You create the best videos around. But how do you sell your services? By zeroing in on your
Here’s a statement so obvious that it borders on the ludicrous: in order to run a business of any
kind you have to have a market (a group of people or companies) that is willing to pay money for
your product or service.
Nothing could be simpler. But do you know what your target market is? Do you know
how old these people are, where they live, what types of videos they like, how much money they have to
spend on your goods? If you don’t, how can you find them to sell to them? How can you create a product
that they will want to buy? How can you know how much to charge for that product?
Anyone? Anyone? You, there in the back. That’s correct, you can’t. You can get lucky, and you
may become successful in spite of yourself, but that’s an iffy proposition. Perhaps you would prefer the
surer route of doing your homework.
It’s A Big World After All
Your potential market could be everyone in the world who has the money to pay you for your product
or service. Your target market is a subset of this group; it’s the people or companies that are the most likely
to actually hand over the cash.
You need to zero in on your target market because you have limited energy and money. (If you
are omnipotent and rolling in cash, you need read no further.) You want to hit your target market with
messages (such as New! Improved! Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!) about your business as often as
possible. But if you pay for advertising that puts these messages in front of people who will never buy your
video service, you are wasting your money (and the reader’s time).
If you receive a letter from a company selling stocks in a worm-farming ranch, you will probably
toss it immediately. You have no interest in worm-farming and so you view the letter as junk mail, because
you are not part of the target market of worm-farmers. If the letter was selling a professional-level video
camera for $298 you would read it with interest (it is not junk mail to you), because you might actually
need such a product.
Once you have found your market, you want these people to be able to zero in on you. What is
your business? What kind of video? Can you explain in two sentences what you do and what you are
selling? If you can, you already have a positioning statement. You want to position yourself in your market
so that when your potential customers think of a particular kind of video, your name (or company name) is
the next item to pop into their overtaxed minds.
Who Are You?
How do you find your target market? Your first step is to define very clearly what it is that you are
selling. If the answer is video production, you may want to narrow your focus a bit, or at least focus on one
aspect of this huge field.
It may be easier to sell wedding videography, or a series of videotapes teaching your children how
to read, or custom video tapes for your company’s marketing effort, than it is to sell every kind of video
production. Even if you can produce anything for anyone, you may have more success if you
define one product or service that you want to sell to a selected target market.
Remember where everyone is: the 1990s. We are overworked. We are bombarded with advertising and
entertainment images. We are tired. Don’t make us work hard to find your business or buy your product.
Make it very, very easy. Otherwise, we won’t have the energy to pay you.
That’s Not Funny, That’s SIC
If you have a video product that you are trying to sell nationally, then you can use a system
developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce to help find your target market. The Standard Industrial
Classification (S.I.C.) system classifies every business (and profession and institution) by function, and
then assigns it a numeric code.
The 10 major classification are: 01-09, Agriculture; 10-14, Mining; 15-17,
Contractors/Construction; 20-39, Manufacturing; 40-49 Communication, Transportation and Utilities; 50-
51, Wholesalers; 52-59, Retailers; 60-67, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate; 70-89, Services; and 90-99,
Government Offices. Within this larger framework are more specific categories. For example, Video Tape
Rental is number 7841. You should be able to find a publication at the public library with a current listing.
Ask for Businesses by Industry Classification.
What I Really Want to Do Is Direct Mail
Another way to reach your target market is to send out letters (or brochures or whatever) advertising
your service or product. This is the direct mail technique–honed to a science by companies that sell lists.
You can find them under Mailing Lists in the Yellow Pages. These companies charge by the number of
addresses you want to buy (with extra charges if they supply these addresses on peel-off labels, etc.). A
typical charge might be $50 per thousand, $150 minimum. The local Yellow Pages in my area lists several
national companies that sell lists, as well as a few that specialize in local lists.
Prices rise per 1000 names as you become more specific in your category. So if you ask for a list
of companies with fewer than 200 employees or people with incomes over $100,000 or owners of small
airplanes–the cost for the list will be higher. On the other hand, you will be sending advertising only to
potential customers and not to people who don’t need what you are selling.
