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Stage to Screen: The Ugly Side of Video Revealed
Posted Oct 2, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

We’ve all heard the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Well I’m about to break that rule and share with you my experiences in the Sin City this past August during WEVA Expo. Now brace yourselves, because this ugly secret might apply to you. While in Vegas I met a lot of nice people and received a lot of business cards, and was left with the impression that the majority of videographers have ugly business cards. So I’m dedicating this month’s column to the art of business card design for videographers.

Image is everything, and the way your business card looks and feels is just as important as dressing professionally and having a great demo reel. Your business card is the single most important piece of paper you give to your prospects, and the image you portray on your business card influences their perception of you and your work. Our business cards also play a significant role in selling our abilities and building trust—more on that later.

As a seminar presenter I offered one of my training DVDs as a door prize and collected business cards as entry ballots. When I reached into the ballot bucket to pick a winner, I knew something was wrong—along with the standard 3.5"x2" business cards there were several scraps of paper. I’m not talking about one or two pieces of paper—there were nine people in the room who didn’t have a business card and wrote their contact info on a torn-off piece of note paper. I even had one who wrote on the back of a taxi receipt. (Thanks, by the way, for the extra tax write-off.)

If we want to improve the perception of professionalism in our industry, our business cards are a good place to start. In addition to the handwritten scraps of paper, I also got a lot of inkjet-printed, pre-perforated template cards and cards with handwritten corrections. Even if you can print your own business cards on your printer or you still have lots of your old cards, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to continue to give them out to your prospects.

When it comes to picking the type of paper for your business card, the heavier the card the better. Special finishes are also a good way to get noticed and don’t have to cost a lot of money. I recently updated my business cards and had them laminated to increase the weight and give them a really nice gloss finish. Just be careful that the laminate you use doesn’t affect the color of your design.

If you don’t already have one, you need a company logo that you can build a brand around. Your logo should appear on all of your marketing materials and videos and should be unique to your company. A photo doesn’t always reproduce well in black and white, so for the most flexibility select a logo that uses solid colors and converts well to grayscale. For color selection, the same rules apply, so select high-contrast colors. If you are like me and need help with colors, stick with black, white, and one other color. This way you can be sure that your colors won’t clash and will look professional.

One of the first lessons you learn in sales training is to recognize the difference between selling features and selling benefits. A weak salesperson is one who talks only about the features of their product. They aren’t able to link the features to their prospect’s needs or explain the advantages of the features, and most importantly communicate the benefits the prospect will experience. This type of salesperson typically resorts to lowering their price and using high-pressure tactics to make sales. They’re often seen as pushy, and this affects their repeat business potential. Like any other sales vehicle, your company logo and business-card design should communicate the benefits of hiring you rather than enumerating the features of your business.

Back to my earlier point on trust: Your business card is an early step in building trust with your prospects. I mention this because I was surprised at how many companies had logos that included images of video cameras, filmstrips, slates, DVDs, and even VHS tapes on their cards. If you are only going to have one image on your business card, it should be your company logo. What’s more, if you have a VHS tape on your business card and your business card is about promoting you, then it is time to get a brand new business card. Displaying a newer or larger camera (or any other piece of technology) is equally unimpressive; your customers care far less about what your camera looks like than what their video will look like—and, more importantly, how your video will make them feel.

On the front of your card you should include your logo, your company name, your name, and your mailing address, phone numbers, email address, and website. This seems like obvious stuff, but I was surprised how many business cards were missing some of these vital contact details. Listing your affiliations and credentials can be a good idea as well, but if you have several, consider putting them on the back of your card so the front is not too busy. One final word on design: If you have a business partner, print a separate card for your partner instead of sharing one—the price is often the same.

Shawn Lam is an MPV-accredited videographer and business owner based in Vancouver, BC. He specializes in stage event and corporate video production and has presented seminars at the 4EVER Group's Video 07 and WEVA Expo 2005-7.

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