“People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt
In the commercial video production world, you will find a brutally competitive environment where your best work can always be bettered by someone more creative, more innovative, and – above all else – more affordable.
To win a video project from a new client is one thing, but to earn their business not once, not twice, not three times…that takes a completely different skill set than what you have to offer behind the lens. If you’re in the business of growing your business with the same swath of clients, you will need a retention strategy that sets you apart from your competition.
Putting a video business retention strategy in place is a lot easier than you may think, and it doesn’t have as much to do with the content you create for your clients. Let’s dig into what you should consider when building your plan for building business with your current clients, and expanding your role as their “go to” video producer.
Stop Selling, Start Servicing
From that initial pitch to the delivery of your first client video project, you’ve worked hard to earn your money. The first thing every video producer needs to remember once they’ve sold and slammed home a video that’s been blessed by the client is that the sales process, for all intents and purposes, is over. The client either really likes you, or they don’t; the faster you realize this, the better your chances of winning supplemental business will be.
When you sell yourself as a reliable resource for creative services, you’re selling the whole package – concept creation, execution, customer service. The more you can offer as a producer, the more valuable you position yourself in the eyes of your clients.
Andrea Dickstein, marketing director for a global lab equipment manufacturer, has a lot of experience vetting creative vendors for her quarterly video project needs. Aside from reviewing what a video producer has done for other clients, she needs to be impressed with the whole package of what a producer can deliver for her marketing team.
“To win my business more than once, a video producer needs to demonstrate some level of comprehension for our industry,” Dickstein told Videomaker Magazine in an e-mail statement. “If they are trying to give us some off the shelf type solution which doesn’t quite fit for our niche market, then it’s usually a no-go.”
“I need to feel like the producer is really interested in my business,” added Lexi Booker, a marketing manager for a landscape product manufacturer. “If they’ve done their research and really understand my products, it feels like I’m hiring a partner and not just a service provider.
Let the Client Experience Your Expertise
There’s an exorbitant supply of video professionals trying to hawk their services to businesses big and small. Just because you have a great equipment list, a production suite that’s maxed out, or a demo reel that makes the hair on your neck stand up, being able to make your clients’ ideas come to life is the mark of a true video professional.
Like a good wine, any good video professional develops the innate ability to refine their skill set and improve with every project, every day. With this perpetual cycle of self-enrichment comes the ability to impress based on the needs of the client, not off of what you think will make for a cool transition. You need to show that there’s more to your story than the videos you produce.
“Never in a million years would I have thought, being a New York-based company, that we’d hire a video vendor from the Midwest,” Dickstein admitted. “From conception of ideas, through the finished product, the entire experience was delightful. Our vendor took the time to thoroughly understand our complex products, our market and what our project objective was. They were patient, matched our enthusiasm and made the creative process fun.”
Remember, expertise isn’t always about technical practice. By studying your subject, becoming a temporary expert in their world, you’ll make yourself more attractive to the client. Not because your video work will look better – it will – but it shows that you’re willing to put yourself on their side of the table and deliver a product that will make their lives easier when you hand over the finished assets.
Make Promises a Priority
Ask any client what is more detrimental to a project: coming in over budget, or coming in under expectation? Most companies can find extra dollars to cover extra costs if the video knocks the socks of the marketing director’s boss. However, if you deliver inferior work that doesn’t do what you said it was going to do, then you’ve essentially stamped your ticket to a project with no return.
The more you can offer as a producer, the more valuable you position yourself in the eyes of your clients.
“I feel that communication is of the first and foremost importance,” added Booker. “Make sure that we’re both clear about expectations, timing and budget. There are lots of creative providers who can turn around a slick product, but if the process is fraught with misunderstanding, it can make my life pretty stressful.”
Think Beyond the Present
Most clients turn to a video professional to fill a void they cannot fill internally. While the client may only have one idea in mind, be able to show your client that there’s a whole lot more that can be done with the content you’ve captured on your initial project.
By recommending one-off projects, supplemental ways to integrate the current video assets or simply suggesting new and unique ways of telling similar stories to the one you’ve been commissioned to produce, you’ll be demonstrate forwarding thinking strategies that can help you retain incremental business.
Additionally, become that partner in creative crime that Lexi Booker mentioned earlier. The more you know about your client, their challenges and their competition, the more likely you’ll be able to share ideas and concepts that resonate with their bottom line.
Make Your Business Personal
At the end of the day, your client wants someone who they’re comfortable being stuck in tight quarters with for hours, days or weeks. The faster you can develop a mutual interest in more than the dollar amount submitted on your invoice, the sooner you’ll know what your client is really after.
“I’m looking for someone who fits me and my group’s dynamic,” admitted Dickstein. “You can spend long hours together and there needs to be a sense of camaraderie. If you can really understand who you’re working for, they’ll feel like you get them, understand their expectations, and not want to look somewhere else to develop a new relationship again.”
However, there’s a barrier between keeping things personal and professional. Crossing that line is a surefire way to get your business struck from a client’s preferred vendor list.
“There’s always a fine line of keeping in touch versus perpetually getting in touch to see if there is more business,” added Dickstein. “A good business relationship can mean infrequent check-ins to see if you have anything for them, dropping a line just to say hi or sending something along that made you think of us, like an article, competitive piece of collateral, that sort of thing.”
“Thinking about my product or company when an opportunity pops up helps,” Booker said. “This doesn’t mean I’ll jump at every opportunity to give you business, but it does feel good to have someone looking for my company in a way that has everyone’s best interest at heart.”
Let Your Clients Sell for You
Advertising isn’t what it used to be. A decade ago, a video producer would buy a block of space in the Yellow Pages and hope someone’s fingers would walk right up their ad and dial their number. Five years ago, it wasn’t out of the question to buy digital media space on AOL or Yahoo! to get noticed. Two years ago, Facebook was all the rage; today, it’s a combination of tweets, “likes” and +1s that can make or break your business.
You know what has always been one of the most effective forms of advertising? Third party endorsements. According to a release published by John W. Elliot, CEO of Power PR, customer testimonials – or in your case, client testimonials – are worth all the gold in your competitive world. You do good work, the client loves it, the best thing you can do for yourself is ask them to write a glowing review.
Share these reviews on your own business resources – website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – and other potential clients will see what you’ve done and take that into account when they contemplate forking over some of their annual marketing budgets.
How do you get a client to endorse you? Here are three simple ways to approach them:
- Send an email asking them to submit a review of their time spent with you, then ask permission to share their feedback with your prospects.
- Encourage them to post on your social media channels. If you can show how your work improved their bottom line, that’s even better.
- Ask your client if you can use them as a reference for prospective customers to talk with. Just like when you send along references for a new job, clients love singing the praises of vendors who left a great impression.
Getting positive feedback all starts this simple question: “Did my work deliver good results for you?” If the answer is yes, the next question is, “Would you mind sharing that with my audience?” More often than not, the client who loved your work would be honored to do the heavy lifting for you.