How To Pitch Creative And Ask For Budget

This post is specifically for in-house video producers. Your yearly video budget is probably less than one catalog photo-shoot. Your video shoots probably don’t have catering let alone a crew of people running around doing your bidding.

But being an in-house producer doesn’t mean you have to stick to the work handed to you. Add value by addressing short-falls in content. Reframe your role and you can bring more to the table. Here’s how I pitch creative that’s outside my usual scope and ask for budget (that isn’t mine):

1.  Read the Brief – The brief should contain enough detail and elements to give you an idea of what the stakeholder  wants from the creative, the key messaging, target audience and deliverables. Don’t have a brief? Then ask the person responsible. You work for the same company after all.

2. Write a Script – Got killer ideas for that new product launch? Write them down. Is one good? Keep developing it until its better than any other idea. If you’ve watched Mad Men you’d think you need to pitch 3 ideas to get one approved. I don’t. Working on multiple creative is exhausting and takes energy away from the work you truly believe in.

I’ll think of 2 or 3 ideas but one will always stick with me or resonate better. I’ll develop and pitch that one concept only. I don’t need to pitch multiple ideas because I’ve already evaluated and filtered the bad ideas out. If you don’t believe that one idea can stand on it’s own, then you’re padding so-so creative with mediocre creative to make it stand out.

3. Write a Directors Treatment – After the creative is done, write a directors treatment. A treatment will outline how the video will look, any special requirements for filming, sound, music, locations. Anything that helps sell the script or idea you’ve written.

4. Prepare a Budget – If you don’t ask, you don’t get. At least, that’s what I hear. So, if this shoot goes outside your normal budget or requires external contractors, here’s how to ask for it. The worst that will happen is someone says no and you have to rethink your idea. At best they say yes!

Almost anything can be rented these days. I hired a wood chipper for a shoot once. They even delivered it and took it away. Don’t ask what I did with it. Need crew? Get quotes. You can rent people too. A full crew of camera, lighting, make up and styling runs $7000-$12,000 in hard costs per day depending on gear and experience. If you can only afford to hire one person, always hire lighting above all else.

Now here’s the tip: Since you’re producing this video in-house, you can produce it cheaper than your external agency partners. Even a one day shoot can cost $50,000 after the agency and production company mark up their invoices. $12,000 or $50,000 – Which one do you think is an easier sell? Make sure to include the estimated agency cost in your budget proposal.

5. Pitch your idea – You work with these people. You might even sit on the same team or department. Set a meeting, or email your pitch around. I’ve had work approved via email without having to say a word. Once it’s approved, that’s when the real work starts because now you have to deliver what you promised.

Be bold. They’ll thank you for it.

 

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