Each week, I receive many, many requests for pricing from prospective clients. Because of our pricing, we can’t work with everyone. That’s sad, and we do wish we could work with more folks and help them tell their stories.
Before I explain our pricing, I want to mention that we work on a (very) sliding scale for non-profits and educational institutions. Planet Nutshell is committed to setting aside time each year to do work that has social, environmental, and educational impact. That’s a major part of who we are as a small company.
A typical Planet Nutshell video for a startup costs around $15,000. While that’s pretty affordable for many larger companies, it can be a stretch for young startups. But, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Here’s a big-picture look at what goes into that number:
1. Storytelling (vs. the dreaded feature dump)
Let’s first discuss some characteristics of many “explainer videos.” The vast majority of them are essentially a glorified list of bullet points. They might present a problem, and then go about explaining why features A, B, and C solve that problem. I get so bored by this formula that I rarely finish videos that follow it.
But why do I get bored? The culprit is an affliction I like to call the “feature dump.” The logic of the feature dump is as follows: If we just list all of the cool features of this thing while some cool, but mostly distracting, stuff happens on screen, people will understand it and really, really want it.
Of course, this is not how humans respond to new information. For thousands of years, new information has been transmitted and retained via the vehicle of story.
What is story? It’s most often a narrative about people doing things, usually in relation to other people, and usually with some sort of emotional stakes. People remember and retain emotion. They don’t remember and retain lists of features. Why spend any money at all if you’re making something no one will remember?
Focusing on story, and knowing how to harness the power of story, is a skill. And people skilled at story are more expensive than people who know how to make bullet points.
When you’re costing a project, carefully consider the level of service you will receive. Is the creative director available at a moment’s notice to address your concerns? Does the creative director meet with you personally and regularly to discuss your goals, your audience, and your thoughts about each phase of production?
Also, revisions are everything in this industry. How many revisions does your producer offer? At Planet Nutshell, we offer unlimited revisions on the script and storyboard phases because we understand how important it is to have a fantastic concept before production begins. Our revisions process for design and animation is also liberal, giving you peace of mind that your video will be perfect when it’s done.
In a nutshell, evaluate whether or not your producer is a volume player (aka a widget factory) or a creative studio that treats each project as if their reputation depends on it.
Planet Nutshell does virtually no marketing and we don’t have a sales staff. Much of our work comes via word of mouth, or via repeat customers. We take the money we’d spend on sales and marketing and devote it to our people and our creative processes. For us, it’s enough to let the work do the talking, and we emphasize strong, long-lasting relationships with our clients.
Ask a prospective producer who is actually making your video. Are they all working collaboratively in a single studio, or is the work largely outsourced by a project manager? Based on my experience, the former always yields better results.
At Planet Nutshell, we stand at each other’s workstations giving advice, coming up with ideas collaboratively, and helping each other grow as storytellers and animators. When the writer, storyboard artist, illustrator, and animator are working closely together in the same studio the product has a more cohesive and unified feel. Check out our studio tour.
Also, do the people making your video have a professional background? Did they go to art school? Who have they worked for? The folks at Planet Nutshell have put in the time to become formally educated in animation and writing, and during our careers we’ve worked in television, for major technology companies, and for major publications.
For nearly 10 years now, we’ve consistently made investments in top-notch people. That leads to a vastly superior product for our customers. An investment in people costs money, but our clients — and their audiences — always appreciate the special magic, the originality and creativity that only comes when it’s made by Planet Nutshell.
(The original version of this post appeared on Quora.)