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Closing the deal?

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Douglas Wright
Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 5:08:36 am

Hey guys,

I've recently started a video production business with me and my brother and we have received many inquiries and a lot of people interested in it. Many are scared off by having to pay anything reasonable, and the ones that can get past that step hardly seem to close when it comes down to it.

I'm not sure what we're doing wrong or if it's just the economy, but do you guys have any good tips on closing the deal?


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Steve Wargo
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 5:22:03 am

You have asked the "question of questions".

Decide whether you have a business or a paying hobby.
Decide what you're worth.
Quote that amount or more.
If they decline, don't lower the price.

The only way to make strong, consistent money is to create your own product.

I'll save Bob the trouble: "Go out of business now, before you go into debt".

Good luck.

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 HD .


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Steve Wargo
More on that.
on Mar 11, 2009 at 5:32:28 am

Even though you may be a great shooter or editor or whatever you are, you'll never make a dime if you're not a salesman first, and an accountant, a receptionist, toilet cleaner, and bill collector. After all, if you don't do it, who does? Your brother?

Did I mention that you'll be making coffee for the grinder clients?

Sorry to be such a piss ant but that's how it is.

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 HD .


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Zane Barker
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 6:24:22 am

It's hard to say what the issue may be with out knowing how you and your brother are presenting your selves to customers.

What type of potential clients are they and what type of demo reel are you showing them. For example showing a demo reel of wedding video demo to someone wanting a corporate video is not going to sell them on using you to make a corporate video for them.

[Douglas Wright] "Many are scared off by having to pay anything reasonable"

This is something that always happens, because people do not under stand what it takes to make a quality production. For example I had a local aerobics instructor contact me a couple of years ago wanting to have an exercise video done that she could sell. When I gave her a ruff bare bone quote she was shocked at the price she was expecting something like $300 because that is what she payed for her wedding video 10 years ago. Sure she would have loved to have had the video done but she just did not understand the real cost of things. That may be part of what you are running into .

Also where it is you and your brother you must be vary careful you do not come off to customers as if video thing was not just something you came up with one night while playing video games. Sorry but I have no Idea how old you are for all I know you may be a couple of collage age kids who have always just played around with a camera for fun and now think that you may be able to do it professionally, you never said what experience you or your brother have.

Also if you are doing this thing out of your home/apartment and you don't have a part of the home that has a separate entrance to a designated work area, then may I suggest that it is best if you go visit the potential client to discuss things. Having them over to your apartment or living room no matter how nice your place may be it just will not scream professional video production company.

If you wish to share some more info on how you are trying to sell yourselves then we might be able to give some more suggestions.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Douglas Wright
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 7:36:07 am

Well we started trying to do it is as a business because many of the people really liked the work that we were doing for ourselves and I've been self-studying it for years....we're not the "crem del la creme," as of yet, but we do pretty decent work and in my opinion, better than some of the people that I know who are closing deals. You can view our demo reel here: http://legendsfilms.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44&Ite...

We're both in our mid 20's, so of course there's the struggle of being taken seriously as far as being "seasoned" videographers/directors. Also, since most of our past work is from stuff that we did in "urban" settings, we are having a hard time trying how we're going to target people outside of that market. It's like we're in the peculiar position of being beyond the low budget clients, but not yet at the point to take on high budgeted clients. Meanwhile we're constantly studying and working on pet projects to improve our craft, but obviously we need to close some deals to be able to buy/rent all the toys that we need to able to do bigger projects.

We've only been taking it seriously as a business for few months and we are getting about a handful of queries a week. The vast majority don't want to pay anything to make it worthwhile or want to discuss some sort of ridiculous "favor for a favor" crap. However, I'm not so much worried about the people who can't afford us, but rather, I want to make sure that I'm doing the right things in order close the deal on those potential clients who are serious and can afford to pay.

We usually try to meet the client at some local location, but for the last two weeks we've been trying to get as far as we can into the deal on the phone to weed out people.

I would try to link with someone who could handle that front for us, but that's opening a whole other can of worms.

legendsfilms.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
Mike Smith
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 9:37:24 am

Lots of clients will like working with young creatives. You'd want to make sure you present and position this as a positive - perhaps a direct connection to the zeitgeist, part of the soc networking generation, whatever.

If you don't take yourself seriously and believe in yourselves, no-one else will. So you're no doubt presenting credentials short and sharp, showing a great reel - and focusing mainly on the clients, their project, their audience, their objectives.

Creative services can be a complex, costly and visible purchase. Put yourself in the buyer's position. You'd want a simple, clear pathway to a great end product, reliably on time and on budget, wouldn't you? So make sure you're offering exactly that - vision of results, cost level, sign here and let's get started.

