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Cold Calling...or not?

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Jeffrey Gould
Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 28, 2008 at 1:11:02 am

Hi, A lot of you have seen me on this forum in the past and I've been in business 16 years, mostly catering to the medical industry. Like others, marketing has never been my stong point and up until 9/11 it didn't have to be...the work just came. The last few years have been rough and I've tried many methods: Google Adwords, Direct Response, Sending Letters and Emails, Cold Calls and Yellow Pages. I'm getting by thanks to some steady clients, but I'm tired of just getting by.

I've made a few calls this week and left messages, but no replies. One was even a referral and I thought they were interested in doing a video and website. I even called a non-profit to see if they wanted a promo video that I would do for practically nothing, no reply. Is the economy that bad, that people consider video superfluos? or is it my approach? My work is pretty good, at least my clients and peers think so...so I'm not sure what's wrong.

So, is cold calling the best way to go? If so...how do you start? This is what I've been saying, when I actually get a real person on the phone: "Hi, I'm Jeff from Action Media Productions, we specialize in producing medical patient education and marketing videos and I'm calling to see if you have a need for my services, I did a video for Dr. Lombardi the next town over and it was very successful for him".

At this point, I'm open to any suggestions. If I was talentless, I could understand the lack of new business. Thanks and sorry so long, but wanted to include what I've done in the past.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Steve Wargo
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 28, 2008 at 2:52:03 am

Calling people out of the blue is very difficult and you need to be able to handle rejection. The main problem is this: When ever anyone cold calls our office, the receptionist's instructions are to blow them off. At most, she will allow them to send something in the mail.

The lower someone is in the food chain, the more likely they are to say "no". You have to somehow get a bit higher. I would canvas an office building with promotional packages containing a short promo piece and a demo disc. Ask who might be in charge of marketing or instructional work. If you have to leave it, try to make an appointment later to have a ten minute visit with the proper person.

If you're going to cold call, have a script set ready. A script set is a set of pages that you kind of read when you speak. It keeps you from rambling or forgetting to make a point. Practice on a friend.

All good sales people have a script when they're starting out.

Cold calling scares the crap out of me.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Christian Glawe
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 28, 2008 at 4:27:19 am


Cold calling is very, very difficult... if you get a 3% response rate, then you are kicking butt!

But... I've done it before, and had some success before. Just remember that with every "no" you get, you are getting closer to the "yes".

Here's a few tips:

- Do your homework! Find out who the decision maker is *before* you ever pick up the phone. Find out what their business does, and figure out how you can help them *before* you call, so that you can say "Well, Mr. Prospect, I read in the paper yesterday that your company is expanding into (blank)... have you considered a new video to tell your potential customers about that?" Doing your homework, and showing Mr. Prospect that you've done your homework, will quickly separate you from the pack.

- Call in the morning (8:00-8:30), or at the end of the day (5:30).. you may avoid the GateKeeper this way, and get Mr. Prospect on the phone.

- Remember, they want you to help solve their problems, not give you business just 'cuz you're a nice guy.

I *do* think that corporate video is not what it was - everything is internet now... you must have these skills in your repertoire, or know good freelancers who can do this for you. "A video? Ehhhh... I really need a website...." is something that I bet you are hearing a lot...

Good luck!



Christian Glawe
editor/compositor
http://www.christianglawe.com
Read my blog: http://blogs.creativecow.net/blog/111
Pain is temporary... film is forever.


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Darren Edwards
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 28, 2008 at 3:03:44 pm

My new co-director is the king of cold calling. He doesn't need to do it
personally anymore, but it is fun (and a bit enviable)
to see him show off to his sales team, picking up one
of their phones, and getting some sort of order on the
first call.

If there's any kind of secret to what he does, it's
things like: slowing down his voice, being interested
as opposed to interesting (old journalist principle),
practice, confidence, and a bit of the old blarney for
good measure.

Every mainstream broadcaster has a sales team, busily
cold calling overseas networks every day to buy (or
renew) so-and-so production this or that.

Whenever you do you calling, and you hit a receptionist,
ask to put through to their sales and/or marketing
department. These guys are used to making and taking
cold calls, so will have more time for you than, say,
head of finance does. If the receptionist asks why your
calling just says you're calling sales/marketing with
regards to 'some filming' or 'corporate filming'. And
leave it at that. How you improvise after that is
personal choice.

