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Need advice for a student-run videography company

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tangentidea
Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 5:37:35 am

I've been lurking for the past several months -- reading the discussions has been immensely educational and encouraging to me! I need some help, and I have some ideas that need the COW's wisdom...

I run a small video production company in Lancaster, PA -- our website is http://www.tangentidea.com. Right now, all of us (except Nathan) are college or high school students. I created the company so that we could more easily and professionally market our skills as an entity, rather than individuals. We're in this to get experience and make money with our existing skills. Being students offers us slightly unique flexibility -- we can hide that and appear professional, or play the student card when we need favors. Also, our schedules are very flexible, we don't have mortgages to pay, families to feed, or student loans to repay (yet), so we can afford to fail right now. And even if we do, we'll get some valuable experience and some videos to put on the demo reel once we graduate.

Our first year in existence will actually show a profit, which I'm glad for -- nothing amazing, but it covers our time and operating costs. However, going into this next year, we really need a strategy to make us competitive and unique in this market.

Locally, most broadcast commercials are done by TV stations or Smokeys. I figure, that's not a market that we could easily break into... or is it? Any ideas on how we could get into that?

We've done weddings, it's decent money, but I don't want to be a commodity in that market. Now, we do full HDV shoots now, and I shoot some in Super8, but so far my experience has been that couples want the cheapest person possible. How do we market a higher quality product to couples, and convince them that this is worth paying extra for?

Non-profits and churches have actually been our greatest income and support. It's tricky, though -- some are absolutely fantastic to work with, but a few are "squeezers," just trying to get the cheapest product they can out of us. A local church has outsourced a few of their video projects to me and asked me to train some of their own camera operators, and that's worked out great. Is there a good way to try to build on that business, and market that to other churches in the area?

But we do more than just video production -- Tyler and I actually worked as actors for 7 years, Doug's worked at a theme park booking national acts for them for the past few years and running all their audio, Chris does 3D animation and web design, Tina does graphic design, and I do PHP/MySQL programming... how can we effectively market this suite of services to companies or individuals?

It's probably naive of us, but we don't really want to do weddings, car commercials, corporate videos, or dance recitals for the rest of our lives, but I realize that is where a lot of the money is. However, much of that business, in my experience so far, is tied up by "the guy that we always work with." So rather than trying to break up those existing relationships, I'd like to try to market us as being unique, and doing something different than existing videography and marketing companies in Lancaster.

I'd love the opportunity for us to work with a small new business or a band and help them create their brand identity, design their website, create their print/TV/radio ads, or help a museum create mini-documentaries and kiosks for their displays, or work with an artist to create a video art installation, or work with a theater to build their A/V system and integrate video into their productions...

I'd love the opportunity for us to work with a small new business or a band and help them create their brand identity, design their website, create their print/TV/radio ads, or help a museum create mini-documentaries and kiosks for their displays, or work with an artist to create a video art installation, or work with a theater to build their A/V system and integrate video into their productions...

Does that sort of make sense? What does the wisdom of the COW recommend?

-Ryan


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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 6:02:06 am

[tangentidea] "how can we effectively market this suite of services to companies or individuals?"

Not with your existing web-site - it truly sucks. Too much copy and not enough show me. And when you do attempt to show me - you've encoded for what? Dial-up? The video is horrible to watch. Why not shoot yourself in the foot and call that marketing?

My advice is to reduce your site to one perfect page expressing what you better than anyone. One page - no scrolling. When you have done that - then a month later - add another perfect page. With all that talent - produce a 2 minute reel on the first perfect page and get (and hold) their attention.


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Ryan Mast
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 6:09:49 am

Yes, I did encode for dialup and bad DSL... unfortunately, Lancaster DOES tend to lag behind the rest of the country in tech adoption. I'd love to post higher quality videos, but I don't want to lose users' attention to load times. What would you recommend?

And what should we put on the "perfect page?" Should we list what we do, post a demo reel and portfolio, and ask people to contact us? Should we post a rate sheet? Is there anything specifically that we should get rid of?



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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 6:23:41 am

[Ryan Mast] "Yes, I did encode for dialup and bad DSL... unfortunately, Lancaster DOES tend to lag behind the rest of the country in tech adoption. I'd love to post higher quality videos, but I don't want to lose users' attention to load times. What would you recommend?"

I would recommend catering to potential clients with a broadband connection - that's your market. Forget dial-up cheapees.

"And what should we put on the "perfect page?"

