Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are You Serious About Your Video Business?

HOW SERIOUS are you about your video operations? Do you limit yourself to video as a hobbyist, or are you attempting to “work” your enthusiasm into a business? To what degree? Are you going to settle for being a part-time independent professional video services provider or will you pursue this more actively, aiming toward a full-time business? Will this become a career-changing move, or simply augment your current job/position or retirement income? Is it time to assess your desires and ambitions, or do you simply wish to continue along a non-committed path of serendipity?

HEAVY QUESTIONS, for sure, but it might not hurt to take a good, long look at what you really want, what expectations you have at the top of your thoughts, or subconsciously — somewhere in the back burner of your mind where you rarely check to see what’s cooking. Not all of us take ourselves or our businesses so seriously. But maybe we should, especially if we actually expect something to come of it.

THE FIRST and foremost question is “How can I get a job (start this business) without experience” quickly followed by “How can I get experience (make this business work for me) withoug getting a job?” The answer, especially in the video business, is actually very simple: “Just do it!” In any career or business effort there is simply no shortcut to getting there. You have to put in the time and effort, invest the money and take chances in order to accomplish any goals in life.

Starting out with this realization will help keep the depression and disappointment of perceived failure at a minimum, and keep you focused on the long road — the road that leads to success. Keep in mind also that “success” is not only a state of mind as much as a reality of life, and perceptions have a lot to do with whether you, your friends, others in the business or your clients consider you successful. So consider the term generally, but don’t hang a lot of specifics on that tag. It’ll drive you nuts.

WHAT YOU NEED RIGHT NOW is some degree of knowledge and some basic equipment. For everything else there’s Google :-) and keep this in mind: You can learn a lot by reading material such as the articles on E.C. Come, E.C. Go, visiting other video related blog sites such as Lorraine Grula’s and Jay Michael Long’s, paying the price for a few lessons (but first check out the free samples) at Lynda Dot Com, not to mention viewing the literally millions of video production samples by independent (as well as commercial films) video producers.

THE CLASSROOM CONCEPT of education for film and video production has proven value, but a lot of that environment is based on theory, if not unproven concepts, and carved-in-stone “rules” that don’t always provide the needed answers once you’re out there in the trenches. Contrary to general opinion having a degree alone isn’t all that and a bag of chips. You need to immerse yourself in the effort and that means going hands-on.

SIMPLY REALIZING THE ESSENTIALS you might begin to ask yourself if it is worth the effort, the expense, the time ...
... We’ll take a look at that during the next segment of this ongoing series on E.C. Come, E.C. Go.

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Make Your Plans NOW!

You’ve got plenty on your mind this next few weeks, but it’s not too early to start making plans for your video business operations and marketing strategy for 2011. As soon as you read this, and if you feel ANY inspiration at all, pick up your iPad, laptop or other computer, open your Circus Ponies or other planning software, or grab a pencil and a tablet and start your outline.

Before simply continuing with what you already are doing, think about new paths and directions. For some, what they are doing is perhaps enough, for others more will be needed to continue to survive the coming year, much less anticipate or consider growth, even expansion of your video business operations.

There will ALWAYS be weddings, or maybe not. But let’s just say your wedding business operations are where you want them to be and the referrals are pouring in. Whether you’re full time or part time in the video business, there are things you can plan for now that will help you achieve your 2011 income and business goals.

Go through your 2011 production calendar and note all the holidays and special days: Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Tax Day (just kidding), Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and all the other days of observation. Copy them to your planning program.

Aside from weddings, what other possibilities are there for these special days?
• Personal documentaries
• How to videos on unique Easter egg decoration, cake creation or sugar molds
• Patriotic themed productions
• Small and independent business promotions and web video

Do some research to identify where, how and to whom you can market for these and other video production/product concepts. A good Google search will generate an abundance of opportunities, groups, clubs, organizations and even generate some new ideas for marketing and potential clients that you never thought of before. Go with the flow and develop some concepts. You don’t have to flesh them out now, simply get them down so they will not elude you later.

Make your list and check it twice ... LATER.
• Potential new businesses that might be receptive to video in their marketing
• Groups, clubs and organizations that could use video in promoting their programs
• Those small businesses that might have never pursued a video or Web presence
• Church groups planning for their silver, golden or 100th anniversary celebrations
• Memorial themes recognizing members who have died
• Other potential avenues of video need that might often be overlooked

Jot down some quick notes as they pop into your head. They don't have to make sense, but believe me when you begin working on some freestyle thinking like this little nuggets will get discovered. These can often wind up being nothing more than fool’s gold but a few are diamonds in the rough, if you’ll kindly overlook the cliché. Decide your best approach after the holidays.

• Expand on this, or that idea or concept
• Can I make this happen
• Is this too big for my operation
• What can I do NOW
• What do I need to work on long term
• How saturated is the market for this

Within the first 10 days of the New Year you’ll want to visit those notes, concepts and ideas and make an actual action plan for 2011. Action can often accomplish more than reaction, so YOU be the one to get things started.

It is never too early to begin a campaign but we often start too late. February 1, is not the time for mailing out promos or social networking or advertising for Valentine’s Day special proposal DVDs (relationship photos put to music and ending in “Will You Marry Me?”) or for developing and selling personal Valentine’s Day “Roses are red, violets are blue ...” video DVD cards.

It may, in fact, be too late already, but if you get something going during the first half of January, before heads and hearts start leaning toward February 14th and boxes of candy, you can probably open up a whole new approach to speciality video production.

Remember: If you market, you will make it © Earl Chessher, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

New Wedding Marketing Approach

This one is experimental, but not without precedence. And the concept isn’t without a foundation in my personal wedding market experience either. It is most evident in many of the ethnic weddings I’ve produced, and it’s an option for all but the most snooty social upper crust. Well, maybe a few of them as well.

Some Call them Sponsorships.

The activity is a little like a gift registry, something like gift cards or certificates and I’ve come up with another concept that just might take this approach to funding a professionally produced wedding video another step forward: announce acceptance of sponsorships, gifts or donations toward purchase of a professionally produced wedding over the social networks.

Why Not?

People are already posting on just about everything else in their lives: where they eat and shop, who they like or despise, where they’re going for their vacation, what they’re going to do with that discretionary money. So, how about letting your Facebook “friends” and Twitter “homies” and other social network contacts know how badly you want and need a professional wedding video producer for your upcoming event?

Brides-to-be already e-mail their contact lists with notice of intent to get married, where they can go (or participate online) to utilize a bridal gift registry, and get updates on the planning and programming for that special event. Might as well utilize those effective networking strategies everyone keeps posting, blogging or bragging about.

Socially Unacceptable or Incorrect?

Very little these days, fortunately or not depending on what side of 50 your age lies, is considered socially intolerable. Where it used to be taboo to serve champagne in a Dixie cup or even do wedding dinners cafeteria style, this is no longer the case. They’re even “trashing” REAL wedding dresses nowadays for goodness sake.

So tell me, what’s so wrong with suggesting to your budget-impaired bridal prospects that there might be an acceptable and potentially successful way to fund their professional wedding video production without cutting into the ice sculpture and live band funds.

The implications to or reflections upon independent professional video service providers certainly can’t be any worse than those found on Craig‘s List: “do my wedding for free and I’ll put you in touch with all my friends who are getting married,” or “videotape my wedding for nothing and I’ll brag about you on my social network.”

Over the years I’ve had a degree of success in the bridal market with lay-away payments, monthly payments and gift registry video. I think I might start suggesting the social network fundraiser approach and see what happens. Why not? It’s been working for politicians.

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