Before creating a budget, we need to start the planning process, which begins with your first discussion with the client. In this video, Walter starts his client assessment, which is designed give you as much information about the project as possible. Here he presents the five questions you should ask every client at your first meeting.
- Before we create a budget, we need to start the planning process, which begins with your first discussion with the client. Let's look at what I call the client assessment. Now, this assessment is designed to give you as much information about the project as possible, so you can create an accurate budget. We'll start with the five questions you should ask every client. One: what's the purpose of this project? Is it training, a call to action, marketing, maybe it's a broadcast or a web-based series? See, knowing the purpose helped to define the expectations of the production scale and the final output.
How you plan for and design an internal training project will be different than, say, a broadcast commercial or a documentary. Two: who is your audience, your target market? This is not necessarily a precise demographic like we have in television shows, where you're targeting 18 to 34 year-old male demographic. It might be a very targeted or very niche group, or a very wide group, say, I don't know, women shopping in a big box hardware store, men searching for grilling tips, guests at the local resort.
Those are not traditional audience demographics. Knowing the target audience gives you a sense of the style for the project. It also allows you to plan for any additional personnel that you'll need to pull off that style properly, such as specific writers, graphic designers, maybe some photographers. Not every person can create every style. All creatives have styles they're best at. Three: are there educational or language considerations? Does the client require that the project stay within a certain educational level? For instance, I produced a training video for one client where they requested that I stay in an eighth grade educational level.
In another project, the academia was far over my head. I actually had to hire a consultant to make sure what we were producing was accurate. If you need to produce in multiple languages, be sure to ask which specific languages and dialects are required. For instance, Spanish has many variations and dialects, so you need to know which one. If you need to produce in multiple languages and you're shooting live video like this, do you need to shoot all of the languages on camera, or will they be overdubbed? Multiple languages always adds time and money to any project, because at the very least, you'll have to pay for a translator, and possibly script writer in the other languages.
In some cases you'll have to re-edit the masters so it times out with the new language. Fourth: how will this project be viewed? Will people watch this on a smart phone or a tablet, maybe in a movie theater, a convention floor, five to 50,000-seat arena, maybe a press conference with a reveal, or all of the above? The answer to this simple question has a great impact on the scale and scope of your project, especially the sounds and graphics.
See for a large-scale presentation such as a live event in an arena or theater, the sound mix is actually more important than the video. See, the size of the video screen is finite. It's set, it's there in front of you. But the sound, the sound can envelop you and create a sense of time and place. On the flip side, presentations created for trade shows and conventions are fighting with sound from all sides, so in those cases, the visuals are much more important, and need to drive the message because, well, the audience may never hear the sound.
With graphics, the smaller the device or screen the project plays on, the larger and thicker the graphics need to be so the viewer can read them. If you try to be slick and do very tiny, very thin font, I watch on a smart phone, I may not be able to read them, especially since I wear these. Five: what should the audience take away? Mister or misses client, in your perfect vision, when this project finishes playing, what should the audience feel or take away from what they just saw? See, it doesn't matter if this is a training project or a major documentary.
The client has brought you in for a reason, and that reason is often the answer to this question. They just may not realize it. See, this question forces the client to give thought as to why we're doing this project in the first place. The answer to this question allows you to really work with the end goal in mind. Are there any special elements, say scripting or photography, that you'll want for this project to help you achieve the client's goal? I often plan my project backwards, knowing that I need the audience to feel X, Y, Z when this is done.
So what resources do I need to make that happen? It might be something in the production, or it may be something additional in the venue. Bonus question, here's a biggie. What's your deadline? It's funny how many people never think to ask that up front before submitting the budget. See, never assume that you're going to have plenty of time to produce this project with your normal rate. You need to ask, what is the deadline to complete and deliver this project? See I recently got a call on a Friday afternoon for a project that required five locations, 11 shoots, eight cameras, and five completed timelines of three minutes each.
Deadline to deliver that project? The following Friday at 2 P.M. One week, start to finish! We completed that project and you better believe the budget was much higher than our normal rate. It had to be, with all the resources we needed to pull that off so quickly. Always ask for the deadline before giving a budget. So you can see how these five, six simple questions can give you a wealth of information to understand the scope of the project. And that's how we start the client assessment.
Now, you may have some other questions specific to your business and workflow. You just want to have a standard set of questions to get the information from your client beyond I need a training video.
- Completing a client assessment
- Discerning between client needs versus wants
- Developing a working concept
- Creating time and crew assessments
- Coming up with the budget
- Presenting the proposal
- Revising the budget
- Knowing when to walk away