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As of this writing, it has been sixty days since the Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic. Needless to say, commerce, as we know it, came to a near-screeching halt! And now, here we are two months later, just barely starting to kick-start the economy. Despite our best desires, we can’t just flip a switch and be back to full stride; this is going to take some time.
Hopefully, your business hasn’t taken too much of a beating and if you’re in a category deemed “essential,” you may be doing OK. That being said, no matter your current status, you will want to communicate an effective message to your customers and video can help!
For example, one of my clients provides carpet, upholstery, and tile cleaning services. We’ve shot several videos together and a couple of weeks ago, I created a “COVID-19 tag” for one of them that alerts his customers that the business is an essential service, delivering their services consistent with CDC and EPA guidelines. Their customers can feel confident that when the need arises, this company is on top of the situation.
Another client has two fitness equipment outlets: one a large warehouse and the second more of a retail-type location. His business has literally exploded when the pandemic hit, and folks couldn’t go to their local gym or fitness center. Suddenly his business was flourishing, in part because we had recently placed 32 equipment demonstration videos on his YouTube channel!
The pandemic has had another impact. People are dealing with a lot of anxiety these days and seeking support through traditional channels (therapy, counseling, etc.) can be prohibitively expensive – especially right now! This client took a unique approach by providing online training sessions that offer specific tools to help deal with the debilitating effects of anxiety. We produced 72 sessions together and we wrapped them and placed them online, just as the Coronavirus was grabbing hold of the US population. This was a very timely endeavor! The name of the course? “Overcoming Anxiety!”
The point is that you could produce a comprehensive series of videos, or just shoot one that talks about how you are prepared to help your customers while in the midst of the pandemic, while doing so in a safe manner. Or, you could have me create either a graphic that informs, or use a voice-over to do it, or both! However it’s accomplished, make sure your audience knows what you’re doing and how you can help them…now and going forward!
I hear that question a lot. Unfortunately, there are a number of elements that affect the price of a video. No, that’s not a dodge, it’s the truth. What would you say if someone asked you this question:
How much does an airplane cost?
In thinking about the variables in play to answer this question, you begin to get the idea there are a lot of things to consider! I know my way around aircraft and there are easily thousands of questions, like, “are we talking about fixed wing or rotary wing (helicopter)?” So let’s dump the airplane metaphor and get back to video. Let’s start by posing a few questions that should be addressed before we answer “that other question.”
- Rate. Often described as hourly, half-day and day rate. Many videographers don’t price by the hour and some only price on a full day-rate basis. Hourly averages range between $25 an hour from that film school grad you know to $250 an hour for a top-flight video veteran. My hourly average hits just under the center: around eighty-five bucks an hour. Which lends me to…
- Equipment. Sure you could whip out your smartphone and shoot away, but is that really the look you’re going for? If so, stop reading! Otherwise, continue. There are $20,000 cameras out there (don’t forget lenses!), $2,000 microphones, and lights that weigh as much as a Volkswagen, but is that really necessary? Is there a line item charge in the project budget for equipment? I have professional level gear that you may not see Spielberg using, but it will produce corporate video that will resonate with your audience and you won’t need stockholder approval to shoot! Oh, and my rate includes the aforementioned pro-level gear! Cameras, mics, lights, sliders, tripods, gimbals…oh my! Only if I have to create a specific effect might extra equipment fees enter the equation. I don’t have a drone, though I have access to one through an industry colleague, and this is considered specialized equipment.
- Personnel. I started my business as a single person crew (“SPC”) to be able to deliver quality work at an affordable rate. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be multiple cameras, mics and lights…it does mean that I know how to be efficient in the deployment of this hardware (including setup and take down) by myself. And in those instances where it just makes sense to have a grip, 2nd camera op or sound person along, I have a rolodex full of these folks that can be called in. Also in the category of personnel: talent. Does the project require professional acting talent or will we be shooting personnel from the company being filmed?
- Time. How comprehensive is the project? Can we do it in a day? A few hours? What will be required to edit the acquired footage? When is the project due? And by the way, just because the finished deliverable is “only” 5 minutes long doesn’t mean that hours, and sometimes days of production didn’t go into what is ultimately seen on screen.
- Post-production. Because this is a future article all by itself, I’ll be brief here. Post-production includes the components that help make the video “pop.” Editing, music selection, titles, graphics, animations, voice-overs, special effects. A word of caution here: less is often more.
