Getting business when starting out
My husband and I recently started a full service video production company. We have done some events and editing projects recently, but they have been from people that my husband works with. We really want to get some corporate contacts for doing advertising, training, and other videos. How do you all go about getting these and other projects? I want this business to be very successful, so I would appreciate any advice that you all have to offer.
High Mountain Films, LLC
First and foremost, Shameka, welcome to the Business & Marketing pasture at the Creative Cow and congratulations on your first post.
There are hundreds if not thousands of posts here and in the archive links below which will provide a wealth of information and ideas on selling and getting started. I highly recommend you take as much time as you possibly can to read down through the ten years of material. Taken as a whole it's better than just about any book you could find or course you could take on the subject. Start there.
Thank you very much. I started reading through the posts today and I will continue to do that, taking notes along the way.
And I am glad to be here!
OK, now for some actual advice. From both your post and particularly your web site, you are trying to be all things to all people. The net result of this is seldom success. The bride wanting wedding videography could care less that you also do corporate video and commercials. And the same goes for the corporate client if not more so. In fact both might be scared off by the impression that you specialize in or even do the other. Form separate divisions and especially separate websites for separate categories of business.
The other specific advice I will offer up is your website seems especially light on examples of your work for you to be considered a serious contender. (Pun intended because the only video I saw which was identified as your own was the fighter.) Get more stuff up there even if it's speculative work.
And lastly, for now, your husband, who I assume is the primary cameraman, needs to work on technical skills and developing a style. These are things that you can start to get from a book, but require a great deal of observation as well as study. One of the best places to learn is by assisting other cameraman and working as crew on other people's projects.
All the best. Keep at it and hard work pays off… eventually.
The best advice I ever got was "Don't tell me what you want to do. Show me what you've done."
This was in the context of screenwriting. He was a writer/producer (Urban Cowboy was his biggest, and quite recent when he was speaking), and people would regularly say, "I'd love to be a screenwriter." He'd say, "Great, show me something you've written. I'd be happy to offer some tips." "Oh no," they'd say, "I want to maybe be one someday." His reply was, if you're not writing, you're not a writer.
So how this worked for my wife and me: we wanted to do real estate videos, so we made one of our house, and shopped it around, and got a lot of really nice jobs out of it.
We wanted to do some non-profit fundraising videos, so we picked a place we were already volunteering for, and did one for them. We wanted this to be the heart of our business, so we couldn't do it for free...so we filled out an invoice for the price we wanted to charge everyone else, and marked it paid in full. They were able to tell other people the price with a straight face ("Hang on, I've got the invoice right here...."), which led to some of our favorite jobs, with virtually no fuss about the price.
You can come up with some other examples, but that's the gist. Figure out what you want to do, DO IT, then use it as a calling card.
And to Nick's advice: when you're not working for money, work on your skills. This is true for anybody at every level of work. I don't know if this means anything to you, but I've been a fan of James Taylor's for over 40 years, and he still takes voice lessons. The best never stop trying to get better.
Fill in your own example of artistic superstar and the same lesson applies. When you're not doing it for money, do it for fun. And if it's not fun, do something else.
Associate Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
I would have to agree with Tim's assessment, and Nick makes great points too. Focusing on one market at a time is key. Each market has a different set of needs to fill to sell to it. None are the same, though many overlap.
As I build my video production company, I think of it as being back in college, (trade school more than big colleges). You need to build a portfolio that is compelling. You might have to work for nearly nothing or nothing to do that. You will produce crap at times because the client (there is always a client), may not share your vision, nor have the money to pay for it. It's your new education you are building, so if you can't afford to do that, stop now. Going into business undercapitalized is one of the biggest mistakes many people make. If you have to work other jobs to support building your portfolio, then do that. And as someone who survived in commercial photography in the 1970s and 80s, I would add that getting out and meeting people, selling yourself and your company, has to be an integral part of your work for the next 5 years, if not forever. There are few people in small business that have a steady flow of work. Don't expect it.
Good luck and enjoy the ride!