Finding New Clients
I have a question to ask you. How are you all finding new clients for your video business? We're using Google advertising, however the cost of acquiring a single client is too high for us to sustain. We're in a constant battle with competitors in our area for the top spots in Google ads. On top of that many people do not look at Google Ads.
I've tried networking at different professional group functions, and have had minimal success. The camber of commerce seems to be more mom and pop businesses that do not have budges for video production.
What's your method? How has it worked? What would you suggest?
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
Is there a particular type of client in mind? Banks/Financials, Industrial fabricators, franchised service companies, what?
What I'm getting at is, maybe you're trying in too many directions at once. Is there a *particular* industry category you want to try and specialize in?
Because BIG companies don't hire out video work the same way Mom and Pop's do. Mom and Pop go by yellow pages ads and Google searches and look at production services like any other commodity product you buy by the pound. Executives don't do it that way.
Executives ask their "people" to find out "who did the Xyz campaign for QRS company?" Or: "Find me somebody that can duplicate the look of EFG'c commercial."
And BIG companies also look for vendors who understand their particular industry niche, they are prejudiced against providers that do stuff that's "off-brand". If you are known for weddings and real estate portfolios, it can be a tough sell to be taken seriously for a corporate gig for a shareholder prospectus.
As you're finding out, it's not like calling out for Pizza or picking a plumber, where ad campaigns that keep you "top of mind" can create sales leads.
Thanks Mark! The type of client I'm looking for is a medium to large corporate client, or manufacturing client. We also produce videos for medical companies.
I think what separates us from other production companies is that I have over 25 years producing corporate videos in the area of training, marketing, communications, etc. And we're used to working with corporate clients and their executive team.
When I worked as the "in-house" for Burger King Corporation, I would do Google searches to find other production companies who could help me. But I'm finding that our ads are costly and not paying off.
I'm wondering how I can go about contacting the decision makers in large companies to get more work, and repeat business. How can I communicate to these companies that I am in their niche?
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
It's tough. I'd say Mark's advice about concentrating on a particular area is very good. People like seeing work from their same realms. Unfortunately, non-creatives tend to not have much vision. We often get the call "Have you ever worked for a ...." with the potential client asking ONLY about their particular line of work, even though from a visual and storyteller sense many others are virtually the same. But virtually the same is not the same as the same, and some people just can't see it.
Types of clients seem to breed more of the same. We didn't set out to become a "healthcare production company" but once we started working for one gigantic hospital it seems a bunch of other healthcare stuff followed... doctors, clinics, practices, etc., all just from word of mouth.
The exact same thing has happened to us with financial institutions, legal, automotive, etc.
The last time I did portfolio updates I created special and specific reels for healthcare, financial, automotive, legal, and political. It seems that a great many people don't give a hoot about seeing work for other types of businesses (even though personally that's exactly what I often would rather show).
And as Mark said, certainly don't show anything perceived as "lower end" to high-end companies... not that there's anything at all wrong with real estate or wedding work (and I know some very good people who do that), but if we did anything like that I wouldn't even let high-end potential clients know it even happened. It just seems to taint their perceptions.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I'm a broken record about this idea, but often you make the best contacts at a company, not thru the front door, but by dealing with the charities these clients support. Some pro-bono web psa work for a charity that's the CEO's favorite can become the calling card that gets you past all the gatekeepers at the outer levels. And even if it doesn't pan out, hey, you did some charitable work.
Greg, have you considered making a spec demo for one of these target clients? Particularly for an area they're not yet focusing on? Say, web-based product assembly or "how to use" kinds of things? Present it with an estimate of how many you can produce as a package deal.
Small thread-jacking for something Todd said:
We often get the call "Have you ever worked for a ...." with the potential client asking ONLY about their particular line of work, even though from a visual and storyteller sense many others are virtually the same. But virtually the same is not the same as the same, and some people just can't see it.
So VERY true, whatever segment of the biz you're in. If you're a carpenter, they'll ask you: "Do you use a BLUE hammer?" And you say; "My hammer is red, but it's the right weight and type for this job, which I have done three hundred times, with a list of happy customers a mile long." "Oh, no, " they come back: "We were really looking for blue-hammer-wielding types only for this; the job we based everything on used a blue hammer, sorry. You're welcome to bid again when you get pro stuff."
