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Taking Care of Business
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Old June 12th, 2006, 09:49 PM   #1
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Legal / Marketing Questions

I started a production company about a year and a half ago, focusing, for the most part, on corporate/industrial marketing videos. Since launching the business, I've put together a few (three or four) videos for local manufacturers. However, nothing to date has been done very "formally" from a business perspective. Notably, we haven't had any sort of proper paper trail on any projects. As I finally have the time to expand the business to a full-time operation, I figure it's (well beyond) time to get everything set up a bit more formally. I'm really looking for advice in terms of what sort of "bare minimum" I should have in terms of a paper trail. Any other advice regarding getting this operation set up more formally would be appreciated as well.

Secondly -- Since starting the company, I've put together a Demo DVD (packaged along with a pamplet about our company and services) which I send to potential clients. I've also put together all the standard "office supplies" -- letterhead, business cards, shipping labels, etc. When I'm making a presentation to a potential client, I always bring along a copy of the Demo DVD for them, and I try to be prepared to answer any questions that may arise. My question here is, aside from the Demo DVD, what sort of marketing materials should I have ready when I make a presentation? I hate to have a standardized rate card, as my rates tend to vary depending on complexity of the project, expected timeframe, etc., but I feel that I should probably have something more than just the Demo DVD. Any suggestions?

Thirdly -- in another marketing question, I'm trying to come up with a good marketing strategy to get my name out there. Up until now, as this company has been a bit of a side business, I haven't worked very hard to market the business; I'd get an occasional call from somebody who heard of me via word-of-mouth and needed a video put together. However, I'd like to start actively marketing the business, and I'm not really sure where to start. Again, advice here would be greatly appreciated.

Finally -- Are there any good books or websites that cover the business aspects of starting a production company? While I've got the creative services going strong, my business management skills probably leave a bit to be desired ;) In any case -- once again, any suggestions here would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old June 13th, 2006, 01:31 AM   #2
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Eric,

Well, I'll start with my $.02 (remember, most advice is worth what it costs)

I'm in a somewhat similar position. My first couple of hundred spent was on an accountant. Even before equipment.

What I'm working on next is a website. I think this has far more impact than stationary. I find business cards are just another way to get the web address out there. In my other job I had all my stationary done and then had to get a new cell number. Guess what... all new stationary. If you can afford it (some would say you can't afford not to), use a good graphic design company to help develop your image or at least a cool logo.

I (personally) will use guerilla marketing to get my web address out there. I'm designing T-shirts with a (hopefully) cool logo. I will sell a T for $20, and someone's walking around advertising your website address for you. For that matter, you can give some away. Of course the key is it has to be cool or people won't wear it (see note above about graphic design co). The same applies to window decals or even hats. They're not that expensive and think about what happens to a newspaper ad, the next day it's history; lining the bottom of a bird cage, and your out $1000.

If you're going to do corp stuff, most of them like slick and pro rather than cheap. But they want a deal so you've got to start higher, grind a little, then come in at where you wouldv'e anyway. This comes from 20 years in biz with large (PITA) customers (a little over a million a year in sales).

Anyway, that's my .02 for now.

Good luck!

Ken
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Old June 13th, 2006, 07:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Diewert
Eric,

Well, I'll start with my $.02 (remember, most advice is worth what it costs)

I'm in a somewhat similar position. My first couple of hundred spent was on an accountant. Even before equipment.

What I'm working on next is a website. I think this has far more impact than stationary. I find business cards are just another way to get the web address out there. In my other job I had all my stationary done and then had to get a new cell number. Guess what... all new stationary. If you can afford it (some would say you can't afford not to), use a good graphic design company to help develop your image or at least a cool logo.

I (personally) will use guerilla marketing to get my web address out there. I'm designing T-shirts with a (hopefully) cool logo. I will sell a T for $20, and someone's walking around advertising your website address for you. For that matter, you can give some away. Of course the key is it has to be cool or people won't wear it (see note above about graphic design co). The same applies to window decals or even hats. They're not that expensive and think about what happens to a newspaper ad, the next day it's history; lining the bottom of a bird cage, and your out $1000.

If you're going to do corp stuff, most of them like slick and pro rather than cheap. But they want a deal so you've got to start higher, grind a little, then come in at where you wouldv'e anyway. This comes from 20 years in biz with large (PITA) customers (a little over a million a year in sales).

Anyway, that's my .02 for now.

Good luck!

Ken
Thanks for the suggestions! I forgot to mention that I do have a web site for the business (freelancerproductions.com) -- I certainly agree that it's an important marketing tool! You've given me some good ideas to work with, thanks!
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Old June 13th, 2006, 09:42 AM   #4
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My two cents.

Don't forget that pr, (free PR) is the best way to get noticed.

Write up a press release and send it to the media. If you're doing local, send to local media outlets and if you want national attention send it to as many media outlets as possible.

Sending a fax to all the media outlets in the US will probably cost you around $10.00. (As reported in some publication I read somewhre...)

You can also release PR through PR websites.

Just make sure your Press release is interesting and has contact information for the reporter. The Press Release should have enough information for the reporter to write an article or copy your press release for their column, even if they do not contact you.

One form of Gorilla marketing that you can do, if you have those vinyl wrapped vehicles, is to park it in front of a potential client for several days and contact them afterwards. Just make sure it's legally parked and not annoying to the company. If its combined with a Press Release, you'll in the door! Whether you get a sell out of it is a different topic.

Another form would be to gather as many newspaper clippings of the press releases and send it to the company you wish to build a working client relationship with. Make sure you find out who is in charge of hiring you before you send any clippings.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 07:30 PM   #5
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Thanks to both of the above posters for some great marketing advice! =)

I'm still, however, looking for some suggestions on getting a proper paper trail in order -- anybody have any advice on that one? As I mentioned in my first post -- if anyone knows of any books or websites discussing the business side of running a production company, I'd love to hear about them!

Thanks again for the advice so far; I hope someone here can help me out on this one! =)
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Old June 13th, 2006, 11:31 PM   #6
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Eric,

After I posted, I checked out your site. Nice job.

As far as paper trail etc., I think good accountants are worth the money. There is probably a lot of small biz start-up help on gov sites. I know that up in Canada, there is a whole heap of gov help for small biz.

Ken
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Old June 13th, 2006, 11:33 PM   #7
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Eric,

Oh yeah... One more bit of advice. Don't read the thread on here..."Ridiculous job offers...."
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Old June 14th, 2006, 06:29 AM   #8
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As Mark stated, the government offers a lot of help to entrepreneurs. Check out government sites for SBA or SCORE.

SCORE will have people who have business experience you can concult with for free. SCORE stands for Senior Corp of Retired Executives. SCORE has local chapters, usually in every city. They also have a liberary of SBA info you can look at.
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