You can buy a CD-ROM with lists of the name and address of every person and business in the
U.S. These products also give you the option of breaking the lists down further, but printing out all those
addresses and licking all those envelopes is a lot more work than it sounds like. A mailing house will take
care of that for you (for a price, of course).
A local mailing house should understand demographics (the makeup of the people in your town
broken down by characteristics such as age, sex, etc.) and be able to sell you lists that target groups like
women, 18-43, or couples with young children. Depending on what you are selling (wedding video
services or a video program created for pre-schoolers), this demographic information will help you hit your
target audience without wasting money sending advertising to people who don’t need your video product
There are many other media to get your message out such as magazines, newspapers, television,
outdoor billboards, classified ads and others. It might be valuable to consult an advertising agency for
advice on which mix of media is most effective at reaching your target audience.
But remember, it is less expensive for you to do your own homework than to pay an agency to do so, and
there is no guarantee that an agency will do a better job than you can do for yourself. The agency people
can probably do the work faster, because they have done it before and know the steps to take. But don’t
expect an agency to care as much about your video business as you do. While their experts can provide
guidelines and recommendations out of their experience, there is still no magic marketing answer that
works in every case and no market that ever stands still.
Once you know where to find your target market, you need to have a clear message to tell them. Your
business is the most important thing in the world to you. You think about it all the time and you know
exactly what you do. It’s hard to believe that everybody else doesn’t feel the same way. But they don’t. For
most of the world’s population, the strongest emotion your video business will inspire is apathy.
That’s human nature. You are the same way. When do you care about Orkin? When you see a bug
crawl across your floor. When does McDonald’s come to mind? When your stomach is making those funny
Your mind works this way because these companies have positioned themselves as bug
exterminators and fast food providers, respectively. Of course it takes a lot of effort and expense to get
people to think this way, but it obviously works. Billions and billions served, you know.
What They See Is Who You Are
What are some ways to position your video company? First of all, remember that positioning has to
do with the perception people in your target market have about your company. You could position your
company as the Fastest Video Production Around. People would come to you when they needed a video
production completed by next week. Of course, you have to be able to deliver on that promise, or you
won’t be getting much repeat business.
Your company may have the most experience, or you may have been voted the best in your city or
you might be the only game in town. You have to decide what aspect you want to promote, which means
doing some homework.
Ask your current clients and friends what they think you do. If the general consensus is that you
bake wedding cakes, then this is how you are currently positioned. Remember, customer perception–not
What position do your competitors occupy? If some other video company in your area is known
as the wedding video production company, it means that you will have to work much harder to break into
What position would you like to have? You might want to be the company that produces the
million dollar commercials to air during the Super Bowl, but is this a possibility? If it isn’t, then you may
want to re-think how you will position your company.
Brrr, Pass the Sunblock
Is the target market big enough to keep you in business? If you position yourself as the purveyor of
fine videos for Antarctic sunbathers, you will no doubt own your market. Unfortunately, the profits may
leave you cold.
Once you decide on what your position should be, you need to be able to state it quickly and
clearly. The moguls in Hollywood understand this and use the technique in naming many films. You don’t
have to think too hard to know what “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is about. You probably wouldn’t mistake
it for a bittersweet story of young love, but that’s the point.
Some possible positioning statements: Qualified Video Depositions; Wedding Video Specialists
Since 1986; Custom Marketing Videos for Corporations; Educational Videos for Pre-schoolers. It may be
worth the expense to hire a professional creative type to help you come up with a snappy, informative tag
Once you know how you want to position your company, use every opportunity to get this
information to your target market. A few places where your positioning statement should appear are: your
letterhead, your business card, the side of your van, any advertisements, brochures, invoices, proposals,
signs and thank-you notes that come out of your business.
Remember, every promotional piece you produce reflects immediately on you. What does this
mean? If you create a brochure and reproduce it using messy photocopies, the potential clients in your
target market see that you are sloppy and don’t care about quality. If that is the message you want them to
get, then this is fine. But if you want to present a professional demeanor, you will probably want to pay to
have your brochures printed.
Finding a target market is not difficult. Getting the people or companies that make up the target
market to buy your product or service is. Make it easy for them to choose your company. Give your
potential clients the information they need to use you. They are going to write a check to buy video. Make
sure "PAY TO:" is followed by your name.