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The Inside Story: Creating a Demo That Works, Part 2
Posted Feb 28, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

One of the biggest misconceptions in the world of wedding videography these days seems to be the one that revolves around how the newest gadget, the hottest NLE, or the most recent piece of dazzling technology is all you're going to need to succeed and prosper. If only that were true. If anything, these new developments create as many new challenges as opportunities, and not one of them, on its own, will transform you from a struggling videographer into a successful one. I need only point to a legend in our industry like Randy Stubbs to prove that such worshipping of the "holy grail" of technology is truly misguided.

Randy's amazing, high-quality, and high-priced productions are created using mid-level (at best), prosumer-type equipment. The Sony VX2000 and a $100 NLE are Randy's standard tools of the trade. His "ace in the hole," though, is his willingness to work hard, his dedication to education and learning, his talent, and—above all—his imagination. Technology definitely has a place in our world, but I truly believe that for us, imagination and feeling are worth far more.

Technology can't buy you happiness. Education, experience, and expertise can. This applies to creating your demo as much as to any other part of your work. You have to bring your talent, your approach, and your heart to your demo, just as you dedicate these things to every wedding you produce. It may not come right away, so it's important that you keep educating yourself in the fundamentals of what we do. You need experience, too, but I like to think of it this way: experience is the jockey, and education is the horse. You need both if you're really going to succeed.

I have a very laid-back approach to selling, regardless of which side of the transaction I'm on. I don't like getting a hard sell on anything, and I treat my clients as I'd like to be treated. I've found that high-end clients don't like aggressive sales pitches any more than those with tighter budgets. They like to think they came up with the idea of booking you all on their own.

In my demo there are no obvious hard sells. I prefer to let my work do the selling for me.

I sell by telling a story. I do that for a number of reasons. First, a good story will draw people in and fire their imaginations. As I said before, imagination is a vital part of every demo and wedding we produce. Every bride imagines from a young age her Storybook Wedding Day. I regard myself, as a video storyteller, as the conduit through which her wedding dreams can become a reality. This is reflected in my demo as much as the videos I create for each client.

Imagination and storytelling are the two pillars on which I rest the fortunes of my business. As you've probably surmised, they play a key role in everything I do. The ability to tell a good story is an important part of making money. And the bottom line, as it were, is something that's important to all of us.

Any of you who are familiar with my work know I call my creations Storyteller Movie Biographies. They really are biographies of the bride and groom's wedding experience. I've chosen to zero in on just them, making my productions an intimate portrait of their day. My demo most certainly reflects that style. In less than ten minutes, the viewer will have a clear understanding of what they can expect me to produce.

A word of caution here: your demo should definitely replicate your full production style. Putting together an amazingly artistic and beautifully crafted demo will do you no good, in the long run, if it does not look like what you typically produce. It's a trap I see many videographers fall into. They try to reproduce demos they've seen at conventions and put all their thoughts and best work into that demo. Bad results follow their good intentions because they've got the process backwards. They should take the ideas they get from these amazing demos and put them into their full productions first, then have them migrate into their demos. Kind of a cart before the horse thing.

When I talk to potential clients about my work, I never ask them to come in to just see my work—I always ask them to come in and experience it. I tell them it's the one way they can appreciate what I can do for them. Your approach might be different, but the important thing is to present yourself in a way that can really set you apart from your competition, by telling the client you don't do things in an "ordinary" way.

For a demo to be truly successful, I believe it must be a "full senses" experience. It must showcase the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the feelings of the couple's wedding experience. A demo, just like a good song, should also have a hook. The hook is the critical sales pitch that gets the client to book you. My demo is constantly reinforcing the hook: why. Why get married and why get a video?

Next time on THE INSIDE STORY: how your demo can show your potential clients what the real value of video is and why they should trust you with their priceless wedding memories.

To see Part 1 of Creating a Demo that works, click here.

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