It’s a given that you should call. And text if you have their cell. Email is easy, and can just as easily be filtered (i.e. never read).
To stay in front of your prospect, as a budding microbudget filmmaker, you need to flex your creativity because you're obscure. You and I don't exist. There are 45,000+ businesses in your backyard. You and I are blips. Savvy?
How can you serve them with a creative, visual masterpiece if you yourself can’t commit to serving them, which means following up with them, and engaging them through multiple, creative channels? Video producers and filmmakers - be creative! Don’t be a slacker McFly!
Upgrade: 15 creative followups not enough for you? I put together a list of 15 more for you when you sign up for the Bold Nation Newsletter below!
This one's easy, but you still have to be creative. Doesn't matter if it's for your day job or for doing this sort of work on the side (the kind of work that even brings you here). Do not be lazy, and do not be one-dimensional and only use the phone. Use Skype as a vehicle for both text messages, pictures, videos, and audio messages. Don't use it routinely though because it's still not as widely used as other means of communication. Ask yourself, honestly, how often do you use Skype?
I use this one sporadically to vary things up, but I have yet to get a response from anybody using Skype, so the jury is still out on it.
How do I find someone on Skype?
I sometimes start these messages off with a Scottish accent. How will you start yours?
You could play the sound of a spinning reel and say, "John, that's the sound of your short film ad playing - I've got front row seats for you, best in the house. Hey, it's Uncle Bob from UB Productions. Give me a call 702-000-0000 and let's get the show started!"
Persistent. Memorable. Consistent.
I'm learning right with you, and I'll try the "reel fx" when I hit a voicemail this coming week. Breaking ground Copernicus - consider it done.
2. Video Message - SMS
If you don't have their mobile phone number, this won't do you any good. But let's assume you have their email and you do get a response from them. If you haven't had personal contact with this person, and for that matter, you don't have their business card, then their cell phone number might be in their signature block.
Might. So look!
Send them a video message. Send them something to break down the barriers to let them know that you are there to serve them - and that you're a human. Again creativity and consistency are keys in this arena.
3. Video Message - Email
I like to start off outreach and prospecting with a personalized video message (there's a free service for this - unlisted, personalized videos - that integrates with your YouTube account) that I can send by email. My sales mentor Grant Cardone (more on that below) believes in calling as the first point of contact, and even though his group has studied this and found that only 2% of sales are made during that first phone call, he still believes it's a strong way to open up the dialogue because of its quickness.
He's a millionaire. Jake is not.
I admit it freely: I still wrestle with making calls, so cold calls are something I really have to man up to do every working day. I much prefer to introduce myself through other means, and I would rather even show up in person unannounced then do a cold call, so my old approach was to call them on the 4th or 5th point of contact so that it was a slightly warmer interruption instead of just being a part of that 98% of unwelcome solicitations. I now follow Grant's advice and couple emails with calls and vice versa.
I've either had no reaction to video messages or warm reactions. #Wunderbar.
4. Audio Message - Email
This one has worked well for me. It's like leaving a message for somebody, without clogging their voicemail, and giving them the flexibility to check it at any time in their email. I've received either no response or warm responses to audio messages. If you're on a Mac, just right-click QuickTime and you can do a new audio recording right there that you can then attach as a file directly inside of your mail program.
Send them a cookie (learned this one from Grant Cardone - a recurring mentor in this post).
Go to Amazon and shell out some bucks to get your prospect some cookies and include a note that simply says you want to take a bite out of their business.
I have had zero negative responses from this. Come on guys, they're cookies!
If anything, when using it as a part of my followup, it has softened relationships that started off with
Go away, we do not need your services, we're good.
Let's set something up next month.
Again, a great attitude and creativity go a long way with this process. Persistence as well - you need that as well as the initiative and the grit that go with being a filmmaker. And while we're on the subject, you might as well include the need to take responsibility for yourself. Always do that.
I can't take credit for this - Again, I subscribe to Grant Cardone’s methods, and it wasn't until this summer that I followed him because it took me 12+ painful months to realize that sales or rather closing (and overcoming objections) are my biggest weaknesses in starting a business.
I was a math teacher in my 20's. I amassed over 1,000 hours of instruction in secondary school and college classes. I'm fine with teaching (selling). I'm fine with problem-solving. My weaknesses were and to a lesser degree still are (now that I'm addressing them) handling objections and closing.
What areas are you struggling in? Prospecting? Selling? Closing? Motivation? Finding financing for your clients' productions? Grant's got something (and then some) for every area you will face as a filmmaker a) finding work and b) financing work.
And he makes a good point, and that is that everyone is a sales person, even ministers and even receptionists and especially filmmakers.
So it goes without saying, if you want to be a director of a big-budget feature that's going to reach millions of people with the message of hope, you better learn to be a better salesman. A man much wiser than me (you don't know him) once told me as I was starting my business that the difference between a mega church here in Vegas and Joel Osteen's mega church is simply that Joel Osteen is a better salesman.
