But it doesn't have to be that way.
In the next few installments of The Inside Story we're going to explore the world of do-it-yourself marketing in the wedding and event video industry. I'm going to talk about what has and has not worked for me. I'm going to talk about how I've developed a cost-effective tool that I use everyday in high-end wedding and event video. I'm going to provide detailed explanations of the marketing materials I've used, in many different forms, for more than 15 years in my own business.
We'll look at the why behind what I do, as well as the how. We'll discuss the importance of using your imagination and investing your energy and time. We'll also look at why operating in a spirit of cooperation instead of competition will help you succeed.
I'd like to start by talking for a minute about guerrilla marketing. In essence, adopting a do-it-yourself marketing strategy is really the very cornerstone of being a good guerilla marketer. In his popular 1982 book of the same name, Jay Conrad Levinson described guerrilla marketing as an unconventional way of performing promotional activities on a very low budget. For the small, one-person video company, these promotional activities should usually be designed so that the potential customer is really unaware they have been marketed to.
I guess you could even call it "stealth marketing." As we've discussed before, it's important to treat your client as you'd like to be treated yourself. Ask yourself, do you want to sit through or read material that's overtly trying to push you to buy something you may not even want?
I, myself, hate listening to canned sales pitches. I don't like to haggle over price when I shop. If you're interested in finding a strategy that will help your company grow and prosper, you're going to have to be creative and unconventional in your promotion methods. I've found that using all my contacts, both professional and personal, has worked best for me. I've looked at the size of my company as an advantage. The fact that I am a one-person operation allows me to be closer to my customers and more agile in my marketing.
According to Levinson, guerrilla marketing is specifically geared for the small business. I had never really thought about it that way early on in my business career. When I began to look at my work and my marketing approach in a different way (I wasn't aware of Levinson's Guerrilla Marketing at the time), I found that instead of investing a lot of money in the typical full-color, tri-fold brochures and marketing materials that everyone seems to have, the marketing investments that paid off best for me were time, energy, and imagination.
I found that my business grew when I concentrated on the relationships I had with other wedding and event vendors—photographers, caterers, florists, and other videographers—instead of on the latest whiz-bang technological marvel or the latest advertising gimmick.
Another important thing I learned was that adhering to a standard of excellence in my work along with a sharp focus on style created the best results for me. I stopped trying to diversify my offerings; I did away with four or five different styles and packages and concentrated solely on my strongest suit. For more than ten years now, I've offered only two coverage options to my potential wedding customers: The Storyteller and Not The Storyteller. Makes it simple for them and simple for me.
I began to forget about the competitive aspects of running a business. The less I worried about such things, and the more I concentrated on cooperation and relationships and referrals, the more successful I became.
The key for me was realizing that I didn't have to be everything to everyone when it came to my style of videography. I began to trust my gut and, most importantly, my heart when it came to how I ran my business. I found that by focusing all my attention and resources on developing and perfecting what I liked in my work and in my marketing, I gained the confidence and the ability to capitalize on opportunities when they came my way. For me, the soft-sell approach of "stealth marketing" has worked best as I've moved to higher and higher-end clients.
Next time on The Inside Story, I'm going to begin a detailed analysis of the Combo-Pack of marketing materials I use in my everyday business. Each is completely created, designed, and printed in-house. These materials are the very definition of do-it-yourself. And I think that, by understanding how I use them both individually and as a unit, you'll come to realize how you can use your own creations and your own ideas to build and grow your business.