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What I feel is killing production companies.

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Mark Whitmore
What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 29, 2013 at 7:40:06 pm

Sorry if I sound like I'm venting, ok maybe a little bit...

As I'm sure all of the people in the video production business knows it's feast or famine and it seems lately there is a lot more famine then feasting!

Companies like mine are up against corporate companies shooting and editing their own videos with flip cameras or iphones. Most of the time however, I'm hired to fix those since they are so bad. Ad agencies doing most of their own shooting and editing now. I've even had local ad agencies call me up and get bids from me for a project only to turn around and use them for their own production bids! And the biggest problem is the cable companies video production department giving away free production and now they are going after corporate clients.

It's strange that there are more videos produced today for tv and the internet then ever before but yet the quality isn't a priority to a lot of clients, cheap production is.

I feel there are a lot of people in this business who are de-valuing what we do for a living. Quantity over Quality is the norm for some. Personally, I don't want to go that direction. I know that the best clients understand you get what you pay for and that they are the ones who keep us alive.

Will we ever get to "feast"? I don't know, but I'm hoping sooner than later.



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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 30, 2013 at 8:15:36 am

Hey Mark,

Yes, it is the new economy where our clients are finding new tools to deliver the same job - even if it is in a worse condition...

If you are occupying the middle ground, you might as well close the doors. Alternative is go low, lay off all your staff, and only do small profit making videos. Or go high and sell your services on consultancy, superior quality and customer service second to none. Just don't stay in the middle...

There are nothing wrong in fixing and producing flip-cam videos. If anything, it is a good entry into the clients business. Who will want to use you for that one time where the CEO or owner needs to look good on telly or the internet.

On flip-side (get it :-)) you can always go high and offer services to your clients that the cable companies can't match. Superior graphics, cloud viewing/project management, pack shots of product and people that can be used across a variety of media, and delivery for local cinema advertising etc. Occupy the ground your competitors can't or don't want to take.

Ultimately, as many will testify, the customers reason for choosing you is often nothing to do with price at all, and all to do with the emotion of working with a customer friendly professional who adds value to their business.

And yes, PR and ad agency employees are in a world of their own, with their own set of rules. If they keep taking your budget and ideas (which they often do) only pitch if you can meet the end-client. Failing that, remember to market to the potential end clients in your area with the tag-line: "Why pay the middleman?"

My 5c

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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Mark Suszko
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 30, 2013 at 2:06:49 pm

Very well-stated, Mads.


We're not in the video making business, actually.

We're in the business of solving communications problems for clients.

That sometimes means producing a traditional video, but just as often these days, it could involve something else entirely, using formats and approaches that were not considered before.

The trick is to solve the customer's problem/need in the best way, a way that makes you their obvious go-to-person for all the follow-on business.


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Todd Terry
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 30, 2013 at 2:50:55 pm

Mads made some great points.

I think a couple of the tricks to being successful in the production business are to 1) find an underserved or niche market, and 2) be hands-down better than anyone else.

That's what we tried to do.

The vast vast majority of our projects are broadcast television commercials. Most of our clients are advertising agencies, although we have several clients that we work for directly.

Before we started our company 16 years ago, potential television advertisers in our market had two choices... first, they could go to a television station or cable system and have a television spot produced. They spent almost nothing, maybe $200, and they certainly got a spot worth every penny of that. Their other option was to go to the only "real" post house in town, or to one in a neighboring city. There they would get a great production... but spend $50-100K on it and have no money left for a media buy.

We saw this as an underserved market and set out to provide production for clients who need something 100x better than they can get from a television station, but at about a fifth or so of the cost of a big production house.

In our particular market we found this was a good choice... that this area was indeed underserved. We do not target mom-n-pop businesses as potential clients (although as it turns out, we do have plenty of those as clients). Nor to we target the ginormous companies that have national advertising agencies... that would be wasting their time, and more importantly, mine. We target those in the middle.

Being better than anyone else can be the harder part. We are better than anyone else in our market, and I can say that without bragging. Part of that is that it (sadly) seems that these days the "quality bar" is set pretty darn low for people thinking they ought to do production for a living... and a lot of people out there trying are just terrible at it. Good. Good for me. And you. And all the other people who are doing good work. The other part of it is that we work very hard to make sure our work is good, and better than a client can get elsewhere for the same money.

The niche we've found and the way we do things might not be the same for everyone else in other markets. In fact, it's guaranteed not to be. But I think it's finding what works for you where you are that's the key.

Still, there's no guarantee for success. We've very fortunate that we usually stay pretty busy. we're not killing ourselves and burning the midnight oil right now, but we still have a full production schedule. That's not always the case though... I remember two summers a go a period of about six weeks where it was just dead as a doornail. We had lots of upcoming and potential big projects, but they were all weeks away. And the phone wasn't ringing with anyone who wanted something right then. It can be a scary time, indeed. Especially to me... because I'm the last person that gets paid here.