BTW, those that don't want to pay anything - some of them can't afford it. Be nice as you kiss them goodbye ; they may be back later in another role, and regardless they are humans and should be treated with human dignity. Some of them will convert to paying customers if they realize they like your stuff, you can deliver and offer value, and that you take yourself seriously. There are those with an approach to negotiating who see every deal as an occasion to extract as much as possible out of the other party. If they don't ask they won't get. So they ask. Doesn't necessarily mean they can't or won't pay, if they have to. Just be careful to add payment terms (when the cash is due) very clearly into your contract or agreement.



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Tom Maloney
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 11:38:28 am

Hi Douglas, I would like to give you my honest opinion here,just my opinion, no offense intended. In looking at your demo, is this what you are showing people ? It seems to me a trailer for a music video of some sort. The footage looks good but no story, your say you do interviews ,commercials? maybe people would like to see something like that. I think you may need to make your demo in tune to what type of service you are trying to sell to clients. Your demo looks like After Effects just added to clips. This would be a good demo if you are trying to market yourselves as an AE artist. As the previous poster said, you have to learn sales also, if your are a good salesman you can sell a car , a suit or a video.

Best wishes
Tom
http://www.slatemic.com



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Douglas Wright
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:57:23 pm

Well, most of the work we've done so far has been music videos and parties, so the reel reflects that. I'd love to have a reel that attacks a different market, but that's stuff we haven't done. Like I said, we are a fairly new company, so it's not like our demo is a mile long. We have a comedy show and a couple of other projects we're working on right now that we will definitely add to the reel once they are done.

As far as the salesman issue, we have had a background selling products....my brother especially, but selling a service is uncharted territory. Often we get stuck at the stage of pricing and working out the details. What do you guys think about having packages? I know it isn't ideal, but I'm just looking to attack the problem in different ways.

legendsfilms.com


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Bruce Bennett
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 9:27:08 pm

Hi Douglas,

I went through your post responses and put together some of your quotes…

“We're both in our mid 20's, so of course there's the struggle of being taken seriously as far as being "seasoned" videographers/directors.”
“We've only been taking it seriously as a business for few months...”
“Well, most of the work we've done so far has been music videos and parties…”
“Many are scared off by having to pay anything reasonable…”

I think your answer lies within your own statements. Do you expect to command the same rates and “high profile” projects like others who have more experience, been in business for years (versus a few months) and have portfolios that go well beyond “music videos and parties?”

And then there are many, many other “haves” that you are competing against. Such as seasoned professionals who are making a living in this business (without a primary or secondary job), have $1-4 million general liability insurance policies that help ensure clients against production mishaps, have incorporated production companies (versus TBAs) that help protect clients from paying employee related taxes to the government, have a physical building where clients can bring their bosses and keep their media in a fireproof vault, etc., etc.

Seems to me that you are “reaching way too high” for what you have to offer. It’s not a jab. Many of us did the same thing (myself included) when we were new and young so many years and so many projects ago.

As far as your demo reel… In my opinion, it does not say “We can solve your problem” or “We can tell your story” (unless you need a music video). It does not connect with Corporate America’s needs (training, marketing, etc.) at all if that is your target market.

Hand pick some of the “low paying” jobs that might touch your soul, craft them into great stories and highlight them with your talented fancy effects, and then use them to grow and get better paying projects.

Good Luck!
Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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Douglas Wright
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 9:44:40 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. For the level that we are at now, how do you think we should approach the more corporate clientele other than giving it away?

legendsfilms.com


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Bruce Bennett
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 11, 2009 at 10:41:45 pm

Hi Douglas,

Like I suggested, I would hand pick one or two projects from the “low budget offers” and invest time (not out-of-pocket expenses) into producing something that can be used to show and gain higher-end clients in the future. Promote, distribute, and show the Hell out of it. The pride and confidence that you will feel will also be conveyed to prospective clients when you show your work during your face-to-face meetings. Keep track of all your time and expenses so that you can estimate/bid similar quality level projects without having to invest/lose money in the future. Also make sure you line item the discount on your final invoice(s) so that your client knows that it will cost them if there is a next time Chances are that you will not want to do business if the grinder client expects a discount again, so choose what may be a “one shot” project.

If you don’t want to look like, or have your competitors see/know, your “giving away” time/money, I suggest that you look to non-profit organizations and do a pro bono project There are tons (especially with this recession) of food pantries, homeless shelters, home assistance projects and many other related non-profits that could use a good video to show prospective donors. You might even get some of your expenses (tape costs, a couple of free lunches, etc.) paid by a businesses/donors within your community. Also, exposing yourself to such causes may have a positive affect on how you personally grow within your craft (it does for me).