So there you have just a few of the key elements of a video. Truthfully, anyone who would just throw out a “ballpark” quote without reasonable consideration of the variables I’ve shared here is asking for trouble. I would much rather take a modest amount of time to talk about those elements so I could provide a quote that would be meaningful for all parties involved. I may miss out on a few jobs taking this approach but I’m as professional in my business methodology as I presume you are in yours. Consultations are free, and the result will be a production that achieves its desired results at a rate everyone finds acceptable.
I am a professional videographer. I am also a consumer. And when I contemplate making a purchase – especially a big one – I often browse reviews to get a good sense of what is thought about the company (companies) that offer that product or service I intend to buy. And rather than trudge through a lot of printed content, I find video testimonials to be more compelling. Let’s unpack the reasons why.
First, while it would be relatively easy to put your CEO or other key exec in front of a camera (which I do regularly, by the way) this kind of video – while valuable – can sometimes come across as biased. However, by augmenting the business “talking head” videos with customer testimonials, viewers will have a chance to see two perspectives. This goes a long way in helping consumers make informed decisions.
So how do you develop the testimonial video? There is little doubt that if you run a credible company, you likely already have them in writing. So, let’s make contact with a few of these folks and ask if they’d be willing to share their thoughts in front of a camera. “Whoa now…you want me to talk on camera?!?” That will be the response you’ll get quite often, but you will find some willing to do it. I know from experience that being in front of a camera is not natural, but one of my gifts is getting interview subjects comfortable to the point that they actually liked the experience – at least once it was over!
Now that you’ve found a few folks willing to do it, you will want to ascertain in advance what they will say. You will want subjects that convey an easy-going manner that will help make what they say sincere and credible. And while coaching is OK, we don’t want to put words in the subject’s mouth. The last thing you want to do is have the testimonial come off as contrived. You will lose viewers quick, and you only have 4 to 6 seconds to grab their attention in the first place, so don’t screw this up! And…NO TELEPROMPTERS!!!
Why am I watching your video? It’s a good, fair question. Remember what I said about the 4 to 6 seconds. In short order, you need to provide the answer to the “why.”
Asking your interviewee the right questions will help elicit the right responses. These questions might include:
- What prompted your investigation in the first place? What was the solution you needed?
- How did the product/service solve your problem?
- What would you like to share about the positive experience using the product/service?
Stay away from questions that allow “yes” or “no” answers in order for the responses to be useful, detailed and allow the freedom for your interviewee to talk specifics on how your product/service met or exceeded their expectations. If a potential customer watching the testimonial can feel how overwhelmed or frustrated your subject was before they discovered your product or service, seeing how your business has helped them to reach their ideal resolution can be extremely persuasive.
Be sure to use “cutaways,” where “b-roll” of your organization can be integrated into the testimonial. This does two things: It creates natural breaks in the interview where your subject can pause and easily move into another line of thought. And it also allows for a more engaging video by having more than just the subject to watch. Remember our short attention spans!
Finally, these days, it can be very tempting to just whip out a smartphone and start shooting. However, working with an experienced video production company will help you to produce a well-crafted final product that will appeal to your ideal audience and deliver a solid ROI.
First Impressions Video has the creativity, experience and tools to ensure that your testimonial grabs attention for all the right reasons. We use a variety of techniques to do this, including implementing a comfortable shooting environment, selecting an ideal soundtrack, and seamlessly integrating relevant cutaway footage to enhance the overall production quality of your video.
We know how to get the most out of your featured clients or customers, who might not have spoken in front of a camera before. The result is therefore much more likely to appear authentic and believable, which is ultimately the goal of every successful video testimonial.
Competition could never be more fierce! But having a well-designed testimonial video can help punch through the clutter and deliver excellent return for dollar invested…and set you apart from your competitors!
Let us help you with your next testimonial video! Click here and go to “Request A Quote.” Complete the form and we’ll get right back to you…promptly! And remember, great video does NOT have to break the bank!
So the last few months have been a blur, but I’ve been crazy busy. And that’s a good thing! Questions that do continually come up have to do with how to go about hiring a video production company (now we’re being called “content creators”!). So I am sending this out again as it’s never a bad idea to have these questions answered. And if these comments are of any help, please give me a call. Remember: Great video doesn’t have to break the bank!
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So you wanna make a video… but where do you start? Well, one of the first things you’ll likely do is hire a video production company or videographer, and that can be a mind-bending task. How do you know who to hire? What can you expect to pay? To get you started, here are a few things to consider.
1. When preparing your job description, please be specific.
The sky is the limit when it comes to producing a video. There are so many variables that the possibilities are endless. Understanding your vision and what you’re trying to achieve will be critical in requesting a quote. Provide as much detail as you can about the services you need. Some of those questions would include:
- How long should the video be?
