Microbudget Filmmakers and Video Producers: DON'T DO THESE LAZY CAT MOVES IN YOUR SALES PITCHES (UPDATED FOR 2019)

This is really simple gang: when you are reaching out to clients (new ones - aka "cold" convo's - or you're maintaining ole relationships, that is anything that's not cold), be sure to put in the time to do a few easy steps in bridging the gaps. 

At the end, if you stick around for the bonus, there's some straightforward copy you can use to re-align your intro emails.

If your sole job as a movie director is to inspire, communicate, and lead, then that middle part definitely starts here, in the weeds of video production - long before you ever yell action on a set with 100's of crew and cast members.

You dig?


Anytime you open your doors for business, you will get salespeople knocking on your door. 

I know; I knock on other peoples' inboxes just about every working day (Gary Vee said it really well - warning: there may be some salty language).

And churches get this point really well; they surround their lead pastors with gatekeepers to keep all the solicitors at bay.

One of our short-term goals is to hire a PT admin because as this business grows, we're going to get more of the wacky, crazy kinds of emails (and even phone calls) that just don't quite add up. 

You will too as you progress as a filmmaker. 

Here are a handful of critical blunders you NEED to avoid like the whooping cough in your outreach.

1. Failing to find out your prospect's name

This is the easiest step, and yet so many lazy "salespeople" think quantity over quality is going to work.

It's not.


I will never do business with someone who doesn't have the time or willingness to find my name.

Not because I'm obsessed with my name or even basic customs and courtesies. 

It reveals a deeper issue when a sales pitch won't address my name - they lack attention to detail.

So will they make blunders? 

Will they over-deliver?

Will they communicate in a timely fashion?

Do they really care about my business or my crew?

No. No. No. And a whopping no

Poor communication is the biggest killer of business relationships.

You don't have to be a super outgoing person - you need to make sure your comm is regular, and I'd even say repetitive. When you over-communicate, you naturally gravitate towards over-delivering, and blunders are easier to forgive because you're keeping your client in a constant feedback loop. It also communicates that you care (over-communicating and good listening show that you give a rat's behind and you should if you're working on that great commandment). 

For example, I know a guy in Vegas named Josh. I met him way back when on day one of my interview for the mega church that ultimately brought me and my wife to Vegas. 

He was serving as an IMAG producer (live video production - not my technical schtick, but if it's yours, stick with it like Josh does) on the weekends for this mega church. 

Josh has and still teaches me a valuable lesson: over-communicate even the "obvious" details

That's a great of strength of his, and I've let him know. And because he over-communicates, he works downtown on shows and events as an A/V guy (no shortage of those in Vegas), and his work has been so consistent, he's survived multiple slowdowns and force reductions in the A/V pool to the point he had to incorporate his work as an LLC. 

Over-communicate. You'll show that you care, that you work hard, that you value your client's time, and better yet, you'll get their name right. :)

2. Wrong product or service

I'm not a software company. 

Somewhere along the way, I got mislabeled as one, and I've had this one recurring sales pitch as though I am an SAAS (software as a service) company.

It's possible that our pricing calculator has given folks the wrong impression. It's meant for you, the microbudgeter, to give your client an instant quote for any project shy of a Hollywood feature, yes, but that does not make this site an SAAS co.


Don't pitch me on your conference, your CRM tools, or your timeshares. 

Same goes for us as microbudgeters.

If our prospects aren't looking to expand their companies, they will not need a video, so find another prospect.

3. Straight up lies (or wrong info)

This one cracked me up. It was so clearly spammy, I had to add it to this list, and it was the final straw for me to pull the trigger on this blog post. I had been collecting these examples, and this was and is the icing on the cake.


Not only did the guy ignore the first principle, he straight up didn't do his fact checks. 

I have never created a course.

I used to teach math before I ever did film/video full time, but I've never made an online film course. I toyed with the idea, even tested the waters before, but it never even got off the ground (my fault entirely). 

Make sure if you're using a template, that you use it as a BASE and tailor the darn thing to the person you're sending it to! Copy/paste jobs beware!

