Marketing your video services.

Marketing your video services.
If there’s one technique that most video makers are very good at, it is complaining. We’ve heard them all, the hit parade of complaints.
Leading the hit parade, is the old “low-balling and undercutting jobs.”
Then, we have the “customers do not understand what it takes to make a video” complaint. They think it can be done for a few hundred bucks.
My favorite is the “customers do not understand the value of having a video on their web site.”
I could write 3 pages from all the complaints that I hear and read every day. The reality is that the supply of video makers far exceeds the demand for videos. The silver lining is that there are still plenty of videos being done and somebody is getting that business, but evidently not those doing the complaining.
The famous old cliché, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” applies to this business more than ever.
Let’s first start understanding that we are not in the video business, but we are in the business of video. The word business comes first. The days of; getting an education then buying a camera and calling ourselves artists and expecting that all doors will open for us, are gone forever. Today, everything is a business. We either handle it as a business or we will join the “complaining generation”.
The days of the shotgun approach in this business are gone. The days of specializations are here. The only difference is that in order to stay in business and prosper, you might need dozens of specializations. This meaning that your marketing and technical knowledge must be diversified enough to become an expert in many areas.
People do not want to hear about videos, they want to know what videos will do for their business. The general approach of “videos are good to communicate” will only lead you into the “complain generation”.
Before approaching any business, you have to learn about that particular business and about the particular industry, meaning ‘do your homework’.
First, before making any marketing plans, learn to pick the battles you can win.
Next, you have to understand about businesses. For any business generating a 10% pre-tax profit is very good. Very seldom you’ll find any businesses making much more than that, most do below that mark. Meaning that for a small business that has a half a million in annual sales, its PT profit will be $50,000.  Asking such a business to spend even as low as $3K to make videos is asking to cut deep into the profit. It would be acceptable if you could prove with actual numbers, and not fantasies created by some bloggers, that their investment will realize a higher profit. Those statistics however do not exist, so all that business owner has to go with is the word of the guys who are trying to sell him a video. Not a very trusted argument.
People in this business think that other video makers are their competitors, this is not true. There are many others with more convincing arguments after that 10% of net profits.
Local TV and cable companies are after that money too. So are local radio stations, newspapers, direct mail coupons, etc. The difference between you and them is that the client knows them, he watches TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper and shop with those coupons. Also, all these people that are after his money come equipped with solid and credible statistical information. This allows the business owner to target his marketing dollar in order to get the best returns.
What do you have to show?
This is the biggest stumbling block with people today trying to sell video services to small businesses. There is no believable proof that videos will actually help in achieving higher sales. Video, like any anything else, is an expense/investment and everyone wants to see what the ROI (return on investment) will be. Unless you can show that with real statistics and studies, you are wasting each other’s time.
Does anyone remember the old Clint Eastwood’s inspector Callahan movies, particularly his quote in Magnum Force: “A man’s GOT to know his limitations”? The same quote applies to many video makers today. Actually, with the level of skill that many possess today, they are lucky if the clients do not understand what it takes to create video productions. At least they stand a chance to get some work because if that client would be knowledgeable, theywouldn’t stand a chance.
Know your limitations.
I have yet to meet a video maker saying that his work is mediocre, but that their work is just the very best. Unfortunately, many think they really are. They are the best at what they know, but that’s not saying much. In order to make it in this business, you have to be the best in what your potential client needs you to know. This is where most video makers today fall way short, meeting client’s demands and needs.
There’s a very simple test that one can do to see how much he really knows about video production. Look for the best videos you can find, not the cheapest. Can you do what was done in that video? Do you have the skills and the equipment necessary? If you intend to purchase equipment, invest for something that will benefit your own market. Can you create videos to be the closest as possible to what you’ve seen? How much more do you need to learn and where can you find some of the equipment that you’ll need in order to achieve those goals?
What you see in those good videos is your real competition, not those who give away their work for nothing. If you try to compete against the cheap guys you’ll never make any money. Always make your best effort and expand your skills to compete with the best, not with the cheapest. Do that and soon you will look down at where you came from and feel sorry for those who are still there.
The powerful word “marketing”, that’s what makes worldwide economies move. There are hundreds of books on marketing but it all boils down to the very simple formula of “I have something to sell and I need to find somebody who needs what I have to offer.”
This is where all the strategies come into play.
Analyze your market.
Selling sand in the desert most likely makes for no/low demand, water on the other hand can be a business to be considered. In few words adapt your business to your present market.
Also doing the thing we love to do with videos might not necessarily translate into sales. Everybody loves to make travel videos or music videos, and it looks like everybody is doing it. It’s fun and it’s glamorous but there’s no money there anymore. On the other hand, creating videos for a company that specializes in making power equipment for septic systems might not be glamorous but there might be plenty of work there.
First, of course you have to find out what your own market consists of. What businesses are there that might become potential clients? Start your search. There are many sources such as Chamber of Commerce and Industrial directories where you can find the types of businesses operating in your market.
Search the web sites of these businesses and see what they use now. Realistically, you have to think about which of those could benefit from videos and at what level of videos. Forget about the notion that everybody can benefit from videos, that’s blogger’s talk.
Isolate a group of similar businesses in a specific industry. Now that you’ve narrowed your search expand it beyond your immediate market area. Find out everything you can about that particular business, not just about video but about the business itself. See what other similar companies and competitors nationally, even worldwide, do about marketing and merchandising (and of course if they use videos).  After accumulating a good knowledge of that particularly industry, start working on ideas and concepts of how videos could benefit that industry. Don’t corner yourself, keep it wide open. Videos can be used as training, marketing, product demonstrations and just plain corporate identity, any or all of the above.
After you have all this information and a good plan, now it’s time to approach a potential client. By you learning about the industry you are now marketing yourself from a position of strength, you now understand the potential client’s needs and you have a solution. Show them what others in the same business, potentially their competitors are doing. You’ll find out that suddenly you’re no longer a video-maker trying to sale videos, you are a video consultant.
You no longer market videos, you market solutions.
Now that you learn about this industry, move on to the next one and start all over again. This is how you diversify your business and expand your market.
Coming next “Quality that sells”