So you're ready to start making money using your editing skills? First you'll need to learn how to market those valuable skills, then you need to find where the customers are. Here are some tips to guide on your way to making money doing what you love.
The democratization of video editing has been great for our modern civilization. Where would we be without YouTube? But this advancement has added many more video editing companies and with them come greater competition within the marketplace. You've got to learn to cut through the noise to be found by clients. We can take a look at how to gain a competitive edge and find quality leads to grow your video editing business.
Video Editing Companies
If you're thinking about jumping into the market, the first thing you want to do is focus on what kind of video editing company you'll be starting. Hone in on the type of videos you'll be cutting. The list is long: narrative films, wedding videos, music videos, graduation videos, commercials, corporate video, and many more custom video production types. You don't have to choose just one, you can sprinkle in a few areas of interest if you desire. But by focusing on a niche area, you'll be able to pay closer attention to the needs of the customers in that specific field. That will help you get your feet firmly on the ground.
Choose wisely. Some editors only want to do music videos, but they get into wedding videos to try to prop up their business. Two years later they're doing 35 weddings a year and two music videos and they are hating it. Some folks don't mine this way of working. To them a job is a job. But if you're like most creative types, you need to have your creative output. Do your best at the onset to set yourself up to be successful in the industry you want to be in, otherwise you'll find yourself looking at starting over again and again.
No matter what you choose, remember you're walking into a competitive market. You'll need tenacity to make it. If you're not focused on serving your customers the best you can, you won't be around long. Video editing companies aren't overnight successes, you've got chip away at it for awhile. Don't be discouraged, but be realistic. It's hard work to start up a business. The good news is that you should feel a lot of excitement. At this stage you can be flexible when attacking new opportunities much quicker than others. Your newness to the market and your agility can be a great competitive advantage. With the right market research you can find a wedge and get your business up and running.
Market Research for Video Editing Companies
Market research sounds complicated, but the truth is, it's not. It does take a bit of time and forethought, though. Once you've identified what kind of video editing company you want to run, it's time to start focusing on your target audience. Marketing is all about creating leads. Leads that you can sell your video editing services to. The goal of market research is to try to identify the people who would benefit from your services. These people are your target market. Sales is a different aspect altogether. Your sales will come after you've identified your leads and you have set up deals that have you actually selling to these folks.
In 2004 I was considering starting a wedding videography business. I had a lot of the equipment needed, had the skills, and enough friends within the field of videography that I thought I could make it happen. I started my market research with an email to my immediate friends and family asking them for names and phone numbers of anyone in the area that they knew were getting married. A day later I had five brides to call. Let the market research begin!
I called each bride and explained to them that I was considering starting a wedding videography business and wanted to talk to them about their thoughts on the matter for a half-hour or so. Each bride willingly agreed. With my notebook handy, I jotted down their answers to various questions:
- How important was a wedding video to them.
- Had they talked to any videographers yet or when did they plan to do so.
- What interested them most about having a wedding video.
- Was there something specifically they looked for in a custom video production.
- Had they seen a friend's wedding video that might have caught their eye.
- Did they have a specific budget for video.
I was jotting down their answers, coming up with follow-up questions and trying to draw any patterns between these potential customers.
What I discovered was that many brides really didn't know what they wanted yet. It became very clear to me that a demo reel would be absolutely necessary. That's a no brainer, but it's good to know why it's important. It also became clear to me that a website would be a great lead generation tool. Anything that could inform a potential customer of the services and type of video they could have might help them choose the right videographer. I also quickly discovered that most of the brides were attending a bridal show the following month, so, I made a point to go myself. That was the most important decision for me. At the show I was able to take a good look at the competition - seven videography companies - a very small market. Uh oh. This was not looking as good as I'd hoped.
Point Of Entry
One of the more important things you can do in your market research is identify the point of entry for you potential customers. In this case, the point of entry for most brides-to-be in my market was the local bridal show. When I chatted on the phone with these ladies, none of them had made a choice about videographers because they were all waiting for the show to narrow their sights. That was their point of entry. If you can find the point of entry of your market, then you have a better shot at competing. Better yet, if you can beat your competition to that point of entry, than you'll have a jump start and potentially steal away a good chunk of business from your competitors.
Your Unique Value Proposition
As I walked the crowded showroom floor looking over the pamphlets and watching laptop monitors cycle through demo reels, I looked to see if I could find how these video editing companies were being positioned. It was more market research for me. I was analyzing the competition. One company clearly labeled itself as the price leader. Their prices were nearly half of what everyone else was charging. Bad idea in this business. If you can't mass produce your product and sell it at a super-high volume, then leading in cost is the quickest way to fail. A good video business differentiates not by price, but by some unique value it provides to its customers. That's your unique value proposition and it should separate you from the competition.
A unique value proposition has to be clear to your target market. A lot of video editing companies were heavily promoting their HD video capabilities, a technology still trickling down this marketplace at that point of time. It's easy for us video geeks to focus on our technology features as that unique value, but be cautious with this, too. It's a hard territory to defend, as technology always changes and nearly anyone can match you in this category. If you are the first to offer 3D videos, for instance, it might be cool to you but does the client even care? Think about what makes your creative style unique and focus on that quality and how it can potentially bring value to the customer. For example, if you're a special effects guru, how can you put that to use in you wedding videography business, or music video business, or whatever custom video production you'll be doing. If you're great with motion graphics, typography, and that sort of thing, that could give you an edge in a particular corporate video. This can be really challenging at first, but if you take the time to identify what it is that you can do that others might not be able to duplicate easily, you'll have a clear competitive advantage. Just make sure it's clear how you deliver that value to your customers.
Put it to the Test
Once you've identified your unique value proposition it's a good idea to go back to your potential market and give it a test run. Even though we're still doing market research, we'll get on our sales hat to put it all to the test. Call those leads you've found and give them your pitch. Listen to what their needs are, make an honest appraisal, whether or not they'd be a good fit for you, and then let them know what you offer. Put that unique value proposition to use. See if they bite. If not, throw out a few "what ifs". There might be more than one way to provide unique value using your talents, so if your potential customer doesn't take on the first pitch ask politely why not. Then ask "what if..." and change the proposition to see if there's a better fit with a few tweaks to your proposition. You might find a hidden treasure in there somewhere. More importantly, you'll get better insight into the needs and wants of your customers. There's a good chance you'll need to tweak your proposition until you find one that really works with your target market so keep notes as you call on these leads. All this feedback will inform how you will actually market your business. Once you find that winning value proposition, you can duplicate it in all your marketing materials, your website, your demo reel, etc. You'll be well on your way to making sales and growing your business.
Get in the Game
All great video editing companies start from the beginning. Thoughtful analysis of your target market can reveal needs or patterns that other businesses are missing. Learn everything you can from your potential market. Try to find the point of entry and exploit it if you can. Build your unique value proposition through solid testing with potential customers similar to the following list.
Unique Value Proposition Tip Sheet
1. List the things you do best.
2. List the potential customer's needs.
3. Wherever the things you do best intersect with the needs of the potential customer is an opportunity to build a unique value proposition for your company.
Remember, that this process is critical for a good start in any market, but it's equally important to maintain throughout the life of your business. Industries change. Competition changes. Customers change. You'll need to stay abreast of what's happening in your industry and market and be able to respond appropriately and stay a few steps ahead.
Check out our associated story getting your business started, for more tips.
Contributing columnist Mark Montgomery is a web content specialist and produces instructional videos for a leading web application developer.