Anything that won't bore the piss out of me in 4 seconds. Shock me, astonish me, challenge me, but don't bore me. i.e. do something brave and outrageous. Try it. All your copy now is trite and expected = boring.

Can't reduce your message down to a 'perfect page' then you don't know your message.


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Ryan Mast
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 7:07:23 am

Can't reduce your message down to a 'perfect page' then you don't know your message.

That IS part of the problem -- I don't know what exactly we should focus on. In our position, what do you think we should promote the most?



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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 1:29:01 pm

First of all - lighten up Raymond. I don't know how honed your skill set was at 17 or 18, but for high school kids these guys appear to be well on their way. Yes the web design is just OK, but Ryan isn't representing himself as a cutting edge Silicon Valley design firm.

That said, yes, you should simplify your website and if video is what you primarily want to sell it should be on your home page. It should also be able to speak for itself and not need a lot of ad copy. Also, and not to be overly blunt, are these your real prices or where you start out before you cut a deal? I'm not in your market but these prices seem a bit on the high side for students.

It's been discussed here, but bears repeating, SEPARATE the consumer (wedding video biz) from the B2B (business) and ad spots part of your business. Different websites, a different name, a different entity. Business people could care less that you can handle weddings -- in fact it really will give them the feeling that you're not the right choice for them. Of course corporate video can be a very hard nut to crack because of the "Catch 22" of experience. You can't get the gig because you don't have the experience and you can't get the experience because you can't get the gig. So find somewhere to start, even if it means working cheap or for costs just to get something to put on your reel.

YMI could go on a reel showing that you know what you're doing, but I wouldn't lead with it and wouldn't have it in its entirety.

As to commercial spots, that's an even tougher door to open. You might find some cable advertisers looking for something new. Some of that may even lead to advertisers on local on-air broadcast outlets. Maybe. What you may not realize is that at the low end a lot of TV production is done free by the cable operator or station just to get the time buy. Very hard to compete with free, isn't it? The low end, combined with your ages, is also a fairly strong magnet for grinders. OK, let's just say that it's a 99% probability that you'll run into mostly grinders at the beginning. Be careful and be sure you collect deposits, not promises. Be prepared to WALK AWAY from these people no matter how good their bull sounds at the time.

In closing let me advise you that there's only a small chance that what you're doing now is what you'll end up doing for a living. You could end up as the Exec Producer of the first Tri-Continental, all HD holographic, 15.1 surround sound, 100th year reunion of The Rolling Stones. Or you could be a doctor. The point is to learn as much as you can, explore as many options as are given and be sure to grow. Even if your career path takes you somewhere completely different from where you think you're headed now, the more experience and skill you develop along the way the better off you'll be.


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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 4:16:20 am

[Nick Griffin] "First of all - lighten up Raymond. I don't know how honed your skill set was at 17 or 18, but for high school kids these guys appear to be well on their way. Yes the web design is just OK, but Ryan isn't representing himself as a cutting edge Silicon Valley design firm."

At $4000 a web-site, that's exactly how he's representing himself! Look at his rate-card.

What are they 'well on their way' to?


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 2:27:19 pm

Randall, Randall, Randall. (Heavy sigh.)

Yes, I guess on further examination you have a point. Also, on further reading, perhaps I was mistaken to assume that these guys were high school students rather than college students. Hence I would be a lot more forgiving in judging the quality of their work. So Ryan - how old are you guys? Are you 16 year old high school sophomores or 26 year old grad students?

I have the impression that the rates quoted are just being floated in the hope that they will someday be able to charge these amounts. These kids are likely to run into quite a few grinders along the way and they'll have to learn how to balance work quality against market price just as the rest of us have. And yes, $4,000 for a website of this nature does seem a bit out of alignment with the real world. But then if the same amount of coding and beneath the surface work were combined with $500's worth of a decent Art Director's time, it might be worth $4,000 -- or more -- to someone. Maybe. Your mileage may vary.


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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 5:08:27 pm

[Nick Griffin] "Randall, Randall, Randall."

Nick, Nick, Nick, Have a Merry Christmas!


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 11:43:20 pm

[Randall Raymond] "Nick, Nick, Nick, Have a Merry Christmas!"

And to you, my friend.

And Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Joyous Kwanzaa and best wishes to the entire bovine community whatever your beliefs. You all are my co-workers and I am grateful that we have this communal water cooler at which to meet and exchange our thoughts.

Happy Holidays and Happy Holi-daze!


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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 3:51:22 pm

[Ryan Mast] "That IS part of the problem -- I don't know what exactly we should focus on."

