That's right. More. Clients. In. Your. (Figurative) Backyard.
Unless you're a budding filmmaker in Casper, WY, you'll have a big city near-ish to you. And that big city is rife with people who need video production. And this year is yet another new year where even more businesses and brands will have to net attention with video.
Forget weddings, birthdays, and music videos - go for the businesses right in your backyard by pitching your services as a video producer. It'll put some grit in you as you level up as a filmmaker.
And after an experiment in December (of 2017), I found the best conversions were by meeting people in person. Call it networking. Call it a meetup. Call it a shindig - I don't care. Get out, make new friends, be a servant leader.
Don't be shy fellow microbudget filmmaker; brush up on your pitching skills, smile big, and make a big, bold claim. Meetups are not for the timid. Go in ready to serve and stand out in a noisy world. If you're a half-decent producer/filmmaker, you owe it to those businesses to win their business and do butt-kicking videos for them.
Go with God; keep creating.
If you're brand new to starting a video production business on the side or full-time, you can start right here, right this weekend. Get a leg up here.
If you have no idea how to cold pitch clients, get started here.
If you're brave (BOLD NATION - that's you) and not one to invent excuses, get off the couch and go meet some new people. I'll show you in this post that for our line of video production, if you're still a speck in the sea of production companies, your BEST bet for meeting new clients is in person.
That's right. People are much more receptive to someone they met in-person and had a 5-minute conversation with vs. a cold call interrupting their work day.
Real live events - networking events - can produce more leads than cold calling and cold emailing combined if you're not on the first page of google for your video production services.
Fuel up, Broseph Smith.
Bonus: for those in need of little more help, I've got pitches you can sample below plus a Google Sheet that will track your followups, both cold emails, cold calls, and meetups then compare your appointment and closing ratios.
In a world... where... there are 7 billion people (think dramatic movie trailer voice guy).
Yep. This is a world of 7+ billion people.
But I'm an introvert...
God didn't create you to be the last lady or last man on earth (not at this moment anyways... you're reading this which means you likely have internet so the apocalypse probably hasn't started).
So... stop making up excuses. Yes, people can be draining, and on this side of Heaven, we're all imperfect, inhospitable, cruel, and terds on occasion. We can also be helpful, supportive, resourceful, and inventive, and it's for the latter reasons I plead with you:
GET OFF YOUR COUCH AND GO MEET SOME FOLKS
Will you get butterflies? Probably. That middle-school-dance tension never really goes away in a big crowd of people you don't know when you're going to be front-and-center for a stretch, but it does get easier with time.
Below, here are additional steps you need to commit to and a mindset I pray you adopt as you venture out in the world.
2. Practice Your Pitch
Most networking events give you and everyone else a little slot to introduce yourself. Seize the opportunity amigo: know your pitch.
After a few years in business, I've gained a little more confidence with warming up a crowd.
Side note: I was a teacher (math) before I did video full-time, so I'm thankful to have acquired about 1,000 hours of classroom instruction. I'm more comfortable in front of a crowd because of my teaching, plus I love people, and they don't drain me. If you have zero public speaking experience, and if you're a total introvert, then your battle is harder, but not impossible. All things are possible with the King.
I practice almost every working day without fail my 30 and 60-second pitches, which you can study and tear it up on your own below in the bonus section.
I start with a bold claim:
I'm Jake the film guy, and I'm the best video producer this side of the Mississippi; I'm also the most humble...
Sometimes I'll use other adjectives like "most handsome video producer" or "most persistent video producer," but for the most part I keep it simple. I smile big, I deepen my voice, and I make eye contact. People always laugh because it's such an absurd claim.
But that's the point. Absurdist humor works wonders in front of a cold crowd (cold meaning you have zero relationship to them). You don't have to leverage gossip, conflict, or controversy (especially if you're an ambassador of peace - c'mon man!); you can use outlandish claims to be memorable and grab attention.
Figure out what you're going to say and pretend you're Martin Scorcese - you've got years of wisdom and experience. Would you be timid in front of that crowd that just met you face-to-face? No.
I also make the pitch about them.
This one's easy. A lotta rank-and-file newbs show up and ramble about where they came from, how many years they made flapjacks, and then what they're excited about doing in ____________.
Me, me, me. Heck, newbs might as well grab a booster seat, a bib, and a bowl of mac-and-cheese.
It's not hard folks - talk about *them*, and what their buyers need:
to know who they are buying from
visual information for the majority of the world that are visual learners
something that saves time - a 3,000-word blog post takes way longer than a 5-minute video you can consume at ludicrous speed
Then conclude with a call-to-action (CTA):
When you're ready to commit to doing your own videos, I have a guide and video you can check out at [site name].
When you're ready to reach your buyers and you need a quality video, something you can be proud of and not embarrassed to share like a wobbly iPhone video, give ME a call.
You can be outlandish at the beginning to grab attention; you should be assertive at the end for those who want more info. You can do both without being a terd or being from the me, me, me crowd.
3. Find Places To Network
I recommend considering meetup.com.
Step 1: Creating a profile is free.
Step 2: Then pick a handful of business-y groups. Again, if you're out in Minot, North Dakota, good luck finding any kind of gathering other than snow bears and womp rats.
Step 3: Commit to showing up at as many gatherings as possible.
Step 4: Add the meetups to your favorite calendar. They already support a number of the biggin's.
