Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

Your Business Should Never Change

Monday, August 13th, 2012

When you work on branding a company, you often have to think about the essence of who you are. You have to spend time focused on philosophical aspects of your business, i.e. “What are our core values?” “What are we all about?” “Who are we here to serve?”

We too at Red Fox Media have to constantly think about and evaluate our brand and how we want to position ourselves. When marketing departments are pulling video production in-house, it becomes increasingly important to define what it is we bring to the table.

We have often defined our approach as”cinematic,” but sometimes that’s hard for people to visualize. What does it mean to be “cinematic?” That’s why we always show our demo reel to potential clients. It’s much easier to understand a term like “cinematic” when you can see it on the screen. We recently explained it this way:

Our projects have a “cinematic” feel. It can be difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. We achieve that tonality by paying attention to disciplines like composition, lighting, camera movement, and story. Like any craftsman or artisan who invests a lot of effort into sculpting, constructing, or restoring, we are meticulous and diligent about giving our clients a video with high production values and a clear branding message.

Knowing your own core values will help your company stay on track amidst the ebb and flow of your particular industry. That doesn’t mean you don’t adjust to changes in the marketplace. That doesn’t mean you stop innovating. But it does mean that, despite these changes, despite those innovations, your core values stay the same. That’s your foundation. That’s who you are. It’s the DNA that gives your company its identity.

And it’s our job to help you communicate that identity to your audience.

It Takes a Village to Build a Successful Career

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Have you ever been faced with a particular challenge or difficulty and felt as though you were all alone? That feeling of isolation can be incredibly overwhelming, which is why I believe that there is something within the human race that causes us to crave a sense of community. Whether that community is a church, co-working environment, club, online user group, etc. we all want to be a part of something where we can voice our concerns and receive valuable feedback and encouragement. That impulse to be involved with other like-minded individuals is (I believe) embedded into everyone, regardless of the profession.

As a business owner, I enjoy meeting and talking with other entrepreneurs. I enjoy discussing the challenges we face and the successes we’ve achieved. I enjoy listening to others talk about how they solve problems and how they’ve grown their businesses. As a video production professional, I value the time I spend talking with others in the industry about the tools they use for their productions. I enjoy learning new tips and tricks that help me to become a better video professional. Getting plugged into a community is extremely valuable and therapeutic. It’s a wonderful cure for discouragement and it’s an excellent way to remind each of us that we are not alone.

Free Video Production Work

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

It’s a catch-22. You need the video work so you can organize a demo reel, but you often need a demo reel so you can get the video work. It’s unavoidable. People want to see work samples before making the decision to hire a video professional or video production company. So, what if you are trying to get started in the video production industry and need something on your reel? How do you get hired? One of the tactics I used when I first started my business was to give away some video production work for free – no strings attached. This approach might not suit everyone’s circumstances, but there may come a time early in your career when you need to work for free in order to beef up your reel. However, before you give away the farm, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, you should know that I only worked for free once. That’s it. Granted, I have done other pro-bono work in my career, but those jobs were done in exchange for some other goods or services or they were done for causes I support. So, be careful if you decide to offer up your services for free. You don’t want to build a reputation as someone who does video work on the cheap. Know what you are worth.

Second, know who to approach. You might think that businesses would be knocking down your door if they heard you were giving away your video services for free. However, the truth is, people can be pretty hesitant to accept something for free. They are always looking for the catch – the fine print. They don’t want to get caught up in something they didn’t anticipate. So, if you feel that your reel needs some commercial work, or some long-format work, try talking with family members first. You may have a great uncle, an aunt, a cousin, etc. who runs a small business. You could approach them, discuss your situation, and see if they would allow you to produce some videos for them at no charge.

Third, be honest about why you are offering your services for free. Whether it’s a family member, or a close friend, or a new contact, let him/her know that you are starting a new video business and you need some content for your reel. If that individual is a small business owner him/herself, he/she will certainly understand. It’s important to be up front about your motivations, because (as I mentioned in point #1) you don’t want to gain a reputation as someone who will work for little-to-no-money. You simply want to include some additional work on your reel so you can charge other clients fair market price for your services.

