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Old January 30th, 2013, 08:13 PM   #1
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Product differentiation

Random thought... I have a theory that a lot of the time there's not really a properly considered decision before brides pick videographers. I mean, video, in the first place, is usually an afterthought; and I think it stays that way -- that not much thought is put into it. They're not going to sort through a huge number of companies before making their choice.

I think if you talk to couples about what sort or style of video they want, they often kind of shrug. They care more about the manner of filming (ie, they'll want it to be unobtrusive). They don't have the eye or the vocabulary to properly critique videos. And, at the end of the day, they don't care about it as much as about photographs. Brides often rave about their photographer during the make-up period -- "So-and-so is the photographer; he's really amazing". I've never really heard couples rave about their videographer, except when they're invited to do so after the event. Then again, I probably haven't been in much of a position to overhear such talk.

This makes me think -- maybe product differentiation is not really that important or practical in the wedding video world. Difference not only in "quality", but in style. Are people's videos really that diferent? Obviously, I'd want to keep improving the quality of my videos; but I'm skeptical, at the end of the day, how much it matters, and how much different my videos are to everyone else's.

When choosing a videographer, couples look at the price, certainly. And they'll look at the sample videos. But what are they really seeing when they compare your videos to the next person's? Would they notice if you used zoom lenses instead of primes, or $400 Sanken lapel microphones instead of on-camera sound? Maybe it's nothing more than a general checking that you're able to do your job...

Why do people actually choose one videographer instead of another? I think most of the time it's whatever they happen upon when they Google, or whatever friends or photographers recommend, or if a "special deal" catches their eye. On meeting you, I think they just want to get some sense that you're going to be easy to be around and that you know what you're doing.

So, product differentiation? I think sheer advertising and word of mouth matter more, to be honest, and that the difference in quality level between one company and another is often much of a muchness to couples. One DSLR company is much the same as another. That's my impression so far anyway. Very curious to see if anyone here thinks differently...

Last edited by Adrian Tan; January 31st, 2013 at 03:01 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 08:45 PM   #2
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Re: Product differentiation

Hey Adrian, I've been shooting weddings on and off for over 30 years and it always seems to come down to $$$. And as you know, video is always the last thing on a Bride's mind and always at the end of the wedding budget, after the wedding dress, the photograper, the reception, and the Bar Tab.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 09:27 PM   #3
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Re: Product differentiation

What they choose depends on who they are, and the market they are part of.

I have an acquaintance here in Cincinnati who charges between $3000 and $7000 for a wedding video, and he is booked solid through wedding season. He does same day edits for about 50% or more of his weddings and his clients happily pay $$$$ for it.

I have another friend who charges $2500 and up, and he turns away business also.

I know a $1500 wedding videographer who says business is slow. I don't know why this is, but I can guess the answer.

There are high end clients out there in the market place, and they look for quality and they know it when they see it. They are generally much more sophisticated then the average customer.

Breaking into the high end market takes time to accomplish and is largely referral based.

How the lower end brides make their decision varies with the individual. It can be based on anything from a single web sample that moves them to tears, or from being the first that responded to an inquiry in a timely manner, or from being at the price point they can afford.

There are also brides that really do value great video, and will spend more than they can afford if they fall in love with a product.

There is no pat answer, like with everything else it just depends.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; January 30th, 2013 at 10:38 PM.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 02:50 AM   #4
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Re: Product differentiation

Adrian I think if all you are is an event videographer, then you are right, it makes no difference. You, as an event videographer, capture what is, do it well and give the finished product to your customers, just like everyone else would do. In these cases, there really is no differentiation in product, just in the name on the front cover. What your customer knows and expects is what they saw on your samples and those of your competition. They know squat about lapel mics or primes. They know clear audio and fuzzy backgrounds.

Now if you were given the gift, which I wasn't, to be able to create "films", then you have "product differentiation" in play for you.

I think you are on the right track that advertizing and promotion are your best avenues for growing your business. Of course, you are looking to improve your quality, because you take pride in everything you put out. But do you need that $1500 Lectrosonic wireless system or will the $300 lav mic and DVR do the same for you? No one is going to hear the difference because you are shooting live, not on a set with multiple takes and chances for "do overs".

