Video Production Business Tips – Make More Money on Low Budget Video Productions

I was offered to produce a video project which consists of four 5-minute videos with a budget of $10,000. A few years ago, I would have fallen out of my chair laughing like a hyena because there is no way I’d ever be able to produce that much content for only ten grand. Well, I figured out a while back that instead of turning down a low-budget project, I should think about how I can turn the client into a temporary producer, thus reducing the amount of hours I have to spend on the project.

Now, when I approach the client about my plan for having them contribute to the project so that I can still produce the video with their proposed budget, they often agree. It’s not always a cake walk though.

Here’s what you can do to make such low- budget video projects more profitable.

1. Develop a budget for what you would charge them retail if you produced the video under your normal rate structure.

2. Figure out which project tasks you can have the client perform so that you can remove those elements from the budget.

I have found that having the client write the script and plan the shoot days is a great place to start (with your help of course!). You can take it a step further by having them log the footage and select the shots they want to use in their script. Just remember that the more you delegate things to them, the longer the project will take to complete. Strike a good balance so you’ll arrive at a budget that makes the client happy without overwhelming them with video production responsibilities.

3. Once you figure out what you’d like the client to do, develop a proposal and share it with them.

Tell them how much money they will be saving by handling those tasks and be sure to give them as much advice as you can prior and during the video production process. Even the most inexperienced client will be able to do all or most of the tasks you have assigned them, especially with a little hand holding. I give them templates to work with so that what they give me will be congruent with my work flow. Explain to the client that by you not having to do those tasks, you’ll be able to spend their budget on making the video spectacular. In the project I referenced above, the $10,000 will be spent shooting and editing, not in planning, coordination, scripting and logging.

4. At this stage, one of three things will happen.

The client will either agree to your plan and sign your contract, they will not agree to your plan and will sign the contract of one of your competitors, or they will appreciate the fact that you tried to figure out a way to produce the video with their proposed budget and will ask you what the cost will be for you to handle the entire video project. If the latter happens, simply quote them what it will take for you to do the entire project and remember to repeat everything you have done up to this point with the next prospective client/project.

5. Let’s assume the client agreed to help produce the video in order to keep costs down.

You have to educate them about what exactly needs to happen and when it needs to happen. Whether they mean to or not, they will often try to put the tasks you have assigned them back in your hands. When this happens, you simply have to tell them what still needs to happen per the plan outlined in the agreement. Most clients will understand and will proceed until they have completed their tasks for the project. Other clients will realize that they have bitten off more than they can chew and will ask you to quote the fees required for you to take over the entire project instead of them doing it. When this happens, jump on it! Get a quote back to them right away when they are ready to approve the additional budget.

6. If the client remains on task, you have to make sure they aren’t writing a script that will cost more for you to shoot and edit than what was proposed.

Remember that they don’t have any idea about the impact of what they wrote in the budget so you have to guide them along the way. For instance, they’ll want to shoot 5 interviews in 5 different locations. You’ll have to convince them that it would be better for the budget to do the 5 interviews in one location over the course of one day. If they agree, you’ve just preserved a lot of your budget. If they disagree, you can explain to them how their decision will cause you to go over budget based on your agreement and supply them with a quote for the additional work. They will either agree to the additional charges or they will simply schedule all interviews in the same place on the same day. You win either way.

7. After the footage is shot, burn time code DVDs and give them to the client for reviewing and shot selection purposes.

If you negotiated it properly, it will be their responsibility to choose the best takes and to record the time code into the script. Once they start this process, they will either do it all with no complaints or will realize how time consuming this process is and be willing to hand it over to you (for an additional charge of course).

Making your client a producer/director for the video project not only helps you make more money, it helps you to develop a great working relationship. Clients will see you more of an expert after you have walked them through the video production process. Assuming you did justice to the finished video, it will be VERY difficult for them not to hire you for future projects. You have proven that you are an expert, they are happy with your finished product and they know you will do whatever possible to help them stay within budget. In their minds, you offer the best value for their investment. That’s a great place to be as a videographer.

So, how did my low-budget project work out?

I had the client write the scripts and coordinate the interviews. Her scripts were longer than 5 minutes each and she approved an additional $3,800 in fees to complete the project. Plus, she is ecstatic with the finished videos and has already expressed an interest in producing other videos in the near future.

