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July 9, 2010 at 5:02 PM #43245AnonymousInactive
Im looking for advice on the best way to write up a general proposal for potential clients, essentially making “cold calls”.
I recently moved to a small town from a large city where I had 6 years of consistent work in video editing. Now I have all my own gear to do full-scale HD productions, but I am wondering the best way to get clients.
Im considering typing up a one page description of the company and services and just going around to local business with it. What information should I put on the proposal? Does anyone have experience doing this type of advertising?
Anyone have experience especially in approaching lawyers to produce their ads?
Thanks in advance for any advice.
July 9, 2010 at 6:03 PM #181252
I seriously recommend you consider making your initial step a direct-mail postcard: easy to read, nothing to open, and if nicely designed with minimum of reading density certainly an eye-catcher. This initial step will familiarize your service area target market with your company and branding, what you do.
It is a sustainable and affordable method for getting the word out. There are certainly other ways, and a one-page descriptive letter can work but experience has proven to me that few, if any, will actually take the time to read it, perhaps not even open it.
I have shared a multitude of ideas, concepts, marketing strategies including selective direct-mail campaigns on my E.C. Come, E.C. Go video production and marketing blog. If you’re the least bit curious, take a moment to peruse some of the article titles. My approach to information is “writing” therefore many of my articles are quite dense, some have graphics and links or other resource elements, but if you take the time to scan a few you might find something useful there.
Also, contact me after you visit there, if you read the last two articles about my new program and are interested in finding out more. A small town environment might lend itself to such a unique marketing and production program.
July 9, 2010 at 8:25 PM #181253hmuellerParticipant
I live in a small town/city and can certainly vouch for the effectiveness of Earl’s recommendations that I have used with success.
In some way, working in a small town is more challenging and more exciting – everyone knows everyone. Getting work is also a matter of who you know. You need to be out in the community, be a member of local organizations, volunteer where appropriate.
I am assuming that you have the basics in place? I.e. website, business cards, etc? You need to be a member of the local chamber of commerce. When you go to businesses, or attend networking events, you need to have the basics in place. People these days don’t like to read (information overload) so keep any handouts as short as possible and direct them to your website for more information.
When you are networking at community events/meetings(PTA, Chamber of Commerce, etc) don’t push your business too much. Rather say that you are new in the community, and what could you do to assist. Be open to unexpected business opportunities. And do follow up after networking.
July 9, 2010 at 8:25 PM #181254
In addition to Earl’s suggestions you should seriously take into account whether your potential clients can even comprehend how they would incorporate HD footage into whatever they’re doing. The very mention to small town client’s venturing into the video realm of promotions the letters ‘HD’ translate into = expensive. More than likely a DV solution will be quite well received and you can offer DV work as an ‘inexpensive’ alternative to HD until you’ve established yourself. Once you show them how they can get pro work done without sending them to the poorhouse and help drive in customers, the HD offer will be much more appealing to them.
July 9, 2010 at 9:42 PM #181255
Cold call, email, and have your site all ready and rockin’ when folks click. Reapeat as necessary.
August 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM #181256dmachamParticipant
Face time is good,Talking with the descision makers is great joining a chamber is good so is joining an organization like BNI that have members that have good connections.
August 8, 2010 at 5:36 PM #181257Luis Maymi LopezParticipant
Another important thing, when your meeting a possible client WEAR FORMAL CLOTHES. Do not go in shorts or T-shirt, that could be the difference of getting the job or not. The client needs to see at first sight that you are a professional, not a dude who happens to know about video that just wants to earn some extra money, and that your there to talk business.
The postcards are the way to go, easy to read, easy to hand out. Just put necessary information and one liners (text could be larger or with a different color than the others) that describe a complete service.
August 8, 2010 at 7:02 PM #181258
I can’t disagree with that one more. When people seek creative services, they seek creative people. Show up looking like an accountant and they’ll assume you are the sales guy for the creative person they’ll be hiring and mentally weed out the middle man… you. I work in a t-shirt and shorts unless there is a dress code in the building I’m shooting in. I don’t go to sales meetings. They can come to me if they want to talk about a project… I’ll be bare footed and they’ll already be on the clock.