- Do I need more than one cut? (60 second, 30 second, 15 second)
- Do I need more than one video? (i.e. Think “episodic” TV)
- Where will the video(s) be used? (website, on-air, social, etc.)
- Is there a specific date this needs to be shot? What is the final deadline?
- Other than shooting, what production elements need to be considered? (editing, scripting, voice-over, location, casting, etc.)?
Answering these questions will help me to fully understand what you want and can, therefore, provide a more accurate quote. When possible, it’s a good idea to provide a few reference videos that illustrate the type of video you’re looking for. This is an easy way to set expectations and provide a target result. Explain what you like about them and why.
2. When reviewing portfolios, find someone who has produced work at the level you want for your own video.
A person’s portfolio and work samples will give you the best indication of what your video will look like. If you want something you don’t see, refer to point #1 and be specific what you want. First Impressions Video has shot a wide array of projects, so there should be no problem meeting and exceeding your objectives.
3. In general, you’ll get what you pay for.
As you start to get quotes back for your project, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest option. After all, everybody likes to save money, right? My advice is to take an honest assessment of the project and ask yourself what is the result you want for your video. If you’re happy with the look and feel of the cheapest option, great! But what you’ll generally see, is that the more money you’re willing to spend, the better the end result. Pick an option that satisfies both your budget constraints and your expectation for quality. The last thing you want, is to pay for the cheapest option, then not be satisfied with the result and have to do the whole thing over again with someone who can produce at a higher level.
Unfortunately, too many times—especially with first-timers, I’ve observed something like this:
What the client has in mind…
but what the budget says is this…
As I have shared, there is a lot more that goes in to making a quality video than meets the eye. What First Impressions Video will do is offer options so that you can determine which are best for you, given your budget and time constraints.
Whether it’s your first venture into video or you’ve done a few, the process of finding and hiring the right video pro can be a bit tricky. The goal of this essay is to provide solid insights, so that businesses small and big can feel like video is for everyone—not just those with big budgets and lots of experience! And if you have a question, First Impressions Video is but a phone call or email away!
714-979-3850 – Office
714-608-4495 – Mobile
If you’ve read my blog, you know how important I believe video is as part of any business’ marketing mix. Video continues to command greater percentages of marketers’ collective attention and this trend will not slow down for the foreseeable future, as noted below. Sources for each—when provided—are captioned in parentheses.
- By 2019, video will account for 80% of global internet traffic, and 85% in the US (Cisco)
- Two-thirds of marketers and agency executives see video as the next trend in content marketing (iab)
- 52% of marketers believe that video is effective for brand awareness
- 82% of of B2C businesses report that video has become their most popular content marketing tactic (Content Marketing Institute)
- 43% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget (Buffer)
- 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year (HubSpot)
- Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users (VidYard)
- 44% of SMB owners and marketers plan to spend money to promote their video content on Facebook in 2017 (Animoto)
- Companies which use videos in their marketing grow revenue 49% fasteryear-on-year than those which don’t (Aberdeen Group)
- 73% of B2B marketers say that video positively impacts marketing ROI
- Companies which use videos in their marketing enjoy 27% higher CTR and 34% higher web conversion ratesthan those which don’t
Moral of the story
The biggest roadblock for marketers to add video marketing is getting started. This is particularly relevant for small business owners. Granted, many have made the move, but just as many have not. It doesn’t take thousands of dollars to produce a video anymore—even when using a professional, so don’t be dissuaded into reaching for a smartphone, with all its inherent shortcomings. Are there times when this might be a good option? Most certainly! If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime live event, go for it! But with that said, if you’re telling the story of your business, you will be much better served with pro level cameras, microphones and lighting.
So, if you want to get started, why not give me a call? Consultations are free and even if you don’t select First Impressions Video to do the work, you’ll have a much better understanding of the task, coupled with expectations that will match the finished product.
A blog entry I wrote earlier in the year was picked up on Twitter. In it was one of several infographics I’ve posted and commented about over the course of the year. These visual pictures tell great stories and are applicable to producers of video, as well as consumers of video. I thanked the Tweeter for providing a great idea on how I could share a few of these infographics, which I have compiled here. Thanks to L. Scott Harrell ( @lscottharrell ) for the motivation to do this!
- “21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small Business Budgets” http://wp.me/p2YaU5-gL
- “31 Must Know Video Marketing Stats” http://wp.me/p2YaU5-gm
- “5 Reasons Why Video Must Be Part Of Your 2016 Budget” http://wp.me/p2YaU5-e8
- “Anatomy of an Interview Video” http://wp.me/p2YaU5-ak
That last one was from 2015, but a few folks had asked me about it, so I figured, what the heck, and threw it in. And while the amplifying content around the infographics is likely mine, source credit for all of them goes to the respective creators.