4. Poor CTA

Remember, a clear call-to-action is critical. 

This example shows a sales person who at least took 20 seconds to find my company's name and my name for that matter. They were off to a good start. 


This is where they dropped the ball though - the CTA was too vague, and it let me off the hook, so of course I never responded. She could have said, can I call you tomorrow at 3pm?

I would have been more assertive, and you should too. 

For example, "I'll call you on Wednesday at 1pm EST." 

Or, "I'll stop by your office 9am Tuesday morning." 

If you make a bold claim, you better back it up with action (and show up early - more on that down the road). 

For example, in 2016, I gave folks one simple CTA.


And one of our fellow film/video folks followed it and left a word of encouragement for Julian.


Alina - you're going to be a great leader. Don't quit.

So gang, make your CTA clear, actionable, and shoot, let it stand out from the rest of your copy!

Heck, I'm doing it again today (below).

5. Too long

This one's easy. While I was on Mariah's newsletter (I learned everything I know about webinars from her - and I will do more of those in time), this email was just too long. And don't get me wrong - Mariah is fantastic at what she does, and that's specifically equipping people with the skills they need to launch their first __________. Like Gary Vee, she uses colorful language, so she may not be your cup of tea.


I'm no saint. I've sent newsletters to some of you guys that were painfully long too.

I'm getting better at that. 

If your prospect has to scroll down to read your email, you're toast.

Stick to 1-2 sentences and try to get them to say a "yes" or "no" response to open the door to a phone call, sit-down, Skype chat, Google Hangout, jousting, you know whatever you gotta do to break the ice. Patience, consistent outreach, and time are your best allies - here's what else you can do

6. Too infrequent

One and done is rarely one and done.

Did your spouse go out with you after you first asked? Maybe. Did your kids eat spinach the first time you asked? Did you buy the very first home you looked at? Have you ever sold a cold prospect in the first conversation on your video productions?

Catch my drift?

Followup is key

Grant Cardone says 80% of sales take place between the 5th and 12th followup.

Do the followup. Don't be a lazy, indifferent house cat.

7. Too slow

It’s baked right into the H1 heading here: slow is spelled “l-a-z-y". Being slow is the epitome of lazy cat moves. Speed is the new currency according to the aforementioned Uncle G.

Which is why you should get all the info (from the prospective client) in the first conversation (and plugging it into whatever calculator of choice you use, be it mine or someone else’s). An in-person visit or call is best (audio or video).

A second best option is to build a form on your website with radio buttons and check boxes. It’s like taking their order, but it’s on you to turn around a quote ASAP. Don’t dawdle here.

Email is a terrible idea. People hate responding to long emails. Wait… didn’t we already mention this? Hmm…

Texting is terrible in my experience. The problem with text, while it does chunk up information into bite-sized morsels, is it encourages someone to take their time when a phone call could get all the info out in a tenth of the time. It takes longer to type than to speak, and it still takes longer to dictate than it does to just talk to another human. Our world of film and video is too technical for a good dictation tool to keep up anyways. I’ve made and still make this mistake because so much of our every day interactions take place via SMS. It’s easy to fall into this trap (in other industries, I’m sure SMS is a great tool - it’s not for a sales pitch in our world of video production). I’ll have people inquire of my services via SMS and I won’t hesitate to respond. I right along with it and fail to provide them the answers they need. Texting is just too slow. Redirect them to your form or invite them to a call or a cup of joe.

Gather data as quickly as possible (Don’t know what data to gather? Try HERE). Then spit out a quote, send a proposal, close, and start your video production.


There you have it my fellow microbudgeters. Go with God, create every day, play the long game, and invite people into the story you're telling, no different than what the Ultimate Creator does for us every day. 

Want a super short email template you can use to get those cold email convo's going, designed to get a "YES" or "NO"? Sign up below and you can nab it, but you have to customize it each time you send it to a prospect!

Original: Sept 10, 2016; updated Sept 18, 2017 & Feb 3, 2019

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.