I do agree with postcards, They’re cheap and can often be more effective that emails. They can be placed on other folks’ desk and that’s always good. News releases will always be your most cost effective form of advertising… next to happy clients, of course.
August 8, 2010 at 7:39 PM #181259
NOPE, while I don’t think a tux is necessary, I do believe that SargeHero’s primary point here is that you not look like the area garbage collector or a surfer just back from a few sets.
Dressing professionally is though cliched STILL your first chance to make a lasting impression, and showing up for the initial business meeting in shorts and a t-shirt is beyond arrogance, it is subliminally and subtly a statement of how little the business person thinks of his/her potential client.
So, first meeting, shirt and tie, shined shoes and properly fitting slacks, well-groomed hair (if you have any 😉 and good hygiene all come into play. It is, of course, fine to wear jeans and a casual shirt, shorts and a t-shirt, or perhaps even a tux (do they still wear those to shoot weddings 🙂 for the appropriate gig. I can comprehend doing a construction site doc in jeans and sports shirt or shorts, Gompers and a T, even wearing a swimsuit and hoody when shooting beach volleyball tournaments, swimming or surfing competition.
But to blatantly go with shorts, flip-flops and T’s for ALL shooting, or to imply that such might be the case, is a SOLID misdirection and poor information for business people first starting out, or even those easily influenced by the cavalier ARTISTA approach implied by Grinner.
August 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM #181260
all I can tell ya is the last staff job I had, I showed up to the interview ina tie-dyed shirt and a resume printed in tie-dyed paper. I left with an 80k salary and was later told it was because I was confident enough to be myself in the interview. Today, I need only impress clients. They are impressed long before we meet or we’d not be meeting. While I’m not saying this is a one size fits all approch to wardrobe, I am saying puttin’ on the dockers aint either.
August 9, 2010 at 4:22 PM #181261
Whatever works, right 🙂 It’s just that not everybody likes or wants to try okra gumbo. Most folk would be a bit more comfortable with the universally accepted, time-established concept of personal presentation.
Whatever works in most books on the subject suggests less tie-dyed and more silk tie and suit, also clear and concise presentation of information based on a mutually understandable language.
August 9, 2010 at 5:25 PM #181262
I wore a tie to my highschool graduation. It was manditory. They didn’t say what color though so I found a snazzy hawiian flowered one. I’ve not had to wear one since.From used car sales dudes to politicians, a necktie screams I can’t be trusted. Ifforced to dress up, I’dat leastskip the tie.
August 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM #181263
When it comes to first impressions, I dress for the potential client. If I’m doing work for a sport outfit, unless it’s the General Manager, casual clothing is what will be worn. One way or another I’m always in uniform because I wear clothing with my Company logo on the job. You do have to dress ‘appropriately’ for the gig as well. Since I’m usually leading a crew, it sets a bad impression on clients if I show up looking unprofessional. I guarantee you that every client I’ve made was because I didn’t show up in shorts and a t-shirt. The primary way to promote your business is to get its and your name out there as far and as often as you can. That comes from doing work, press releases, mailings, posting videos, setting up a website, social networking and so on ad nauseum. Personally, confidence does go a long way. But don’t diminish your odds of making a sale because you didn’t research your client and dressed in a manner not befitting their expectations.
August 9, 2010 at 7:33 PM #181264hmuellerParticipant
This is too funny. I don’t wear ties at all, they don’t go with dresses 😉
I havegone to first meetings all dressed up only to find the client in casuals! My philosophy now is to go to the first meeting professionally dressed and then follow the client’s style for subsequent meetings. When I am doing an actual shoot, I will wear jeans, but with a sports shirt similar to the VM shirts but with my company logo embroidered on the shirt.
August 9, 2010 at 11:19 PM #181265
This brings the question… how many of go to meetings?
