Video vendors only want one thing, and it’s disgusting: honest client feedback that consistently aligns with the agreed-upon goal of the project. I mean, yuck.
If you can push past the surface-level perversions of most video professionals, you may find that what looks like a one-reel mind is actually one craving for a mutually beneficial relationship. By listening to what their video vendors need, as horrifying as that sounds, clients may find themselves with an engaging video content library and a growing business. So, stifle your gag reflex and take all the cleansing showers you need, because it’s time to dive deeper into what video vendors need from their clients.
1. A Goal
Would you ever try to bake something without knowing what it is you’re trying to bake? No, that would be ridiculous, and you’ll quickly find yourself on King Arthur Flour’s shitlist.
Well, the same is true about producing video content. You need to know your goal and have a strategy to reach it. That is the foundation of practicing video.
Some video agencies (wink wink) will help you with this step, but they can’t create it for you out of nothing. There has to be some reason that you want to produce and distribute video content. A purpose, if you will.
That purpose serves as the north star for both the vendor and the client. It creates a guide for all decisions, whether they’re large ones – where will you distribute the video? – or small ones – should we change that line in the script?
In situations where there’s a point of contention between the vendor and the client, the project’s goal is the ultimate tiebreaker. The correct answer is the one that best serves it.
2. A Transparent Approval Process
Video agencies want clients to be transparent about their decision-making process. Specifically, agencies want to know who is going to be involved in the project and how much they want to be involved. If someone is the ultimate decider as to whether the video will be distributed or not, they should be part of the process from the very beginning.
In cases where the decision-maker is not involved throughout, the agency may be operating under false pretenses. They’ve accepted the initial strategy, created work based on that strategy, and made revisions based on that strategy.
Then, when they turn in what they think is their final product, they soon discover the ultimate decision-maker didn’t want a funny video but instead wanted a somber tone. Even if what’s already been filmed can be repurposed, deadlines will have to be pushed back. In a worst-case scenario, the client may disagree with the strategy entirely, causing the vendor to restart from square one – which is well known for being the worst square.
When a client is upfront and transparent about who is making decisions and who has the final say, those people can be brought into discussions earlier and involved in the decision-making process from the beginning. This eliminates surprises and keeps the project on track.
3. Effective Client Feedback
Feedback is an essential part of the client-vendor relationship. However, some feedback is better than others, and how clients communicate their feedback can be just as important as what they communicate.
For instance, email is rarely an effective communicative tool. It strips tone and context from sentences, transforming a simple question of “Why did you do that?” into an unrelenting confidence-seeking dagger. Simply picking up the phone can help dull the knife’s edge and turn a passive-aggressive comment into a productive conversation.
Additionally, client feedback should be concrete. There is a population of people who think the phrase “I’ll know it when I see it” is effective feedback. What those people don’t know, because they can’t see it, is that vendors are making obscene gestures behind their backs.
For feedback to be effective, it also has to be timely. Agreements between vendors and clients often include a timeline for when client feedback should be delivered. When clients delay that feedback, often because they are afraid to share it, it can have major ripple effects on the project timeline. Being upfront, specific, and communicating feedback verbally help to grow trust and deepen the vendor-client relationship.
4. The Right People in the Right Role
Clients should endeavor to use the right people for the right roles in their production. That means you shouldn’t hire a documentarian to shoot scripted content, hire an editor to handle lighting, or hire your nephew to do pretty much anything.
A video agency may have some professionals already on-staff or close relationships with skilled freelancers. Trust their judgment, and if you’re still looking to fill roles, make sure those people are professionals. The funny one in your office may not be so funny under the hot lights of a film set. As much as the young person in the office brags about their TikTok following, they may not be an effective interviewer of clients.
Simply by hiring the right people for the right role, you’ll create a professional atmosphere during pre-production, production, and post-production. And when you’re working with professionals, you’re more likely to stay under budget and on schedule.
Understanding What Vendors Needs Helps Clients, Too
Any relationship can be difficult, but even the most trying ones will ultimately be productive if each party is willing to listen to the needs of the other. Even if those needs are the perverted ones of video vendors, when you dig a bit deeper you may find that what matters most is transparency, honesty, and a willingness to plug the right holes with the right people.
For more on how you can be a good client, make sure to listen to episode 35 of The Video Reformation Podcast.