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Old November 28th, 2007, 12:39 PM   #1
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Urgent! Need marketing strategies for photo montages

OK I'll just get honest here about how bad it is. lol

I"ve been trying to market photo montages and biographies for two years and am sitting here with no work (three jobs in two years and one was a friend). Last month out of sheer exasperation I tried to make the jump from my other busienss I do part time (and hate) and ended up in serious trouble financially. It seems that this isn't right. Things should be rolling for now.

I'm not ready to market events skillwise but am working on it. Right now I want to stick with what I can do comfortably. Also I don't want to work for someone else, I want to make this work on my own.

I've created a demo, printed brochures, made marketing calls, tried to network with businesses that could use what I'm doing. I've talked to three business counselors and two marketing people (one of whom I didn't trust because I knew she was talking to my competition locally). All anyone ever tells me is to stick my brochures in rich salons and to go to womens networking lunches. It doesn't help. My product is decent, and I'm likeable enough that someone would hire me. What's the deal?

All the leads I have had, I've worked, but people get caught up once it requires their preparation and put it off.
Half the people who would use the service I"m offering, don't even understand what it is until it's explained to them. They're not video-oriented.

I have no, read NO, money left at all for advertising, anywhere no yellow pages, no TV ads, nothing. In fact unless something happens this week, I may not even have a phone past Saturday as my phone bill, voice mail AND cell are due this coming week and I don't have it if I expect to pay rent. Hence the need for a strategy that will help me land a customer, this week.

I got to thinking last night, that I've been patient, but this isn't right. There's something I'm not doing. I've got to find whatever strategy will make this work and grab it and go. I will have this business, I will be successful, and that is the only option.

I would be so grateful for any strategies from someone who has been there sucessfuly, esp. marketing this particular service or similar.

Thanks in advance.
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Old November 28th, 2007, 02:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kell Smith View Post
Half the people who would use the service Iím offering, don't even understand what it is until it's explained to them. They're not video-oriented.
1.) I think you solved the mystery in that single sentence. Most of the time we as service providers are required to "dumb down" the description of the service so that the end customer can better understand what we have to offer. I never use tech talk while speaking and\or advertising my services to a customer.

2.) YOU have to come up with creative ways for your customer to utilize your service. If you wait for them to come up with the creative ideas... you'll never get any business. Think about all the people, businesses, professions that could really benefit from your service and advertise creative ways for them to use your service.

3.) Realize that youíre working in an extremely broad market! In order to generate the most possible business you have to find a vertical market within the given industry. For example, if I advertised my production company as a company that can film any event, I would be placing myself in an ocean of other production companies, and more than likely wouldn't get hired! However, if I specialized in music videos and promotional band DVD's, or Weddings.. Well, that would narrow things down allot and make it easier for the end customer to find me!

There are many ways to grab a potential customers attention. Keep it simple, provide creative ideas, and know your niche in a broad market.

I really hope this helps you :) let us know how everything goes!
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Old November 29th, 2007, 12:28 AM   #3
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Kell, if you're out of money you need to work for someone else, and get those bills paid/have some funds in saving before launching off on your own. Its sounds to me like what you need right now is a solid business plan. Lay out how you're going to be successful as if you were pitching to a potential investor, because you are... YOU. You need a plan of attack, and that's a business plan. Don't be afraid to change it if things aren't working.

The main problem right now is it sounds like the people don't "need" your services... the could use them, they might be a lot happier if they hired you, but its not a need... "Bang!... What was that?... I don't know but the pipe under the sink is leaking like crazy, and I can't shut the water off... Ring ring, hello, Ted's Plumbing service..." now that's need. Just like any product or service, you have to make people aware of what it is you offer, and why its a benefit, to the point where they feel they "need" your services. What made you think that you could make a living doing Photo Montages in the first place? There must have been something in the market place that motivated you to get started... is it still there? Is what motivated you ("man, when people see how great these montages look, they'll be begging me to do them for them") still true, or has it proven to be different that what you first thought?
Look at successful competitors... what are they doing differently? More advertising? More services? Cheaper rates? Better product? Are they really as successful as they appear, or are they scatching it out just like you?
A well thought out business plan should address these issues and put you on the right path.
Good luck!
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Old November 29th, 2007, 01:41 AM   #4
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Kell -
Keep in mind the current condition of the economy... unless you can pinpoint EXACTLY why someone would need your product, and find that market, you're not going anywhere. Any chance that you can come up with a "gift" aspect to go with the holidays?? Most people are currently focused on that!

Ask yourself if anyone else is doing what you are trying to do and making it (really making it fly, not just "falling with style"). Sadly, MOST businesses fail, and you need a good solid business plan and execuion, not just an idea and optimism. And you WILL have to push your "comfort zone" to make ANY business work...

"photo montages and biographies" - Not to be critical, but I'm not even sure from that description what it is you've got and WHY someone would need to use your "service" - if you already know who uses this sort of service, how about trying to appeal to similar clients by crazy affordable pricing (meaning take ANY work for whatever you can get paid...) if you have to do it to make the bills and build a reputation?

Unfortunately there's no "magic bullet" to making a business run, and what might work in one market might bomb in another. Without knowing a LOT more about your whole business, it's hard to even give tips - and with the clock at 11:59, you may want to jump back to that business you hated if it will pay the bills?

