Business steps for a video project.
The business side of things gets confusing to me.
I'm just wondering what steps different people take with a client for a typical video production project. (e.g: like a promo video)
I'm trying to nail down a good system for myself.
1. Take phone call from a client, set up a meeting.
2. In Meeting find out what sort of video the client wants. Explain you will have quote/budget prepared for the following day.
3. Deliver quote.
4. Deliver contract and statement of work and get them signed. (also following day/later?)
5. Do the work: (preproduction, production and post-production.)
6. Invoice and get paid.
Is this a good system? What sort of steps do you take?
Your first phone call should have a brief conversation about what their budget is. Have this conversation BEFORE you meet with them. Why take half of your day for a meeting when they only have a budget for a 30% of the actual cost for the project. You could end up meeting with prospects all day without landing a gig.
This preliminary phone call is where you need to find out what sort of video the client wants.
You should send them an agreement after you both agree on what's to be included in the project. Before you do any work get a deposit for at least 50% of the total cost. Do not start work without a deposit.
Payment should be due BEFORE you send them the final video.
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
I agree with Greg mostly, but you might want to soften the blow by making it 1/3rd before you get started, 1/3rd after first cut, a limited # of hours before what should be the final. In your agreement you must set a limit on the number of hours you'll provide changes before it begins accumulating additional charges at rates set forth in the original agreement. Then provide a watermarked or time-coded version before getting the final 1/3rd and releasing a clean master.
You should also offer to help with down-sampling for web versions, iPad versions, DVDs, help with versions for computer playback and projection, etc. but bring this up during review of the final.
A strategy that I find useful when probing for a budget is to say something along the lines of "A video can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand of dollars. It's all determined by how ambitious you want the project to be. What do you have in mind?" You've then put them in a position of: a) understanding that there is a definite relationship between what they want and what it will cost; b) thrown the burden of coming up with the first number them.
Because you mentioned that they have operations around the globe you can offer to help them out by finding locals who can supply footage without the expense of long-distance travel. Or, in a lesser case scenario, say that stills of other locations can be animated to fit into the part of the video that you'll be shooting in their main facility. Least expensive would be to create footage of their main facility and then have an animated global map of where their other locations are. It's up to them. Do they want the expense of flying you around the world or will a much less expensive 'representation' of their business fulfill their needs? Remember, you're there to help them get what they want AND you're both sitting on the same side of the table to get there. Try to make it a consultative relationship, not a vendor/customer relationship.
ADDED LATER: Oops. I think I confused your post with another from the Corporate Video forum. Hopefully some of the advice is still applicative.
To Nicks point, we'll need to agree to disagree. I prefer to at the very least make certain that all of my out-of-pocket costs are covered, since I'm responsible for paying those costs. I always make sure that my freelancers and subcontractors can be paid from the deposit. Also any travel costs are paid for up front. This way, if the client disappears, which has happened to me after we started the project, I can pay my expenses.
It's a matter of what works best for your business model. I do like Nick's budget probing approach. I'll have to try that.
Greg Ball, President
Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
I agree with both Nick and Greg. But they didn't talk much about getting to your "step1". Getting a meeting with a client is usually harder than any actual job they throw at you. There's gate-keepers, filters, buffers and bouncers to get past, just to make your pitch. And these days, you're pitching most of the time and not just sitting by a phone waiting to take calls from clients. You have to pursue the work actively. A good reel or several, each one geared to a specific market, is a must. A "calling card" piece, one that show off the width and depth of what you can do, will back-stop your live sales pitch.
Successful marketers do a lot of research on the potential customer before approaching them for work. Know who's-who, what they do and don't do, who their main competition is, what's the current buzz about them online. Do they have near-future plans you can help them with? Do they need to freshen up an existing product or brand? Are they looking to revive or save a dying product? Do they have training and in-house communications needs, not just exterior marketing, PR and advertising? Do they do trade shows? Is there a big shareholder's meeting soon, and do they need a video version of their prospectus? Are they recruiting new talent away from competitors, or recent grads from tech schools? Do they need to tell their own side of a difficult story to a news-wise viewership and local and stage governments?
You can make a lifetime's worth of productions from one or two from that list.