Video producers and budding filmmakers, lend me your eyeballs!
We've already talked a great deal about what to do when you're fishing for prospects.
If you haven't already, there's a guide on what to do once you have your list of prospects or even one way you can find more prospects.
However, if you are super broke as a joke, then you can do this manually. That's what we're going to talk about today. These are easy ways to find prospects in your backyard that you can practice your pitching skills to and also practice your filmmaking and more importantly, have a chance to serve THEM.
Ready to dive in? For those of you that want more - smurfs are blue - stick around to the end for the bonus.
Number 1: Google
I know it sounds like I'm being glib here, but the truth of the matter is, the ole Google search engine is so powerful, there's so much you can do especially if you learn its syntax.
Free plug for ya there Uncle Bob. You're welcome.
P.s. There's always an Uncle Bob, if not in your family, then in your backyard. QED.
Okay, take this example:
site:linkedin.com "Maxwell company" "marketing"
If you took that string, verbatim, you will have it search LinkedIn for the marketing director, a marketing associate, or someone from marketing in the John Maxwell Company. Somewhere in that first page, if there is a match and this marketing director (or CMO or the like) is on LinkedIn, then you're going to find his/her page and you can click on the link.
Note: LinkedIn is expensive - it is to the tune of 60+ bucks a month just to unlock the ability to send some mail (for which you have x credits, and they reset every month) to these prospects.
They do offer a free trial, and when you are in a really good rhythm with your film/video work, I highly recommend doing the 30-day free trial just to unlock one more way that you can reach out to prospects if not clients. Otherwise, as the title of the post suggests, you are broke as a joke and you won't be swinging for their monthly service. It is, by far, the most expensive form of email I've run into. :)
Number 2: Manta
Now Manta doesn't have everything, and I don't know what they were trying to accomplish when they started, but it has become a kind of an online Yellow Book.
Only, it has rough estimates on a company's annual revenue, address, phone number, website URL, and possibly the owner or president or CEO or some other bigwigs that would be attached to the company.
Is the information always accurate? Heck no!
But what you don't realize right away is that this is an online directory for prospecting. Especially if you live in a big town like I do: Las Vegas is home to 2 million residents and close to 40 million tourists every year. There are thousands of businesses here, and Manta is basically an online yearbook for every single one of those businesses, well, most of them.
Try it out with your town!
See how many businesses you can pull up that you can reach out to and ask, hey are you guys looking to do a video anytime soon?
Don't be that lazy of course - tailor your cold pitch.
P.s. if your pitch goes south, you'll at least
get your name out there
have a good story
For example, this week I addressed a man as "Miss" in my email. He promptly wrote back with the same honorific.
Number 3: State Database
This is going to be different for every state and that's the beauty of states. I can give you the example that I go through at least once a month in Nevada.
Google the following:
Nevada entity details
and the top result will be a government website (.gov) for the state of Nevada that allows me to search business names.
I can then sort all of the results by alphabetical order and by those that are active domestic corporations. This directory is so exhaustive, it will also list all of the businesses that are expired or no longer current.
Now the one problem with my state that you will likely not have (unless you live in Delaware), is that a lot of businesses will have a nexus in Nevada, which is just a fancy business way of saying they have a permanent business location in Nevada.
Nevada is super lenient on businesses in terms of the no corporate income tax in addition to the no personal income tax (at the state level).
A small tradeoff and a random anecdote is that last year in 2015, they (NV) rolled out a new tax and they call it the Commerce Tax which applies to businesses with millions of dollars in revenue (> $4 mill) - though every business must "file" said tax.
I know the gaming industry has made Nevada what it is, and they are among the handful that pay this tax. It's a trade-off: they get to have their gambling, and the rest of us small business owners get to have some nice tax breaks. Now only if the state had more film incentives...
Back on track; try it right now-
yourstate entity details
and see if you can find a state government website where you can comb thru its directory of active businesses.
For example, let's look at Cali:
First result! Let's try the usual...
This search tool in CA seems a little more rigid than my state NV (and yours?), but no matter.
Bingo. Got 'em.
Now this approach is not the most efficient way to find businesses, but if you are just looking for a big giant yearbook to start pulling out names, it's not a bad one to have up your sleeve.
Number 4: Meetups
Meetup.com... If you are not already using it, go sign up for it.
Everybody's heard how there is power in networking. I say relationships are more powerful, but if you have zero relationship, saying "hi" (aka the cold pitch) is better than nothing.
Sometimes you have no idea where to start, especially if you do live in a big metropolitan city like I do, in which case, Meetup.com will allow you to start parsing through the cobwebs and find clusters of like-minded people.