I don't know what tropism is at work here, but it seems that there is always someone high up the approval chain who is completely lacking the ability to conceptualize, to imagine, to extrapolate. Invariably, they at some point have to okay your project, but won't pay for anything they can't see. And you can't make the product until somebody pays for it. Mock-ups and demos might help, but as often, I find, create new problems because the unimaginative person will invariably fixate on some tiny, irrelevant detail in the mock-up that won't be in the final anyway.
I feel the need to watch this again, suddenly....
My feeling is that personal networks are the main avenue for getting new clients. I'm closing in on 60 and basically I think my business is stuffed. All my network either have retired or are not in a position to commission work. My wife is a partner in a Design company that is doing very well. They do get new business mainly through her partners contact book of similar 30 plus Females who are the ones commissioning work - Product managers etc (Often they are people who went to Uni together). IMO CEO's don't commission work that much. I wish I could find a similar 30'ish female with a great contact book, but I don't think she would see value in my company...
(By the way I say female because I find that 80% of the time that is who I am dealing with)
I looked at joining the local small Business group but after a while I realised that this would mean really small jobs dealing with people who would want the earth for no money.
So Adwords is it. Worked OK for a while but now as you pointed out getting expensive - $10 per click... ouch. I spend a lot of time adding negative keywords i.e. careers, wedding etc. Another problem with adwords is that you are usually dealing with people who are doing video for the first time (and have no idea what a brief is.. just tell me the cost) or you are dealing with people wanting another two quotes (they already have spoken to the people they want to use).
I always phone back to talk to the potential client and if I find I'm not talking to the decision maker then I'm wasting my time. If its a reasonable size job then I try to organise a meeting, if they are not interested... "They just want to "get an idea on costs" then again I'm toast.
A while back I did a freebie for a Charity but nothing really came from it... maybe I should have followed up with that organisation a bit more.
So if I get a referral from an old client or friend I'm good... otherwise I think adwords is all I have.
regards Neil. Melbourne - One man production company
Ask everyone you know: Are you using an ad blocker?
I know I always have, which is why I don't see the ads.
But an ad blocker doesn't remove your being promoted at the top of the search string when Google responds to a search.
I think the wider issue is that this may not be a thing people shop for on Google. It MAY be something they search for directly on Youtube, however. Just a hunch, nothing I can prove.
There’s an old joke that I included in one of my business articles early on here on the COW.
How do you get new clients?
Get the existing ones to change jobs.
Not as dumb as it sounds. Often you get to keep the existing client because they’re happy with your work and, I can’t stress this enough, when more than one person in a company knows you and is happy, virtually no one has any interest in going through the hassle of finding a new supplier. More on this in a minute.
The contact who has recently changed jobs almost always wants to work with you because they KNOW you. They know you’ll do a good job and, in the process, make them look good. This is especially true if they are middle to upper management. Departmental directors (corporate, not the film/video kind) and VPs of sales and/or marketing have proven to be very good contacts to maintain for me in the past.
Earlier this year a friend mentioned to me, and now above Neil McClure in a post above, is bringing up how when those of us get to be a certain age we tend to lose our best contacts to retirement — and sometimes job loss. This is why it’s so important to become a part of your client’s company by knowing and being known by many contacts at many levels. Remember, virtually no one has any interest in going through the hassle of finding a new supplier.
Being plugged in at many levels and with multiple people can also be very useful if one of the people, for whatever reason, gets pissed at you. More often than not they can’t easily fire or replace you because they’ll have to explain it to the others.
When in a new business context it comes down to price, it’s essential that you put it in perspective. For example:
“So, Mr. Prospect there’s NOTHING more important to you than cost, is that what I’m hearing? Maybe we are not the right ones for you because there’s ALWAYS going to be someone cheaper. There are a lot of kids just starting out who will work for cheap even though they have no real experience and provide no real guarantee that you’ll be happy with the end product. In contrast, we’re known, and have built a 20+ year long business on providing the highest quality of messaging and production on time and within the agreed budget.”
This kind of pitch doesn’t always work but the point is to get the prospect to realize that, when they actually think about it, price is NOT their number one concern.