Client Communication, Managing Expectations & 2019 Resolutions
Happy New Year and thank-you to everyone who made this year possible.
From our first national TV ad and comedy pilot to a music video and several corporate gigs, it turned into my biggest year yet. November-December became my busiest months to date.
Next year is already pretty busy for the first quarter, and my resolution is to focus more on videos for green and social issues I support, as well as a renewed focus on more scripted and cinematic material.
“…my resolution is to focus more on videos for green and social issues I support…”
My team of contractors and I will be dipping our toes into tutorial videos for corporate clients to help make complex processes feel simple, using video to explain pages of text I used to send via email. Video is complex, and for all this year’s successes, it is clear that I have a lot of work to do in streamlining my process and making communication with clients more efficient.
For instance, I found that whenever my clients had a designated project manager who had some marketing experience and was capable of making decisions while still available enough to read important emails, the experience for me, my team AND the client was stellar.
On the other hand, when clients were smaller and company owners or executives tried to manage projects without paying close attention, they weren’t always satisfied with the results.
Similarly, I found that clients who were on tight budgets and hadn’t considered how to market their videos or weren’t clear on their vision or needs were less happy with results, because they wanted to have something cheap, fast AND good all at once. But as anyone in this industry will tell you, the oldest adage in the book is “you can’t have all three, only two.”
“Clients who needed specific results or were on tight budgets needed to be hands on and couldn’t afford to take an aloof position.”
In short, clients with larger budgets and marketing plans could afford to be distant and allow me and my team to take larger roles. Clients who needed specific results or were on tight budgets needed to be hands on and couldn’t afford to take an aloof position.
So, long story short, we’ll be creating videos in the new year that help prepare clients better for the process of making a video, and encourage them to make key decisions about their needs BEFORE hiring a video production company.
We’ll talk about the difference between videography and full production services, how scripts and scaling can quickly make video more expensive, and we’ll talk about the workflow and why it’s important to do things certain ways and not cut corners.
The other resolution I have for the new year is to find clients who can afford proper production budgets and timetables. When you start out, you’re always looking for any gig you can get, and you promise everything to get the job, but the race to the bottom model is not sustainable, because the talented crews, on camera talent and post production teams I hire for small gigs won’t come back if the work is always stressful, undervalued and emotionally challenging.
I started this transition after a bad experience last year, but I haven’t moved far or fast enough and have a ways to go. Still, I’ve begun turning down jobs that do not meet my minimum needs, even when they offered experience and some payment (versus none).
At the end of the day, it’s not worth damaging the relationships I value and as I learned this year, pushing limits burns bridges. The current client might not mind me stretching and pushing for great results for them, unsustainably, but the next client, and FVPS as a whole suffer because we won’t have those experienced people around the next time.
“…that means managing client expectations better and seeking out clients who… understand the difference between a pre-fabricated stock video outsourced to India, and a dedicated, local production team…”
Ultimately I take responsibility for stretching and pushing hard to impress clients while keeping costs down. When it works, it feels great, and when it doesn’t, it is frustrating and an important learning opportunity. It is always up to me to create a safe and comfortable work environment for contractors, and hopefully soon, employees. And that means managing client expectations better and seeking out clients who respect our craft and understand the difference between a pre-fabricated stock video outsourced to India, and a dedicated, local production team fine tuning your message and working with companies and non-profits to send very personal and very specific messages.
The majority of projects I do are problem and hassle free, but every year one project almost breaks me, and it’s nothing short of a miracle that I survive to fight another year. But every body blow makes the team stronger, and I’ve never felt more confident or capable.
Thank-you to all of our clients who came back and made this year so great. We’ll be back with a new demo and more original content this year. If you’re a client or want to be a client, let me know what you’re looking for or want that you haven’t had from video production services before.
Best of luck to all the small businesses struggling to do great things in an increasingly global economy. Please keep it local, green and courteous.