Friday, February 13, 2009

School Spring Events Kick Off

You can find some great marketing pointers by checking out marketeer Steve Yankee's "12 Ways to Market When the Economy Sucks" - this music/band lover's ongoing blog Marketing Mojo is worth visiting from time-to-time.

Jay Michael's In the Viewfinder will keep you informed, entertained and aware of "things video" from marketing and resources, to what Jay is currently focused on in his own video production efforts.

But, before you go off checking those links, take a moment to continue reading and kick off your marketing efforts with spring school events that are scheduled, planned and kicking off as well. The time to get in touch is RIGHT NOW!

Design a colorful postcard or develop a one-page marketing letter and let the schools in your service area know you are ready to do business making affordable video DVDs of their spring productions available.

Tell them that YOUR COMPANY is the "go to" producer in their area for professionally videotaped, edited and packaged quality DVDs of their spring events in dance, drama, band concert and choral. Spring is also when flag teams, drill teams and other groups hold competition as well, opening up a whole range of business possibilities.

In my last post I noted that working on spec isn't necessarily a bad thing, and this approach could open a lot of doors in the spring school events kickoff. Another approach is to establish the minimum sales you can live with and offer to produce at no cost to the organization or school, instead offering direct sales to individuals at a reasonable price per copy.

What is a "reasonable" price? Well, if you've read any of my articles you'll know that I am content to produce video of events two hours, or less, in length, for a minimum of 20 copies at $25. Your mileage may vary, and you might have to go the "spec" route at first, but the business is certainly out there and just waiting for you to let them know you exist, and that you want their business.

Check if the school has a web site. If so the school will likely post an events calendar, and you will be able to find out who your contact person(s) is/are. It is always better, in my humble opinion, to get the promotion materials into the right hands - band director/instructor, choral director, dance director, glee club or parent support group president, school activities director, etc.

Find out their names and use them. Believe me, it can make all the difference.

What if the school does not have a web site? Make the call. The young lady, usually, who works the front desk will often gladly take the time to provide you the information you need, or mail you a directory, or even forward you to the right person for that information.

Some of you in the video business are not particularly comfortable in direct marketing calls/contact, but believe me a friendly, unassuming voice (smile when you are talking, it works) saying something like, "I have some information about my services that you will find interesting and compelling. I would like to send it to you directly, or send you an e-mail today. I know you might have choices in video service providers but you will find my approach can result in a high quality production with significant savings. It never hurts to check out your options, right?"

Postcards can be simple, affordable, easy and quick. Use an actual photo depicting the event you are targeting - choral group singing, dancers dancing, bands playing, or an instrument, or even a picture of a school, or a modernistic illustration compiling stylized images of these events, even an abstract. The desire here is to make the front of that card colorful and simple - eye catching. Use few words.

"Professional Video Production at NO Cost to Your School!" or, if you want to go the "spec" route, "Get to know us - professional event video! NO cost to You!"

A short paragraph on the back, followed by CALL NOW TO BOOK, and your contact information. Simple and quick, and unless a video company has been doing a slam-bang job for this group for years at giveaway prices, you will get a shot. They will inquire.

Virtually any video, photography or trade publication - MacWorld magazine, Website Magazine, Videography magazine, for examples - will have a number of ads, usually on the back pages, of print companies vying for your business. I have had a good experience with a number of them. America's Printer is one; also PrintRunner. If time is too short for designing, printing and mailing postcards this season, use a one-page letter.

Obviously you should have professional looking letterhead with your company name and contact information. But if you are simply an independent individual, then take a shot at setting something up on your computer/word processor with a nice, clean font for your name/contact information.

I might send body copy that says:
"Dear (activity director's name)
I specialize in affordable professional video production services and want to produce your (Spring Fling, Spring Concert, etc.) this year at absolutely no cost to your group, organization or school. How?

I realize you may have choices in a professional video services provider. As an opportunity to get to know me, my company and the quality of our productions, I will videotape, edit, produce and package video DVDs of your (event name) in a professional manner and quality.

I provide copies of performances of two hours or less for $25 each. If even one person, parent or student purchases a copy, I will not only deliver theirs, but will also provide you with a complimentary copy at no charge.

Call me today to arrange for this unique, one-time "get acquainted" special offer, and place your event on our production calendar.

Direct sales to parents helps defray production costs, and I will provide the order forms for advance sales.

Simply distribute the forms and accept cash/check payment for a minimum of 20 DVDs at $25 each, and (company name) will provide complete professional video production services at no additional costs.

You may, if you wish, deposit order payments and issue one check to (company name), or we will gladly accept direct checks/cash payments and provide you with a list of each person who orders, the number ordered and total receipts.

We will deliver all orders received, prior to and following, (event name) within 4-6 weeks, direct to you for distribution. Other delivery arrangements are available subject to additional costs.

Call today to schedule (event name) on our production calendar. I (we) look forward to hearing from you soon.

If you have any further questions or concerns do not hesitate to call or e-mail. We would LOVE to work with you!

Name and signature

Keep it simple.

I believe in event video production we sometimes go overboard with production efforts that might result in a high-end style production with lots of camera angles, moves and booms, cranes, stabilizer, multiple mic placement and some seriously complex editing.

These productions might include complex graphics, composite sequences and special effects, plush graphic inserts, library cases and more.

It is my professional opinion that while such productions are certainly (or can be) awe inspiring, get us (maybe) into the big time, whatever that is, and make us very proud of our capabilities - all those people watching us work this complex production magic during the event. Oops, they're watching US, and not the event? That's fine, they'll get to see it when they purchase a copy at $55, $65 or $75.

I hope these producers DO get that kind of money, and a significant number of sales, because all the trouble they've gone to is certainly worth the purchase price. But, in the real world, especially these tight economic times, they are over producing with no hope of recouping production costs, much less making a profit.

It is my experience that people want quality imaging and audio with a minimum of whizbang POVs, special effects and creative embellishment - meat and potatoes. And, they want it at a reasonable price. I have found the meaning of "reasonable" to be somewhere between $18 and $25, depending on a number of factors such as length of performance or total numbers ordered, guaranteed high sales volume (100 or more), etc.

We shoot two-camera, two-operator, side-by-side (stereo, if you will). One camera follows with close up shots, medium shots. The other shoots primarily full stage, occasionally tightening up for small groups, or split-mic vocals, etc. The full shot is used as a base, with the follow camera shots inserted where needed, and/or where possible to enhance the production with a minimum of editing effort.

I usually use the live audio from our on-camera mics (they're relatively decent sound quality, and having the audio from both allows me options to build up, or enhance by sometimes doubling from both). I also usually distribute at least two, sometimes four Zoom H2 digital recorders where I think they will be most effective. I use this audio when and where needed for clarity, or to boost, or ambient sound, whatever. It is my personal preference, after many a sad experience and audio circuitry damage/repairs, to not utilize audio directly from any existing sound board/system.

So, just as you would include a call to action on your mailings (CALL NOW! CALL TODAY!) start planning, research, development and mailing NOW! TODAY! and get your share of this lucrative market while it is hot!

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