$380 million doubloons. That’s what it cost to produce one Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But you don’t need a blockbuster budget to mint your own marketing video. For a few thousand dollars, you can create a polished piece that turns viewers and visitors into followers and loyal customers.

As you scope out the costs (from scripting to shooting to post-production), try to keep your eyes on the ROI prize: Good video is marketing gold, driving dramatically better search, click-thru, engagement and conversion rates than any other type of content.

Step 1: Chart your course

Building your budget starts with setting some goals. Who’s your audience? How will you reach them? What do you want them to think / feel / do? And knowing this … what’s the best vehicle for your message?

  • Brand video (storytelling for awareness and engagement)
  • Product marketing video (explainers, demonstrations, reviews)
  • Customer testimonials
  • How-to video (pre-sale and post-sale tutorials)
  • Corporate video (events, B-roll, culture videos, executive interviews)
  • vLogs (website blogs in video form)
  • Commercials (short spots for broadcast or other paid media)
  • Immersive video (360 videos, AR and mixed reality)

Of course, your project may span many categories. And you should be able to repurpose your footage for various uses, tailoring it to any audience or display format.

Step 2: Enlist your crew

You have a broad choice of resources for content creation, from professional video studios to amateur contributors. And while it may tempting to cut corners here, remember the old “get what you pay for” principle.

Professionally produced video – Original content that’s conceived, shot, polished and produced specifically for you, giving you full control of the look, material, messaging, branding and usage.

Crowd-sourced video – User-generated content that’s cheap but not “free” since you still need to solicit contributions, manage assets, curate content, consult with legal and incur other expenses.

Automated video platforms – Tools that let you input raw footage and output a composed video or animation. These are relatively inexpensive, but their cookie-cutter formats tend to look alike. (Scroll, scroll.)

DIY video – Often shot on a smartphone, these videos are ubiquitous. They can sometimes be effective, but don’t always present your brand in its best light.

Step 3: Dig into the details

If you decide to go with a pro (a good choice) you’ll want to consider each element and variable in the production process:

Pre-production – The concept, scripting and planning stage covers anything from storyboards to shot lists, as well as scouting locations, scheduling models, wardrobe, make-up, product styling and props.

Production – Shooting your video (in-studio or on location) involves lighting, cameramen and possibly other crew members. Most production companies charge by the half-day or full day.

Post-production – This critical (but often overlooked) stage is where everything comes together and marketing magic is made. It can include:

  • Logging the raw video
  • Color correction
  • Editing
  • Voice over & other audio
  • Motion graphics
  • After effects
  • Client video preview
  • Changes and additions
  • Output final files for multiple uses

Ultimately, the cost of your video will depend on what it takes to tell your story well, whether it’s a simple 15-second spot or a special two-minute experience. With the right production partners, you can achieve the best bang for your buccaneers.