25 August 2010
Multimedia Tip of the Week
by, Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media
As we have looked at over the past couple of weeks, the case for implementing multimedia into your marketing, sales or advertising is clear. What can your business or non-profit do to cut its costs? The first method involves separating the development of the creative (the message, concepts, and storyboards) from the production (design, animation, and sound production), or at least finding ways to control it. The creative time spent by designers and project managers, as the most expensive factor of production. Therefore, if a business has already developed a detailed creative concept, storyboard, schematics, or other documentation of what needs to be done, it can reduce the total cost of producing multimedia by utilizing a small design firm or freelancer. Costs are cut because the time and skill spent on one creative is replaced by an in-house team. Of course, to ensure success, only those small businesses who believe they possess strong creative assets (with professional advertising or marketing expertise) should attempt this approach.
Once you select a company for your creative and production, make sure that the creative team understands the message you need to convey. Prepare as much information about your target audience, goals, customers, products and services as possible. Develop a few rough concepts of your own, in-house, to help orient the creative team. Finally, discuss these endeavors with your chosen company up front and negotiate a reduction in fees if you both agree that the information you provide is helpful.
A second way to cut costs is to ask for fixed price development. This direction can mean losing some flexibility in the design of your site. However, the tradeoff can be worthwhile if you are able to exert self-discipline. For that reason, when choosing fixed price development, be limited with revisions, as you only get a few as part of a fixed price. Avoid common mistakes such as being unsure of what design direction you desire or being unsure of your marketing message. Carefully consider each deliverable in order to provide all your comments in as few phases as possible - take a couple of days, at least, to do this.
Finally, when working with a firm, make sure that you provide them with only one point of contact so they don't spend additional time coordinating between people in your company - although seemingly amusing, that mistake is quite common, especially so with growing businesses. Requiring your designer to handle internal coordination of ideas leads to dramatic extensions in project timelines, so be sure that you appoint someone internally to act as a point of contact and clearinghouse of internal discussion. Another way to save on multimedia costs is by concentrating on developing powerful ideas while keeping implementation simple. When too much time is spent on design and not enough on concept, you will waste production money and effort. Work with the designer to simplify the production process by brainstorming easier ways to animate key concepts, and be open to using less labor intensive "vector" animation rather than 3D animations or video production. When it comes to sound, seek out talented and "undiscovered" freelance musicians or voiceover actors working from home who can provide original audio that will cut licensing costs.
The best choice for small businesses is a design company employing a hybrid approach, where creative development and high level design is handled by professionals that you can meet and build rapport with. Sometimes a less polished approach for video is a perfect fit, especially when you are doing how to's or testimonials.
By controlling the costs of multimedia your business can afford a highly effective communication tool that can gain site visitors' or ad viewers' interest. Remember these key points:
- Think "simple" when it comes to producing animations - focus on strong ideas instead.
- Be disciplined with your revisions to avoid charges for many rounds of changes.
- Take over creative development and let your designers simply produce your vision when your in-house creative is strong.
- Small firms can be great partners, as they usually spend more time with their clients and produce more wanted results. They are usually also less expensive.
One never needs to cut out quality while cutting costs. Strong concepts and ideas will make the biggest difference in your presentation's success at the end of the day.