In my book, there are no two sweeter words in business than "value-added." If you give your customers a little extra, you’ll get an extra measure of appreciation in return—and good customer relations is all about having your clients appreciate you more than they do your competition. That’s just as important during times of economic slowdown as it is in times of plenty. So let’s talk about a few ways you can stretch your services and make more money. You might need to make some changes to how you already do business, but keep in mind the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a defining trait of all successful businesses—and a definite advantage for indie producers and small video businesses.
What’s Working? What’s Not?
First, pay close attention to the things that are working for your business and the ones that don’t seem to be working as well as they did in the past. What’s selling? What’s not?Push those goods and services that are selling well now. Maybe you can offer low-cost, high-quality alternatives to the ones that are presently tanking.
Examine Your Marketing Messages
Next, look at which marketing messages are bringing clients in your door and which are falling on deaf ears. Spend your money on the messages that are working now. A couple of quick notes here about marketing messages: Look at your website. Does it look professional? Is it consumer-friendly? Do you have video on it? Can search engines find it? Updating your site doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of online resources available to show you how to tweak your website and do it for next to nothing—or even nothing at all.
Your Business Card
What about your business card? Does it work hard for you? Do you hand it out everywhere you go? Does it say who you are, what you do, and where you can be contacted? Does it include your picture? Yes, I did say "your picture." I’ve written about this here before; the strongest asset you have in marketing your business is yourself. People want to know with whom they’re doing business.
Co-market with Complementary Vendors
Another way to extend your marketing budget is to look for companies that share your target customer and that sell complementary products or services. With some creative approaches, co-marketing can be a powerful option for enhancing your marketing reach. When businesses that offer complementary services team up, they often form a whole that’s much greater than the sum of its parts. They can market together to pitch and win major accounts, provide additional services as a unit, and diversify and expand their customer bases.
If you’re a wedding videographer, see if there are photographers who would like to team up with you (or at least refer your services). Event video producers should check in with the sales departments of hotels and conference centers and the conference service offices at colleges and universities. Let them know that you offer video expertise for any event or program they book.
Stream Your Events Live
Jewel and Chuck Savadelis wrote about live event streaming in their March article, Webcasting Weddings. With live streaming, everyone can attend as the event is happening in real time, whether it’s the bride’s invalid grandmother three states away or the VP of engineering in Europe.
If you’re doing live events, this is a perfect value-added tool for your list of services. Philip Ly, founder and co-owner of IdoStream.com (one of the companies mentioned in the article), talks about the possibilities this way: "With a little effort you can gain additional revenue … court depositions, town hall meetings, church sermons, engagement proposals, bar-mitzvahs … You are only limited by your imagination."
Just imagine: two-way conversation between guests (via a chat window built into the viewer, in IdoStream’s case), full audio, appropriate graphics, and a digital copy of the event available for later viewing. You can’t tell me that your clients—especially those already accustomed to social networking—won’t be thrilled at this opportunity.
What’s more, because this service is (obviously) also available to nonvideographers, Ly’s company is looking for video professionals to co-produce these types of live events. In short, one-stop shopping convenience for their clients can also be a possible new revenue source for you!
And that’s what it’s really all about: creating a win-win situation by giving your customers more than they expect, and getting back their loyalty (and a few extra dollars) in return. It’s a way of life and an approach to business that I highly recommend.
Steve Yankee (syankee at opinmarketing.com) has more than 35 years of video production and marketing experience and is the founder of The Video Business Advisor in East Lansing, Mich.