Yes, that's simplifying a lot, but there's truth to that. Think of your favorite filmmakers - they are better at sales than you and I are.
6. Bday Card
I'm sure somebody thought of this before me, but it just hit me one day when I was going through some of the birthday cards that we had left over to send people that I could send a prospect a birthday card and invite them to a phone call or an in-person visit or coffee or whatever with the birthday card.
The reality is you and me have a birthday at some point this year and so does your prospect.
So send her a birthday card and tell her that it's her birthday at some point so she and her team might as well celebrate with a short film ad.
Try it. Let me know when you did.
7. Goofy Email
I can't take credit for this general idea, and it's up to you to formulate how you want to do it (I came up with the third point, but again, the general idea is not mine).
This is what I do after I've reached out to somebody 6 or 7 or 8 times and I've gotten zero responses from them:
I haven't heard back from you, so I have to assume:
1. You just hired a service that can create quality videos and funnels to get folks to pick up the phone and call _________________.
2. You're interested, but you're super swamped.
3. You found out they're remaking Highlander without Sean Connery, and you can't bring yourself to watch or read anything on a screen ever again.
Please let me know!
I highly recommend that you don't just plagiarize mine - share your personality.Tailor it to your personality and if possible, that of your prospects.
I've gotten some good responses to this email. One guy said I had a good sense of humor. Another guy said it's kind of a mixture of 1 and 2, and that's why he hadn't responded.
The point of this email is to show that you're a real person and not just some robot or some telemarketer that has a quota to fill. If you've really been going through the followup process, and if you are committed to serving that person because you know you have a service that's truly going to benefit them, then be a real person. Share photos of you and your family at Thanksgiving; ask how their Thanksgiving went; ask what their favorite drama is (you are after all a budding filmmaker).
Treat them like you would any other person in your close circle and that is like a friend. This is an email that works to that end.
8. Ask questions about their movies/shows
Well I already spoiled this one in #7, but I do love asking questions about the movies that people like to watch. The sky's the limit here.
You don't always want to ask to do business with them.
If every point of contact is an offer to serve them, you're one dimensional.
I've come up with a few questions, and I make it a point to reach out to my personal network on Facebook every Friday night with these kinds of questions. It's been a great way to stay in touch, and Facebook has decided that it favors questions (over other posts) on my profile.
But isn't that kind of lifelike?
Questions are great because you are asking someone to open up and share their hopes, dreams, their opinions, etc. Questions are a great way to further relationships.
So I ask these questions to my prospects. When I ask Uncle Bob what his favorite drama is or what's Anna Maria's favorite movie where the main character always assumes responsibility for herself, it's not entirely outside of the wheelhouse of followup for a budding filmmaker like you or me; it's not like you're asking if they like Fox, CNN, or BBC better. You's talking movies and you in the movie bizness!
If you're going to a movie or to watch your local sports team, offer to get them a ticket to go with you. It's an offer, so chances are they probably won't take you up on it (they may be busy, not interested, or they may not want to do business with you yet), but again this is an opportunity to connect with somebody as a human being. You can't put a price tag on that, and if we're called to love our neighbors as ourselves, you should be inviting those that are hard to love to these events with you (ahem... challenging prospects).
Try this in your personal life, and it will be even more natural in your prospecting. I personally want to invite more people to our events and gatherings, people that may not even have the best relationship with us (or no relationship with us). That's what love does. I'm pretty sure the King wants us to open up our doors and throw parties for people that no one else will, so I'm letting you off the hook when I say invite your prospects to your gatherings.
Besides, if you want to be a filmmaker, then you're in the business of filmmaking past the usual 9-5.
Everybody's got to eat, and if you're buying, you might just get a face-to-face meeting with them. Be careful here though: if you're new to the sales cycle, then your prospect may be able to sniff that out and take you for a ride just because they know they can get a free lunch out of it.
It happened to me, and I'm okay with it because of the comments in #9. Approach it with an attitude of honoring others, but be mindful while you're at it. Your bank account is finite after all; you've got folks that depend on you, and you want to tell stories of hope that will impact billions - so use discernment with "free" lunch. Most folks won't accept the lunch offer, but for those that do, be discerning about serving them and their company. Grant Cardone says treat the buyer like a buyer, always.
11. Singing E Card
Also borrowed this idea from Grant. It's so simple really.
Because of the spam laws, you can't just send business proposals or even invite people to do business through the singing card services.
I know. I tried once.
You would think common sense would have told me not to do it, but I tried anyways, and they flat-out do not allow it.
It's the same reason why you can't send the $1 sample/first month's subscription to the Dollar Shave Club to a client and say hey, let's cut to the competition. Businesses don't want their operations being abused and manipulated by stubborn sales and marketing people.
Having said that, you can easily send a singing e-card to a prospect on a holiday, or other special occasion. Or you can use any of those questions from that list I mentioned earlier to spark conversation. Just make sure you are using these singing e cards to connect with them as a person.
Prospect/client has an anniversary? Send them a card.
