Saturday, April 25, 2009

Martial Arts Video = Easy Sell

Less than 30 days ago I mailed out 30 cover letters accompanied with a very short demo DVD of martial arts footage. You can view a portion of that footage by clicking on the title of this article above. I have signed up four of these, and have inquiries from several others, for end-of-summer demonstration, graduation and/or awards presentation ceremonies.

I have one local Master instructor who is also "very interested" in discussing a series of instructional video for counter sales as well as portions to include on an upcoming web site.

An exact copy of the letter I sent follows, with some notations in parentheses:
Dear (important that you know and use the person's name here)
I am an experienced student of the late Master John Chu, a well-known and respected teacher in West Texas, and am experienced in producing video of martial arts demonstrations and related ceremonies. (I felt it would not hurt to mention this affiliation, but I will leave it out in my next batch to see what happens)

Please take a moment to view the enclosed DVD and, visit my web site listed in the letterhead.

I am a local independent professional video services provider (I like the sound of this as opposed to "videographer") and specialize in youth and adult sports and event video production in this region. I provide quality, affordable video production, graphics development, duplication and distribution services.

I offer an introduction to my services in two ways: direct to individual members, family and friends; direct payment from you, or your business, based on the same minimum total, and you can sell the copies for whatever price you want. The most popular approach by far, in my 20-year production (if you've got the experience, say so) experience has been direct sales to parents.

The introductory rate is a minimum of 20 DVDs sold at $25 each, (that's MY price, your mileage may vary, and you can certainly try for larger numbers both ways) delivered to your location for distribution. An order list is provided, as are forms for pre-sales and promotion.

Call today to schedule your production. I am a full time business and consistently receive calls and inquiries for dates. Please contact me today to lock in your date(s), or to discuss your needs and interests.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to working with you and your students and families soon.

With respect,
Earl Chessher

What I do
The sample clip link shows a single aspect of my coverage using two cameras and operators at varying POVs (points of view) ranging from wide-to-medium, and medium-to-close. I will occasionally frame tighter for special situations, but not often.

Whenever possible my associate and I shoot stereo, with our cameras side-by-side from center. My next favorite position is to left and right of center seat section, and we will often shoot across each other. Left camera will shoot right stage, right camera left stage, with one camera assigned for medium or wider shots, and the other medium or tighter. This gives me variation in post so that I don't have to deal with a lot of jump cut looking shots or off-center dissolves.

My audio acquisition
If you have read any of my previous articles on shooting you know I avoid using any type of "house sound" from any venue or location. I am no longer willing to accept the potentially negative consequences ranging from no audio, to bad feeds, to operator (the sound person) errors, to outright damage to my cameras' audio circuits due to overload. If I am going to "ride" the audio, I prefer to ride my own controls and not depend on the many self-professed "professionals" running the boards.

Over the past year I have taken to using Zoom H2 recorders, placing them where I need or want them for the audio reinforcement I desire. I continue to acquire audio from the on-camera microphones as well. I mix these units as necessary to achieve the audio levels and sound quality I desire in final production.

Product presentation is important
I believe in delivering a quality production, both in looks and content. I will not cut corners, using clear cases without full color inserts and printing only the DVD surface to save on ink, paper, etc.

I do like and use, and have found that my clients also like, the readily available ultra-clear thinline or ultrathin DVD cases, but always create the graphics for developing a nice, professional looking cover insert that compliments the graphics on the DVD surface.

I use boxes, bags and sacks that have my company name imprinted. I enclose additional business cards, information sheets regarding price and other events, a few general sample demo DVDs, and I ALWAYS comp the Master or owner a DVD of the production.

Final comments
For the most part I find that people running martial arts schools are heavily focused on respect, and I try to convey a sense of respect when I talk to them, regardless of the situation, or occasional misunderstandings.

For example, instead of getting mad, upset and blowing off at an instructor/owner I recently produced video for, whose check was returned insufficient funds, I took a minute to focus and calm myself down, made the call, and joking said, "You're human! Just like me!" That lightened the mood immediately as I went on to tell him I know all about cash flow and getting caught between deposits and outstanding checks, simply asking him how soon he could cut me another, or could I run this one through again.

To this day he keeps commenting on my approach, and how much he appreciated that I actually did understand, and was so polite and professional about letting him know. "People tend to over-react from embarrassment and things can get heated with the combination of emotions that come into play," he said. "Your approach falls in line with the element of respect I try to instill in my students toward others, regardless of the situation or circumstances."

Finally, if you have ANY experience with run-and-gun style shooting, varying your shots for interesting angles or frames, and utilizing two cameras to reduce the re-takes, you can get this business. Granted, there would need to be a few martial arts schools in your service area. You can add montage work, and individual show case, and technique study videos to the list of potential sales at martial arts schools as well.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © Earl Chessher


jordan said...

martial arts video. never thought of it. great idea!

Night Day Productions said...

Wicked awesome blog entry, very helpful!