying with DIY Video usually has three broad glitches: it turns into a great ball of frustration, hurts a brand and has a large potential of actually losing dollars.  What may seem like a good idea for the bottom-line, may very well have disastrous consequences.

The first basic problem with DIY Video is that it can be incredibly frustrating.  It takes a very technical skillset to produce a high quality video.  There are so many ins and outs to producing a good video that it really takes time, a solid understanding and know-how to produce a good video.  Simple things such as using proper microphones, lighting, filming formats, frame rates, aspect ratios, white balance, compression settings, final deliverable format, licensed vs unlicensed music, Video SEO, etc, ad nauseam all add up to producing a very noticeably professional video.  There are too many things that can go wrong when shooting a video if you are unfamiliar with the process.  Video production is a craft that takes dedication, passion and lots of learned experience to arrive to a professional level.  Its something that can’t be learned overnight or even over the course of a few weeks.  Going through the learning curve of video will bring great frustration throughout the process.  How do you expect to learn what professional video producers have taken years to perfect in a mere few weeks?  Even when you know what you are doing, video production is very time consuming.  When you don’t know what you are doing, or just learning it, it can seem like an eternity – an eternity of pulling your hair out.

A second problem with DIY Video for your business or organization is the potential of hurting your brand.  Videos help create an organization’s identity.  They help (should help) build a company’s brand.   The video needs to lift up the brand and complement it.  A bad or mediocre video can have disastrous results and hurt the brand, which will ultimately affect sales – negatively.  It’s a very simple concept – professional video creates a professional identity in the mind of a person.  A bad video creates a bad identity in the mind of a potential client or customer.  Image is everything in marketing.  That video that you spent a ton of time creating (frustratingly learning) didn’t exactly come out they way you envisioned it or hoped but hey, it’s better than nothing right?  Not always.  Imagine someone on YouTube looking at your video that is OK.  And then sees the next video from a competitor that is professionally shot looking smooth, crisp and attractive.  Do you think that person is going to remember your company over the competition’s professional and better-looking video?   The viewer will have it engrained in his/her head that your competitor is better simply because it looks better.  Even if your competition doesn’t have any videos whatsoever, you still create and identity of your company.  What will that identity look like?  Will it be smooth, crisp and attractive driving traffic to your site to search for more information and buy?  We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – but it’s a basic human reaction.  Your branding is critical.  Simply put, if your business wants to portray a professional organization, your video needs to back that up.  Don’t sacrifice your branding.

The third problem about DIY Video for your business or organization stems from a dollars and cents perspective.  From a cost standpoint DIY Video Production makes sense.  With technology and video production costs coming down there is a pretty low barrier to entry.  You pickup an HD camera and iMovie and away you go.  Instant video producer, right?  Why not take a stab at it?  This is a cheap solution that very well may get the job done, but the question is, will you do the job well?  This is where the pitfall lays in terms of dollars – despite being a “cheaper alternative”.   Do you remember how DIY Video is very time consuming and very frustrating trying to learn it?  Guess what?  People on staff spent time working on it, time that they could have spent doing something else…their job maybe.  And to show for it, there is a sub-par video, or worse a completely unusable video, that had a lot of time, energy and money put into it.  How much time did you staff spend on it?  Hour and hours for sure.  The time that your staff spent on learning and filming the video are direct costs to producing it.  Direct material costs that you need for the video (maybe a camera, computer or software, other materials) come into play as well.  Another big factor for cost is opportunity cost.  Spending all the time, effort and money producing a bad/mediocre video then putting up your video up next to a competitor’s video on YouTube that has been shot professionally – what do you think will happen?  You’ll lose potential sales and the whole point of producing in the first place will be in vain.

In the end, I really don’t recommend DIY Video.  It’s a waste of business’ time and money.  Use that time to focus on what you do professionally as a company and leave video production to the professionals…chiefly Optimum Productions. [Shameless product placement]  DIY Video will cost you more than if you had gotten your video shot professionally.  If you’re going to produce a video, make sure its professional.  You owe it to your business.  There’s too much at stake.  DIY Video – Now do you think its worth it?

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