Unlike growing a tank of Sea Monkeys in your bedroom, growing a video production company won’t happen overnight. While many in the video production industry are content to freelance or maintain a boutique video production service, if you’re reading this you’re interested in expansion. Bigger clients means larger budgets that will allow you to test new creative ideas, rent/purchase new camera equipment and even the rising cost of a Netflix subscription.
When scaling a video production company you’ll face three choices: increase the volume of client projects, increase the average value of client projects, or a combination of the two. For the latter two, you’ll need to provide clients greater value. And to provide greater value, you’ll need to refine your pitch. Offering seven practical tips, this guide offers you a practical path to winning larger clients and scaling your video production company.
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- Believe in yourself
- Know your customer
- Improve your budgeting
- Collaborate with others
- Refine your pitch
- Use referrals
- Offer consistent service
1. Believe in yourself
Would Natalie Portman have had the tenacity to accept her role in Black Swan if she was paralysed by a script that didn’t make any sense? Would Robert De Niro have given us his performance in The Irishman if he was still broken by the box office bomb that was Rocky & Bullwinkle?
Consider this your cinematic mirror monologue. Doggedness and strong sense of self belief are the necessary ingredients for any small business, but particularly in the creative industry where you continually face knockbacks and rejection for proposals. In our experience, the greatest personal and professional growth comes when you abandon the mentality that you’re just a videographer or small Melbourne video production company. There’s no physical barrier stopping you from delivering the same quality of work as an independent film company or global digital marketing agency.
2. Know your customer
Learning to speak the language of larger clients is a lot easier than learning to speak a second language. And while you may need to pull out a dictionary after your first meeting with a client to translate foreign words like “synergy”, “long-tail” and “General Data Protection Regulation Compliance”, you’ll find that the ability to decipher and deliver these same words in a conversation with them will go a long way to building valuable rapport. People are more likely to buy from you if they like you, and people are attracted to those who reflect their own world view.
Speaking the language of your prospects points to a larger issue; you’ll need to develop a clear understanding of who they are and what they need. By deploying empathy and learning what they want (whether it’s “to feel creative” or something more tangible like a business KPI), you’ll be able solve their needs rather than just selling your video production services. This powerful proposition allows you to distinguish your company from the raft of competitors in the marketplace.
3. Improve your budgeting
Bigger projects entail bigger budgets. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to hire at your video production company, hire a stellar Producer. We were fortunate enough to have Ines Guarda join Enamoured Iris in mid-2019, and we’ve since benefited enormously from her work at the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, Sesame Street co-productions and several global advertising agencies.
If you’re not yet ready to hire a producer, there’s an abundance of great short courses that can equip you with these skills. If you’re based in Melbourne, Melbourne University offers a Master Of Producing, while Screen ABC provides several short courses devoted to Producing. If you’re based in Sydney, AFTRS has one specific to budgeting.
4. Collaborate more
When you’re a child you’re taught to play nicely with everyone else in the sandpit and to share your toys. In this context the toys are camera equipment often worth in excess of $100,000, however the principle remains the same.
Viewing other production companies as potential collaborators rather than potential threats is another maturation of mentality that fostered growth of Enamoured Iris and will enable you to do the same. As we discussed in The Golden Rule For Managing A Production Company, starting any business doesn’t allow any space for ego; this is even more true in an industry that requires collaboration across so many departments to create a single piece of content.
5. Refine your pitch
Every video production company owner should reserve a place at their desk for Blair Enns’ seminal book “Win Without Pitching” (beside the mountain of SSD drives, Carpal Tunnel editor’s wrist wraps and the empty, self-prescribed adderall bottles).
In a manifesto containing such pieces of wisdom as “We will not solve problems before we are paid ”, “We will refuse to work at a loss” and “we will replace presentations with conversations” it contains the philosophical ingredients required to sustainably win larger clients. Remember to standardise your pitch documentation and capping the amount of time spent on any one pitch. As creatives, we’re all guilty of the bottomless rabbithole that is perfectionism; a pursuit that can leave you penniless.
6. Use referrals
By leveraging existing relationships, you can open doors to new business opportunities that would otherwise have remained closed. Whether it’s something as small as a testimonial on your website or as generous as a formal introduction to another client who requires corporate video production, the social proof gained from this exchange will create instant rapport and increase the likelihood of closing the sale.
As a young production company, often the only way to overcome the age bias and win a bigger budget client was to indirectly establish a connection with the organisation’s gatekeeper.
7. Offer consistency
You’re far more likely to win a larger contract with an existing client than you are a new lead. Unlike the service of your Year 11 intern Runner on set, your video production services need to be reliable. In consistently delivering an exceptional video production service, you’ll not only prove yourself as dependable but you’ll also assist your client growing their business which will in turn lead to larger video production budgets.
Bonus: If all else fails, pay an extra
Sadly, age (rather than relative experience) is all too often associated with competency in our industry. While actors and subcontractors may look at you strangely during a casting audition or may openly question your age on location (it’s happened to us countless times), a witty reply and a display of your extensive showreel might not be enough for gatekeepers to entrust you with their $50,000 video marketing campaign.
Irrespective of the quality of your ideas and impressive video production pitch deck, you may find the hours you spend in preparing for a pitch amount to naught unless you offer the perceived credibility of age. Fortunate enough to have access to an enormous talent pool of extras, if you find yourself in this position, why not cast a middle-aged adult to play your business advisor when delivering your ideas in a boardroom?
The biggest leap in our growth as a production company came after a departure from two misconceptions. The first was the mindset that “we were just creatives”. The second was the misguided belief that business and creativity were two competing notions. While business management isn’t taught in film school, the ability to strategically adopt a business mindset will help you achieve more of what you want in life.
Searching for video production services in Melbourne? Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.
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