Six Lessons Every Small Business Owner Should Know

Guest Post by Clint Regehr of CERVIDEO

clint-cameraUnlike many film makers that first went to film school and then entered the business world, I came at it from a different direction. I was in the business world where I had a 30 year Enterprise Software Sales career that included major software corporations and several start ups. I held sales positions from individual contributor to VP of Sales. During this time, film was a serious hobby of mine, but I didn’t have any formal film school training. My kids were always in front of a camera as they grew up. I was either taking photographs or video taping one event or another. Over the years friends and family said that I should do this full time since they could see that my passion was really in film making and they liked the product I was producing.  So in January 2012 I officially left the software business and started my film company CERVIDEO, producing mainly corporate videos.  I have also produced event and destination videos and most recently my first full-length documentary called STATE.

Here are six key business lessons I learned from my  software sales experience that I have carried with me in establishing my film company

1. Communicate Value: When selling a corporate video, just like selling corporate software, you are providing a solution that will help a company save or make money. It’s really as simple as that. Whoever is going to write the check is going to ask “what is the return on my investment” for making this video? If the numbers are right, more than likely you will have the opportunity for at least one video with the company.  Corporate videos that help a company promote a product or service both greatly enhance the revenue opportunities for that company by clearly differentiating and showcasing their capabilities.  It’s a huge competitive advantage for a company when they are doing it and their competitors are not.   Also if you are producing a corporate safety film or HR film, you will be helping the company save money from reducing the number of accidents, fewer lawsuits, workers compensation, etc.  If you can articulate the value of your video to a company, you will have a much better chance of securing their business.

2. Cultivate Referrals: Whenever I produce a corporate video for one client, it always opens up doors to other clients since the companies I am doing the videos for all have other client businesses that need videos as well. If my client is happy with my work, more than likely their client will be interested in working with me as well. For example, I have one client in Dallas for whom I am working on my 10th video in the past year (see below). As a result of these videos, it has lead to 4 videos with another client of theirs plus 2 from another. As a result of those videos, competitors in another space have seen my work as a result and it has lead to several other videos.

3. Repeat Customers: Probably the greatest satisfaction comes from repeat customers where a video may take on a life of it’s own, where each year the video needs to be updated. I have been fortunate to be in this situation a couple of times now where the content in one client video from a year ago is now out of date and so of course they need it updated to be current with the new product line and service. If you deliver a quality product at a competitive price you are more than likely to receive additional business from that client when the time is right.

4. Let your customers website be your show reel – I have seen a lot of great film makers make incredible show reels. However, I think it’s more effective to send my prospects directly to other companies’ websites where my videos are playing and then link them to the customer TESTIMONIALS page on my website. This just adds to your credibility when another company is in effect using your service as their show reel. Then if they visit your TESTIMONIALS page, they will likely browse through your website and still find your show reel. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a TESTIMONIAL from a client. In most cases they will be delighted to write one for you. Also be specific with the actual company name and contact person, not simply “A large pharmaceutical company in the Midwest”.

5. Work with good partners whenever you can: There are going to be times when you need extra shooters, editors, colorists, grips, etc. Build a network of contacts in your area that you can work with. This in turn also opens doors for you to help others when they need extra help. For example, one of my best partners in Dallas is also a production company and on many occasions I have worked as a shooter for them at one of their key clients.  Other partners include manufactures of cameras and gear that you use as well as the music you license. They are often very interested in your work and will also help you promote your business by posting your work on their websites, Twitter and Facebook. For example, I have recently had Sony, Audio Network and Cinevate post blogs or have direct links on their websites and Twitter feeds promoting my videos which has been very helpful.

6. Sign Contracts First:There are only two kinds of deals, signed and unsigned. I know this is basic, but don’t start any work until you have a signed services agreement. Also, ensure you have some form of payment up front.  I always secure 50% upon time of signing and then 50% upon delivery of the review copy of the video. Also build in some kind of rate structure for additional editing charges as needed and have everything signed off on by the client before any work is done.

But wait…There’s More

Here are a few other ideas that have worked for me that may be of help when setting up your business:

  • A good 1-min video replaces a 1 hr “death by PowerPoint presentation” every time
  • The best prospects are companies that already have a variety of videos on their website.  You at least know they believe in the idea and you don’t have to educate them on the value
  • Sometimes the best deal is NO deal.  Never underestimate your value. Don’t be afraid to walk away.
  • Hold true to your rates.  Use the formula V=B-C (Value = Benefit – Cost).   Don’t bid on Cost, bid on the Benefits you will bring which will produce the highest Value to the client.  This ties back to point #1 above.
  • Never stop learning – there are so many good workshops out there – attend as often as you can and network with like minded professionals.
  • Stay connected through social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, your website, etc.
  • Be professional, but don’t forget to have fun

clintClint Regehr is President of CERVIDEO.   CERVIDEO creates vibrant stories through film about what is most important to you.

5 thoughts on “Six Lessons Every Small Business Owner Should Know

  1. These are some great tips Clint!
    I’m impressed that you’ve partnered with some pretty established companies already at this early stage of Cervideo. Keep it up!

  2. Clint you are my educator of the day! probably the week. 🙂 I red you business advices and they are gold. I find that many talented videographers suffer from finding the right niche when it comes to “numbers” and selling there work. Me myself just like most of us do videography, fist because of the love of it, second for making a living. BUT We must educate ourself on the “Business” side of it and as you mentioned, not to be shy when it comes to numbers. Be nice to people, be open, be fair and be Professional. Thanks a lot Clint!

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