D.



x-gf.com


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 2:46:27 pm

Thank you for the excellent replies. Yesterday I put some of your advice to work...with no luck. I went through Monster.com to see who had the most entries and then called Human Resources. Eacth the receptionist put me through, but all I got was voicemail, left a very nice, coherent message and no reply. I did come across some exellent videos, so I know those types of places are considering and using it. I wonder if I should just consider trying to find a salesperson. Sales people don't edit :-) Thanks again.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Darren Edwards
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 3:54:19 pm

Jeff - cold calling and leaving voicemails is a bit of a
no-no, really. It's actually illegal in the UK, nowadays.

I had a look at your site. I tried playing some of the
Flash videos but found the streaming quite stuttery on
every clip I tried playing. My broadband download speed
was 3.6mb at the time, so you might need to look into
that. Hopefully not, by you may have already lost some
business because of it.

mandy.com is another media-industry hotspot for finding
work. Because it's free, it's also highly competitive.

D.


x-gf.com


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 4:39:14 pm

I must get 10 calls a day from: voice over artists, equipment companies, finance companies, tape supply companies, etc... I never heard of that being a no no. Annoying maybe...I even got a phone call from a web design company yesterday and we are going to refer each other, him for websites and me for streaming video.

Regarding the clips on my site, something is wrong...I go there all the time and play them, Also clients have viewed them, while I'm on the phone with them and of course friends/family to check them out as well. I've never seen or heard of one stutter. I encoded them pretty low, 264kbs using Flix Pro...just so no one would have the issue you're describing. I'll ask some friends to check it out tonight. I'm listed on Mandy. Appreciate the feedback.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mick Haensler
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:13:31 pm

Time to play hardball Jeff, send 'em a fruit basket!!

Seriously, the biggest hurdle I see is the saturation of video production companies in your area. I googled "long branch NJ video production and got ten hits within a five mile radius of you. You're also extremely close to NYC where there is countless houses to compete with. I don't want to insult your intellegence by stating the obvious, but have you contacted some of your steady clients for referrals? Taken anyone out to lunch lately? Joined the Chamber of Commerce and attended meetings and socials? Networked with some of the other facilities in you area to see if you could partner on some projects? See if there are any industry specific trade shows in the area where you could set up a booth? Watched hours of TV to see who has crappy commercials you could improve upon. Scoured the Internet for local businesses that could benefit from a video on their website?

I research constantly. If there is a company I want to do business with, I find out as much as I can before I contact them. I'm fortunate to have lived in my area since childhood which means usually only one or two degrees of seperation between me and just about anyone I want to meet or do business with, which makes getting an intro pretty easy. As a good friend of mine is fond of saying..."ya gots ta know yer playa!!!

Best of luck

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media






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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:44:50 pm

Thank you Mick, not insulted at all...if I had the answers, I wouldn't have had to post here. I'm going to a Chamber Meeting next week. They had two last year and I was out of state shooting both times. I agree about the competition, it's intense.

Actually I'm on Monster.com again today trying to see who could benefit from a Recruitment Video. I called a woman this morning who said the budget is used up for 08, but that she would present it to the board for next year and asked me to send her some materials. She could not have been more pleasant. I come across like it will benefit them, not that it's a job for me.

My client base has been mostly medical, so I dealt with major hospitals and hospital systems that no longer have the money due to reimbursements...so it's hard to get referrals from them. I did set up a networking relationship with a web guy yesterday. I made the mistake of not doing this while I was busy shooting and editing.

I did contact a client based on their website and suggested they do a make over, as the site did not represent the field they were in. No call back. A friend of spoke to this client and the client even agreed. Hard to know why people don't respond, could be personal reasons, budget, they found someone else. Sometmes clients get insulted when you tell them their site or video needs work. Thank you again, you presented a lot of thoughts to brainstorm.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Darren Edwards
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:53:12 pm

Jeff - Like yourselves, we get all kinds of calls everyday, and
if they've been patched straight through to us - i.e. the
cold caller has told reception that they need to speak to
sales/marketing - we take them, and fortunately for them,
they actually get to speak to D., a digital designer, but
who's also done his fair share of cold calling marketing
in the past, and D will chit-chat away until the cows come
home. It's the voicemails which are the problem. Like I
said, they're now illegal in the UK -- and for good reason(s),
I think.

