Getting your Production Services known by an eager audience isn't like the old days. You can't put an ad in the Yellow Pages or the Classifieds and wait for the calls to come in.
Have you ever performed a random internet search for "video production services"? Go ahead and do it, I'll wait.
Okay, so what did you find? Let me guess. About seventy-five million results! Well, you don't have to go through them all to know that there's a ton of competition out there. So how are you supposed to break through all of that clutter to start building your client list and secure those jobs you really want? While there may not be seventy-five million ways to do it, there are a few tried and true methods for putting yourself out there and building your business.
The Internet has turned traditional creative promotion upside down. For service providers such as yourself, the need to cross promote your services using a mass mail campaign, print ads, yellow pages and the like has all but vanished. In fact, several hundred million searches are performed through internet search engines each and every day, proving the web is the first and often the only place people go to when searching for a service provider. Be it a plumber, a mechanic, a doctor, or a video producer, people look to the web to get what they need.
Does this mean you have to pay a fortune for search engine optimization or change your business name to "AAA Video" in the hopes of sitting at the top of some alphabetical classification? Not in the least. Let's be honest, you're probably not trying to attract work from the far reaches of the globe (at least not at first). Instead, you're best to focus on attracting clients that are within your region. A good rule of thumb is to focus your marketing to prospective clients that are no more than a three-hour drive from your base of operation. Knowing this, the Internet holds a great deal more value than as just a resource for random searches. It's a place for you to send as much or as little detail about your business as you want to prospective clients. It's also the preferred place to display your best work. Whether you're shooting big weddings or major commercials and corporate long-form, hanging your best work out there on an easy-to-navigate website is one of the best calling cards you can have in your arsenal.
The key here is keeping the information that you display on the web eye-catching and easy to navigate. While you may be tempted to list every life accomplishment, resist the urge! Keep the information professional and to the point. Prospective clients are more than likely not interested in the number of kids you have, so stay professional. List your contact information, client testimonials if you have any, a few major professional accomplishments or awards, and an easy way to find your reel. If you don't have a reel yet, throw some of your best experimental work out there or visit some of the video websites listing contests and enter those. After a few freebies you'll have enough to tout your abilities to the masses.
The Price isn't Right
Another thing to keep in mind when compiling the information you want to display is to not list your prices! Once again... DO NOT list prices. Many prospective clients will visit your site with a preconceived notion of how much they think something should cost. Few have any idea of what it really takes to put together a professional production. Seeing prices in print may turn them off before they even get a chance to speak to you. Plus - let's be realistic, being in business for yourself means you will have to make concessions. Cutting your prices to get a specific job is bound to be one of them. So don't back yourself into a corner by putting hard costs out there in the open. If you do you won't have much room to negotiate.
Now, if you're not web-savvy, never fear. There are several sites on the Internet that will allow you to post your video work for others to review. YouTube is the most widely known avenue for viewing OPV (other people's videos) however, there are a number of other sites preferred by video professionals. You may want to look into a site called Vimeo.com. Like YouTube, it's free to join yet the site's overall presentation is friendly to the eye. Once your account is set Vimeo also gives you a way to track online views from week-to-week. Google, AOL, MSN, and Yahoo also provide bandwidth for you to upload your video demo while DailyMotion.com even allows you to create a social networking group right on their site so people can watch your demo, post ratings and even leave messages. The point is, you don't have to know how to design your own site or pay someone else to do it to get your work out on the Internet.
Knowing what you know about Internet promotion, you may still be tempted to create a massive multimedia campaign to promote your services. This is fine if you have the funds and the professional history to back it up. However, all the glitz, glam and 10% off mailers on the planet can't replace good old, one-on-one human interaction.
Spend some time researching regional advertising agencies and establishing the right contacts, as well as the people and or businesses in your region that typically contract the type of video you produce. For example, if you're trying to build your wedding video business, get in touch with the bridal shops and wedding planners in the area. Take time to establish the right contacts. Once you have them on the phone, be friendly but cut right to the chase. Remember, their time is just as important as yours. Don't waste time gathering information on the phone that you could have easily gotten with just a little bit of pre-call research. Let them know that you're sure they get a million of these types of calls so you will be brief. This type of approach puts the person on the other end of the line in a position of respect. They know you understand their time is important and they know right away that you don't plan to waste it. Once you've established that initial contact, offer to take them to lunch if you're in the same location, or just drop by to discuss potential projects. You will strike out more than you succeed but when you do succeed, the interpersonal relationship you build with a client can prove to be not just profitable, but quite rewarding.
There are several websites out there providing detailed information on how to properly navigate a cold call. Inc.com is a site that pulls information and business techniques from some of the top people in the sales industry. Freecoldcallingtipsblog.com is another site that gives great, real-world information on how to naturally navigate the phone and turn it into a powerful tool for marketing your services. Before you know it, you will be turning cold calls into hot prospects.
Even the best websites, persuasive e-mails and personalized phone calls hold very little water when stacked up against a positive referral. This is still one of the best forms of advertising and marketing in the world. As a service provider you will notice that few of your clients will ever complain directly to you. They simply take their business somewhere else.
Nothing speaks like experience. One happy client telling one potential client all the positive things about the work you do will often times translate into more work and ultimately more money for you. So the best advertisement you can create for your growing business is an aura of professionalism and positive creative energy. It speaks volumes and will slowly but surely begin to bring in the bigger and better jobs. You can even try some tested gimmicks to get your clients to spread the word. Offer 10% off their next video job if a referral mentions their name. Send your clients $5 coffee gift cards or promotional items with your name and/or logo on them like t-shirts, mouse pads, coffee mugs or pens. Anything to keep you top of mind.
Do what is Best for You
The options listed above are just three of the many available to you when marketing your business. You may find that these methods work great for you or you may decide to try other ways to get your name out there. Just know that there are literally thousands of tools and techniques available to get you noticed by the people you want to target. Still, no matter what you rely on to bring in the business, remember that nobody can sell you like you can. So get out there and start selling yourself.
Michael Fitzer is an Emmy award-winning commercial and documentary writer/ producer.