The number one question we get is “How can I get more consistent work?”
We know it too well. It’s a roller coaster. You get tons of work. You’re, you’re busy as hell, and you, you have all the money in the world and then it dries up because you’re not marketing. You’re not networking during that time. And all of a sudden, you’ve got months of being flat broke. It’s an endless cycle and it’s no good.
So we reached out to two of the most prolific producers we know. Guys that seem to always have tons of work. And we said, “What is your secret sauce to always having work?”
1. Relationships: Think of your clients as friends you need to stay in touch with
Chris Donaldson, executive producer at Moment.film says this,
Getting new clients is really about dedicating yourself to building relationships. And those relationships will succeed if you are consistently providing the best value out there: a fair price, a great outcome, and an enjoyable experience. How are you solving people’s problems and making their lives better with your talents? If you can answer that, you’re well on your way to building a formidable client list. The best marketing plan of all can be boiled down to two simple words: Care More.”
– Chris Donaldson, Moment.film
So when Chris says relationships, what I think of is friends. What you really want to do is think of your clients as your friends. You can’t not talk to a friend for three months and then call them up and expect they’re going to be able to go out for a beer with you right away. You’ve got to nurture that relationship constantly. One way to easily nurture? Share, share, share your work all the time. That’s one quick way to build that kind of relationship that Chris is talking about.
Send your clients works in progress. Send them a little shot that you thought looked great. Just stay in touch with them. It only takes five, maybe 10 minutes a week to stay in touch with your most key clientele. You’ll be building that relationship, showing them how your talents are going to work for them and just telling them that you care. And that’s what Chris means when he says care more, but you’ve got to do it on a consistent basis. What you send does not have to be the most polished thing ever. What’s most important is it, it’s something fresh – it’s something new. And it’s something that they felt that you wanted them to see, specifically.
2. Cast a wide net for clients – large and small
The second word of advice we get is from my good personal friend, John Sherman, the CEO of Storyfarm over in Baltimore, Maryland. Here’s what John says.
“Getting consistent in your work has always been a challenge in the 12 plus years we’ve been in business. There are really two ways to do it. Find a few incredible clients or find lots of clients in our experience, even with brands producing video content on a regular basis, the pace of work can be unpredictable. So the best way found is to cast a wide net, different kinds of clients, different kinds of verticals. We’ll create the volume necessary to be able to hire people and create sustainable revenue and growth. Okay. I love this from John. This is something we did at my old company hand crank all the time. You have got to have that wide net.”
– John Sherman, CEO Storyfarm
And what does John mean by verticals? Consider nonprofit clients who are very consistent with their galas and their events. These often all happen around January, February. You get all the gala films and then they don’t do anything for the rest of the year. Then you’ve got your retail clients. They tend to be heavy on the Fall as they get ready for Christmas and that big push. And then of course you get your outdoor product crowd in the Spring doing videos of rafting tools or whatever outdoor item might need a video.
Those are good examples of the kind of thing John means when he says you’ve got to have different verticals. It’s also good to have different sized clients. So, you might have Microsoft or Amazon on the one hand – that’s what who we always dealt with over here in Seattle – or you might have a local regional that you just run out and do a quick thing for when time timing works. It’s really important to have both the long range and the short range. You do a shoot for a company like Microsoft or Amazon and you’re going to be planning it for months. And then you have just the quickies that you run out and knock out quickly. Having projects of different sizes and projects in different verticals can make the difference of having a consistent workflow, or one that lurches from work to no work.
And by the way, the other really powerful thing about having different verticals is that it keeps you from being beholden to one client. Like it or not, no matter how much they love you, eventually a quote that’s cheaper than you is going to pass over their desk. And it’s really hard for them not to take that. So just be careful with those big clients who take up all of your time and give you all their money because things change. Marketing directors change. It’s important to spread that wide net, just like John says, to protect yourself.
3. Sell at the shoot
This last one comes from me. So, even if you’re always out there shooting, that does not mean you don’t have any opportunity to sell. You actually have the best opportunity ever to be listening to your client about what their problems are.
Try to find time within the shoot to grab a coffee and just talk to the client. Try not to be the one talking. Try to be the one listening. The best salespeople by far are the best listeners. Everyone says that. And there’s a reason why it’s true. The best listeners are the ones that sell. So just listen to the client, ask them a few questions. You’re having coffee with the marketing director. Don’t talk about the shoot. Talk about what else, what are their problems? What’s their biggest problem on their mind right now, nine times out of 10, it’s something you can help them with. More often than not, it’s something that you can make a video for or that you can morph into a video solution. And – it’s something that you can work with them over time, long after the shoot is over.
And by all means, buy their coffee, buy their lunch, make sure to make them feel treated well. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but listen to them. It goes back to what Chris was saying about relationships. That’s still the number one thing out there by far, you can’t beat that. What are the problems? Don’t go right into, “Oh, I got some ideas for video for you.” They won’t want to hear that that. What matters is, what is the client’s problem today?
And then, with their problems and thoughts in mind, you’re going to take that and turn that around in your head, on your own time while your driving back from a long shoot. You’re now spending time thinking about, well, how can I turn his problem into a video solution? Before you know it, you’re emailing back and for with the client about the next project, even while still working on the first.
I hope these ideas help, and I’d love to hear any ideas that have worked for you in the discussion below. If you’d like, you can see a video of this post here.
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