New baby in the family? Send a card.
Relationships, whether business, family, friends, or any other category that you so wish to consider, all require time and there is no shortcutting time in a relationship. Some relationships are quicker to get going than others but the fact remains that they all require time. There's no bypassing it. Keep that in the back of your mind as you send a singing e-card to someone.
Remember, if they've got a place that they go to every day for work, and if they have a business line and a business email, then they are there to do business. Why else do they show up to work?
So do business with 'em, and as you do that, treat them like you would your own family. Your family has a birthday? You congratulate them. Do likewise for thy prospects/clients.
P.s. non-affiliate link for this service: I use these guys.
12. Phone - Leave A Goofy Message On An Off Day
This isn't necessarily conventional advice because it's always better to get in front of somebody, but if no one answers then you must leave a message. You always need to leave a message no matter what (Grant's advice), but if no one is around, you could leave a creative message on an off-day. Use their first name, quickly summarize what you can do for them, and be creative here: invite them to coffee or lunch. With an accent. Singing. Like Ron Burgundy. Be your real self, be professional of course, but be memorable.
My favorite right now is to leave a message as Sean Connery, interested in coming out of retirement for their short film, provided there's an air-conditioned trailer in the Vegas heat with free wifi.
13. Show Up With Some Food
I’ve done this a few times. The boss wouldn’t see me on one occasion, on a few others, the boss was too shy to have what I brought (or they couldn’t, in the case of caffeine). But every time I’ve brought something, I’ve always been able to leave it with their folks. Even the receptionist could be an influencer - treat folks with respect, ja?!
Now, I’m from the south. I grew up in metro-Atl for the first 21 years of my life, so it’s engrained in my DNA to show up with food. It’s cultural, and if you’re going to be snacking, you best be sharing.
When you do these productions for clients in your backyard, then you need to set aside a few bucks (i.e. budget them in) so you can drop a dime on a coffee for the next 20 prospects/clients - savvy? I don’t want to even think about it - neither should you. I hardwired it into the Instant Quotes Calculator so that when you’re quoting projects, you’re already prepping for those next 20 meetings.
14. Show Up With Your Camera In Hand, Rigged Out
I’ve yet to actually do this. If you do it before me, comment below and let me know how it goes.
I showed up to two different prospects’ locations after really trying to get in front of them, and I had the camera ready to go. The first one I biffed by not bringing it inside, and the second one, I made the rookie mistake of not calling ahead. If I had, I would have known they were locking up 20 minutes before I rolled up.
Theory is this: show up, offer to do a 15-second bumper with them. Traditional is okay here - it’s the act of service, and it’s an offer. It doesn’t mean you are doing it; it’s an offer. They may pass. But service is key here. So show up and serve.
I have a great client here, and while we were ironing out the details and paperwork on a narrative short film ad, they were in a local, non-monetary contest. The only benefit would be exposure, and this company is actively pursuing co-ops downtown to bring jobs and housing to a rundown area. Win win.
They needed votes, and I hope in these situations, you’ll do the same and take some initiative. If we’re to help our prospects/clients with financing (assume responsibility), then the sky’s the limit. Pick up your camera, shoot a short, 15-second pitch with the owner (who else is more invested in the business than the head honcho?), and give them that bumper. I did it without a contract in place for future work. Give without expecting; ready for this word again? Serve.
15. Leave A Review
This is my favorite, and it really only works with people you’ve done business with, from something as simple as you bought gourmet popcorn from them to they came to your house and did an asbestos inspection. If you’ve done business with them, leave a review. You have Google, Facebook, Yelp, Bing, and Home Advisor (if that’s relevant to your client) that you can leave reviews on for your client. Do it. Don’t ask for their business in the review. One, you can get flagged. Two, it’s spammy. Three, it’s an opportunity to give back and honor their employees. Yes, you can name-drop the cashier that you interacted with - especially if they demonstrated exceptional service. In fact, you should. It builds them up (we’re called to), and it lets their boss know what their people are up to. You - the consumer - are the best evaluator. The added benefit of this extra service is it continues the dialogue you have with your prospect/client. When the work is done with the client, you should review their business too.
Get to it. Write down your goals and put them somewhere you can see them when you're working.
Then go serve. Have a purpose when reaching out to your folks, and do the work.
Fight your fear.
Pick up the phone.
Send an SMS.
Show up in person.
Eat your vitamins.
Say a prayer.
BONUS: I put together a list of 15 more creative followups to use.
You want to reach millions with the message of hope? You can't load up your Netflix queue if you want to tell stories on Netflix. So, hit that there button below to be added to the list and get some extra followups to use in your arsenal.
P.s. I don't sell your information. From time to time, I'll send you offers which helps keep this site running, but it's mostly a weekly letter with updates, news, and specials geared towards you, the budding filmmaker.
What’s a creative followup you love!? Share below for the benefit of your fellow microbudgeters!
Original post: Dec 7, 2016; updated Dec 11, 2017