If you are smart about approaching low- budget video projects, they will no longer be considered low- budget. Remember that the only thing that really matters is that you meet the client’s goals for the project and the hourly revenue meets or exceeds your video business goals.

Video Production Business Tips – How to Effectively Pitch

It took me years to figure out a full proof way to sell corporate video production services to high level executives. I used to think it was all about the pitch or all about how eloquent my writing was in the form of a brochure or letter. What I realized after a lot of frustration (and money) was that it’s not what you tell these people that makes a difference. It’s first, what you ask them, and then it’s what you show them.

A couple years ago, I met the Human Resources Manager for one of the largest trucking companies in the world (seriously) at a networking meeting. She heard me talking to another person about the type of work we do and it piqued her interest. She invited me to set up a meeting with her do discuss how our services could help her train new hires upon entering their company.

A couple weeks later, I arrived at her office and she looked very distracted and a bit frustrated that I was there. I thought to myself, “You are the one who asked for this meeting to take place so don’t get mad at me for being here.” When she finally turned her attention towards me, she said, “So, what do you want to tell me?”

At this point I made a huge rookie mistake even though I had already been in business for more than 10 years.

I began to give her the laundry list of services we provide for human resource departments. As I went on and on it was as if I knew in my head I was talking way too much and wasn’t really saying anything. All I could think of was how the teacher sounds in the Charlie Brown cartoons, “Wa, Wah, Wah, Wa Wah Wah Wa.”

After I finished what seemed to be an hour long lecture on all the things we do, the look on her face was even more frazzled than before I started running my mouth.

She was speechless and it wasn’t because I did an amazing job. It’s because I bored her to tears and didn’t say a single thing that “spoke” to her.

After an awkward moment of silence, I remember getting more nervous by the second until I blurted out, “You know, I got bored listening to myself as I droned on and on about what we do. You look stressed out so really what I need to be asking is how I can use my talents to make your life easier.”

When I finished that statement, a glimmer of hope came across her face as she perked up in her chair. She said, “That’s the problem. I’m so stressed. I don’t even know what I need help with.”

That’s when the magic started to happen. For the next hour, I asked her about every question I could think of that related to how her job responsibilities were hurting her personally as well as hurting the enterprise because she was having a hard time keeping up.

I asked her questions like:

How often do you have to train new employees?

Where do you train them? Here or all over the country?

How do you train them?

How much time does it take you and your staff to deliver this information?

Would your time be better spent doing something else if we can help you automate much of the training process?

That last question (or similar question depending on who you are talking to) is really the turning point in the selling process. You’ve helped the prospect identify her issues or pain points and how you are introducing the idea that there is a solution that can make her life easier.

Once she answers, “Yes” to the “Would your time be better spent if we could help you automate this process” question, that’s when you start explaining how your services can help make that a reality.

Back to the meeting… I had identified her pain points and indicated that I may have a solution. She was all ears and eager to hear what I had to say now. At this point, my laundry list of ideas and/or services made sense to her and I was excited to frame them in a way that I knew would help her.

We ultimately decided together that the best approach would be to produce a new employee orientation video that would be shown to every single person that entered the company at any of their 80+ locations across the United States. She calculated that this alone would save her and her staff at least two hours a day in physical training time which would help them stay on track with other human resource responsibilities.

Because I had helped to identify her true stressors (or pain points), offered solutions using our services that could solve her problems (or make her life easier), she gladly signed a contract for almost $20,000 for us to produce this video.

I’ve sense labeled this style of selling, “The Roller Coaster Method.” Not because it’s wild and crazy, but because there is a logical beginning, middle and end. Just like in the selling process, there is a period of time when you have to climb the hill. This is when you have to ask as many questions as possible so you can start to uncover needs that are causing the customer unnecessary stress.

Then, just like on a roller coaster, there’s those couple of moments when you are perfectly balanced at the top of the steepest drop just before the action really starts! In the selling process, then is when you ask the question, “So, Mrs. Customer, what if I can show you how our services can make that pain go away? Would you be interested in exploring it further?” When the customer answers, “Yes!” that’s when the roller coaster tips over the edge and starts hauling butt down the first slope.

This fast and fun process is when you start to match up your video production services in a way that will absolutely make their life easier. The only thing left is to get their agreement that your solution will help them accomplish their goals and to agree on a price.