Just from a practical standpoint, 3 jobs in 2 years doesn't bode well for "landing a customer this week"... you do have a "plan B"? I've consulted for businesses before, and feel for you - not a good position, I hope things will work out for you somehow.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #5
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Kell,
I don't have the perfect answer for you and for that I apologize.

If you're not making money with video, then get another job. Keep doing the video thing but get a job that provides you with the income you need to survive. I still work a full time job, which I don't care that much for. But it does pay the bills and allows me to keep poking away at the video thing.

I'm not sure but are you only doing video montages? Not a big demand for those alone. At least not for me. However, I do pick up quite a few montage only jobs for around graduation time. And, I supply video tributes to funeral homes in my area. Those come in steadily but you never know when you'll get 'em. And when you do, there's ususally a 24 hour turnaround.

Jeff
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:46 PM   #6
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Big problem these days is that everyone makes these things. With the proliferation of all kinds of editing, presentation programs, and digital cameras, the consumer has become his own producer of things like this. I don't think dependence on that as a sole business product is a realistic business plan.

Now, one thing I had considered in this realm, is the possibility of hooking up with local mortuarys to produce life stories from still photos for services. Admittedly, you have to be able turn things around fast. I actually did one for my mother's funeral, that even had some motion footage. Note: Video or motion footage can be disconcerting or just too sad, so you have to be careful with that.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 03:44 PM   #7
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I don't have too much advice, other than that it sounds like you're probably going to have to work a second job alongside doing what you really like to do - I've been at this for about 5 years, and still have to balance a lot between what I want to do and what I have to do to keep it going.

I would face your fears a little and step out into something that's not quite as safe as photo/video montages - go shoot a local documentary of interest and try to sell copies, or do a couple of free wedding videos for family and friends and try to shop that around. There's a lot you can do, you just have to be brave and try it out. Gotta work on the steady income first though probably.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 03:53 PM   #8
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honestly? you need better skills, period.

i would say that producing videos is about constantly reaching for the next level of skill, craft, and artistry, and if you haven't exceeded where you began a year ago (and therefore aren't feeling confident about taking on higher-end productions), then you need better skills.

my advice--naturally, considering the source!--would be to commit to spending one solid year to working that job you hate, paying the bills, and signing up for every single DV Challenge and UWOL Challenge that come along. things would look a lot different for you after one year. you will have some skills. that wedding that right now seems intimidating will seem easily within reach. you have to have the fever for your own productions. if you don't have that passion, then why would anyone else want to put you in charge of their passion, whether it is their wedding, their home movies, their business, or whatever?

just saying, "i'm going to run a business" is meaningless. you have to set and meet realistic goals. that is the only way to run a business. figure out three things that you can and want to do. do them. give yourself a pat on the back. then set three more. if you can focus this way, consistently, over the course of one year, then you will wake up one day and find that you have a nice little business.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 06:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Barcellos View Post
Now, one thing I had considered in this realm, is the possibility of hooking up with local mortuarys to produce life stories from still photos for services. Admittedly, you have to be able turn things around fast.
Chris,
The life story / memorial video is a good service to offer if you can do a quick turnaround. I eliminate some of the production time by going with a fairly standardized process.

I allow up to fifty photos (although I usually get around 60 and don't complain about it). I have a few template intro screens that I choose from and just replace the names and dates. I use template designs in an Epson (R220) CD design program and in Nero for the DVD case design. I use inkjet printable discs and print the case design on photo paper. Although I use Vegas 7 for video editing, I use Pinnacle Studio Plus 9 for doing photomontages. I like the storyboard view feature and the quick pan and zoom feature in the program.

The photo scanning takes up most of the time. I use simple fades and dissolves for transitions. Sometimes I'll use the smartsounds feature, other times I'll use something else but that involves additional work. As far as music goes though, I don't think it matters much. The funeral homes always have their own music playing anyway. The sound track is typically only heard by the family afterwards.

Not everytime but sometimes, I get requests for additional copies, especially if the deceased had a big family that was close. I let the funeral home take the orders. I burn the copies, they collect the cash, including their mark up cut.

I have one funeral home (www.zachrichfuneralhome.com) that has a website. I host a web version of the memorial on my site that is linked to from their site.

I don't charge a high price for this service. It's only $100 plus $10 for additional copies. I live in a rural area so I doubt I could get much more than that. It takes about 4 to 5 hours from start to finish including the rendering time.

Kell--- Maybe you could give something like this a try.


Jeff
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Old November 29th, 2007, 07:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kell Smith View Post
I'm not ready to market events skillwise but am working on it. Right now I want to stick with what I can do comfortably.
Perhaps you should reconsider. Step up to the plate, whack the crap out of that ball. Push hard and get aggressive. Never undersell yourself. This stuff ain't rocket science.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 04:18 PM   #11
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Thanks very much everyone for your thoughts on this.
I definitely would like to move more toward events and get my skills where they need to be. This has been more about focusing on a quick fix that will put food on the table.
I"m going to meet with a friend tomorrow who has a film background and has also taken an interest in this and we are going to brainstorm creative ideas.
There has to be a solution.
=)
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