Greetings friends, and welcome back to the Fog Blog. With March now upon us, we are flying through 2019 at a rapid pace. As expected, video continues to grow in popularity and in some circles, it’s considered a necessity. As the industry continues to evolve, it’s imperative that we adapt with it. In my opinion, evolving with the industry is two-fold: One side is the constant growth of your craft and style. The other, is improving on the business and administrative side of running a successful production company.

This article touches particularly on the latter, and more specifically on the initial conversations that we have with clients looking to create a video to promote their brand, product, or service. The goal of this article is to inform prospective video clients how they can better communicate their vision to vendors, even if the perfect examples/references don’t exist. As well as, improve the strategies of our fellow creatives who are looking to land that next project.

Before moving forward, I’ll say that having been on hundreds of client calls, they all typically begin the same way; we introduce ourselves, our company, process, and services, and the client introduces theirs and the goals for the video. We then begin down the path to a collaborative business relationship.

However, it wasn’t until recently when our team sat down at our weekly meeting to discuss a recurring question that we receive on just about every client phone call. That question being…

DO YOU HAVE ANY EXAMPLES?

Now i’m sure you’re thinking, “Well yes, of course examples are key, right? It’s important to see what the production company is capable of”…and yes, you’re absolutely right. However, over the years we’ve learned that there’s a fine line between providing examples and providing THE PERFECT EXAMPLE and I’ll explain the difference.

A situation that we had recently was a company that was looking to create a set of product videos. They were looking for a unique combination of elements in one video, which included a live action testimonial video interspersed with 3D animations, infographics, and aerial videography.

Our call with them went extremely well and they were excited to receive our estimate. Before hanging up, they requested some example videos that we might have that closely represented the one that they were looking for. Again, a perfectly reasonable request. However, we didn’t have a singular video in our portfolio that embodied all of the elements of such a hyper specific request. As an alternative, we sent 4-5 separate videos, each which featured elements that they were looking to include in their production. Our final step was creating an estimate and walking the client through the various costs.

THE FOLLOW UP

One week later the client responded with the unfortunate news that they had decided on another vendor. They loved our work, but ultimately the decision was made because none of the example videos we sent were “like the one they were looking for”.

I’d love to say that this was a one-off experience, but I wouldn’t be writing this article if this wasn’t a situation that we go through quite often as a production company. I’m positive that if you’ve been a creator in the video industry for a while, you’ve experienced this situation as well. The reality is that the validation we obtain with high quality work and positive reviews can sometimes be completely disregarded without providing that perfect example, which can be very frustrating!

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we can do to change this perceived need for the perfect example that clients often seem to manifest. Part of the reason is that most of the time, the person that we speak with on the initial phone call is not the one who is ultimately making the decision to work with you. Rather, they tend to be the messenger that relays their findings to a team or individual higher up the chain of command. As a marketer, there’s no better asset to present to a group of decision makers, than a perfect example that closely aligns with their project’s needs and objectives.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?!

As creatives, it’s important to understand the challenges that the client faces and the way they make decisions. As previously stated, it’s their job to gather the necessary information and examples to present to their team. Often times, we find that even if WE DO have the perfect example, it can still be disregarded simply because it doesn’t pertain to the particular industry of the client’s brand, product, or service. If you do run in to a situation where you don’t have the perfect example, I recommend the following strategies:

•  Ask your customer exactly what they are looking for in an example. Is it the ability to tell a story, the execution of a certain creative element, etc. Many times they’ll request examples that will exactly align with their vision. In that case, be honest and explain that their video will be unique and different. It’s not likely that you have a perfect example, so explain with respect and clarity that you have the necessary skills and experience to tackle the project. Find videos on your portfolio that embody some of the creative aspects that they’re looking for in their project. Explain that these elements can easily be combined/tweaked/customized to produce their vision.

•  Find the perfect example elsewhere! There’s nothing wrong with seeking out external references to give your client examples of your interpretation of their vision. But remember, don’t go overboard with the production quality of these examples. It would be ill-advised to find an example that you don’t have the necessary skills and experience to produce on your end. The last thing you want to do is provide false expectations. It’s also important to remember to be careful which company you are sourcing the video from. It would be a bad idea for us to find another San Francisco production company that has exactly what the client is looking for. There’s nothing from stopping your client from falling in love with that “better” example and running off with the other company. Be strategic in your approach!

•  My last suggestion would be to offer your client a cut rate. This strategy is not for everybody, but it could be your ticket to ultimately landing the project and having a strong piece of content to add to your portfolio. This is more for up-and-coming filmmakers who need to build validation, but it’s always good to consider it as an option no matter where you are in your career. For instance, if your client is requesting a real estate video and you haven’t done any real estate videos in the past, it’s extremely valuable to get out there and create one so you can have it on your portfolio for future real estate clients. Think of it as an opportunity to create your perfect example.

MESSAGE TO CLIENTS SOURCING VENDORS

We love you because you are ultimately what allows us to pursue our career as creatives. We love telling your story and bringing out emotion and inspiring action from your viewers.

My advice when sourcing a production company is to start at a high level with the big picture in mind, then work your way into the details. Look at the company’s portfolio/showreel and decide if you like the quality of their product. Surprisingly, this is something that many prospective clients don’t look at before reaching out. The work on a video production company’s website has been chosen by them as their best work. If you’re not vibing with what you’re seeing off the bat, you should probably look elsewhere.

If you’ve made it this far in the article you’ve gotten the general idea of how production companies try to cater to their prospective clients off the bat. So help the production company help you and really think about what you’re looking for in the form of an example video. Here are some helpful things to ask yourself when sourcing production companies:

Is the production company capable of telling a good story?

Are they capable of producing the creative elements that i’m looking for in my project? (3d animation, drone, multiple cameras etc.)

Do I like the image/audio quality of their videos?

Do I like the style and strategies at which they shoot/edit?

Do I like the people? Do they seem like good people to work with?

Is the price appropriate/competitive? Can they justify the costs in their estimate?

We are all here to help each other reach one common goal, to create an awesome and impactful video. I hope that the message in this article helps creatives out there like us better accommodate prospective clients in the decision making process. Finally, for those searching for the right production team – there won’t always be a perfect example. However, if you find a company that has proof of high quality elements that you need throughout their portfolio, I’d give them a chance to produce your next video ;)

Written By: Andrew Klein, Executive Producer, Fog Coast Productions