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Without Limits: Be Cool
Posted Dec 1, 2005 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Being cool counts. I'm not talking about looking like you just walked out of a Gap ad or talking with the latest street slang. Nor am I implying that you have to wear sunglasses constantly and talk like a surfer.

Although they might never verbalize it, your prospects are less likely to buy from people who seem to be living in the past. We are a society that values things that are new and fresh, and everyone likes to feel like they are "in" on the latest thing. Some brides may not be ready for MTV-style editing, but they want to work with video producers who seem to be up to speed on current trends. It sounds illogical, but it's true.

It is important to show that you understand what's going on with the latest technology and production techniques—even if you don't agree with them! If you are a more traditional-style wedding video producer, your argument for this approach certainly will be more convincing if you are familiar with modern styles and can explain why you think they are not as effective or meaningful. But ignorance and closed-minded attitudes never sell well. They usually project incompetence or arrogance.

The old-school production philosophy held that if the video production itself was good, nothing else mattered. But today's brides are savvy enough to evaluate the quality of your marketing materials, Web site, business cards, labels, and cases. And they will judge you and your business based on these elements.

This perspective should not be foreign to anyone in contemporary society, where we unconsciously judge people based on the neighborhood they live in or the car they drive. These are all superficialities that have nothing to do with the value or heart of an individual, but nearly all of us are conditioned to form conclusions based on these factors.

For prospective clients, your Web site and promotional material are where your business "lives." And the labels and cases of your samples are where they subconsciously imagine their wedding memories will live. If that prospect doesn't appeal to them, their negative attitudes will carry over into their views on your production work. The overall look and feel of your business matters, and it will either gain or cost you opportunities.

Statistics show that once a person reaches the age of six, one factor will influence him or her more than any other. And it may not be what you think. It's not pop music. It's not TV. It's not movies, the media, the Internet, educators, religious leaders, politicians, or direct mail. It's your friends. The people you choose to spend time with.

Their opinions and influences will shape you more than anything else; make innovative friends, and you're more likely to become an innovative person. Motivational speaker Charlie Jones said, "The difference between the person you are today and the person you'll be a year from now is the people you meet and the books you read." If your work is in a creative rut and you don't have any new ideas, you need to change your sources of inspiration. People who aren't interested in creativity and would rather maintain the status quo in their lives are not going to invigorate your business. You have to find new sources of ideas.

If you feel out of touch with the hippest trends and fashions, join the club. I'm the president. If it were up to me, our studio would be decorated with Batman and Radiohead posters. I don't claim to be an authority on how to be cool. But I have enough sense to find people who do and get help.

Seek out a creative person you can brainstorm with. Her field of expertise isn't important. This isn't about knowledge—it is about thinking in new ways. In fact, a creative person with limited exposure to wedding video production may be your best choice because she won't have preconceptions and assumptions that get in the way. Sometimes I buy lunch for innovative photographers, artists, graphic designers, and writers to ask what they would do with a wedding video, and they often spark ideas I can use.

Too often we brainstorm with negative, closed-minded people who spend too little time talking about what you could do and too much time telling us why nothing new will work. Reality checks have their time and place, but a brainstorming session is not it.

This new creative partner also may be the best person to critique your current work. Asking for 100% honest criticism is one of the hardest things you will ever do because we all develop an emotional attachment to our productions. We have endured hot outdoor ceremonies, difficult mothers-of-the-brides, hours of editing, and system crashes, and we do not want to hear that our work needs improvement. It makes us defensive. But if we can open our minds long enough to listen, our work can improve exponentially.

The point is to establish "idea sources" that will help you innovate in your business and stay up to speed with the world around you. Again, being cool isn't about acting like a celebrity. It is about connecting with a digital generation that wants to stay on the edge.

And as mountain climber Jim Whittaker said, "If you're not living on the edge, then you're taking up too much space."

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