Monday, September 29, 2008

Fast Delivery Key to Success

Delivering your wedding video productions in less than 90 days, preferably 30 days, is key to establishing a successful referral-based business. One that will withstand most negative economic elements, and reduce the investment of time, energy and money necessary to otherwise promote your business.

Tighter delivery schedules will also provide additional time for follow-up on the smaller (and larger) details of the business: establishment of aggressive marketing strategies, implementation of a solid referral system, and even a bit of free time for personal relaxation - all contributing to a quality professional and personal lifestyle for the independent video services provider.

I have had many debates industry-wide with wedding video producers who disagree with my assessment that delivering their clients wedding videos in a “timely” manner means 90 days or less, not eight months or longer.

Some will argue that it takes nearly a year to create and deliver a quality product. Others admit that they put in, maybe, 40 hours of editing, but that their volume is so high they cannot finish and deliver in one week, but spread that 40 hours of editing over an 8-month (or longer) period.

I suspect the vast majority of long delivery time proponents, whatever their reasons, are simply insecure or lazy in their approach, and use excessive delivery times as a cushion against the pressure, tension and anxiety brought on by shortened (tighter) production schedules.

Many will say that the client is willing to wait for her production because she will be receiving a better quality video. That is simply not true. Clients are not “willing” to wait, they wait because they have to - this “reality” forced upon them by people in the industry who do not want to commit themselves to a higher, or more efficient, work ethic.

Time only equals quality if the time taken is actually invested into the effort to generate that quality.

Sitting on a shelf for eight months cannot and will not improve the quality of your wedding video production. In fact, time can work against you when the project is finally pulled down and work is started knowing that the bride will soon be calling - inquiring about how soon she might anticipate delivery. Things that could have been done to improve the production quality sometimes are not done simply because there now exists a crunch to get it done, and the rush to finish results in the same argument against early delivery. What?

You know, the argument that moving too quickly through the post editing process goes against creation of a quality video. The argument that “rushing” the process is equivalent to trashing the production. What can be the difference? Well, one argument for getting into the post editing process sooner rather than later is that some of the elements of the shoot will still be fresh on your mind.

Waiting eight months before even beginning to review the footage in preparation for editing, or even if it was previewed earlier, results in lost time. Time spent in refreshing your memory. Time spent familiarizing yourself with an event, and client, whom you can barely recall. Time spent trying to remember where you placed the notes taken, if any, during your interview process - where you learned something about the client's likes, preferences, and dislikes.

Many in this industry overbook, taking on more business than they can handle in a reasonable time frame. They become backlogged and are not willing to do what it takes to overcome that backlog - outsource their productions to get them done and delivered, or simply cut back the number of bookings to a level they can handle.

They could, of course, also raise their prices or reduce the amount of production involved. Both steps can effectively bring booking, production and delivery numbers in line with the video producer's capabilities.

Whatever your current position on wedding video production delivery times consider this: a bride who receives her video while the event is fresh, while memories of the honeymoon remain vivid, while office, family and social discussions still focus on elements of the celebration, while emotions still rage and before the realities of life muddy the magic, will share her experience with enthusiasm.

If her video is barely delivered before her first anniversary, perhaps with a family addition on the way, after the bills have been sweated out (maybe), work intrudes and there’s been no time to even take a vacation or maintain the social structure that existed a year earlier, anticipation has waned - receiving her wedding video will be at best anticlimactic. At worst, a major disappointment.

Timely delivery - while it’s hot - means the bride’s video is shared with more people, talked about with more enthusiasm, reviewed with more excitement, and accepted with a higher level of perceived value. This leads to referrals, and more of them, than will ever occur a year after the fact.

There is an argument for extended delivery schedules. It is best presented by businesses that establish their productions, and their Master quality videos on the basis that time equals exceptional quality, and prices accordingly.

For everyone else there is faster delivery.

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