Let me end the year with this one. Although intended to be humorous, all facets of video/film production require perseverance and resourcefulness. But for those with both, this can be a fascinating and gratifying endeavor. Just ask me!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year
In the never ending struggle to acquire reviews that honestly reflect my relationship with my clients, I am taking a different tack today. Once again, Yelp filtered out reviews from real clients who think highly enough of my work to award me with 5 stars on Yelp. Unfortunately, Yelp’s “recommendation software” doesn’t share the view of MY OWN CLIENTS!! But the hell with Yelp! Here you can see comments from several of my SATISFIED CUSTOMERS, that they don’t want anyone to see. That is, until I buy advertising from them, and THAT JUST AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!!
I don’t work in retail or the restaurant/hospitality sectors who get thousands of reviewable transactions a year. My client list is a fraction of that…and I’m having a good year! So if Yelp hides HALF of my reviews, is there any wonder why I’m pissed? Maybe one day they’ll figure out that they need to treat service sector businesses differently than those in retail/restaurant/hospitality.
But for now, Yelp, YOU STILL SUCK!!
For the last year or so, I have reluctantly created a Yelp business page for my business. A friend of mine is a huge fan, but I have followed the hundreds (if not THOUSANDS) of complaints logged by business owners. Just listing such complaints would take a separate blog posting, so I will confine my remarks to yesterday’s interaction with Yelp. I try real hard to not use profanity in my interactions with companies, but this was the last straw! As business owners, we all strive to get great reviews and recommendations from those for whom we do business. Sometimes we don’t get it right, but we always have a chance to make “lemonade out of lemons.” But when we do get it right, and then get penalized for doing so…well, you just read the thread and make your own conclusions. The thread is in reverse order, so it reads from the most recent comment to the first (oldest).
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Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 12:48 PM
To: Yelp HQ
Subject: Thanks for contacting Yelp! [ 4559203 ]
SHAME ON YOU!! All you do is respond with bullshit boilerplate…you can’t even craft an individualized reply. Frankly, I would feel better if you just DELETED my business listing because going forward, I will never have anything to do with Yelp. I did what I was supposed to do and got penalized for it. You DON’T care about the small business owner and your response just proved it.
I will now go very public with this case.
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From: Yelp HQ
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 9:54 AM
Subject: Thanks for contacting Yelp! [ 4559203 ]
Thanks for writing.
We use automated software designed to recommend the reviews that will be most helpful to the Yelp community. The software applies the same standards to every business and every review, and we can’t manually override the results for any single business or review. If we could, people might think that we favor some businesses over others (we don’t).
Nevertheless, it’s always helpful to get feedback – we are continually working to improve the algorithm so that it can recommend the best reviews for our community.
-The Yelp Support Team
Sent: Monday, May 9, 2016 3:22 PM
To: Yelp Customer Service
Subject: I am being penalized?!?!
OK, so now I am REALLY pissed!! I have worked hard in the short time I’ve been in business to nurture good feelings among the clients with whom I’ve done business. I reluctantly set up a Yelp page for First Impressions Video because I’ve had my suspicions about how you guys work. Well today, I discovered something that set my blood boiling and provides proof why I will NEVER buy advertising from Yelp. Two very gracious reviews, including one for a job I recently did for an attorney, have been disabled from view by your so-called “recommendation engine.”
I don’t give two hoots about this algorithm as it dehumanizes the whole process and again, I worked hard to EARN the trust of clients who say good things about my business. And if your system penalizes a business owner for doing the right thing, how could you, in good conscience, even THINK about trying to sell me anything–let alone advertising!
Just so you know, before starting my business, I worked in digital marketing for over a decade. I know how things work and this kind of “punishment” will NOT serve Yelp well. Should anyone ask, I will be sure to tell them how I feel!
Thanks for a crappy start to my week! By the way, I originally sent this note to Chris H****, but received a bounce back message that his “email account has been disabled.” I’m sure he’s moved on, but it doesn’t change how I feel. And I doubt that I’ll hear from anyone at Yelp about a resolution to this. You guys SUCK!!
I’m curious…what would you do? I even tried sending a LinkedIn “InMail” to Yelp’s “Director of Small Business Outreach,” but doubt seriously that I will hear from him, or any other human that isn’t trying to sell something! **SIDEBAR** The “Chris” in this thread called to pitch advertising at least twice a month.