Recommended Podcasts

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Over the last couple of years I have subscribed to a variety of different podcasts that appeal to my specific interests. I’m always on the lookout for interesting podcasts, so I thought I would list some of my favorites. Hopefully you will find some of these interesting, entertaining, and useful.

  1. THE ACCIDENTAL CREATIVE – This podcast speaks directly to those who work in the creative industry (writers, graphic designers, artists, photographers, video professionals, art directors, etc.) Each episode is designed to help the creative professional avoid burnout by providing tips on how to stay motivated and have a successful career.
  2. DISHY MIX – On this podcast, host Susan Bratton interviews the top names in the New Media and Digital workspace, discussing things related to marketing, advertising, media, social media, video, and the Internet.
  3. FREELANCE RADIO – Although Freelance Radio is no longer producing new episodes, there is an archive of about 50 episodes that provide useful information for anyone operating a freelance business. In each episode, a regular panel of four freelancers discuss one central topic. Issues range from client relations, to bookkeeping, to generating new business, to ethical dilemmas, and budgeting.
  4. THE/FILMCAST – I’ve listened to several movie podcasts, but this one has to be my favorite. Each week, David Chen, Devindra Hardewar, and Adam Quigley discuss the movies and TV shows they’ve been watching, go over the latest film news, and conclude with one in-depth movie review. The occasional guest panelist includes other film critics, actors, and film directors.
  5. INSPIRING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT WITH ZIG ZIGLAR – Each episode of the Zig Ziglar podcast features brief insights from Ziglar regarding sales, careers, life, family, relationships, and goals. The show provides great motivation for anyone, regardless of the profession. Plus, every episode is short – no more than 10 minutes, which means they can be digested easily.
  6. INTERNET MARKETING – Produced in the UK, Internet Marketing is one of the most popular podcasts of its kind. Episodes feature insights to help listeners gain increased visibility for their business through a wide array of online tools.
  7. THE DUCT TAPE MARKETING PODCAST – This podcast is for anyone looking for practical advice on how to market a business or service. In each episode, host John Jantsch interviews a marketing expert that provides useful information for online and offline marketing.

The Video Won’t Be Done in Time

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Before the project even begins, you realize that you are under a tight deadline. The client needs the video to be completed quickly, and you commit. You are confident in your ability to meet your client’s timetable. Unfortunately, you don’t get very far into post-production before realizing that it will be impossible to get the video finished before the deadline. What happens now? Last year I wrote an article entitled, “Deliver What You Promise,” which stressed the importance of fully evaluating the size and scope of a video project before committing. However, this hypothetical situation is different. In this situation, you are already knee-deep in the project and no longer have the option to turn it down. What can you do?

  1. Be honest with the client – This item is listed #1 for a reason. It is imperative that you call your client immediately and tell them what’s going on. They will certainly be disappointed that the project isn’t progressing as planned, but your client will respect you much more for being honest than they will if you waited until the very last minute to tell them of the problem. So, keep your client in the loop. Tell them what you’re seeing from your end. Tell them what you’re up against.
  2. Find out if the deadline can be pushed – Sometimes a client will pad out the schedule, knowing that certain unforeseen problems could arise. Therefore, if your deadline is the 15th, you might actually have until the 22nd. Talk to your client. Find out when the actual make-or-break point is.
  3. Break up the project into smaller, more manageable sizes – This is the moment when you start farming out portions of the project to other editors in your area. Look through your contact list. Examine your network of video professionals. Is there anyone on that list who could help by editing certain portions of the project while you edit other segments?
  4. Offer your client a discount on the work – Sometimes you might have to take a hit on your hourly rate in order to maintain a good relationship with your client. So, take responsibility. Face up to the fact that you over-promised and be willing to finish the video at no extra cost to your client. Or, offer them a discount, either on the current project, or a future project (assuming this is a repeat client).

These situations are never easy, and it causes major stress for both you and your client. However, there is always a solution to the problems that seem insurmountable.