It’s All About Presentation

Trisha VonLanken was the first leader in the industry to give me honest, and much-needed feedback on my poor presentation.

I’ll never forget that fateful day. It was about 8.5 years ago. I was a newbie to the industry, so very proud of the work I was doing. I was at a videographer convention and just finished watching a great presentation by award-winning veterans Mark and Trisha VonLanken. I had a copy of my demo DVD with me that I wanted to give to Trisha for feedback (Come to think of it, I don’t even think it was a DVD. It was a video CD). I handed her my 4-color printed CD in a thin, plastic jewel CD case. In her sweet, southern hospitality style, she kindly asked if she could give me some immediate feedback on it. I said of course.

I didn’t see a computer around so I wasn’t sure how she was going to do this. Was she going to look at the videos through osmosis to her brain? Then I realized, she wasn’t talking about the videos themselves but how I presented them. She said that this CD case I was using sucked. Well, those weren’t HER words. Trisha would never say something like that. She said it in the nicest possible way, but the message came across loud and clear. This was not how I should be presenting my work to a client.

It’s All About Presentation

Yesterday I talked about the importance of great design in setting your brand apart and taking your studio from a good one to a great one. There are many of you filmmakers and videographers out there doing amazing work. Then, when it comes to presenting that work to your client, you drop the ball. You forget or neglect the next step of presenting your beautiful work of art in the way that it deserves. It could be costing you business. So today I just want to throw out some ideas to get the ol’ gray matter tingling. Some of these you may have done or do. Some maybe not. Most of these are presentation implementations I’ve used over the years to great success.

Think Outside the Amaray

It’s common for professional videographers to present their final DVDs in Amaray style cases. These are the kind of plastic cases that movies come in when you rent them from Blockbuster (or rather, used to rent them from Blockbuster). When I first started in this business almost ten years ago, this is how we delivered our DVDs. (Well actually, when I started, VHS was still the most popular form of delivery. But once I did switch to DVDs only, this is what we used).

But a few years into the business I wanted to change it up. Everybody was delivering their DVDs in Amaray cases. I was then inspired by award-winning event filmmaker Brett Culp‘s team to start using tin cases. These were great for three reasons. First, they gave them the feel of an old film can reel (we used the round ones vs. the rectangular ones). Second, we used the kind with a clear top, so that meant no more hours spent designing and printing Amaray case inserts. The DVD face and design shown through the top. Third, and most important, no one else in my market was doing it, so I was able to stand apart. If you Google “tin DVD cases” and you’ll find a bunch of vendors. We happened to use Meritline. The image below is from Tin-Plate Products.

Image © tinplate-products.com

Then about four years ago friend and colleague Joshua Smith (another award-winning event filmmaker) started a company called Loktah. They created DVD and CD cases “made from the earth.” They were organic—literally. They were a completely different concept of DVD delivery. In the final years of my business focusing on weddings, this was the presentation we used for our final DVD delivery. They have a variety of styles with textures ranging from linen to hemp. If you’re looking to create a very high-end, couture brand, Loktah cases are great. They even now make thumb drive boxes for those of you delivering your final videos on thumb drives.

I was also a fan of the leatherette style folios. Many of the DVD folios are made by the same manufacturer, so just shop around for the best value. We used Neil Enterprises.

These are just a few of the ideas. I’m sure there are a bunch of new “out of the Amaray box” ideas out there too. Please share yours in the comments below. How do you present your DVDs.

Don’t Stop at the DVD Case

Presentation extends to the box you ship them in too. If possible, try to find a box that is a little more exciting than USPS. And add something to the box to make the experience special. I used to add movie-treats like Raisinettes and M&Ms. I know some videographers who include gourmet popcorn. If you want to really wow them, throw in a Starbucks card. In fact, we would send a Starbucks card in a thank you note to every client when they hired us. A $15 to $20 gift card is a small price to pay to build a premium brand when a client is paying you $5,000 or more. This works better with wedding clients though. I don’t do this with corporate clients because many companies have rules against individual employees taking gifts from vendors. If you’re working with a small, family owned style business, it might not be as big a deal. But for larger organizations, if you do want to give a thank you gift, a nice card is probably fine.

Online Creativity

Many of you produce videos for your clients that only appear online (i.e. you don’t deliver a DVD). There’s still no reason why you can’t have a unique presentation. Again, going back to my wedding filmmaking days, I used to created Apple Trailer style web pages for my clients’ love story and same day edit videos. This was back before the days of Vimeo and YouTube, but even now you could do something similar. If you do commercial work, consider creating custom YouTube channels where the videos you create for them can be displayed. Just another way to stand out.