I recommend trying to find a small business meetup or a marketer's meetup or something along those lines. If you go to a meetup with other video production guys, you're likely going to be brushing shoulders with your competitors. I'm sure there's value to that, but you want to try to get your name and/or your company name out there to as many people as possible with a favorable image and more importantly your ability to serve THEM.
Now these meetups bring the added benefit of practicing your elevator pitch before a live group of seasoned professionals. NEVER TURN DOWN THAT OPPORTUNITY. Every single person at these groups has been working hard at their business for some time, and that kind of experience is invaluable for the real deal that we all hope to get to one day, and that is pitching the studio executives at Netflix or Paramount, etc.
Here's what I do:If somebody at these meetups gives me their business card, then that to me is an open door to start pitching them. It's way warmer than a cold pitch! Honestly. If they give me their business card, it's a good invite to reach out. Their business card will have not only have their name and number, but their email, what their businesses is about and their business website. AND all of these are essential for coming up with a custom pitch for them.
Hey, if they don't want me asking about whether they want video production to help grow their company reach that majority (approx 65%) of their clientele or even employee pool who are visual learners, then they should never give me their business card. I mean it's in the name: business card.
Number 5: Staff Me Up
Now if I really wanted to go down this rabbit hole, I could list all of the other guys where video jobs are being posted, and this is different then really all these other suggestions (or for that matter, the point of this post), but if you are super good at editing or art direction or you have a super specific niche skill within the world of filmmaking, then you could find prospects here. I say that because not every job on Staff Me Up is from a studio.
I'll say that again, not every job on Staff Me Up is from a studio.
I've seen small businesses and other outfits post their help wanted ads or even just their freelance opportunities on Staff Me Up. By no means is this the norm for Staff Me Up, but this kind of leeway does exist.
If they don't list information for how to contact them, and if I really want to find out how to help these people, then I'll use some of these techniques that I wrote about earlier for finding those decision-makers and their information, provided they at least give a company name. You should too. There's no need to pay for the Staff Me Up service.
Number 6: Production Hub
This place mostly dumps “paid” leads on their site. Meaning, you either subscribe for unlimited bids (per year) or you buy bids a la carte. But, if you look real hard, you’ll find some folks dump “free” bids on the site, and whether it’s a drone gig or a 3d animation gig, you can dive right in when it’s free (and signup to use the site, of course).
I’ve been using this service since 2018; in addition to networking, working your existing rolodex of contacts, etc, you should consider giving these guys a gander.
Headsup: not all prospects will list a phone number that you can call/text. Everyone, by default, is required to list an email.
Don’t just email.
Call/text and email. Stand out. Be creative. Be persistent. Smile so big, they can hear the smile over the phone. Go land some new contracts!
Craigslist? Can be super shady… egad.
Upwork? I linked to the post at the onset of this blurb where I talk about when you should use Upwork, but I’ll dive a little deeper here. I don’t recommend Upwork for pitching prospects. Why? You’re competing with the global talent pool on what amounts to mostly animated projects. Good luck with that when a guy halfway around the world will do the same job for pennies on the dollar. A finished video may look like bantha fodder, but it’s pennies on the dollar, which is music to some clients’ ears.
Last but not least…
Next time you are a passenger, bring a notepad, your phone, whatever it is you like to write with and as you are driving by the familiar places in your backyard, start writing down the names of every business even if it's just on Uncle Bob's Law Firm. When you purposefully look at each and every business along your familiar routes, say to the gym or to the grocery store, you will be surprised at just how many dozens of businesses are right there in your normal commute.
This gives you some association, even if it is only by virtue of proximity.
You always want to make these cold introductions as warm as possible and as quickly as possible. It's a thin one, but even just the fact that you drive by Uncle Bob's Law Firm five times a week is better than just being some random Joe with absolutely no connection to the owner, CMO, etc.
Okay, here's your BONUS. It's real simple:
I'm going to walk you through how to do a deep search of Manta so you're actually getting to the meat and potatoes (because it's exhaustive) as quick as possible with your prospecting.
You'll see it can be done in at most 5 minutes using tools we've talked about in earlier posts (it took me less than 6 to make the video walkthru).
THIS ONE'S DIFFERENT, AND I POSTED IT ON MY PERSONAL FBOOK ACCOUNT NOT TOO LONG AGO: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FILM THAT SHOWS LOVE, GRACE, REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS - EVEN GOD-FEARING PEOPLE - THAT WAS NEVER MARKETED AS A FAITH-BASED FILM? Comment Below!
Original: Oct 15, 2016; updated Aug 23, 2017; Nov 15, 2018