You'll need weddings for the cash flow until you get some tight, professional work up as examples. Focus on weddings for now and get really good at it!

Why not offer a local business (a banquet hall who will recommend you for weddings?) a freebie 2 minute infommercial for their web site to get that side of your business rolling? If you can nail that one - the rest will follow. But you have to nail it! Keep your script direct and devoid of cliches. If the image tells the story - say nothing.


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Bruce Bennett
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 2:55:23 pm

Hi Ryan,

My advice


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 3:10:57 pm


As with others here, I feel that your website needs focus. It is too disjointed and there is too much happening for your message to be clearly understood by potential audiences.

First off, again echoing what others have said, break it into two totally separate sites. One is for your event work, the other is for commercial and more corporate work.

There is also a third company hiding in there from what I can see and that is worship and ministry related video. While many churches are quite poor, there are many others who are not and have budgets. If you and the team you work with have that as one of the areas that you like to work in, make that the focus of another site. Do not make it part of your event or corporate sites. Specialize.

As to compressing video for the web, the Sorensen Squeeze product makes the best video I have seen and in sizes that work well even for those who are bandwidth-challenged.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, eh? Say hi to the Innocence Mission for me the next time you bump into them at the coffee shop.

Best regards,


Ron Lindeboom
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronlindeboom
Publisher, Creative COW Magazine
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Ryan Mast
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 9:51:11 pm

Also, and not to be overly blunt, are these your real prices or where you start out before you cut a deal? I'm not in your market but these prices seem a bit on the high side for students.

That's the rates I'd like to be at, Nick, but I don't think I've booked a job yet for anything more than $75/hr. Is it better to start at $90 and offer $75, or just set it at $75 (or lower)? What do you think is a fair wage?

I run my display at 1280x800 and have to scroll side-to-side to see your whole pages (I personally don


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 22, 2007 at 11:24:07 pm

I like Ron 's idea regarding you doing more worship related video. What if you could do this on a "co-op" basis the same way local car dealers get pre-made packages of spots from a central source, with the costs shared between several churches? Structure a meeting with three or four ministers and see if you can find enough common demand where you can make the same or very similar packages for each of them, and they can split the costs. Imagine making some very nice pieces for Easter and Christmas as a start, Illustrating a scene out of scripture, but perhaps acted-out in modern dress and language, to show that these precepts remain universal. Bring one of their previous sermons "to life" for them. If you are clever in how you structure these, you can make them modular enough that each one can still be "customized" to an extent, without raising production costs. These would be to play on local access cable as well as to show in the church. Retain some rights and maybe you can re-sell them in other regions with an exclusive for each region or parish.

It is hard to beat the local cable production rates on price, but, the other side of that is, you can afford to buy some time yourself. Think about making an infomercial on leased access time, but something really trendy and eye-grabbing. You sell local merchants on the concept and they pay you to run this on local cable. I'll give you a freebie as a sort of guide to what I'm talking about.

"Tales from the Hardware Store"
A three-minute vignette set in two adjacent back yards. Two guys are mowing, and wave at each other as they pass, calmly going back and forth, nothing special. We jump to their internal monologues and find out they act all normal and neighborly, but in fact yard care is a personal gladiatorial arena for these guys, it turns out they are in a constant state of one-upmanship and the grass is their battlefield. In their heads they are having all these Walter Mitty type competitions, they could be pretending they are NASCAR racers, top-gun jet jockeys, WW II desert tank commanders, etc. - In search of a competitive edge, one or both (you probably alternate one each week) wind up at the hardware store in a 5-minute segment where they get tips on how to make their current mower work better, plus accessories for the yard... you get the idea. You can take something as pedestrian as putting fresh oil and a new $2 spark plug in, (BTW, need a spark plug wrench? On sale this week, $4! Blade sharpening service special this week, makes the cut lawn not look brown!) ...and make it like an homage to the engine-starting scene from "Flight of the Phoenix". Dramatic angles, stirring , tension-building music.... WILL he start on the first pull???? It sputters, catches, but will it clear a winter's worth of soot out and keep turning over??? Bob next door is WATCHING!!!!!!

You play this on the leased-access sales channel but you also make a kiosk in the hardware store itself, and you make a big deal out of sneak-previews and "premieres" to be held at the hardware store before the things go on air or you-tube. You also take out print ads locally to promote the premieres.

