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Strictly Business: Cool Toys vs. ROI
Posted Jan 4, 2008 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

In case you haven’t noticed lately, high-definition (HD) is being advertised everywhere. Analog TVs are being pulled from the shelves of big-box electronic stores, and your local TV channels are promoting themselves through HD high school sports coverage. Even some of your clients and prospects are asking if you shoot in HD. Makes you want to run out and buy your very own HDX-what-have-ya, doesn’t it? Now I agree that HD is pretty breathtaking, but despite the hype, most people don’t have HD-ready TVs or other HD viewing capabilities, and they won’t have these things for some time. So what are consumers (meaning your clients and prospects) really looking for? Here’s a hint, ladies and gentlemen: It’s not about the picture and sound quality. Not by a long shot.


Sure, right now everyone wants the big-screen TVs and beautiful pictures. But look around you—the generation coming up doesn’t care. The next generation is watching Academy Award-winning movies on cell phones and creating international hits on YouTube.

The real value of digital technology is "distribution flexibility"—or, as I like to describe it, the ability to watch every piece of content ever created whenever and wherever you want.

After watching run-of-the-mill HD programming for 10 minutes, the value of the image/sound quality fades as you realize the show you’re seeing is just as stupid in HD as it was in SD. Only real technophiles—and, however vocal they may be, they really are a small percentage of the viewing population—can actually appreciate the image and sound quality of HD after a certain point. No, friends, it isn’t about the packaging after all, no matter how hard the hardware marketers are trying to convince you. It’s all about the content.

Don’t get me wrong. There are things I really like about digital technology. Through digital technology, the opportunity exists for me—if I’m so inclined—to watch all my local high school’s chess team’s home matches. Instead of being forced to consume what my local newscast pushes at me here in Michigan, I can pull World Cup soccer match results from a specific London TV station reporter. I can draw down the latest market news from Zurich, Switzerland. I can watch live crowds stroll down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I can get local business coverage from the beat manager at Channel 9 in Charlotte, N.C. I can get Middle East coverage from a resource I enjoy in Saudi Arabia. I can watch my friend Patricia’s latest Little Feat home movies, uploaded on YouTube. I can see videos of my friends’ sweet little baby girl, dancin’ with her mommy and daddy in their Alexandria, Va., kitchen.

The point is, through digital technology, I can customize my viewing experience at the smallest niche possible. I can combine pro journalists using the very best cameras and broadcast equipment to relay their news, opinions, and event coverage with amateurs using cheap cell phones to accomplish the same thing. The mix isn’t important.

My goal here is a simple one: to get what I want. Period. I can choose the media I’m interested in—video, text, audio—from darn near any networked device, such as a TV, a handheld, a phone, or even the monitor in my car. You don’t need to buy an HD camera to connect with me. All you have to do to get my attention is point out the fact that you have the goods that I want right now.

What does this mean to you as a videographer? All you need to do is work on connecting with the "network"; discover and begin using those mechanisms that will help consumers—your prospects—find what they want among all of the choices out there. Against this very desirable (and attainable) goal, paying $4,000 or more for a 10% bump in picture quality means absolutely nothing.

I’m not knocking HD. But I am using it as an example of how you should think before you buy new toys. Here are a few questions to ask before pulling out that credit card: • Does the bride really want you to use this, or is she just parroting something she’s read in an article titled "10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Videographer?"

  • How quick is your return on investment? If you’re charging the same thing as before—no premium price to haul out the new gear—why bother with HD?
  • Would you be better off spending that money marketing your business?
  • Are you defined by the quality of your work or the number of gadgets you own?

Buying and using HD is fine as long as you’re making a ton of money. If you’re not, why spend the money you do have on toys that won’t add to your return on investment? Why not spend that money on promoting your business and bringing in more business? That way you’ll make more money to spend on an even better HD rig when the time is right.

Steve Yankee (syankee at opinmarketing.com) has more than 35 years of vieo production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Michigan.



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