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The Inside Story: Creating a Demo that Works
Posted Jan 4, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. "I know I do good work, I just want potential cients to really see my work." Videographers around the world have been chanting that mantra since wedding videography got its start in the 1980s. Most of the time, after I've had the opportunity to get past this hurdle and talk with the videographer, I find out that potential clients do get to see the videographer's work. The problem is, the presentation of that work is haphazard and disjointed, with dozens of "video samples" and initial consultations lasting hours and hours. The potential client walks away confused and bleary-eyed after this kind of sales pitch.

The good news is, there is an easier way: creating a demo that works! In upcoming installments of The Inside Story, we're going to explore the world of artistic expression, marketing, presentation, innovation, and of course, production.

We're going to talk about who should be creating demos, what a demo is designed to do, when a demo is needed, where to present your creation, and how to create a demo that works. As with the Storyteller approach to wedding production, applying this approach to demo creation comes down to the basic tenets of good journalism: who, what, when, where, how, and why.

I come back to that list over and over because the real key to succeeding in wedding and event videography is to tell a story with your work, and those are the essential elements of effective storytelling. Creating a demo is no different. To book the high-paying clients we all strive to get, you must appeal to their eyes, their ears, and their hearts.

If you want to increase your sales, you must have a well-thought-out plan for how to present yourself to a potential client. We're going to talk about how to put your heart and your soul into your demo. We're also going to talk about how to properly package and present your demo.

So let's get started. Who should be creating a demo? That's an easy one. Anyone who wants potential clients to sign on the dotted line. If you look up the word demo in just about any dictionary, one word you'll invariably find in the definition is brief. A demo can mean many different things to many different people. I look at a demo as a video calling card. It's my way of showing the world the quality, craftsmanship, and creativity of my work. It's a true reflection of what a potential client's finished product will look and feel like—just at one-fifth scale.

Before you start work on your demo, stop and think about what a demo is designed to do. For wedding videographers, a demo serves two purposes. One purpose, as mentioned earlier, is to put your skills on display for a prospect. It can give a potential client a real idea of what you bring to the table. Secondly, a demo is designed to get you work. It's the "front-line" delivery system of your artistry and talent, and it should be thought of in that light and it should be respected.

In the opening paragraph of this column, you heard the often-repeated story of the bleary-eyed potential client sitting through the never-ending sales pitch. Most videographers I've talked with really do spend two or three hours with a potential client during their initial meeting. They show five or ten (or more) segments from different weddings, trying to give said client a real "feel" for what their work looks like and what they can expect to receive. I don't know about you, but after a session like that with a videographer, if I were the potential client, some time on the rack in the Tower of London might actually seem appealing in comparison.

A well-thought-out, high-quality demo can, in 8 to 12 minutes, accomplish everything such a marathon sales meeting does in a fraction of the time. That old saying "time is money" is particularly applicable here: if you're wasting a potential client's time in a sales meeting, you're costing yourself money.

What we've talked about so far is a good starting point for any demo production. You want to decide what you want a demo to do for you. If it makes it easier, start by making a list of what your goals are for the demo. It can serve as a useful guide for further development and evolution. Also, keep in mind that what we'll discuss in the coming months is not written in stone. It's a guide—it's what has worked for me. As your demo and storytelling skills improve, you may want to go in a different direction. Finding the direction that suits you is exactly what I want you to do.

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