Re your .flv movies:
Am now at home, online via a tiny '3' network USB modem.
It rides on the back of any available 3G bandwidth. Currently
it's telling me that my connection is at '3.7mb'. Good
enough.
I tried your movies again, and I'm facing the same problem:
no film will play for longer than a few seconds before
buffering - or lack of it - causes the film the pause.
Using the same modem, I logged into the Hull FC Super League
rugby team's website mentioned in that news article above.
(For what it's worth, I filmed/edited/produced the top
two films: 'Pride...' and 'The Season Ahead'.) We've
transcoded our original HD content into Adobe Flash, and
everything plays smoothly and without stuttering; HullFC.TV
gets thousands of hits a day, without any snags.
http://www.hullfc.com/hullfctv/

Your problem may lie in your website provider's ability to
stream content. Or, you haven't optimised your .flvs to
stream correctly. Whatever the case, I'm facing a problem:
the videos won't play smoothly - and speaking as a theoretical
prospective customer, say - I'm annoyed. Maybe your
films stream okay for you because they're actually coming
from your browser's cache?

If I can help in anyway to optimise your .flv post-production,
let me know and I'll get D. and his cohorts to look into what
you're doing, and to maybe offer suggestions. We've recently
upgraded our SD/HD workflows to CS3, and we're currently
talking to Adobe about partnerships in some way because
we're eager to get a grip with their Flash On/AIR platform,
so it'll be relevant advice.

Darren.









x-gf.com


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:32:36 pm

Thank you Darren, very kind of you to take the time to view the videos and try to troubleshoot. I actually use a streaming server from VitalStream, not just a regular web server, that is why it's so strange. The videos are definitely play from there, not locally. I use flix pro which has two pass encoding and I keep it pretty low. Some of those videos have been on there for years and I never heard one comment. Of course, like you said, if a potential client comes along and it doesn't work, they are not going to call me.

My sister in Atlanta wrote me last week that the videos were cool and they played fine, a friend in Ohio said they play fine. I also asked the voice over artist to view the final video last week and it played fine for him. I think I'll call VitalStream tomorrow and ask them to take a look at them. My internet connection is: 5,765.68 / kbps The videos towards the bottom are new and I used Sorenson for them, but using the Flix engine and it was optimized for streaming. I'll call and let you know what they say. Can you check this when you can, its from a clients site and I encoded it a little higher 364kbs. It plays great for him on a laptop. http://www.bbdinfo.com/multi_full.html

Thank you again...


Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:41:39 pm

For what it's worth, all the videos play fine for me. I'm on a relatively fast but not super-smokin' DSL connection.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:44:16 pm

Thanks Todd, I really don't think their is an issue with the playback. I just wrote 3 friends, 2 with cable, one with DSL, I'll let you know what they say. Someone would've had to make me aware of it over the past few years.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 9:59:37 pm

I actually just got a call back from a message I left yesterday and while they are not in the market at this time, she will keep my name and web address on file. I guess I did something right to have her take the time to call me.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:12:33 pm

Randy, Unfortunately, it's how VitalStream works, I can't control that. The HTML is generated from their site, so is the player. Vitalstream bought playstream which then became an Internap company. I will consider using a different service as I feel the same way you do with both the delay and interface. Regarding the music on my home page, a lot of people like it (I did when I first designed it, but lately it gets on my nerves) and the rollover button sounds can appear as amateurish. But honestly, I do get a lot of compliments on the site from peers as well as clients. I'll look into softening it and removing the sounds. Thanks

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Randy Wheeler
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:08:15 pm

Well, your videos in the "projects" page do have a problem when I try to play them. After clicking on each video it takes 10-12 seconds to load while you see the word "connecting" waiting for the player to load. Plenty of connection speed here so it's just a poor player interface design.

Also your videos are streaming from playstream.com not vitalstream.com, check your browser cache to check this. When I went to playstream.com to play their videos I had the same slow-loading player issue as yours and it uses the same player interface which is sorta lame too with the tiny scroll bar length and ugly interface design.

