Sunday, July 22, 2012

No Chance for Wedding Video COOP

I've been sharing a one-on-one dialogue on another forum with fellow frustrated independent professional wedding video services provider, Ed Rogers (website link here), who, like me, thinks the wedding video industry is missing the ball when it comes to where the most benefit could be derived from a marketing strategy. We both believe a wedding videographer cooperative (CO-OP) would help put into motion a branding and awareness campaign that could convince otherwise the estimated 80 percent of the bridal market that thinks they DO NOT want a professionally produced video of their wedding day and events.
This is something I’ve pounded on since my early video career days, when I thought wedding video production was all that and a bag of chips, before I realized that in order to survive in the world of independent professional video services providers (IPVSPs) I needed to diversify — see VideoStoryTellers!™ and CorElAnn Video Productions. Not to say that, if they pay my price, I would hesitate even today to produce another wedding video for a discerning bride and groom. Nowadays, however, I don’t go after them, they find me, either by way of my long-standing wedding services website or through referrals.

I write this blog article believing, as I told Ed in my last forum response, that this topic hasn’t much appeal, or maybe my lengthy articles are too long for the average “non-reader” to digest, much less read, comprehend and comment about. I believe that the average wedding videographer is an independent sort, a person who doesn’t WANT to CO-OP with others in the wedding videographer community and certainly doesn’t want to help generate business opportunities for "The Competition” much less give anything BACK to the industry-at-large.
In all fairness many members of the wedding video services industry DO “give back” but usually, myself included, by sharing what they know in paid seminars and speaking engagements, via commercial publications, DVDs and other resources. Some will, as I often do, share free information, experiences and opinions on various video related forums. I was a past member of WEVA (Wedding and Event Videographers Association) and recently became reacquainted with this association via an associate of my own. I was less than delighted to find that this once venerable organization’s website is a wasteland, unvisited and inactive with rare posts and rarer replies. Postings and responses now there are often months, if not years, apart. Sad, but true.
Why? I believe, like myself, Ed and many, many others who’ve enjoyed, appreciated and even supported WEVA at one time or another in our professional lives, it is no longer gratifying to pay membership dues to ANY organization that only seems focused on getting more of our dollars without investing in an ongoing branding and awareness campaign that would put dollars in our individual pockets. Thus, early on, I’ve expounded time and again on the necessity of an organization focused in whole on a campaign that can convince the estimated 80-percent of the bridal market NOT wanting video, to WANT VIDEO! Can this be done? Well, when I originally brought it up, many years ago, I was told that WEVA wasn’t in the business to get its members business, but to teach, instruct and educate.
All this, and more, I’ve mentioned, covered, brought up or expanded upon in the Videomaker forums (see the link, first paragraph) with only Ed Rogers and one other, venerable professional video producer Jack Wolcott, as my (presumed) sole readers, and certainly ONLY responder. The rest of the series RINGS of dead silence. As our discussion continued, it begat the question “Why?”. Why it is impossible, unfathomable or otherwise unlikely a CO-OP focused on bridal awareness of their NEED for a professionally-produced wedding video, an ongoing branding approach that enhances the image of the independent professional wedding video services provider in the eyes of those who’ve read or heard one too many horror stories about bad videographers?

Wedding videographers who NEED to be members of a cooperative that focuses on developing public awareness and branding (such as ‘Where’s the Beef?’ or ‘Got Milk’ for example) probably cannot afford to participate. Heck, most of us are barely hanging on after over-investing in expensive equipment (needed or not) and up to our eyeballs in debt we cannot generate enough business to reduce. A LOT of us are thinking of EXIT STRATEGIES not ways to shore up our seriously leaning (into the red ink) independent video businesses.
Those other guys, the top 5- or 10-percent, already have independent (and well-deserved) brand recognition, already get all the business they want or can handle and have NO need or desire to invest in such a branding and public awareness, centralized resource program.
And NEITHER SIDE really wants to do something that’s going to help “The Competition” regardless of how much good an ongoing COOP effort at market saturation could do the industry.
We independents are essentially a selfish lot regarding sharing of our so-called trade secrets, client lists, or successful marketing strategies, other than, of course, getting paid for our seminar presentations, books and DVDs or Internet subscription programs.
And this is not to indict such behavior. We all should be able to profit on our knowledge, wisdom and skills. I’ve been known to publish and sell a book or three on how to make money in the video industry but I also have been contributing to this FREE blog since 2004, as have other friends in the video industry.
I’m just saying there also is a real need for a COOP that helps promote the professional wedding video community at large, possibly encouraging that HUGE CHUNK of the bridal industry pie who DOES NOT want video — an estimated 80-percent of brides — to change their minds.

It would take anywhere from 300-to-500 members (an easy number considering the vast community of people with cameras videotaping weddings) paying maybe $15 a month, to generate the funds needed to maintain a national awareness campaign and marketing/branding strategy; set up and establish an effective resources website; and organize a board or committee or whatever oversight structure is needed to ensure the organization focuses ONLY on what it should — promotion of the fact that ALL BRIDES, not just the current 20 percent or so who actually WANT a wedding video, should have a professionally produced wedding video of their event.
It would take dedication, commitment, resources, faith in the program and a consistent promotion mentality.
Can this happen? Could it be done? Would it work? Sooner or later the independent wedding video services provider community is going to have to come to the realization that unless this happens, they're going to be relegated to fighting and competing amongst themselves for the tiny, wee portion of the 20 percent of brides already sold on the idea of a wedding video. Not much profit in that, as all of us well know.

Remember, If You Market, You Will Make It! © Earl Chessher


CorElAnn said...

Blogger Earl Chessher here to say that anyone reading the blog "No Chance for Wedding Video COOP" should take a trip to the forums at Videomaker where long-experienced professional video producer Jack Wolcott ads some very interesting observations and related history about the wedding video industry,
PVAs and associations. Visit and read.

Buck Rogers 2000 said...

Earl, As Jack said: Keep the faith.

Buck Rogers 2000 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. said...

Good morning, Earl! Just wanted to let you know that I saw the Earl/Jack/Ed string on the Videomaker forum. As I said there, I'm sorry I was late to the party as I only recently moved into 'full time' production. I have bookmarked your blog and monitor the VM forum for further posts. I also blog on my website (, which I invite you to 'like,' when you have a moment. Cheers! Terry