August 9, 2010 at 11:58 PM #181266
Almost everybody but you, it would seem. Sometimes I meet at their offices, often at a coffee house, occasionally at a program or venue location and infrequently at a restaurant. I do occasionally field all the business activity over the internet/e-mails, but most of the people i seem to attract want to see who I am and what I look and sound like…
…and probably if I wear a DRESS with my ties 😉 nod to Heidi from all us males who occasionally overlook how much ties clash with dresses 🙂
August 10, 2010 at 1:44 AM #181267Luis Maymi LopezParticipant
You have two things that I don’t have, a whole career in video business and a solid reputation. I believe that no matter what clothes you wear the client will probably know your previous jobs, had seen your portfolio or look at your IMDB Resume (which by the way is impressive) Probably most of your clients comes to you. Me, I have to hunt them.
To a person just starting out is important to give a good first impression not only with the clothing, but also having a solid personal authority and expressing to the client that you really know what your doing. In my case I started out offering video services around visiting a few small businesses, but in shorts, T-shirt, my hair all mess up and I didn’t got anything from any of the places I visited. I had all the confidence in my editing skills, but I was too ignorant to figure out that the entrepreneur was nowhere to be found (I was a dude who happens to know about video) Now is different, I use proper clothing and among other strategies. One that I believe got me my recent gig was using Google SketchUp to make a complete 3D model of my client warehouse (with people, cars, forklift, food racks, etc) and then making a rough animated preview including Voice Overs of how the video will be. When I visited him in his office I have proper clothing, my projector with a portable screen and a folder with the storyboard. Tough to convince this client, but he was so impress that he even agree to original music composition and he told me “you started right with the clothes”.
August 10, 2010 at 3:56 PM #181268
“You have two things that I don’t have, a whole career in video business and a solid reputation.”
You called it on that one. On the real, it’s also a factor when you do have those things. I often deal with industrial GM’s and CEO’s and though they often have ‘a working man’ mentality and sometimes wear jeans and boots to work, but their shirts are collared, clean and pressed. When I show up for meetings (particularly when submitting a proposal) I dress in a similar fashion as they do.
Part of your job representing your ‘company’ is the impression you give. Now, Grinner is correct in that often ‘creative types’ are expected to have an ‘eccentric’ look. If you ever get the chance to walk the halls at Pixar, you’ll see what I mean.
But I guarantee you when John Lassiter goes to meet with the studio heads at Disney or wherever, he’s dressed appropriately. When you’ve built a rep as a solid and consistent money-maker (because that’s what it comes down to), then you can be ‘off’. It may even help promote your work. Until then, you’ll have to be ‘flexible’ with your attire leaning more towards a professional look.
Now when it comes to meetings yes I go to them. When I am contacted or if I’m pitching to a client, I’ll go to see them. They tend to feel more comfortable on their ‘home turf’ and I get the opportunity to do some ‘Recon’ on them and their facilities. You can talk on the phone, e-mail and all that but nothing beats going on-site and ‘putting eyes’ on things yourself.
With Grinner’s setup, there can easily be a ‘take it or leave it’ manner. I have a similar setup, but I choose to go to the client. After I get the contract, the meetings I go to are 90% one’s I’ve called for to keep the client abreast of the project’s progress. Even those are few because every time I show up for a meeting, I’m on the clock and I’d like to think my clients have better things to do than to pay me for just showing up.
August 10, 2010 at 7:38 PM #181269
It’s not so much of a take it or leave it mentality. It’s more of a where and when would you like me thing. I get paid by the hour. Sitting in meetings convincing folks why they need my services just aint my bag. I cater to folks who know why they need my services. That means a phone call, an email or two then delivery. I’ll be shooting for MTV tomorrow and the next day. It’s not as of I had to have a sit down in a uniform to seal that. That of course would have been a deal breaker. That’d be a morning I couldn’t otherwise bill. We all bill for our time. Sitting in meetings is too expensive for any of my clients. I’ll not milk them for then nor cheat myself out of income by pretending to be awake in such a thing. It’s as easy as setting a time palce for me. That can be done without clipping on a tie and pretending to be someone I’m not. This aint what brings revenue my way. It’s costly. Therfore, I just opt out.
August 11, 2010 at 5:33 PM #181270AnonymousInactive
Also, correct spelling and grammar are important.
