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Strictly Business: How to Avoid the Hot Seat
Posted Feb 4, 2008 Print Version     Page 1of 1

The warning signs are all there—new business calendars, tips on setting business and marketing goals for a new year, planning calendars … yet for some reason, January 1st always seems to come as a surprise. But here we are—late December at this writing, late January as you read it—it’s another new year for the record books.

Something else that seems to catch video producers and videographers off guard—even though it happens without fail—is the type of questions they encounter during prospect meetings: "Why should we work with you instead of your competition?" Or, "What do you know about dancing that would make you a good resource for taping our dance recitals?" Or how about the one that goes, "You want how much to produce this? The guy who shot my daughter’s wedding only charged a thousand bucks, and it was 2 hours long!"

Typically, the appropriate answer or snappy response comes to mind long after the question is asked. Worse, it may not even be in time to save the job. But what if there was a way to prepare yourself—a way to have an answer all set to go when a question arises? Recently, on one of the Video Business Advisor (VBA) forums, videographer Case Marsh remarked how, when he was preparing to graduate from college and just beginning his search for work, he came across one of the handiest resources he had ever used.

"One of the books I bought," Marsh wrote, "provided a list of 20 questions that a job seeker should be prepared to answer quickly, calmly, and convincingly. This book offered the reason behind the questions the interviewer asked, and how a job seeker could use these questions to their advantage, as well as sample answers."

Being the resourceful folk they are, VBA members developed a list of questions they most often encounter when approaching new client-prospects. They then added their ideal answer for each of the questions, which included these:

  • "Can you tell me a little about yourself?"
  • "How much is this going to cost me?"
  • "We’ve got a PowerPoint and some Sony Disc Cam footage; can you make a nice video for us out of it?"

Not every answer was applicable to every videographer, prospect, or situation, but each answer provided more than a blank slate (or worse—a blank stare!) to work with.

As an example, here are excerpts from responses to the question, "Why are your prices higher than other producers? Why should I come to you?"

  • "We do our best to be in line with industry standard practices for this size market, so that is how we charge for our services. Companies that do not charge industry standard rates typically lack the experience to know what this type of project should cost. We have a lot of experience developing this kind of video, and the last thing we want to do is set an unrealistic expectation regarding the budget required to produce a video that will meet your goals."
  • "In your business, and in mine, cost is always a factor. However, beyond cost, what is it you want from me? Do you want service, personal attention, results? Are you looking for a company that will work with you long term and do whatever it takes to help you succeed?"
  • "When you hire me, you get reliability and integrity. You get someone who listens to, and responds to, your needs. Yes, you can find others that charge less, but you won’t find a better value."

See how easy that is? Now it’s your turn. Get out a sheet of paper and a pen, or open a blank text or Word document and get to work. Think of all the questions you’ve been asked by client prospects. The recital question from earlier, for instance: "What do you know about dancing that would make you a good resource for taping our dance recitals?"

Here’s another one I’ve heard before: "We need our company meetings covered all day long. What kind of backup do you have available if your camera or your audio gear breaks down?" Or: "We’ve got multiple presentations running in three different rooms at the same time. How are you going to cover these?"

Take special note of questions that really threw you for a loop. How about this one: "If you want to do our wedding, we want the photographer and video person to wear tuxedos. Do you have a tuxedo?" How do you answer when you don’t have one? Write these down. Next, write down answers for each question. Take your time—brainstorm. Ask your peers what their responses might be. Ask them what’s worked for them. Play devil’s advocate. What answer would you want to hear if the tables were turned? Consider this all part of your daily marketing exercise.

The concept is simple. When prospects ask you a question and your response is immediate, you’ll not only look more professional in their eyes, you’ll feel more in charge of the situation, and therefore be better able to address their needs. And that’s a great way to start the new year!

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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