T2

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



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Nick Griffin
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 30, 2013 at 9:07:22 pm

[Todd Terry] "successful in the production business... 1) find an underserved or niche market, and 2) be hands-down better than anyone else."

Todd-
Succinct and brilliant.


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Steve Kownacki
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 3, 2013 at 3:11:10 pm

[Mark Suszko] "We're in the business of solving communications problems for clients.
"


Came across this one today

“It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived as the only one who does what you do.” Jerry Garcia 1942-1995, Musician

Steve






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Mark Whitmore
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on May 30, 2013 at 2:44:15 pm

Mads you're exactly right. I am not in this business to take the middle ground. I've been reworking the way we do business for years. Constantly reinventing ourselves.

Lately, we have been focusing on educating our clients, providing them with services that they never knew they needed. We give clients more than just videos, we do think of ourselves as problem solvers something that is lost on the small, fly by night groups.

Even with all of the extra services we do and the extra time we take and the most awesome graphics we can create, at the end of the day, money talks. Clients are working with smaller budgets or no budgets at all.

There will always be a need for our services it's just getting a little tougher to find those people.



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Andy jackson
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:38:54 pm

Hi Mark.

I feel your pain.
This is the reason I changed careers.

Read my thread about my experience.

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/17/876369

Hope this helps.

Cheers Andy


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mike calla
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 6, 2013 at 4:24:15 pm

The hardest part of my business is marketing.


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Andy jackson
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 6, 2013 at 7:48:07 pm

Marketing was also a big issue for me.

To much competition after the same business which led to a race to
the bottom in pricing.

Feast or Famine as they say.

Ended being mostly famine as i could not compete with the noobs doing it for free


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Mark Whitmore
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 11, 2013 at 4:09:22 pm

Free is what is putting a lot of us in bad situations here as well or close to it. What we would bill at
$6500 they'll do it for $2500 because they are hungry. There are too many little shops in the area and not enough clients to go around. Clients with money that is. Everyone with a camera is a videographer and everyone with a computer is a graphic artist nowadays.

I'm digging deep and looking for clients that have never thought about video solutions or other services we provide. It's really about who you know and what you know that will separate us from the fly by nights it's just harder to do at the moment.



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Steve Kownacki
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 11, 2013 at 4:56:08 pm

Hi Mark

Here's a few observations from looking at your website:

Video demo says serving "eastern IA" then it says "we work coast to coast"; be consistent.

Other places on the site you have terms like:
serving mom and pop
affordable
budgets big or small

This means you are willing to sell on price, remove that from the sales equation; you simply want to provide solutions as mentioned earlier in the thread.

Your site tells me you are capable, but who is your client? Me personally, as a Producer/Director, I feel I would hire you as my tech team/production crew but I don't really get the feeling that I would contact you if I were a business looking for a video - there's a lot of tech terms on there that sound great to those in the field but may scare off or confuse the admin assistant looking for basic info.

Steve






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Mark Whitmore
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 12, 2013 at 3:47:19 pm

Thanks Steve, all of your points are valid. Sometimes you try to be all things to all people and that's impossible to do. I will address your comments to the other staff and see how they feel as well.

Warm regards,

Mark



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Andy jackson
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:58:14 pm

Mark.

It`s not going to get any easier. I can assure you.

Sorry buts its true.

There is another problem.....GOOGLE!

Companies now go on google where they check forums like this and note that all video companies are struggling.

Type this into google "video production business is slow" or something similar and you will get the idea. Its the same with the photography business.

Try it with other professions and you won`t get the amount of results the video and photography business recieves.

Another reason budgets are dropping.

Its depressing!


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Steve Kownacki
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:42:32 pm

Hi Andy
I thought you dropped out of the production business? Yet you still frequent here... hmmmm. I've deduced that you trying to convince other companies to go out of business for your own personal gain of having less competition. Insanely brilliant plan!

Steve






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Andy jackson
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:43:58 pm

Hi Steve.

Im only here to give my honest opinion.
As I still have ex-collegues who keep in touch with me in the business who give me feedback I feel I should pass it on

If you read through my threads you will understand why my input is valuable.

An no I will not going back into this declining undervalued industry ever again.

28 years ago yes.... now, no way hosay!


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David Banks
Re: What I feel is killing production companies.
on Jul 5, 2013 at 3:21:59 pm

Andy.

Business is also slow for me and so is the money (If i`m lucky to get any that is).
I maybe joining you very soon andy.
It`s demoralizing .

David


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