Monday, February 12, 2007

Who Makes You Comfortable?

Price, product, quality and other pertinent issues aside, when it comes time to pick a professional independent wedding video services provider to produce your wedding, everything boils down to: "Am I comfortable with these people?"

The professional community bats such issues around constantly - which is more important? Price? Product? Marketing? Personality? Something else?

A service provider who comes off comfortable with you, with your questions and concerns, who takes time to listen to what you are saying AND what you are NOT saying; one who knows and shows her business, who walks the walk and can talk the talk, who makes YOU comfortable, will prove an asset for you on your wedding day.

Just as a lot of people who get to know and appreciate the skills and talents of their planner or coordinator know they can pretty much let it go and enjoy their wedding celebration, the same transfer of concern should come about with you and your video producer.

After the research, interview, establishment of the usual business credits, and your follow-up on referrals, trust your instincts. If something about her makes you uncomfortable - whether or not you can put your finger on it - then look some more. If, however, you experience a great overall sense of comfort with her, sign the agreement. Odds are in your favor that you are now in good hands.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Video Producers! Diversify and Survive!

If you have been a professional independent video production services provider, full time or part time, for more than two years and have not been able to earn the profits you seek, diversification is the answer. It can financially augment primarily weekend wedding work, and can generate cash flow, and weekday work that solidly reinforces your bottom line while broadening your marketing reach.
Another potential benefit is that the variety of production experiences from simple and quick to complex, immediate cash flow to long term income generation can possibly prevent the stress, burn out and boredom some experience by doing the same thing day in and day out. For my company diversification was key to survival from a financial, creative, physical and mental standpoint.
Some video producers prefer to specialize exclusively on one aspect of production - wedding video, for example. I elected to specialize in video production. Period.
Up front, let me say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on a weddings only business plan. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with doing it part time. There are many success stories all over the video production world where independent and small companies are successful and profitable focusing exclusively on wedding video production services.
On the other hand there are countless individuals, small independent companies, and even some of the larger operations who express the difficulties they experience when attempting to make a profit, or even remain in business, producing wedding video exclusively. As an added income resource, being exclusively a wedding video production services provider on a part time basis certainly has its benefits, and often can lead to a stronger business base when the decision is made to move into full time operation. For the rest of us, and many of those working part time as well, there's diversification.
Many of you are already aware of this. Others continue to ponder the benefits of focusing primarily on wedding video production services while also seeking work outside an industry based on love, romance and commitment.
Many also are aware of the benefits of marketing production services to the overwhelming number of video related possibilities that exist. Anyone who has been in the business for a few years has discovered for themselves, or read countless magazines, web sites and books focusing on a broad range of video production opportunities.
The list is infinite, but on it are included youth sports, ranging from private, to community, to public schools; adult sports; community plays; events such as pow wows, car shows and renaissance festivals, concept videos for the young or mature market, martial arts events, special interest productions, projection services, memorials, funerals and music montage productions.
There are also endless opportunities for creating and marketing your own productions - work once, sell many. Well, sell a few anyway. The market doesn't have to be huge to pay off. Independent productions from music to art, to entertainment to instructional, can be quite satisfying as well as profitable if you have the talents and resources to pull it off.
The one key rule to apply here is: "Great ideas won't work unless you do." - author unknown.
All the ideas, from creativity to marketing, to concept to application, you come up with, read about or study will not work unless you are willing to do the work necessary to assure success.
That success begins with marketing.
If you are going to diversify your production business you have to increase your marketing efforts. Simply being open to production of video beyond weddings will not cut it. You market your wedding video production services and products. You must do the same for other areas of video service. While you do get the occasional inquiry via your wedding marketing efforts regarding other events from birthdays to retirements, to funerals or montage work, it is rare that potential clients who respond to your marketing perceive you as anything more than a wedding video producer.
I opted to establish a general services web site that outlines the many types of production work we perform. I established a weddings only web site under a unique name that will soon not only exclusively represent wedding production services, but aim at a higher end market. Meanwhile, wedding production services information will be removed from the general services web site. I anticipate, in time that I will also have a dedicated site for funeral, memorial montage and projection services, also one geared specifically toward production for small business, special interest and corporate production work. While it is nice to think of myself as an all things to all people video producer, that isn't always the perception.
Keeping your diverse video productions segregated will sometimes make a difference. The jury is still out on my decision to handle all aspects of my video business under the roof of a parent company, or keep them isolated. Otherwise, related production work can be kept in one basket - say, school and community events; youth sports and other competitive fields such as martial arts, rowing, even auto racing; celebrations of life.
Many of these other production possibilities are held weekdays and evenings, involve hundreds of participants, and are highly receptive to approaching "in progress" a la guerrilla marketing, or lend themselves to an effective direct marketing approach with sample DVDs, cover letters or post cards, and a special proposal.
Doors can be opened by offering speculative promotions where you do the work then take your chances on winning them over, special offers for a bare minimum guaranteed sales to parents or via the organization - both of these are great "get acquainted" approaches, but do require some risk on your part. My experience is virtually all our approaches have paid off in the long run, most of them immediately.
Another approach is to offer a special one time production cost approach with a good rate based on number of copies sold - price breaks at minimum, 100 units, or 200 or more units.
I know this. Every hour of every day, individuals, groups or organizations are doing something that can be served by video. The best approach of all to get their business is to figure out how to show these people what's in it for them.
Diversify and survive.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Without Video It's All Just a Memory

A video of your wedding...
If you view a wedding video and like it, are comfortable with the professional you are interviewing, and can fit her price structure into your wedding budget, then do it!
The usual concerns include reading the small print on the agreement, asking for and following up on referrals and, if you are looking for someone with experience, how many years the video company has been business - full time or part time. Is this a real business or a side job to a non-related career?
...just remember, without a video everything will be just a memory.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Photos Don't Talk

Video generates 1,800 images per minute, and they move.
Photography does not.
In your video you hear friends, family and guests talk, laugh, cry, joke, often sing, and move to music.
People in photos do not.
People in video hug, kiss, walk, run, dance, spin, act goofy, drink, play, smile, and show off their personalities.
They also do this in photographs.
Photographs capture, preserve the moment.
Video captures, and preserves the day...
...the event, its sights, and sounds.
With photographs you provide the memories, movements, and music score.
With video, you don't have to.