I hear your cries: "Editing is my favorite part of the job! No one edits my projects as well as I do." Fair enough. But if you’re not out selling your business, who will be selling it for you?
Sure, you might be able to find an intern or recent college graduate who can bring in some sales for you on a percentage basis. Is this the image you want to project? Will it help to expand your business? You really need a professional—a good representative for your business who exhibits the same passion for it that you do.
And therein lies the problem. A good, professional, commission-based rep will want some sort of guaranteed income, or advance against their sales, to get started. They won’t want to piddle around for a couple months building up relationships. They have to eat, too. It’s that whole "book of business" thing. "You can service the Acme Motors account for us. They’re doing $200K a year with me. I’ll give you 15% for handling their account."
More cries: "Where will I find the money to do that?"
In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s far better to swallow your creative juices, farm out your editing and post, and put on your snappy sales suspenders. No one will ever sell you better than you will sell yourself.
It’s all about reaching out and connecting with current and potential clients. You’ve probably heard "reach" and "frequency" used as marketing terms. Reach is the number of people you touch with your message. Frequency is the number of times you touch each person. Those terms certainly apply to this situation as well. You are the person people want to meet. You’re the brand. You’re the business owner, and you need to be the one who gets the word out about your business. Knock on doors. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Attend association meetings. Hook up with your Chamber of Commerce and participate in its events. Make yourself and your business known. Of course, there are marketing techniques you can use, and I’ve written about many of these in previous editions of this column. But the most important thing is getting your face out there and making as many connections as you can.
Some of the best places to find editors are through professional associations (on the national and regional level) and colleges and universities that have good communications and video departments. Don’t overlook online video production forums, either. Recently, I’ve seen several people offering editing and postproduction services on VideoUniversity.com forums, just to name one.
I know there are a few of you who just can’t bear to leave your editing suite in someone else’s hands, or don’t have the money to hire an intern or to contract out production work. You’ll have to continue wearing both the editing cap and the sales hat. So, here’s a suggestion: Quit trying to remake Gone With the Wind every other week. In the case of wedding or special event videos, for instance, set up a good linear, cuts-only editing system and continue to do the editing yourself. When it comes down to it, no matter how badly you want to pack every slow-motion, colorized, multi-image special effect into every production you edit, how much of a difference will it really make to the bride and groom? If you didn’t sell them a cinematic edit, don’t give it to them. Their wedding should be the focus, not your editing system’s bells and whistles.
Another tip: Limit yourself. For example, a good friend of mine revels in minutia. She just loves to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. She’ll even check that the spacing is consistent throughout the written version of a presentation no one will read. It’s her obsession. She doesn’t have to do these things, and neither do you. It’s the law of diminishing returns. Think of your clients—will the extra time and effort you spend have a corresponding benefit for them? On the other hand, will it just mean that you’ve lowered your rate to $10 an hour?
A favorite rule of mine—and one I repeat often—is "A video production is never finished; it’s merely abandoned." Train yourself to do the best work you possibly can in less time than you currently allow yourself. In other words, fine-tune your production until it looks and sounds good—rather than perfect—then walk away and sell the next one. Use the time you would have spent trying to make your last production perfect (an impossibility, by the way) and use it to go out and make those connections. And think of the stress you’ll avoid when you’re not working against a six-month editing backlog!
Here’s to your selling success!
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.