Video Production Business Tips – Are You Losing Profits When You Screen Calls?

In the few years of being in the video production industry, how often do you screen your calls?

I’ll guess that you screen them every time the phone rings and if you don’t recognize the phone number, you let it go to voicemail. After all, if it’s an important call, they’ll leave a message right?

But what’s the cost of letting it go to voicemail?

Advertising Agencies, out-of-town video producers or corporations that need to book a videographer right away often won’t leave a message. And if they do, by the time you call them back, they will have already booked another shooter.

In the past week, I’ve let two such calls go to voicemail and both actually left messages regarding the immediate need for a videographer. I checked both messages a couple hours later. When I called them back, both had already booked other videographers.

I thought to myself, “Holy Crap! Really? They booked another videographer that fast?”

Yes.

By not answering the phone when they called, I lost close to $3,000 in sales on what sounded like incredibly simple shoots.

After kicking myself in the tail for a few days because I know better, I vowed to always answer the phone when I don’t recognize the number unless I’m in a meeting or in the middle of a shoot.

Today, I received a call from an “unknown” number. At first, I thought this is just another sales call and I don’t have time to deal with it. Then, I remembered the pain of losing an easy $3,000 last week so I grabbed the phone and answered it.

The person on the other line said, “Hi, I’m Mrs. Corporate Client in California and I need a videographer to shoot highlights at a 2 hour event next Thursday night and to edit the footage into a short news-style package. My budget is $2,000. Can you help me with this?”

After a brief conversation and a quick contract, the deal was done.

That might be the quickest $2,000 I’ve sold in a really long time. Seriously, it took ten minutes to close $2,000 in business just because I answered the phone.

The point in all this is that many clients who are calling you from out of town don’t want to spend a lot of time researching and comparing rates between several video production companies. They simply don’t have time to deal with it so the first warm body that answers the phone wins. Period!

Sure, they may glance at your website to make sure you are qualified but in a lot of cases, the only credential they require is that your website popped up on Google when they searched for “corporate video” or whatever for your location.

Now, most of these callers will have an idea in their head on how much they want to spend for your service. If and when they ask what your day or half day rate is, tell them that you usually handle these types of shoots for $X amount of dollars. Then follow up quickly by asking, “Does that work for your budget?”

If they say, “Yes”, get to a point quickly where you can send them your contract. If they answer, “No”, ask, “What budget do you have in mind? I’d love to work with you on this so we may be able to work something out.”

Then, if they come back with a number you can live with, book it. If they are too low then it’s up to you whether you want to turn it down or take it.

Just remember that in today’s economy, a bird in the hand is better than two in a bush. I think that as long as you can cover your costs, you should strongly consider taking the deal. After all, it’s money flowing into your bank account and you’ll have the opportunity to win a client for life.

They won’t hire you all the time, but if they ever need a video production company to shoot something within a few hundred miles to your studio, they’ll call you first. The lifetime value of that client has potential to be very profitable.

BOTTOM LINE: Answer the phone. You can always hang up if it’s a sales call but there is a good chance you’ll lose business if you let potential clients go to voicemail.

Product Creation – How You Can Use Your Mailing List to Build Your Information Product Business

There are many ways to harness the power of your opt-in list, and you should be able to think of at least one every month with a little lateral thinking. Here are a few to get you going:

Offer a free product.

In much the same manner that you attracted your subscriber to your mailing list in the first place, you can duplicate this process from within your list too. When you have another product ready for your market, set up a strategy exactly as you did for your first one. The difference being, is that you write your content, and a link to the opt-in page and freebie, in you next email bulletin – or in a broadcast message.

Ask questions.

Upload a web page into which you’ve written a survey. Now this survey can be fielded in several ways. For example, you could import a script for a multi-choice drop-down menu-type survey into your web page. Or you can send out a pertinent question that asks each member for a specific example of what’s holding them back. With this type of question always ask them to be as specific as possible, because the more focused their answer is, the more you can tailor the answer you give them.

Use Internet partner relationships.

If you have a medium to large sized list, and I mean a list of at least say 1000 subscribers, other experts could be interested in offering your product to their list too – in exchange for you undertaking a similar favor for them. Contact the experts who occupy the same niche as you. You should use this contact with them to your advantage and look to building future business relationships with them.