Yes, I’m pointing at you posters here that don’t know “your” from “you’re,” the proper spelling of “mandatory,” and who are lacking the ability to put together a coherent and complete sentence.
I imagine I’ll get some heat for this post, but since the discussion is about professionalism, these are important points I’ve brought up.
August 11, 2010 at 6:00 PM #181271210peParticipant
A lot could be added (or taken away) from this discussion. I think dressing ‘appropriately’ would be what I would recommend. If you have to go to a meeting at a client I would try and find out what they wear and dress appropriately. I have never prescribed to the notion that you have to dress eccentrically in order to be creative or perceived as creative. To me its like the notion that most creative people I know, i.e. musicians, etc., use being creative as an excuse for being messy and unorganized. There is no need. I dress how the clients dress when I meet them and dress pretty much how I Want when I shoot, What works for an established business cannot work for someone with grinners resume. I left the corporate world to get away from meetings too but I still no there is a certain amount of playing the game in all of life. (I dont recommend ties though as most businesses I have dealt with now are more casual than that.)
August 11, 2010 at 6:06 PM #181272
Just use caution in your judgement regarding misspellings, etc. I have to admire many of our posters here who are writing in English for OUR benefit, when it is a second, third or even fourth language for them. I would suspect that the occasional misspelling or incorrectly applied word or typo is acceptable considering that.
Also, not you, nor anyone else on this planet can rip through a response, letter or novel without generating the occasional misspelling or misapplied word. It is the nature of the beast, and many of the posts on this and other forums are simply knee jerk responses, not well-thought-out essays.
You’ll not so much get “heat” as you will the perception that you have a overly haughty attitude about the subject and therefore will earn the animosity most folk do when pointing out the short-comings of others. Correct spelling, word usage, and proper care and feeding of typos is important, and should be used.
But that’s not going to happen in a world of accepted truncated styles of text messaging and more. Nobody cares, and you making an issue of it isn’t going to improve the situation as much as it’s going to increase conflict. Use some understanding, compassion and a bit of resolve to have more empathy for others who might not take the time, or even have the skills you do when it comes to the written word.
August 11, 2010 at 8:05 PM #181273D0nParticipant
I have dyslexia, and a gr 8 education….
You all have terrible spelling to me….. every last one of you….
August 11, 2010 at 10:19 PM #181274AnonymousInactive
So if spelling and grammar errors are acceptable because of the evolution of the English language, then I could justify wearing my pants around my butt with my underwear showing – based on the evolution of fashions – and I could hope it doesn’t affect my chances of finding work (music videos notwithstanding). I’m not trying to start an argument, but if professional appearances are going to be discussed here, then other aspects of maintaining a professional appearance shouldn’t be dismissed.
Like, you know dude? ; )
August 12, 2010 at 12:23 AM #181275
This conversation is starting to drift and the discussion of proper written English in the professional arena vs the degenerative influence of modern slang is another topic altogether. Since most people in the US do not go on to college, a high-school education is what most can expect.
If like typical teenagers you didn’t pay a great deal of attention to what was taught and practice it in both spoken and written endeavors everyday, spelling and grammatical errors will occur. On these and many other forums there’s a little red line that appears under misspelled words.
Even though I have a pretty fair command of the language, I often make common errors and do try to correct them when I catch them. If you choose to ignore the red line of ‘error’ because you inattentive or unconcerned that’s on you. Unlike with the spoken word, errors made in textual form are plain to see. But, unless you write professionally it is unlikely you will take the time to proofread your posts for spelling and grammatical errors. In today’s ‘shoot-from-the-hip’ style of communication it is far too easy to make errors and ‘gaffs’.
In relation to the professional arena, quite often it all comes down to the work. If your work ethic, process and finished product are consistently at or above pro standards, clients will recognize that and you’ll keep working. I’m willing to bet that dress code or not, Grinner’s work comes well within pro specs as does the rest of the pro’s on the forums. You turn in work that is shoddy, loaded with misspellings, grammatical errors and slang terms in appropriate to the project, you will find it difficult to attract let alone maintain high-end clients.
