Monday, February 16, 2009

DVD "Letters" for Cash Flow

If you're not afraid to work, market and try something low-budget that will keep you busy, generate exposure and referrals, and bring on some cash flow, take a shot at offering DVD Video Letters. If you haven't been living in a cave, and your friends and associates list isn't totally blank, and there's actually someone in your family who still loves you, you should have enough resources to get something going with this simple service.

Over the years I have generated personal DVD letters, most recently sharing them once a week with my Dad. Mom left this world on the morning of January 27, 2009. Dad, having been married to Mom for 62 years, 65 years including their courtship, is having a really tough time of it. While most of the family is near enough to visit, I am more than 1,800 miles away. Phone calls are nice, so are letters, but I've been sending Dad DVD video letters of 15 to 30 minutes in length, the first one an hour, sharing our mutual memories, grieving, smiles, inside jokes, laughter and tears up close and personal. Dad, and the rest of the family, loves receiving them, their intimacy.

It's nothing new, nor that difficult, but most people, even amateurs/consumers, do not take the time to do this. It is either too much trouble, technically challenging, or they simply cannot focus on developing content, setting up the equipment, packaging it nicely, then getting it off in the mail. Like written letters that more often than not wind up becoming wads of paper tossed into the trash, or otherwise never mailed. Cards, postcards are simpler, short, sweet and to the point.

But, if you really want to "reach" someone you care about, or propose to them, or generate something warm, personal and special, a "card" that will likely never see the trashcan, will be watched time and again, generate anticipation for more to come - send a DVD Video Letter. These "letters" offer another value, they represent serious historical archiving for the years ahead and generations to come.

Being a professional independent video services provider, you know how to do this simple and quick. Camera, tripod, natural lighting, on-camera mic (or other more direct recording if you are comfortable with it), a nice, quiet location and less than an hour of time for you and your client. There are a number of ways to deliver - to tape then bumping over to DVD, direct to hard drive then bumping over, direct to DVD recorder. If you have one of those affordable Video-to-DVD transfer boxes, set up the connections and you can record directly to DVD and hand it over at the end of the session.

Price it any way you want, but I find that by making these relatively affordable, quick and simple productions, I can expect to do as many a month as I desire - or none at all if I get busy with something bigger. The availability of this service is always there, and there will be people receptive to paying you for doing this if you market to them. I charge $50, up to $75, for one hour, plus two copies of the resulting DVD. I have charged as little as $35 for a half-hour straight shoot, handing over the tape/DVD. Your mileage may vary.

As I have written before, great ideas don't work unless you do. It is easy to "poof" at something that actually calls for a bit of effort, like marketing and producing DVD Letters, but there's a lot to be said for the small things - even pennies add up. If "lazy" isn't your problem, try this simple service that is easy to market and can generate instant cash flow.

OK, the economy is down, phone doesn't ring much anymore, you are tired of investing in and working bridal fairs for no immediate returns, and have revised your web site(s) and worked every strategy you know to get Google's, or other search engine's attention. Wedding referrals still come, but have slowed down and you've even caught up with last year's editing backlog. To make things even tougher cash flow has dried up, or slowed to a trickle.

Elton John sang, "time on my hands could be time spent with you," but that isn't paying the bills, or making you feel all that worthwhile, and your marketing drive has shriveled to a raisin, from what was once a prune - I know, plums make prunes, grapes make raisins, but you get my drift.

One thing you have of value that you might not be using to full potential is that list of clients you've delivered product to over the years. Or, maybe you haven't been in business long enough to have such a list. Or, you have names and addresses, even e-mails, but business has been so slow for so long that your client contact list is probably not the most accurate ruler of your success.

If you don't have a good list to market to, there are ways to generate one. Take a trip around the block, check out the area market bulletin boards, collect names and addresses anywhere you can, white pages listings? Just about everybody has an e-mail list. While I'm not particularly fond of marketing via e-mail because I have found it relatively ineffective, and I don't want to be perceived as a spammer or blast mailer, I do use this method to contact people in my inner circle.

As much as I have tried to discourage my family and friends from sending me forwarded e-mail consisting of pyramid schemes, dried up jokes, weird web site listings, etc., they continue to do so. Initially I just trashed them. If you are willing to take the risk, however, you'll notice a huge e-mail list of all the people your family member or friend included in that frustrating e-mail to you. A few you will know, a lot of them you will not. But you can name drop the sender, and open some doors without coming off as a total spammer. A lot of them will read your offer because they know somebody you know. Some will respond - positively, not with an all capital letters attack.

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