It's an informercial that attracts and rewards the viewer with some actual entertainment, while working as a springboard to sales and building a local brand. This is something few producers actually take the trouble to provide any more.

This will probably work best with a local mom-and pop type business, because chain stores typically have too many restrictions set by the head office... but you never know. Locally, an Ace hardware used to do live remotes on broadcast TV every Saturday morning for 30 minutes, with some sales talks and how-to's. The results were not great but that was due to execution and lack of quality talent at the store Plus lack of a script or producer... And live is hard work. You can do it cheaper yet better with the tricks you can supply in post, some tight writing/editing, and well-directed local talent willing to work for cheap. Keep it to ten minutes or less and when you get enough made, rotate them in a half-hour format.

If you don't want to do weddings, making your own opportunities like this and learning to finance them is a way to get your merry band moving in a more commercial direction. You will need some real selling skills to pull this off, but on the technical or creative side, there's nothing in the way of huge obstacles as long as you don't step on copyrights. Clever writing will let you skate close in parodies and homages without going over the line.






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Bruce Bennett
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 1:55:59 pm

Ryan,

As far as doing biz as LLC or DBA, all I have to say is "accidents will happen." That's why they're called accidents.

For insurance, I pay $590/Year for Worker's Comp via Zurick (just me) and $38.73/Month for $1 million general liability policy with an Inland Marine clause for "videotizing" it. It includes insuring my office equipment (laptops, scanner, etc.)
Overall, my policies are pretty cheap when compared to all the other things I have to pay for to run my biz.

Because I don't own my own video equipment (I sub out shooters and editors) I don't have any advice or experience on major equipment insurance.

Bruce



Bruce Bennett,
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC - http://www.bmmp.com


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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 2:10:03 pm

[Ryan Mast] "Is it better to start at $90 and offer $75, or just set it at $75 (or lower)? What do you think is a fair wage?"
Your appearance of professionalism is enhanced by taking the position that the price is the price. If further sweetening is still needed to close the deal do so by throwing in freebies. For example on a wedding package, throw in 20 extra DVDs. Tell them that you've found this to be very popular with brides because that way every member of the wedding party can get one as can Aunt Martha in Iowa who was unable to attend.

As to what to charge, please don't take this as a dodge or wise ass comment, but the amount you charge should be as much as you can get without losing the business. Research what others in your area charge. Find out what they include and what the make ala carte. Use that knowledge to construct pricing that is appealing.

If I have to be blunt, the wedding stuff on your site does not appear -- to ME, someone with zero knowledge of the wedding video market -- to be of the level to justify the prices you are publishing. So keep doing more and work on getting prettier and more elegant imagery.

[Ryan Mast] "
In addition to incorporating as an LLC, what else should we be getting? Liability insurance? Insurance for equipment? Do we need to get insurance to cover equipment we rent? We all work as subcontractors (1099's), so does TIP need to get any kind of workman's comp or insurance to cover the workers?"


Students or not you MUST have liability insurance. Not sure how easy or hard that will be to get given your age(s), but even if it's booked in the name of a parent not having it is playing with fire.

Yes, you should insure your own equipment and ESPECIALLY anything you rent, unless that coverage is explicitly spelled out in the rental agreement -- making it redundant and therefore an avoidable expense.

I don't know what coverage you need for your 1099 employees so make sure that's something you ask the insurance agent about. I assume that's all part of your "umbrella" liability policy.

One more point about insurance. If you're going after corporate work you will likely run into situations where you have to present a certificate of insurance as PROOF that you are covered in case anything goes wrong. This seldom happens for talking head shoots but is an almost certainty for shoots taking place in factories and similar workplaces.

My friend Randall has responded below to my original post, so I'll continue on other aspects of this conversation there.


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Zane Barker
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 2:56:27 am

Honestly the only thing I can see coming from play ing the student card is potential clients will try and get you to agree to a lesser price, because by saying we are students you are also saying we don't know fully what we are doing.



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Randall Raymond
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 3:44:17 am

[Zane Barker] "Honestly the only thing I can see coming from playing the student card is potential clients will try and get you to agree to a lesser price, because by saying we are students you are also saying we don't know fully what we are doing."