And, no spelling and grammatical errors, improper language, wearing of clothing inappropriate to the client’s expectations according to current trends is not acceptable. I doubt if it will ever be unless your reputation and ability to make client’s money exceeds the norm. Now if George Lucas showed up to a studio meeting in jeans and a t-shirt, I doubt anyone would sweat him about it….
August 12, 2010 at 1:34 AM #181276
I’m dyslexic and growing up in Texas, my english teachers were, well, the football coach. lol
I live in a world that has spellcheck, though. It’s not somethig that matters much. Most know artists well enough to not balk at I before E except after C exept with ceiling, Keith, and Budweiser rules. If the english language wanted no errors, it’d make far more sense.
Bringing a whooole new fun topic. What’s the worse typo/mispelling you’ve ever done on a project? I once tagged a spot I made 60 times with “Airs weakly” lol My wife is the one that caught it laying in bed one night. I missed it, the audio dude missed it, the producer missed it, and master control missed it. doah!
And aint it funny how sometimes whan you capitalize a word never otherwise capitalized it looks totally wrong. Idea. That word had me a client opening a freakin dictionary back in the linear daze.
August 12, 2010 at 1:46 AM #181277AnonymousInactive
Before I got into video, I was involved more in print and web graphics, including a little bit of product design for an electronics engineering company. One project that I designed the panel graphics for had a “memory” slot for SD cards. I created the artwork, had it approved, we sent the cases out for silkscreening, and only when we got them back did we notice we had indicated “memeory” slots. Fortunately there were only a dozen or so and they were destined for an overseas client that wouldn’t know the different. And thankfully my boss didn’t seem to mind the error too much.
August 12, 2010 at 4:42 PM #181278
You have my sympathies (growing up in Texas….)
Seriously, one of the main reasons I have production meetings and screenings with the clients is to make sure everything is spelled ‘korektly’ and in the sequences where they need to be. Usually, the more eyes on it the better to catch stuff. On a corporate gig I spelled ‘saftey’ instead of ‘safety’. Client caught it right off the bat during the rough cut screening. Would have been embarrassing as it was a ‘Safety Training’ video and the word was in numerous places consistently spelled incorrectly.
Unless it’s an official document or something written that will go on permanent record, I try not to sweat spelling errors. Hell, we all make them but long as I don’t need a ‘translator’ to figure out what someone has written, I’m willing to let it ride in informal stuff. One thing for sure, if you’re trying to make your money as some form of writer and you’re getting your @$$ kicked by spelling, grammatical and contextual errors you’ve got problems.
Look at the bright-side Grin, I write and edit books. The ‘cavalcade of errors’ are always off the charts compared to what I see in video work!
August 12, 2010 at 7:59 PM #181279JaimieParticipant
These are great posts about the perpetual argument about proper dress! I think the best way (I know this works) is to dress and act the way your client expects. Since you want your client to give you a couple of thousand dollars for an as yet unproduced product, you want to present yourself in a way that will make him comfortable doing that. Usually, that means looking and talking like him.
If you are trying to sell a promo or something like that to a traditional business, the buyer will expect you to look stylish (creative) but not scatter-brained. A good rule is that the higher the price, the older will be the decision maker and the greater will be his expectation of a professional production. If you are looking for $50,000 or more, wear a good suit, expensive shirt and tie, shined shoes and bring a high quality portfolio that you can leave. If you have tattoos, hide them.
If you are trying to get a music video contract or a surfer sports video, the exact same rule applies. Look and act like your customer. That would probably not include the above recommendations.
One interesting exception is weddings. I usually invite the prospective clients to lunch in order to understand what they expect and to have their undivided attention while I make my pitch. For this, I dress in new, clean jeans, sport shirt open at the collar and something like a suede sport jacket. If the couple is young and hip, this dress may be a little too conservative, but I try to counter that by showing clips from hip weddings. But, often a mother comes along because she is paying for the video and wants to see (read, control) what she is getting. It is very important that she feel comfortable with you.
I guess the idea is don’t be yourself, be your customer. The object is to make money, not a personal statement.
August 12, 2010 at 10:02 PM #181280
Jaimie! Hear! Hear!
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