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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old July 28th, 2009, 12:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Padilla View Post
How can I ever raise my rates and still stay in business full time? Any thoughts?
It's not a cut-and-dried process, so take everything I (we) say into context of where you live.

I wish I could use my hands to explain the following, but until we meet in person, I am going to have to rely on my writing skillz:

Keep milking your cash cow packages, but offer a super-expensive package that is different than your cash cow in most respects. It could be a short form edit or something that includes super8 film or something shot entirely with DSLR's. It could be you selling yourself as the artist, working solo, and giving them complete privacy (no blogging about their wedding).

I don't recommend that it include lots of more work or equipment on your behalf (a kitchen sink package). You'll ultimately resent selling those, and as Joel mentioned earlier in this thread, there's other factors to consider in making "high-end" profitable.

I recommend that you bill it by the hour. Starting at 6 hours, $750/hour, the intimate art film by Michael. This pricing strategy also gives you room to upsell.

You'll need a sample to show, so you might have to give away the service a time or two. Do so to the most attractive clients possible :->. Perhaps you can develop it alongside an existing booking.

So, by not ridding yourself of your cash-cow, you still have a solid financial foundation while you develop and deploy your exclusive offering. And as you book more of your exclusive package, you can risk raising the price on your cash cow since you will be replacing that income with high-end bookings.

Hope that's helpful,
jones
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Old July 28th, 2009, 12:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau View Post
create something so unique that, to your couples, there is no comparison. part of that is within the film itself, and part of that is within the perception of the film - which is of course tied to you and your branding.

P.
Thank you master Jedi.. :)

So is that what you did, "build it and they will come" kinda thing?

Patrick you have done amazingly well over the past few years in perfecting your craft.. I have firsthand seen you come a long long way! And although we have some catching up to do, we are definitely a studio who desires to produce breathtaking films like you guys do on a consistent level, but it certainly can't end there? (Although I would like borrow Michael & Konrad for a few jobs if you don't mind :D)

What's funny is that in our area there are only a few people (that I am aware of) doing things artistically inspired that lean into being our competition (artistically).. the most poignant one being Elysium productions; Yet a bride that first went to see Elysium (and didn't book) then afterward came to us, and said they thought we were better and more unique etc.. yadayadayada.. (Elysium rocks too! -M) and then after all that still didn't book us either.. (probably booked Still-Motion instead - LOL..) no actually they ended up going to a cheaper vendor then both of us; unfortunate for them IMO. So there is at least one case where work didn't win.

But I do agree that being very good at what we do is first and foremost in my opinion; but how many videographers can we list that are very successful and are poor-to-average videographers, heck there are many on the weva CEA circuit that I have scratched my head over; so obviously the work itself doesn't equal total sales or success.

I think the other part is defining customer service and exactly what that means.. and right now I can't say our customer service is anything unique. we don't have any gimmicks, we don't take people to lunch or dinner and don't do anything special; we are ourselves, friendly, respectful, fun and as efficient as possible; and in most cases, we meet in our home. If more is needed or that "woo's" clients then please share.. but I'm not big on pretentious politics or brown nosing.

Also, as noted above, we do not have an office/studio.. would love to but its just another expense that eats into the bottom line. Is that something needed? We've been pondering the possibility but the cost overrules the desire to move forward on a studio.
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Last edited by Michael Padilla; July 28th, 2009 at 03:47 PM.
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Old July 28th, 2009, 03:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris P. Jones View Post
Keep milking your cash cow packages, but offer a super-expensive package that is different than your cash cow in most respects. It could be a short form edit or something that includes super8 film or something shot entirely with DSLR's. It could be you selling yourself as the artist, working solo, and giving them complete privacy (no blogging about their wedding).

I don't recommend that it include lots of more work or equipment on your behalf (a kitchen sink package). You'll ultimately resent selling those, and as Joel mentioned earlier in this thread, there's other factors to consider in making "high-end" profitable.

I recommend that you bill it by the hour. Starting at 6 hours, $750/hour, the intimate art film by Michael. This pricing strategy also gives you room to upsell.

You'll need a sample to show, so you might have to give away the service a time or two. Do so to the most attractive clients possible :->. Perhaps you can develop it alongside an existing booking.

So, by not ridding yourself of your cash-cow, you still have a solid financial foundation while you develop and deploy your exclusive offering. And as you book more of your exclusive package, you can risk raising the price on your cash cow since you will be replacing that income with high-end bookings.

Hope that's helpful,
jones
It is.. I had an exclusive package a few years ago.. it did work but not as well as I had wished; the side effect seemed that all packages sold less; I think because as clients came to us they were uncomfortable with not being assured they would be getting us, and therefore felt it was a raw deal and ended up looking elsewhere. Its kind of what we just restarted.. and are feeling the same effect. We have an exclusive package that does all DSLR, color grading, cine equipment etc.. and is exclusively our studio shooting (no associates); the other packages are more geared for associate packages, no DSLR etc. less cinematic. But since most people are seeing our website.. (which has no DSLR but is very artistic) they obviously want that and are afraid of getting something different (of less quality).