I agree and he has admitted that. The first thing to do is pull down that wannabe-rate-card and get real. There's not a single example of work on the site that says they're worth it. Nick may complain that's too harsh - but they're not in his market. So they miss a valuable lesson by coddling to them. They're not in my market either - but I'm reacting as if they were. See the difference, Nick?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 6:36:15 am

If you want to use the fact of being students in your communications, market it not as cheap inexperienced low-risk labor, but as innovative, creative, avant-garde', the next generation. When a bunch of California film students got together and called themselves Zoetrope, they were all still very raw talents, only one or two small projects in their portfolios. But they had energy and a fresh outlook, they wanted to express ideas thru film in new ways. They marketed themselves as the up-and-comers, the people with an insight to the youth culture, just as that culture was becoming more important to business.

But youth by itself is not enough to sell what you do. More powerful to sell ORGANIZATION: That you have a collective, a TEAM, that brings all these various cutting-edge skills to the table. From where I sit, that's your group's greatest strength, and you need to play to it. That there's a whole crew of you, each an expert in one facet, not just one or two guys, trying to fake equal skill in every department. When you buy into the pitch, you're getting the whole team working for you. This also should make clients feel more secure in that you'll have enough resources between all of you to execute what you've promised. So you have to make visible this "team-ness" of your organization in your marketing materials, IMO. When I hear "students", the next thing I think of is "unreliable"- they are like mayflies, temps: if you love what they do, it hardly matters because they're gone soon, replaced by new unknowns that may be geniuses or flakes. The sense of an overall ORGANIZATION brings with it the promise of some CONTINUITY in service level that lasts more than a semester. This is a very powerful concept when linked to the advantages of youth because it mitigates the downside of that youth.

Breaking down the website into sub-sites is a very important early step. Your customers self-select thru this initial filtering mechanism. You want the grinders and tire-kickers to lose interest and filter out, and only the actual prospects with money to move ahead to contact. So don't be afraid to price yourselves above the bottom-feeders, because you're right that you can't survive there anyhow. Keep a distinct Event video presence and keep it separate visually and mentally from the business/advertising and documentary/theatrical arms. Even if all the phones really ring to the same desk in mom's basement.

Something else you might want to work on is to gather in a public spot monthly to showcase your projects and make contacts. Regular screening parties somewhere at a bar or whatever, run a monthly contest or theme for short demo projects, enter any and all local competitions. Make a public presence in the local culture scene. This is good team-building stuff for the group's morale and lets you build additional contacts by word of mouth. Contacts that can lead to sales leads or at least to more human resources for future projects. Each individual of the team also needs to try and make at least one new contact a week out in the community, to tell about the group and their services. Active real-world Networking.




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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 2:31:42 pm

Please see my reply above.


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grinner hester
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 23, 2007 at 7:00:01 pm

Hi Ryan.
I applaud your tenasity, man.
First, as mentioned, the ole website needs some pizzaz. Today, in many ways, that really is your demo reel. If it does not impress, the phone wont ring from it's hits.
I would not put rates on your site. It paints you into a corner. You'll find without having that restriction, you can grow your budgets on the fly, while negotiating sometimes.
Utilize your strength and that is youth. Advertise that you guys are young, hip and edgy. Put your personalities in everything you do from that site, to your cards to your appearence when dazzling clietele. Being middle aged and balding, I have to convence my new clientele how hip I am with samples of my work. With you guys, that can automaticly be assumed without even bustin' out a reel.
Create some labors of love. If you keep shooting and editing weddings, you will naturally become a wedding videography house. Assuming this is not the goal, go shoot those things you really want to be getting paid to shoot. Be that music videos or shorts, you will not get these gigs if you have not done these gigs.
Above all, have fun. This is somthing that can be sensed over the phone, man. If you guys are having a blast, peopel will gravitate to you. If it's a job, there is a place down the road where they have fun.
take care, man






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Nick Griffin
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 24, 2007 at 2:49:38 pm

[grinner hester] "Being middle aged and balding..."

Hey! I resemble that remark! Then again so do the overwhelming majority of my clients and that's a tool that works for me. People hire people like them because they can relate to them, understand where they are coming from and where they are likely to go. We also get hired based on bringing a level of knowledge and competence to the table. The beard may be turning gray but there's still a fire burning between the ears. Energy and attention are required and that can come across in middle age as well as youth.

[grinner hester] "Above all, have fun. This is something that can be sensed over the phone, man. If you guys are having a blast, people will gravitate to you. If it's a job, there is a place down the road where they have fun."

Grin, you really hit the nail on the head with this comment! In competitive markets and competitive situations fun can make all the difference. It also connotes a positive attitude. Who do you want to work with, the guy who says, "Oh... that could be a problem?" Or the guy who says, "Wow, that's challenging, I love challenges, let's see how we solve this."