On another note (no music video pun intended)… One thing that I have done (and continue to do) is hire people who are better than I am for higher dollar projects. Some times the project is so large that I can’t do it all and need to sub out another colleague to write, direct, or produce. Their services/rates still come out of the project budget and I get less money, but the value of what I learn has proven itself time and time again in getting better paying gigs/higher quality projects.

Bruce

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC


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denise quesnel
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 1:50:50 am

Douglas,

I think what is most difficult when you are young and first starting out is getting together a reel and website that is confidence inspiring to the market you wish to target.

What I mean is that if you have music videos/parties/sizzle reel type footage, a corporate type will be very unconvinced that you can make a video for them. Clients need to see the same type of footage that they want made. In order to get this type of footage, you need to work for free and take a pay cut. Clients don't care if you say you can do it, they need to SEE it.

People on the Cow constantly talk about never working for grinders or working for nothing, but most will agree when you are first starting out and do not have experience in the market you wish to target, you need to get this experience in any way that it takes. I certainly had to do free projects, 24 hr film festivals etc to prove myself. I think we all do. Just make sure you and the client you are taking a pay cut for understands this and also realizes other commitments you have.

In the meantime don't quit your day jobs, you will need some income to flow in while you build your business. You will also find that word of mouth gets you more business than anything else.



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Zane Barker
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 2:04:11 am

[Douglas Wright] "For the level that we are at now, how do you think we should approach the more corporate clientele other than giving it away?"

Noting is wrong with giving it away, just don't over do it. When I was getting started I even did a couple of video for free for friends that I knew who had there own businesses. Offering to do a 30 second video spot for a friends store or in service that they can post on there web site it a good way to get some more diversity in that demo.

You can also just make up a video for nobody. Create a commercial for some sports drink or something, just make up a name for the drink photo shop up a logo and label and place it over a bottle of gatorade or something and make a commercial for a product that does not even exist. Or for a corporate type video find a friend/relative that has a woodworking shop in there garage and so a simple safety training video for a power tool.

A sample safety video for something could probably be busted out all in a day. Pick some item, look at the safety portion in the manual and spell out those points in the video. The same can be dome for a how to assemble video. Just make a video that follows the instructions in the set up of a desk, a chair or a bookshelf.

These are all simple things that you can do that are only going to cost you time and a few tapes. Remember that these videos don't need to be long at all, to 30 sec commercial or a 3-5 min training video.

As you get more real work you can simply start working those into your demo real. Its also a good Idea to have separate demo reels for different kinds of work. Have one for events, one for corporate etc.

Now take the lans cap off and get out there and make yourself something to show off.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Douglas Wright
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 3:01:05 am

Thanks for all the tips guys, I will definitely work on trying to expand our reel as soon as we wrap up the few projects we are working on now.

There's still one thing, for the people that are viewing my reel and liking the level of work that I'm offering already... what could I be doing to close more on those clients before I get to the point of being able to take on big budget clients?

legendsfilms.com


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Zane Barker
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 3:39:01 am

[Douglas Wright] "There's still one thing, for the people that are viewing my reel and liking the level of work that I'm offering already... what could I be doing to close more on those clients before I get to the point of being able to take on big budget clients? "

Well I think that we have been addressing this in ALL of our replies.

The key to getting someone to agree to hire you do do anything for them is to make them confident that you can deliver the product they want and need. If I was I potential client that wanted a commercial or corporate video and I saw your demo reel I would NOT have that confidence in you. Seeing a video with noting but a bunch of clips of rap videos will most likely appear immature to a business provisional, and that will not make them have any confidence that you can deliver a professional product.

I mean absolutely no disrespect top your work, its just that I would never show a reel like that to anyone wanting a more professional commercial or corporate video no matter what the budget of the client.

Think about what type of video your potential client wants to have done and throw something simple together that will make them feel confident that you can deliver what they want.

There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Bob Zelin
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 3:58:04 am

this is my stupid opinion. I just watched your reel. If you are trying to get music videos, this is the right reel - for everything else, it's the wrong reel.

A well known fashion producer that I know used a DP. The DP wanted to get a hi paying corporate industrial (talking head convention) video job, but his reel was all fashion models - all film, all "name brand stuff", and he did not get the job. My friend the producer said a wonderful smart ass comment "we see that you can shoot washers, but can you shoot dryers ?".