Good Presentation Starts with Your Card

Remember that story I told you about Trisha giving me advice on my sucky demo CD case? Well, I must have been a glutton for punishment that year. I’m pretty sure it was the same year at the same conference when I first met another leader in the industry, long-time veteran Tim Sudall of Video One Productions. We were in line getting some grub and I handed him my business card, printed from one of those pre-perforated cheapo cards you get from the office supply store. He instantly saw how crappy it was and volunteered some professional advice: get professionally printed cards. That weekend, I went back and took his advice. Since then, I’ve always striven to have top-notch marketing materials and branding.

The marketing collateral from my wedding filmmaking days. Developed by Karen Barranco at Special Modern Design.

There are any number of ways your business cards can stand out. One of the most impressive is getting it letterpressed. These are those thick business cards printed on old letterpress machines. A letterpress business card instantaneously communicates quality and prestige. They’re not cheap though. They can be as expensive as a few dollars per card.

Another really cool business card I was handed last year was the card from Mel McGowan, president and co-founder of Visioneering Studios. These guys are essentially futuristic thought-leading architects who do a lot of design work for mega churches and cities. Mel used to be a Disney Imagineering park designer. His business card is a clear plastic, futuristic card with what looks like a computer chip. It is so freaking cool. (Remember those business cards in the movie “Aliens”. It kind of looks like that.) After four months, I still have it and often look at it. That says a lot.

What Goes Around Comes Around

There must have been something on my face that year which said “Please, give me unsolicited advice about how crappy my marketing materials are.” I tease about these interactions because in truth, I am extremely grateful that people like Trisha and Tim cared enough to share with me hard truths that ultimately helped me in my business. Without professionals like that in the industry, I would not be where I am today. So don’t feel bad if I’ve ever done the same to you. (I know I have on occasion.) It’s coming from a sincere place of wanting you to succeed. Trust me. I’m speaking from personal experience.

9 thoughts on “It’s All About Presentation

  1. Ron, I love these simple yet effective posts. I think you’ve earned enough clout to tell anyone anything… But as us Believers say, “in love”. Your exhortations are well-received and much appreciated. I’m gonna speak in my own experiences though- I think many videographers just don’t have the budget to create such stylish material. We know it’s necessary to stand above the rest of the bunch but yet to have landed that whale of a client to invest in our own material.
    I know what you mean though. I find it rediculous to see a car washing service vehicle so filthy…

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your kind words. I do understand where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t necessary have to cost a lot. Let’s look at some of these.

      – Those DVD folios and Loktah cases I believe are in the $12 to $15 per case range. I know that’s not as cheap as a plastic Amaray case, but if you’re charging $3,000 or more for a video, I would think allocating $50 for three of these cases is not too out of range. In both cases you don’t need to design and print an Amaray insert, which could take a lot of time, and we all know time is money.

      – The tin DVD cases are about $5 each for packs of ten or more.

      – Biz cards: granted letterpress biz cards are out of the price range of a lot of small business owners, but there are still options available that are reasonable. The Cinematic Studios cards I have shown had rounded corners and on slightly heavier stock. Not letterpress or anything, but definitely stood out and was not to unmanageble.

      As with anything, you need to look at your costs and charge accordingly. But I submit that even with simple solutions, you can dress up your presentations to make them stand out: – Find creative uses of ribbon and scrapbook material to dress up DVD cases – Add fun fillers instead those styrofoam peanuts to pack your boxes. – Get materials and from Michaels or Hobby Lobby make something up.

      The key is standing out.

  2. You have come a long way Baby!!!

    Mark and I have always wanted to see the event filmmaking industry, thrive, grow and be the best it can be. I believe being brave enough to have someone else look at your work, your marketing materials and give constructive feedback can be one of the best things you can do for your business. After15 years in the biz we still do it on a regular basis.

    Your post is oh so true, presentation speaks loudly about your business & your brand.
    Be there or be square~

    1. It totally has grown and thrive, and you’ve been an integral part of that. Thanks for being honest with a lost newb who didn’t know jack. I’m a better filmmaker and business person because of people like you.

  3. And great packaging doesn’t have to cost a lot! I often wrap products in brown paper and tissue paper. Add a handwritten note and some pretty ribbon or string, and your clients come away feeling like they’ve visited a boutique! I made business cards just for wppi because I didn’t want to give away all my more expensive cards, but I still tried to make sure they looked and felt higher quality and representative of me!

  4. I use the ones you featured from Neil Enterprises. I can’t tell you how many compliments I get for them. Customers think they cost a lot more than they actually do. As someone who doesn’t have the time to go to a craft store and handmake something, this is the perfect alternative. It’s truly the little things that count because it adds to the overall experience.

  5. I absolutely agree that “presentation” is a vital component to effective marketing… the style and quality of materials are akin to the old maxim: “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” Even on a limited budget… choosing quality will brand your business with the values of credibility and integrity.

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