Step 5: Add a catchy blurb under your profile pic for each group/event you're attending.
Step 6: Show up. There's this central tendency I've noticed in life that in any live event (especially those that are "free"), at least a third of the guests who say they're coming won't. Next time you throw a party, watch this tendency. It applies to meetups as well. 24 people might be RSVP'd to attend, but 16 or less will show up. Don't be a slacker like the guys and gals who have trouble honoring their word; show up.
Note: Meetup.com has an internal messaging system, so if you ever have any questions, feel free to message your meetup's organizer. Perhaps you met someone at a meetup and lost their card or didn't get their card to begin with? Find their profile attached to the meetup you attended and send them a message.
I also recommend Facebook.
Facebook groups, specifically - find people throwing gatherings and show up!
Step 1: Type in "[your town] networking" into the search field.
Step 2: Facebook groups - in my experience - have great engagement at the beginning and then level off in later weeks, months, and years. Look for BIG networking groups.
Step 3: Click the join button. I was approved right away for the biggest group in my town when I originally published this (Las Vegas).
Step 4: Others may require a screener question or two. The networking group for Las Vegas veterans asked me screeners like:
1. What branch were you in?
2. Are the Marines a part of the Navy?
3. Favorite duty station?
Anybody could google these questions if they were stumped, but I get what they're trying to do.
Step 5: Find an event. Commit. Go serve someone.
I'm personally not a fan of these groups on Facebook. They all turn into self-promoting billboards (which I do half the time when given the chance as well - guilty as charged).
That's probably a reason meetup.com was created.
I don't recommend Craigslist.
Craigslist is just so shady... ew.
I SUGGEST LOOKING INTO your Chamber Of Commerce.
If you live in a big city or near one... but if you're in a small town, well, see what community centers are around.
I myself have never joined my Chamber Of Commerce. It's my fault entirely for being complacent and not pulling the trigger, simple as that, but it is an established resource with space to meet clients occasionally and find new folks to rock their world with video. If you’re already a part of a CoC group, let me know in the comments what’s been the best part of being a member; I might catch up to you.
4. Show Up Ready To Serve
I went to my first few meetups with dollar signs over peoples' heads.
MLK Jr. approached racism and racial violence with non-violence. Ditto Gandhi. WWII POW survivor Louis Zamperini went back to the Japanese camp where he was held and forgave his jailors. I'm sure you can think of a number of "upside-down" responses from great leaders and examples from history. Personally, I like Jesus' approach - He said he came to serve and not be served, which was totally backwards to his followers and admirers who thought for sure Jesus was going to take an office or lead an uprising and deliver Jerusalem from its Roman rulers.
I challenge you to go to an event with a servant's mindset. It's backwards from everyone else's mindset going to the event, and that's precisely why you should do it:
a. You'll find ways to give without expecting anything in return.
b. You'll build trust.
c. Do the first two in order, and I guarantee you'll find some clients.
For example, I started sharing helpful guides with people. Especially when a lot of folks are attending this event just like you or me - no overhead, no employees, no room for videos or so they think. That's why I made the guide on how to shoot with your phone.
I give away free advice and information when people ask, and even if they don't, I try to leave them with a quick pro tip.
5. Followup Is Key
Just like everything in the business world (or relationship-building), follow up with the folks you have conversations with. People will gladly hand you their cards at these events - that's an open door to pursue a dialogue with them and see if there are ways you can both exchange value.
Bonus points for those who personalize a message or call each person you meet at the event, not just those you "mingled" with.
In December of 2017, I went to four meetups. Of the dozens of people I interacted with, only two beat me to the followup. The rest didn't even initiate a followup, and I'm not bitter at all. I mention it to illustrate a point; I'm guessing it'll be similar for you. If the average bear shows up at these events thinking
a. me first
b. call me
c. how much can I get from this relationship?
And if you're doing the exact opposite of those, you'll build new relationships quickly.
6. Invite People
I started doing this with the folks I meet at meetups and see at repeat meetups or would like to see again. I simply invite them to a meetup I'm going to.
So far, one person came out and was glad I reached out to him:
Relationships take time, but they are worth every ounce of energy. God wired us for relationships, and since the sales cycles on video productions tend to take longer, relationship-building is especially important.
Don't be a slacker McFly! Get out there!
Pro Tip: for every half-hour you have to drive to get to the meetup, plan to be 15 minutes early. If the event is an hour away, that means you need to leave as if you'll get there 30 minutes early. If it's 5 minutes away, still plan to show up 15 minutes early. Here are several good reasons why:
You could face a traffic delay
Networking events are about socializing, so you'll want to arrive early and stay late - no different than showing up for a project you're hired to do
I hinted at this in the post on hiring subcontractors - your impression of a subcontractor is influenced by the way they handle time (Are they early? Do they stay late?)
Go to a dozen meetups and comment below when you've done it - how many people have you been able to serve?
I won't spam ya or sell your info, but I will blow up your inbox about once a week with info and occasional offers. Want to be a part of a growing movement to tell (non-cheesy) stories of hope through film and video? You're in the right place; hit the blue button and join the Bold Nation.
In today's bonus, you'll get
pitches you can model
a Google Sheet with appointment, closing, and meetup information so you can track how effective your outbound marketing online vs. in-person
a... brand... new CAR!
The last part's a joke.
Ready? Blue button time.
Originally published Jan 15, 2018. Updated April 23, 2019.