Most commonly, the client had given me bad information, such as an incorrect birth date, or had neglected to mention things like a nasty divorce in the family with someone they wished to minimize in the video (or remove entirely). The approval meeting presents a perfect opportunity to flag these issues and address them before final product is delivered.
The second type of problem was some kind of technical glitch such as a bad disc that froze or skipped. The third type of problem was human error on my (or my employees’) part. I found that having the client check the final version virtually eliminated these problems.
Granted, it’s easy and cheap enough to burn a new DVD if the first one doesn’t work, but I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t work out that simply. When the customer takes home a finished product, she thinks it’s final. Even in cases where I made an obvious error, she usually wouldn’t bring it back or let me know. In my experience this is even more true in instances in which the bride is aware that she was responsible for the error.
Other clients would just be too busy to bother with it. Weeks, months, or years later, I’d have a bad disc out there with my name on it and a dissatisfied client. By forcing the approval viewing, I have noticeably increased quality and customer satisfaction despite a small increase in delivery time.
With Utah being one of the top locations in the nation for destination weddings, I’ve had some clients who lived great distances away and could not come in for an approval viewing. Others have flown great distances to make the meeting (often combined with some other reason to revisit the area).
For those who can’t make the trip, you can do a remote approval viewing by sending them a disc that’s not packaged in its final form to avoid confusion with the real thing. I now package the approval disc in a plain jewel case with nothing printed on it but "approval copy." I also require the disc to be sent back with a signed form saying all is well or listing what is wrong. This way I ensure that a disc that has bad information, playback problems, unattractive packaging, or in some other way does not represent my company well is not still out there.
The approval meeting also provides another opportunity to answer questions or to educate the bride further about our industry, leading to additional sales now or in the future. Regardless of how many copies are in the client’s final package, I find they usually add additional copies at this point.
If you offer only one type of packaging or DVD, consider offering more, such as a version with simpler packaging for additional copies at lower cost or an autoplay version. I also offer an archival copy for their safe deposit boxes, using new armor-plated DVD media that is many times more scratch-resistant.
But the real heart of the archival copy is information. I am sure to include a list of all of the hardware and software (with exact versions) that were used to make the disc. This will help to ensure playability in the future, when the equipment we now associate with DVD may be obsolete.
Why is this an issue? From the outset, DVDs were a problematic design in terms of longterm playability. The most obvious problem is DVD scratch-resistance on the data side, which is an issue for any one-time wedding client whose kids decide their parents’ wedding DVD is their favorite movie.
While delivering recordable DVDs in cartridges was a nice idea kicked around by manufacturers in the mid-’90s, it was clear from the beginning that the idea would never fly with consumers, much to the detriment of disc longevity. Long-term playback may also be limited by the availability of machines and computer applications that can read the discs. Providing information about the equipment used to create the discs may forestall this problem in the future.
Another advantage of the approval meeting is that it occurs after the honeymoon, and it gives you an opportunity to sell a montage of honeymoon pictures. But the best sales opportunity is to cement a relationship that will yield business from events throughout a couple’s life. These may include an anniversary update, baby or toddler film, family histories or DVD Christmas cards or a corporate training DVD or demo.
Before the wedding and immediately after, our clients just do not have time to even think about anything else, but by the time you have this meeting they do. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your clients better and to ensure that you’ll be their videographer for a lifetime.
Mike Nelson (rw at rememberwhenvideos.com), owner of award-winning Salt Lake City-based Remember When Videos, is a WEVA MPV-certified videographer, two-time EventDV 25 honoree, author of multiple training DVDs including Bridal Elegance and 40 Creative Wedding Ideas, and founder and past president of the Utah Professional Videographers Association.