Friday, August 07, 2009

What’s in it for ME!

What’s in it for me? People in the wedding and event industry might not come right out and say it, but this is the thought running through their collective minds whenever some video producer or photographer whom they have never before met calls them up with an invitation to lunch.

Yeah, such an approach can work. I have heard numerous people in "the business" claim that THIS is the way to start relationships with other wedding and event vendors. "Buy them lunch." "Wine and dine them." "Offer them a piece of the action." Really preposterous when you consider how blatantly obvious that is. Might as well ask: "Can I get into your pants?"

All these people KNOW what YOU want from THEM. But have you ever given serious consideration to the question they WANT to ask, and sometimes do? "What's in it for me?" Certainly not a free lunch once a month, undying friendship, constant calls, e-mails, announced or unannounced visits. Fake handshakes, smiles and personalities that the video producer tries to make real.

Let me ask YOU a question, if you dine out frequently enough. Can you tell when your server, or the greeter is seriously glad to see, seat and serve you? Are you able to see through the ones who might really try, but still come off with fake smiles, lackluster enthusiasm, over-the-top fake friendliness? Sure you are...
...most of the time anyway.

Well vendors are no different. If any of them have been in the business for very long they've been hit and bit by virtually every approach, come on, gimmick and free lunch you can imagine. They can see you coming from a mile away, and know by how you're gearing up the body language: "Ah, no, they think, another offer for free lunch, conversation requiring time I do not have or want to spend, thinking I'll throw business their way for a $15 salad."

All but most hardened of them will be turned off by your blatant effort to "get into their pants." There are a select few who will take you for all the free lunches they can get, accept all the under- (or over-) the-table kickbacks or bribes they can get, and still string you along on a one-note dance while giving you nothing in return. Well, maybe the occasional carrot.

It is going to take you a lot longer and a lot more than the time and money to provide a couple of free lunches before you will convince these people of any level of sincerity, of any degree of experience or professionalism.

So, you might ask. What CAN I do, how CAN I establish solid, fruitful, productive, reciprocal professional relationships with people in the business? How, what can I do to earn their favor, their referrals, perhaps eventually even some level of trust and friendship?

The professionals will tell you to buy lunches, press the flesh, get a foot in the door, show high quality production work commiserate with the level of the industry service with whom you are attempting to establish a relationship. They argue that once these people "really" get to know you, see you you work, view the awe-inspiring quality of your wedding video production they will WANT, even beg you to work their venue, exchange referrals, etc. because you are so good you'll make THEM look good.

Dream on.

You establish GREAT wedding and event industry service provider relationships by immediately answering the question in their minds: "What's in it for me?" You do this by giving them something personally, professionally and career-enhancing worth their while! What might that be?

Let me start by pointing out that we're all human. We all want something for nothing, or for as little effort as possible. That is why the independent professional wedding and event video services providers in this business all fight over the 22% wedge of the bridal pie that contains people "friendly" to video, who WANT video provided they can afford it, or be overwhelmed by the quality of production of the person/company offering video. Video producers battle each other over clients who WANT video instead of figuring out how to win over some of the 80% of the bridal market that really doesn't think video is all that.

The same in our approach to establishing GREAT vendor relationships. We'd all like for this to be as easy as a couple of free lunches, and of course our charismatic and glowing personalities.

Dream on.

So, you give them something of value. You're a video producer. Find out what their video related needs might be. Do they have a professionally produced and recently updated demo video? Do they need professionally produced clips of their service, business or venue for their web site? Would they like to have a quality production that can be used for handouts at the bridal shows they frequent, or business card videos they can incorporate into their direct mail marketing strategies?

Yes, those needs exist! A LOT of people in this industry have the misconception of independent professional wedding and event video services providers; that we might be accomplished, even creative and with a bragging wall full of production awards, but that when it comes to advertising and marketing video production they need a "real" professional.

While there are venues in some areas that video producers would "die for" or spend a bunch of money to be on the list (one company in New York comes to mind, spending several thousand for a place of honor on the venue's referral list) there are thousands of others that might be a bit more humble, and receptive to your video production capabilities.

These venues, services, etc. would react positively to participating in a production that they can use to promote their wedding and event business. This helps you how?

All you ask is that they accept the production upon approval of its perceived value and quality, of course; accept your promotional poster, counter display and graphically interesting DVDs and willingly and freely distribute them to their potential clients; and that they accept your wedding and event demo DVD sampler that is included on the DVD video marketing tool you have provided them.

Update these demos when you need to, or when the vendor requests it. Visit them, e-mail or call to make sure they haven't run out of DVDs, or to address problems or issues that might have come up. Convince the people with whom you have established a solid and new relationship that you are as interested in providing them with a value and service in return for their cooperation, referrals and good will as you hope they are.

Service them, but do not pester them. Show them what a REAL professional can be. The cooperative arrangement you've made by showing what is in it for them will bear fruit.

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © 2009, Earl Chessher

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