I’m often asked the question, “How did you grow your video business from making thousands to making millions?”. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately and I really think it boils down to these five things:
- Quality of Work
If your website sucks…your company sucks (at least as far as the people searching for your business are concerned). A website is your face to the world and frequently your best opportunity to make a great first impression. If they don’t like what they see, they’re likely not going to dig much further to find out more about your company. Yes it's superficial, but that's how the world operates. People go to the Web to find what they are looking for. If you look bad in that moment, no one will call you. Your website should be easy to use, show your work and be pleasing to the eye. You are a visual company! If your website is not visually pleasing why would anyone hire you to create their videos. Come on!
Be responsive for fuck's sake! Once you have a great website with great SEO, an amazing thing starts to happen. Your phone rings and your inbox starts to fill with bid requests. Now what do you do when those leads come in? If you want to win, you answer them within minutes (if not seconds). Stop procrastinating and get off your ass. Make sure someone in your organization is there at the moment the potential client needs you. Last week we had a customer call who said she had called ten other video production companies before calling us and no one got back to her. I asked her why she didn't call us first, and she replied, “You were at the top of the Google search and looked so big that I didn’t think you would take the job.” I personally answered her call on the first ring. I personally got her details and I personally went to accounting to generate the bid. I did all of this in less than fifteen minutes. This was something that she had been trying to do all day and we did it in fifteen minutes. We come out looking like the heroes and even if the job doesn’t close, we will always be her first call in the future. Responsiveness builds relationships.
Once you have the client in the door, it's all about humility. You don't always have the best idea! Let me say it again: you absolutely, positively do not always have the best idea! Great ideas can come from anywhere: your support team, your clients, even your interns. You just need to have the humility to listen and the flexibility to change your approach for the good of the projects. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but many clients have great ideas. They are the people who know the product or service inside and out and have a deep understanding of their customer base, whereas you, most likely, are just getting familiar with what they do. It's very easy to be a naysayer and shoot down ideas out of hand. It's even easier to be a “yes man” and to blow sunshine up a client’s ass without providing critical professional feedback. They didn’t hire you to smile and nod, they hired you for your expertise. It takes a truly special organization to listen and understand the client’s vision, to accept the good ideas and push back on the bad ones so that the best concept can be formulated collaboratively. When good ideas intersect with solid data and understanding, both you and the client win.
4. QUALITY OF WORK
You’re only as good as the best work in your portfolio. If you’re claiming to be a professional video producer then you better be able to back it up with a great body of work – not just one project to hang your hat on, but a wide variety of projects for top-notch clients who walked away satisfied. A professional video production means great visuals, thoughtfully composed and skillfully edited, with clean & clear audio, crisp motion graphics, a consistent color grade and a tight final mix – in other words, the total package. If your shots are blurry, your audio is over-modulated and your export settings are off, then it doesn’t matter if you have all the skill in the world. There could be perfectly logical reasons why all of those problems exist. They may have even been completely outside of your control (though I doubt it), but it doesn’t matter. Your client doesn’t give a shit, and frankly they shouldn’t. Let them down once and there won’t be a second chance. The stakes are far too high.
Make work you can be proud of! Make work that means something to you! Find a way to make the boring bombastic and the drab delightful. If you wouldn’t be proud to show the work to your client or your competition, you’re not done yet.
Have you ever been waiting on a delivery from Amazon and had it show up a day early? It's a feeling of pure bliss. There’s a reason why companies like Amazon and Zappos make a habit of regularly exceeding the expected delivery date. It earns them customers for life. That’s exactly how a client will feel when you deliver a high-quality video days before the deadline. Why? You’ve taken the stress off their shoulders and given them the opportunity to look like a hero. Instead of sweating the deadline, now they’re treated to the pleasant surprise of being AHEAD of schedule – a place we all strive to be but rarely get to in practice.
At the end of the day, your job as a video producer is to make the client look good. Meeting a deadline is great, but beating a deadline is better. Never, ever promise something you can't deliver. This goes for anything in life as well as business. When you fail to deliver it eradicates trust and destroys relationships. Be the exception. Be the team who does more than they promise and delivers earlier than expected.
Do these things and you will win. I promise.