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Video Business to Business: How to Work With Outsourcers

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Creative vision and technical know-how are a given for any good video producer. But client management skills are also important for success. In this series, you’ll learn about the three main types of clients who hire for video services—The Outsourcer, The Doer, and The Designer—and how to best help them achieve their goals. We begin with The Outsourcer.

Who is The Outsourcer?

The Outsourcer is just that—someone who hires outside of their organization for their video needs. They’re typically savvy business people who understand the power of video and want to incorporate it into their marketing efforts. They might own a restaurant, run a tour company, or head up the communications department of a government agency.

Outsourcers are good at what they do, but they know their limits. They don’t have the time, equipment, expertise, or desire to create video themselves. Instead, they prefer to hand over the whole project to someone uniquely qualified to do the job for them.

Woman at desk hands over paper
Photo by dolgachov/Photodune

The Outsourcer often knows very little about the video production process and how much it costs. They’re willing to pay for high quality and service, but may have unrealistic expectations about what they can get for their budget.

Because their knowledge of video production is limited, the Outsourcer may have trouble communicating exactly what they want. They don’t speak the lingo and may not even know what you’re capable of creating for them.

What is The Outsourcer Looking For?

The Outsourcer is looking for a problem solver. They need video. They don’t really care what kind of hoops you have to jump through to make it happen—they just want to know how much it’s going to cost, how long it will take, and an assurance that you can deliver a high quality video on time and on budget.

Cameraman gives thumbs up
Photo by innovatedc/Photodune

Outsourcers want the end-to-end video experience handled for them. In the words of Captain Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, they want you to “make it so.”

For example, one of my clients owns an orthotics business. She hired me to create a series of short videos for her website that would answer frequently asked questions about various foot conditions and orthotic solutions. She has neither the time nor expertise to record and edit video herself, and prefers to outsource the work to a video professional.

The Outsourcer is looking for someone they can trust and rely on for guidance in all things video related. They expect that person to take the lead and make recommendations on everything from creative vision to storytelling technique to video length.

How to Land a Job With The Outsourcer

Outsourcing work is always a leap of faith, but that’s especially true with creative industries. When you buy a car, for example, you can see (and even test drive) exactly what you’ll get. With video, The Outsourcer may not be able to envision what the end product will look like.

Because the Outsourcer has a limited knowledge of what’s involved in video production, trust is a huge factor. They need to know that you have the skills and experience to handle their project from start to finish, with minimal effort on their part.

Build a Solid Portfolio

One of the keys to establishing trust with The Outsourcer is a solid portfolio. Put examples of your best video work online, either on your own website or on a YouTube or Vimeo channel, so The Outsourcer can get a feel for your creative style and technical capabilities.

Computer screen showing video
Photo by Cindy Burgess

Be sure to point out any videos that might be similar to what The Outsourcer wants, or that you’ve done for the same (or a similar) industry.

Gather Customer Testimonials

The Outsourcer also wants to know that you can work independently, handle obstacles quickly and efficiently, meet deadlines, stay within budget, and be a pleasure to work with to boot.

This is where client testimonials come in. Social proof is extremely powerful. Recommendations from past clients will help cement your standing as a capable and reliable video producer. A referral is like gold!

Thumbs up to Our Testimonials
Photo by Dave Dugdale/flickr

Finally, remember that video production is pretty much a mystery to The Outsourcer. You need to communicate clearly how the whole process works, be frank about what it costs, and reassure The Outsourcer that you’ll be there for them every step of the way.

How to Deliver for The Outsourcer

In some ways, The Outsourcer is the most enjoyable client to work with. Unlike The Doer and The Designer, who usually have very specific ideas in mind, The Outsourcer wants you to take the lead. This can mean a lot of creative freedom.

But working with The Outsourcer is also time-consuming. They need to be educated about the video production process and its associated costs, and will likely have a lot of questions along the way.

Communicate Clearly and Openly

The key to success is communication. Think of your first meeting with The Outsourcer as a fact-finding mission—with information flowing both ways. You want to nail down what kind of video they’re looking for, and The Outsourcer wants to know what’s required of them to make it happen.

Cards with question marks
Image by geralt/Pixabay

During this pre-production meeting, ask lots of questions. For example:

  • what do they want to accomplish with their video?
  • who is their audience?
  • what key messages do they want to get across?

Ask if they can send you links to videos they like as a reference. Be open and receptive to their ideas. Remember, The Outsourcer doesn’t always know how to describe exactly what they want—they're looking to you for guidance.

Make a Detailed Work Plan

Once you’ve determined The Outsourcer's video needs, prepare a detailed work plan with production milestones. Create a storyboard to help them envision the finished video. On the day of the shoot, walk them through what's going to happen. And have fun!

Working with The Outsourcer requires patience and good communication skills, but deliver a high quality video on time and on budget and you could very well become their lifelong go-to video expert.

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