I would completely rework the Flash player interface maybe even change streaming services, it really turned me off right away as a fellow video professional since streaming should have no delay when initially loading. I've had much better experiences viewing progressive downloads demo pages compared to your current streaming demo page.

I also don't like the audio that plays when the home page loads or the audio when scrolling over buttons, went out of style a long time ago.

Remember if you are recommending that people need to change/improve their website and to hire you then your website should be spotless for criticism.

Just trying to help out,

Randy



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Darren Edwards
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Feb 29, 2008 at 10:50:03 pm

Thankfully - or not, as the case may be - I'm not the only
one facing streaming difficulties. The site you linked, Jeff,
resulted with the same buffering problems. I can easily
'Download This Video?' straight from the server because I've
got the latest ver. of RealPlayer installed, but I shouldn't
have to do this.

D.

x-gf.com


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Mike Cohen
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Mar 1, 2008 at 1:09:49 am

Rejection is the worst part of cold calling.
Perhaps you can send out a postcard campaign to a select list of business, and then do the cold calls about 10 days after the mailing goes out. For a couple thousand dollars, or less, you can print a 4 color 2 sided 8.5x5.5" postcard, and either print your own address labels or use a mail house.
Given that businesses receive a lot of junk mail, this may or may not increase your name recognition, but it is worth a shot.

That's my idea.

Mike


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Mar 1, 2008 at 2:29:33 am

A year ago I posted on this form asking about mailers and sending out Business Card CD's and it was pretty overwhelming that it will just get tossed in the garbage can. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Tom McNally
Re: Cold Calling...or not?
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:02:21 pm

Don't discount postcards. They are a fantastic inexpensive way of keeping your name in front of potential clients. Have your business name, website and phone number stand out. Don't overload it with info. Get the message across as the viewer scans the card and then throws it out. Stick with the regular size postcards so postage is only 26 cents per piece.

Not everyone needs work done when you call. Postcards can help you keep your name in front of an audience. The idea is for them to think of you when they are in their buying cycle.

Set goals. For example, over the next 4 months, call 250 companies a month. Have a postcard printed ready to go and mail list ready to go. Each week you call, send out a postcard. Even if you leave a voice mail, send a postcard.

After four months, you called a thousand businesses, sent out a thousand postcards, and fine tuned your sales script. You will probably add some to your list and removed some. Hopefully you will have picked up at least one or two well paying clients.

Don't stop. Have a different postcard ready to go out. Keep in contact. Keep selling. And don't forget to provide great service:)

Good Luck,
Tom McNally


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Bob Zelin
Re: Cold Calling...or not? - RANT
on Mar 1, 2008 at 3:10:16 pm

Hi Jeffrey -
you are getting both good and BAD advice on this forum - most were good, but the last comment about (about post cards and direct mail) was incorrect. Direct mail absolutely works - for about 100 post cards, you will get 1 response - this does not mean one job - it means one response that you must go after aggresively.

COLD CALLING WORKS - let me be more specific. It's not cold calling - it's STALKING. Many VERY successful people have gotten to the top from professional stalking. Adam Taylor, who was the VP of Sales of AVID for many years, was a well known stalker for AVID when he was a salesman in New York. If he even heard a rumor that you were going to buy an AVID, he would call you OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER until you caved in. I recall one specific story (that was told to me by my client at Giraldi Suarez) that they told the receptionist to NEVER TAKE A CALL FROM THIS A-HOLE EVER AGAIN. And he called, and found out (from being polite) that they were at a session in LA, and HE CALLED THEM IN LA (are you ready to buy that AVID yet) - and they caved in and bought the AVID. I am sure that Adam is a very wealthy man now.

Bill Haberman from Forecast Installations (the biggest console company in the industry) "yelled" at me once years ago, when he inquired about a job that we were bidding on. "I don't want to be too aggressive with the client" I replied to him. He responded aggresively to me (I dont' recall his wording) but basically said "I don't give a rat's ass if it's embarassing, or too aggressive - you call him and find out if he is ready to build this edit room". Of course, Mr. Haberman is now a wealthy man as well, with a large company and many employees.