Now IMO and as always YMMV, when Jeff speaks of those three video guys in his town, he is also referring to three distinctly different markets each is catering to.

Anyone who can pay $5,000+ doesn't have a "wedding budget", but Daddy probably just gave them a "ballpark figure" to try and keep the final bill near. That second price level, $2500+, those people have a budget, but probably with some "wiggle room" if need be. That last price point, the low end, those people are locked tight, not a dime more to be spent. Again IMO, a guy can cater to two adjoining groups in that mix, but there is no way to cater to all three and do justice to each one. You will bastardize your business trying to make "films" and still cater to the low end budget brides when you are called upon. After time either your "films" will start to look "low budget" or your "low budget" will eat hours you aren't being paid for.

So, IMO, you are much better going with your forte, no matter which price point or level of service that is. Do the best in that group, get word out and work on your word of mouth too.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 03:01 AM   #5
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Re: Product differentiation

Hey Chip

I have had, I think one groom who asked about gear, formats and such but he was purely a tech-head or wanted to appear knowlegeable?

Brides, well the majority anyway, simply want a good record of their day, accurate colour and focus and as already mentioned extensively, a price that fits their budget.

Maybe if you are shooting in the very high end market they might want more tech details but that seldom happens to me...Even grooms are not that smart..I had a groom look at my little Panasonic DVC20 (of of $1200 worth in those days) and remark "Wow that camera must cost at least $40,000 !!"

Then again I make no promises about my packages and supply plenty of online and DVD clips for them to watch and decide. My theory here is that they can see not only my best work but also my work when things went a bit on the crazy side. That way I get no nasty surprises when I deliver the end product and no scary phrases like "but we expected a lot more" or "you promised ........"

Like the others my final word is that provided your end video doesn't look like Uncle Tom shot it with a discount store camcorder it again all comes down to value for money. Nice video, fair price makes a marketable product and no disappointed brides.

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Old January 31st, 2013, 03:53 AM   #6
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Re: Product differentiation

IMO brides tend to be more concerned about the obtrusiveness of the filming process - as I film documentary style anyway I can assure them that, in order to capture the day as it happens, and capture people being natural, I remain unobtrusive as much as possible and they seem happy with that.

As a side note I used to send out email quotes to inquiries with about a 40% conversion rate, but since switching to always visiting prospective customers to have a chat and show them samples, that's changed to about 90% so a 'personal service' approach is something they like as well :)
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Old January 31st, 2013, 10:06 AM   #7
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Re: Product differentiation

Adrian
I think product differentiation is EVERYTHING! But. If you commoditize your video then it just comes down to price. What sells your video for you is the emotional connection you can make with potential brides. I've been in that place where I was struggling to sell a $1600 video. I realized that it just wasn't good enough. Once I changed my product and raised my prices, everything began to change. Not just what I was getting paid but that talk in the bride room became about me in addition to the photographer. I've been paid more than the photographer in many cases this year. But it all came from improving the product. Making those emotional connections. One of the biggest ways to do that is to remove distractions such as bad audio. That's where everything starts to come together. You have to find a balance but before I sunk any money into advertising, I would try finding the most emotional human connection in your work. That will remove the commodity distinction and you be able to charge more because you're more appreciated.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 10:45 AM   #8
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Re: Product differentiation

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Originally Posted by Bill Grant View Post
Adrian
I think product differentiation is EVERYTHING! But. If you commoditize your video then it just comes down to price. What sells your video for you is the emotional connection you can make with potential brides. I've been in that place where I was struggling to sell a $1600 video. I realized that it just wasn't good enough. Once I changed my product and raised my prices, everything began to change. Not just what I was getting paid but that talk in the bride room became about me in addition to the photographer. I've been paid more than the photographer in many cases this year. But it all came from improving the product. Making those emotional connections. One of the biggest ways to do that is to remove distractions such as bad audio. That's where everything starts to come together. You have to find a balance but before I sunk any money into advertising, I would try finding the most emotional human connection in your work. That will remove the commodity distinction and you be able to charge more because you're more appreciated.
Bill
Bill, no offense meant but I have seen your work in the past and it is nothing compared to what you do now. It's been a complete 180 degree turn, you also changed your business name. I am taking your advice about giving a better product starting today. What did you do to make the change? Shooting style? Faster turn around?