I don't know the market you are going after. But I see that if a company does local car commercials, this is ALL they do. They get one car dealer, and they solicit ALL the car dealers. You get one hair salon - you go after ALL the hair salon's. If you are a famous TV commerical director, no one is going to offer you a feature film deal, even if you make millions in commericals. I don't know what market you are in, but you need to get a "mainstream" reel if you want to get mainstream clients. Rap videos and tough guys may get a music video, but they won't get the local restaurant chain, muffler repair shop, or car dealer.

Once you get "client x" - even if you make no money on it, it will be much easier to get his competition to hire you, once you show him "their" commercial. Same with corporate video - if you show in your reel "the national drug company x convention 2009", then the national drug company "y" will want to hire you, once you show them your reel.

Bob Zelin




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Todd Terry
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 4:42:55 am

Bob's right.... a lot of potential clients tend to not be visionaries. You might have a killer reel, but if you don't have something similar to their business, some of them just can't see it.

Our little company started out with one client... a grocery store. After that we were able to get several chains of grocery stores... I think our max was one week when we produced 42 commercials for grocery stores all over the country. We couldn't get a car dealer for a long time, because we had nothing to show them but groceries... they just couldn't comprehend it. But after we nabbed one, a whole bunch of others jumped on board. It took a while to snag the first plastic surgeon, but after we did it was fairly easy to get more, and now we do fairly high-end (usually 35mm) spots for 12 different plastic surgeons at last count.

No matter how smart they are business-wise, some clients just have zero vision about advertising and marketing. With those, you pretty much have to show them something like what they do.

I'll only take one exception with Bob here...

[Bob Zelin] "If you are a famous TV commerical director, no one is going to offer you a feature film deal, even if you make millions in commericals."

In actuality, this has happened quite a few times. A fair number of commercial directors have moved from selling soap straight into big-budget feature directing... sometimes with surprising success with their first features. Most recently Josh Gordon, Will Speck, Joseph Nichol come to mind... and quite a few more through the years. And it's even more common for commercial DPs to move into features.



T2

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






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Douglas Wright
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 12, 2009 at 7:48:52 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys, I will definitely begin switching my approach immediately. Music videos and parties definitely aren't where the money is at, and I understand I need to have a reel that caters to a different clientele. Thanks

legendsfilms.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 14, 2009 at 5:51:09 pm

[Todd Terry] "A fair number of commercial directors have moved from selling soap straight into big-budget feature directing"

Also, Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, and, David Fincher. The website for Oscar-winner Errol Morris has hundreds of commercials he's done -- including an entire series of spots he made that never aired! He still does tons of commercials.

[Todd Terry] "You might have a killer reel, but if you don't have something similar to their business, some of them just can't see it."

I'll second the suggestion that others have made: if the kind of work you want to do isn't already on your reel, PUT it there.

This starts to get into a whole other discussion, but I think it can be a serious mistake to make your reel and your resume look too much alike. That's fine for your website, so that people can see a broad idea of your work...but you're pitching to people who care less about what you've DONE than about what you can do for THEM. This is why it's quite common for people to have multiple reels for the different kinds of work they do on their own websites.

I built 2 different "Parade of Homes" style TV shows from a pitch video I made using my own house. I cut a different version for each of the brokers I pitched it to, with very specific tweaks (graphics, etc.) that left NOTHING to the imagination.

You're presumably casting your net wider than 4 realtors, but the point is the same. Whatever kind of work you want to do, put THAT in your reel.

Okay, I'm going to stop calling it a reel in this context, and flip it another way. It's a commercial for yourself.

Every brand has more than one message, and it uses different spots to underscore that -- Budweiser is hip and fun, synonymous with sports, and the prestigious symbol of core American values like farming, ingenuity, and immigrants building a heritage of business success in the new world. You can probably think of half a dozen Bud spots to put into each of those categories, probably come up with some more categories.

So if you want to generate a lot of new, cruiser-class business, tell the story that you can do this work by DOING it.

You've asked a bunch of great questions, but that's my answer to this one.


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Ron Lindeboom
Re: Closing the deal?
on Mar 14, 2009 at 6:09:13 pm

[Tim Wilson] "I'll second the suggestion that others have made: if the kind of work you want to do isn't already on your reel, PUT it there."

Over the years, there have been a number of occasions wherein Kathlyn and I have created prototypes of various projects we wanted to work on so that we could pitch them and gain contracts for doing these projects. (For the newbies around, these kinds of projects are called "spec" projects -- short for doing them as speculative projects.)

As has been stated here, people ofttimes cannot see what you are talking about. Creating spec work and using "dummie" artwork that hints at a type of market without actually using trademarked products, etc., gives your prospect a "mental hinge" around which your pitch can swing and move.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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