(And on a side note, Grinner, I hope your adventures are taking you new and interesting places, that you are continuing to rule your own world and that the new year will bring you nothing but happiness and success!)


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grinner hester
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Jan 6, 2008 at 5:42:41 pm

thank ya, brother!
I am having fun. Took me a while to learn life's biggest secret.
or to realize it's not a secret at all, I should say.



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Scott Kubie
Re: Need advice for a student-run videography company
on Dec 27, 2007 at 1:11:52 am

I think the best way to use being students to your advantage is to literally BE students. The local competition was more than happy to give studio tours and explain all about their pricing, workflow, capabilities and more to a couple of doe-eyed college kids. Take really strong mental notes and build a map of the competition and figure out how they do everything, especially how they are marketing to potential clients so you know what holes to fill.

It sounds shady but it's useful. For example, for our market, it helped us figure out that we will never in a million years compete quality-wise with the 3-d work coming out of one studio, and that another studio is incredibly heavily invested in film and HD technologies. What we did discover is that no one in town is offering much in the way of integrated marketing production, i.e. using the skills they have to come up with innovative ways to market a business. They're just old timey video guys who got good at what they do and built a large - though not smart - business out of it.



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Ryan Mast
The plan now...
on Dec 30, 2007 at 6:27:15 am

Thank you all very much for your input -- it's been valuable. Randall, thanks for the harsh criticism. Seriously, I don't get it much, and it's oddly refreshing when I do. Our goal is to work at a professional level; we're not there yet, but we need to know what we're doing wrong, so we can improve... Nick, you're really encouraging; there's actually a couple business people that I'm in touch with who might go for an idea like that.

Based on your input and some other ideas I've had percolating, here's my plan:

Do the paperwork and make TIP an LLC. Get insurance, because often I'm renting/borrowing gear from other people, not rental shops; I'm guessing they don't have insurance. I'll take wedding videography off that site and market that strictly as corporate videography & design, and event services.

Handle all the ministry video through Youth Ministry Innovations. It's better set up for connections there, anyway.

Set up another entity that operates under the auspices of TIP to handle music videos, theater, and other more artistic work. I don't know if that would actually be profitable, but I'd enjoy it. It would keep the marketing focus separate, so it's less confusing for prospective clients. Even though it's the same people doing the work... would that help alleviate the confusion, or make it worse?

Redo the website. Make a new, single demo reel with editing, animation, image correction, directing, etc. Most of what's on there is a bit old; we've done much cooler projects since then.

Already I'm taking your advice to get involved in the local art & music community -- I'm making some contacts and trying to get some projects started. I'm going to talk with some of my profs who have business connections in the community and try to get some tours/shadowing/internships/interviews and localish production companies. I'll also take the rates off of the site and drop them a bit.

Again, thank you all so much for your advice and criticism. What do you think of the plan?



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Randall Raymond
Re: The plan now...
on Dec 31, 2007 at 4:01:18 am

[Ryan Mast] "Again, thank you all so much for your advice and criticism. What do you think of the plan?"

For 8 bucks for a domain name - a company can have any number of facets of their work appear to be their specialty.

Knowing your niche takes time. And once you hone in on that niche and are better at it than anyone else - well, things will go your way. Kinda magnetic - if you get my drift.

You guys really need to work on copy writing. Your message right now is: "We're a bunch of young folk acting like old established farts - with pricing to suit." It's bad copy and misleading. You're missing you strengths - that's assuming you didn't start out on an AMPEX. I did, but ask Nick - he's a really old fart.

Anyway, you have to have a passion for communicating a message that will in some way make the world better. When you lose that passion or find yourself selling out to some butt-head client - take up cab-driving or pizza delivery.

Being a Michigan boy, I've always been a fan of Ernest Hemingway - I rented a cottage once from his sister. He said he always had his BS meter running. Apply that same meter to your message - be ruthless in it's application. So, no BS, no cliches, no lies - kinda forces you to be creative, doesn't it?



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Stan Timek
Re: The plan now...
on Jan 7, 2008 at 4:09:27 am

Ryan,

Sorry to jump in here but your plan sounds great and I just wanted to say that you can go to the PA state web site and research the LLC process and paperwork there. If you're up to the work (not much involved really) you can file all the papers yourself and keep the fees to what the state charges (maybe around $300.00) If you have an accountant they could probably help you out for a small fee.

Good luck!


Stan

Stan Timek

Pollywog Theater
http://www.pollywogtheater.com

-- check out --

http://www.HD4AppleTV.com


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