Thanks
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Old February 1st, 2013, 03:22 PM   #9
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Re: Product differentiation

Don't forget about the way you do business as a differentiator. If it comes down to you and two other vendors with similar work quality, style etc, maybe you get the job because you

1.) responded to their inquiry in a timely manner
2.) were enthusiastic about your client's wedding in the tone of your emails and conversations
3.) you presented and explained services that were easy to understand

All other things being equal, at the end of the day it may come down to giving them a feeling that working with you will be easy and worry-free!

Art
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:12 PM   #10
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Re: Product differentiation

It's important to consider that most couples have no experience hiring a videographer, so without help, they don't know what to look for other than...

They DO look and see how the videos make them feel. At some point even the uninformed can tell the difference in quality. They have no idea about lens and technical ends, but don't care. It's about the benefits for them. 3 cameras? Don't care. They might care that 3 cameras lets you get more looks, and include more people in the video. But really they care about that final edit.

If they don't see a measurable difference in final quality, they won't see the value in a higher price.
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Old February 2nd, 2013, 08:32 PM   #11
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Re: Product differentiation

Thanks Noel,
No offense taken. I really just figured out how to do a short form. Through watching Adam Forgione's stuff. I realized that I spending a lot of time trying to make a 1hr video work where I really was really only telling a story that needed 10-15 minutes. That was where it changed for me. Realizing I didn't have to use all of my shots, just my best shots. Also I started playing it very safe. I'm not getting involved in glidecams nor do I use the slider much. I just try to make sure the shots are stabilized and composed well. It's just a process. But. Thanks. You just have to find a way that grabs you and seems doable.
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 09:47 AM   #12
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Re: Product differentiation

I certainly agree that most couples really haven't any idea of what they want from a video. If they have any idea at all it's usually because they have seen a friends video. This can also mean that you sometimes get asked to do something that you would consider 'naff' or totally unnecessary just because some other company did it. Things such as coloured vignettes round the ceremony footage or suddenly switching to B&W half way through the vows. (Sorry if anyone does that)

I agree that the photographer is usually the centre point and the video often an afterthought. One of the most common comments at wedding shows from those that don't want a video is that 'they would never watch it' usually followed by 'my Brother has got a camcorder and he is going to film it!'

On delivery however the boot is always on the other foot, with clients saying that it is the only thing that has shown their day the way that it really was, or they were't sure if they wanted a video, but the day went so quickly it is the only way they can remember their own wedding. I am constantly surprised by the number of previous clients that I see with friends at wedding shows, who tell me that they regularly watch their video, as there is always something they missed previously and the photo album is rarely looked at.

I agree with much of what has been said about competent videos being very similar to most prospective clients. By far the most important aspect in my opinion, is personal contact with the couple, if they like you they will book you! I NEVER take a booking at a wedding show or by email, I insist on meeting couples and letting them look informally at genuine weddings and chatting very informally, then I leave to let them make their own decision with no pressure. In January this year, I had 10 client visits, and every one of them has booked and contracted with me. There are sure to be other companies in my area as competent as me, but my way of marketing has been very successful for me for 27 years.

Roger
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 02:33 PM   #13
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Re: Product differentiation

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hrough watching Adam Forgione's stuff
Bill
..... edit.... never mind I found him. Thanks!
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 04:07 PM   #14
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Re: Product differentiation

And he charges $8000 for a 20-25 minute film, and another $1000 if you want a 3 minute highlights!
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 04:09 PM   #15
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Re: Product differentiation

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And he charges $8000 for a 20-25 minute film, and another $1000 if you want a 3 minute highlights!
Yeah, that's sounds better than $1000 doesn't it?

Of course, you can't get from $1000 to $8000 in one step.
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