Friday, October 10, 2008

Offering Projection Services

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money: investing in projection equipment in order to market a value-added service, for example.

That can be easier said than done during the present economic state of the union, and your pocketbook. However, if you can manage $2,000 or less (often way less) to invest in a large screen, projector, table, skirt and a bit of marketing you can easily recoup your investment in 90 days or less.

All it would take would be four, maybe five gigs and you’re now into R.O.I. territory.

“Projection!” you might exclaim. Who is going to pay for projection services in today’s depressed economy when I cannot even get them to buy into wedding video production?

The short answer is: A lot of people will “buy into” projection services if you are reasonably priced, service oriented and willing to do the work. Actually, doing projection gigs for a “reasonable” price, say $350 to $450 for a one-time showing, on site for 3 hours or less, will get you a good bit of business if you promote it right.

Nothing wrong, that I can see, in averaging $100 an hour for fairly easy work. Set up. Show. Pack up. Go! It’s over! Next!

If you have been in video production as a business for any length of time, attend church, are a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc., participate in your children(s) school events/activities, youth sports programs, or just enjoy a great social environment in your neighborhood, or on your block, you have the human resources available to start making money by offering projection services.

I constantly hear the argument that “everybody has it,” meaning projectors, large screens, etc. but that isn’t what I’m seeing in the real world. I have provided projection services for block parties, outdoor social events by groups and individuals, memorial montage showings at funeral homes, mortuaries, chapels and churches, school graduation, sports awards banquets and other events. Some of these venues even actually have some or all of the equipment, but they don’t always have access to it for one reason or another. Usually, and often it is simply “broke” or inoperable due to poor maintenance.

The key to successfully marketing your projection services is: “If you don’t ask, they can’t say ‘yes!’” If you do ask, not everybody is going to say, ‘no!’ And that’s not just dumb blah, blah, blah... works, if you do. Gotta make the investment, make the effort, ask them, and tell everyone you know that you are doing it. Put it on your web site, feature it in your brochures, direct mail it to any good address you can lay your hands on.

“Good” addresses include anyone who has ever, ever used your video production services, bought a product or paid for your time, referred you to someone, offered you a drink, dinner out, or a reduced price on t-shirts from that defunct church fundraiser. If you are too embarrassed to pursue your available resources then, video AND PROJECTION, being service oriented business is probably not what you should be doing full time, part time, or in your spare time.

I currently have two relatively cheap ($800 or less) 1,200-to-1,500 lumen rated projectors and one Panasonic 2,000 lumen rated projector, VGA or S-VGA, without auto focus or auto keystone control, but totally serviceable for the vast majority of my gigs. Contrary to public opinion (public opinion sort of being like the ubiquitous “They” when people quote: “They say...”) most venues, projection times I service don’t mind lowering the lights if it will help.

My Panasonic works in pretty much anything but open sunshine, no shade, and I have been able to get by using it under carports, inside the garage, or under the backyard lattice cover with decent results. Sure, you can get brighter ones, if you want to spend the money. The key word here is “want” because you certainly do not have to.

I use a projector stand with screw-in legs that are adjustable to a variety of heights. This is covered with a black velvet drape material making it look a bit more professional than the spindly legs (especially at more formal venues such as wedding receptions and memorial services). There are carts as well, that do not require assembly and can be loaded and rolled into position. If you have the means for transporting this, it might help, but again it isn’t totally necessary. I can get my projector table up and covered with equipment in place before most of you would be able to unload your system from the vehicle and roll it into place.

I use a $28 player from WalMart for most of my gigs, and it works just fine, thank you. I purchased a 6x8 front projection screen, t-stand assembly, from ScreenWorks and have used it for nearly 10 years. Yes, it has a few patches here and there, and I’m about ready to put it into second place backup position soon as I purchase another one before the end of the year.

It has been my experience that front-projection, unless you invest in a projector that has an extremely short throw, will more often “work” in your average venue. Even with the 20-feet, or less, throw of my Panasonic, I get full 6x8 screen capacity. That’s workable.

There are dozens of places where you can shop for price and product, and just about that many affordable projectors out there for the taking. Check it out and get started making money even if you are not shooting or editing video today.

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