Salesman (and company owners) spend their lives CALLING customers, "wining and dining" customers, advertising, going to trade shows, joining user groups, doing direct marketing, etc. JUST LOOK AT ALL THE BANNER ADS ON THIS FORUM - have you called even one of these companies to buy something- it's annoying, isn't it. But it WORKS. It gets their name into your head.

Here is a technique. You send out your press kit (post card, demo reel, web info, etc.) to your client (call the stupid receptionist, and get the bosses name - she will give it to you and not hang up - you are just getting his name). Mail him the info, and CALL THE COMPANY at 8am or 6:30pm - NEVER DURING THE DAY.

There is not one small company that I cannot get as a client.
I was a very shy child, and because of business, I have overcome "being embarassed" in business situations - I am fully prepared to be humiliated, rejected, told that I am not good enough, too stupid, not qualified, too expensive, etc. etc. And I do WHATEVER IT TAKES to change that persons mind.
I have always found it positive to be shown what an idiot I am, and put effort out to learn whatever I have to do, to make sure that I am no longer that idiot, and I can surpass the person that embarassed me.

Be the bulldog, get your bone, get the work - prepare for rejection - EMBRACE REJECTION AND HUMILIATION - it starts slow, and snowballs. You get one client from 100 calls, then you get two, then four. Then you are on your way.

To the person who said that "cold calling is illegal" - I would call your company to solicit, just for the challange.

Bob Zelin




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Tom McNally
Re: Cold Calling...or not? - RANT
on Mar 1, 2008 at 4:22:42 pm

Did the AVID sell because of the salesperson or because of the product?

I agree with you 100% that you must be persistent. But for small businesses who have plenty of competition in their target market area, you cannot come across as a butthead. A potential client will become a client of your competitor.

Small business owners do not have time to produce, edit, complete everyday small business tasks, and still have the ability to sell 100% of the time. Postcards are the cheapest way to use direct mail. It complements the cold calling, appointments, & meetings.

Tom McNally






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Bob Zelin
Re: Cold Calling...or not? - RANT
on Mar 1, 2008 at 5:39:06 pm

Did the AVID sell because of the salesperson or because of the product? -

REPLY -
the customer had an EMC edit system, and was "talking" about getting an AVID, because they were tired of the problems with the EMC. Mr. Taylor was VERY persistant in contacting them, even after he was told NOT TO CALL.

you write -
I agree with you 100% that you must be persistent. But for small businesses who have plenty of competition in their target market area, you cannot come across as a butthead. A potential client will become a client of your competitor.

REPLY -
I am not saying to be impolite. For example, my behavior on Creative Cow is completely opposite of how I behave in real life. I may be persistant, but I am VERY polite, and courteous to all of my current, and potential clients. But I know that if I do not follow up, I will never get the business. (This is one of the reasons I enjoy these forums - I could never be this abusive to actual customers - no one woudl tolerate it). Making contact via postal mail, or email, making follow up calls, following up with emails, and making "aggressive" but polite calls before or after hours will get you at least the opportunity to speak to those making decisions. This is no guarantee of getting the job, but it will be a guarantee of getting the opportunity to be considered (as opposed to the receptionist trashing your phone call, or throwing out your resume).

Bob Zelin




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Steve Wargo
Re: Cold Calling...or not? - RANT
on Mar 2, 2008 at 6:58:34 am

[Bob Zelin] " my behavior on Creative Cow is completely opposite of how I behave in real life"

Can't wait to meet Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde when you get to Tempe next month.

Can't wait at all.





Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Jeffrey Gould
Re: Cold Calling...or not? - RANT
on Mar 4, 2008 at 1:56:54 pm

Hi, Just wanted to say thank you for the last few posts regarding post cards, I will definitely do that. To give an update...the videos not playing correctly is a problem with Playstream and they escalated it to a senior engineer. If it's not fixed by Friday, I will change companies.

I also received a call back yesterday from a Plastic Sugeon's office and had a great conversation with the office manager...the timing was right, however, they just started working with an Ad Agency and they meet on Thursday and will present it to them and the Dr. I think they could make it or break it. So I made 5 calls and received 2 call back. Thanks again...great ideas and suggestions here.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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