I'm not sure how to differentiate the two and still have good sales all around. The only thing I can think of is starting a new company that is exclusively us and only high-end; and keep the two separate from each other as much as possible.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 04:50 PM   #19
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Hi Michael,

I would encourage you to test-drive removing all published pricing in favor of a fully custom packaging approach, if only for a few weeks. Try it and fill us in on your new average booked rate during that period.

-K
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Old July 29th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #20
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Hi Kevin.. good to see you on here (sorry I should have mentioned you on this post too.. you're a great videographer).

So what seems to be working for you, were in the same area, basically going for the same clientele. What is your pricing structure and how is it working out in this market? Please share.. unless you don't want to divulge to local competition :)

We'll try going in with a all customized approach; where is the starting base line?

Blessings,

Michael
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Old July 30th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #21
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I was co-owner of a successful high-end video production company here in Southern California for a few years. The way we transitioned might be different from the way you would, but it worked well for us.

Initially we were doing a huge range of packages. We must have had 8 or 9, all the way from one camera/op for 6 hours unedited to 3 or 4 cameras/ops edited with unlimited time. Our prices ranged from $1200 to roughly $6000. We found ourselves doing mostly the low end packages, partly because the clients thought they could still have our quality of work, and didn't see the added value in adding additional cameras/ops.

We were doing so much work, and not making much money for it. Since we also did lots of corporate video work, and full on event production for corporate events in the 100k range, we were considering dropping weddings altogether, as they just weren't that profitable. However, they were still providing a decent chunk of our gross revenue, so we decided to make some big changes.

Doing so many weddings, we knew exactly what the ideal wedding video would be. At least 2 cameras and 2 operators all day was absolutely necessary. It's so much more difficult with just one person at the job, we decided not to even offer 1 camera any more. Also, Brides don't want to have to worry about only having you for a set time (6hrs or 8hrs). They often want you all day, from the getting ready in the morning to the crazy dancing into the wee hours of the morning the following day. Nothing is more of a buzzkill to the client when you approach them at the job and let them know you are leaving and if they would like to pay more for additional time. Just give them unlimited time, charge a little extra for it, and they don't have to worry about it. If they use you all day, you already charged them for it. If they don't use you all day, then you made a little extra.

Of course one of the most important parts of charging more for your packages is having a better quality product than your competitors. We already had a style of editing that probably took more time than other editors would, but our clients would rave about it. Our clients would shop around for a videographer, and would always tell us they thought our style of editing was the best, and ultimately thats why they went with us even though they were paying more. One element that greatly assisted in impressing our clients when they came to our office to see our work is the presentation. Not the tv or the room you have them in, but the cover art and menu for the dvd. We were known for having highly professional motion graphics for our dvd menus and covers, which I designed myself. It would immediately set the tone of the meeting and they were extremely impressed before they even started watching the video. Then, once they saw the video, they were sold. We were 100% successful in booking a client once they came to our office to see our work. Of course there were some that never came by who decided ahead of time they couldn't afford us, but thats ok.

I've since left that company and started designing advanced motion menu templates for other video production companies so they can impress their clients as we did. If you are interested, you can take a look at them on my website.

Once we had an ideal package that all our weddings should be, we decided to make that our "Premiere Package" and started it at 4k. There was no HD upgrade or any bs like that... HD was standard in everything we did, and has been for many years. So our clients would start with the 4k package and add on from there, such as a 3rd camera/op for the ceremony, Photo Montage, Setting up screens at the reception to play the photo montage, live video switching at the reception, lighting, and much more. Our clients would often spend over $10k on their package.

We made a decision that we just didn't want to do those low end weddings any more, and it paid off. Sure we were doing fewer weddings after the change, but we were making more money, providing a better quality video to our clients, and we were much happier.

Our work was mainly referral based. We did several videos for an Indian client, became good friends with them, and that contact provided a steady stream of high end jobs for years. It's actually kind of our niche, as we do many of the high end indian weddings in southern california.

So ultimately you have to decide if you are willing to take that plunge. Because really, thats what it is. It's a risk, especially in this economy. It worked out well for us, but it may not work out for you. You might want to try and transition as slowly as possible, but then you will get clients who want the same price as the person that referred them.

Just remember, the clients often don't know what they want, and it is up to you to decide what will make the best video, and that is how you want your work represented. Set your standards high, and only offer the best. If you are cranking out 1 camera shoots that are quickly edited with your name on it... you will never get into the high end market.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 12:00 AM   #22
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Jon, your information is invaluable, and I really appreciate the time you took, and were willing to tell your secrets. My wife and I have been talking about your strategies and what could help us turn that next corner. Godspeed!
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 12:37 AM   #23
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You are welcome. Anything I can do to help the community.

I just wanted to add that we made our transition to high end before the economy took a dive. We were able to establish ourselves as high end fairly quickly with all the jobs we were doing. Since the economy has gone down, so has the wedding business. Not nearly as many high end weddings to do. The company I worked for has definitely had to supplement with corporate and other video work to get by.
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