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Ervin Farkas May 16th, 2012 09:32 PM

Business plan & advertising
Following advice on this forum and other sources, I decided on the niche I would like to work, and I'm getting ready to launch my advertising campaign. (The advice I am following can be summarized like this: do not try offering services all over the spectrum; find the narrow field you think works best, then advertise the heck out of that sector).

My decision is to work in the field of legal videography. I am in the process of getting certified by the "American Guild of Court Videographers", and most of the needed equipment is acquired. In the meantime I'm training with an already certified court videographer.

How does this sound like for an advertising plan? There are over 6000 Yellow Pages listings for "law offices" just in the metro Atlanta area, plus another 10000 in other areas of Georgia (over 30000 individual lawyers). So my plan is to 1) call, 2) email, and 3) mail them (USPS bulk mail). There are various sources of information, the Yellow Pages being just one of them, local and specialty bar associations another one, plus various internet listing, kind of like we videographers have Mandy or Production Hub.

Being not too busy at this time, I can do the work myself - compile an Excel database, and call/email/mail to at least 100 law firms weekly.

If the return rate on a "direct mail campaign" (not targeted, but "door to door" type) is 1-2% according to what I read - what return rate should I expect on this narrowly targeted campaign?

And in general... how does this business plan look like in the eyes of those who know more than me?

Thank you,

Mike Watson May 16th, 2012 09:57 PM

Re: Business plan & advertising
Hey Ervin, - Sounds like you have purchased a fair amount of video equipment lately.

Let me ask you a question. How much, in a rough $ amount, have you spent? Of that amount, how much of it was in response to junk mail? How much from e-mail form letters? How much from telemarketers calling you?

I'm in a different area of the business, but I've got maybe $25k sunk into gear that's in active duty. My numbers are $0 from direct mail, about $250 from e-mail, and $0 from telemarketers.

I assume your numbers are similar. Now, think about where you DO hear about new gear. And follow those avenues.

Paul Mailath May 17th, 2012 12:21 AM

Re: Business plan & advertising
Direct or junk mail works - it would have disappeared long ago if it didn't.

whether it works in your situation is something you'll have to test and see,

As to your methodology I'd think about switching it around. Cold calling is a tough game and business is bombarded with telemarketers right now (I'm assuming the states is similar to us in that regard).

** I tell them I'm very interested in whatever it is and then say I've got a customer, can they hang on a minute - and then I put the phone down and leave it..........

I think you're likely to get a really low response rate that way but if you email first you're fairly sure of the receptionist getting and hopefully remembering your email (especially if it's something catchy or unusual) - I know nothing about that market - it doesn't exist here.

when you call you can at least refer to a previous email or contact. if the receptionist passed the email on you may even get through to the person who got it.

Your aim with the 1st contact should not be to make a sale of get a client, it should be to make an impression so they remember you and stay on the phone - that's when you get the chance to sell your services or follow up with more information.

If you wanted to call first I'd be asking for the receptionist and get her name and mention that you want to send her information on your service so she can asses it's value and pass it on to the relevant person.

whatever you do - give it a go, you can't judge results after 3 days. if you feel you can make 100 contacts per week the maybe try two variations of the marketing plan and see which get the best results after a month.

Your target shouldn't be 100 per week, it's too easy to say "I'll get stuck into it on Wednesday" - make it 20 per day and do it EVERY day. Start your day with those 20 and get them out of the way.

hopefully you'll l get a few different opinions on the subject - assess each idea that comes your way and decide if it makes sense - if it works for you.


Garrett Low May 17th, 2012 09:42 AM

Re: Business plan & advertising
Hi Ervin,

And welcome to the game so speak. A very wise and successful business owner once broke down marketing of a small service oriented company in very accurate way. You have several ways of attracting clients and you need to hit all of them. The key is the balance of where to spend your budgeted marketing dollars. First and most successful will be from repeat customers. This will be your highest hit rate and the great thing is that it cost the least. A quick letter, email, or phone call after you have completed the project and again every once in a while is all it cost. And it often leads into the second source of new projects, referrals.

You will also have a pretty high conversion rate on referrals if you have provided quality services. The cost for referrals is usually your time. The downside is that with something like video production you won't be getting a ton of referrals everyday. So when you do get one really hit it hard.

Then there is the mass marketing side, cold calls, direct mailing, print ads, etc. The difference between repeat business and referrals and mass marketing is that with referrals and returning customers you are marketing to people who have a project in mind. In other words they already need a service such as yours.

For mass marketing you have to think differently. When putting together a mass marketing campaign you are not marketing to people who need your services now. So, you are not trying to convince them that you are the best provider for their job. All you are doing is trying to burn your name into their subconscious mind so that when they need the service you provide, they will think of your name. How do you do that? By repetitive association of your business name/logo with the services you provide.

Mass marketing is not cheap because it relies on volume. The most successful campaigns hit all your senses, visual, audible, emotional. And it does it everyday. It's all about repetitively seeing your name and then associating it with your service, again and again and again. You are trying to get them to call you. Once they contact you, they then need to be treated like a referral. If you were to get a 1% to 2% conversion rate on your direct mail campaign you would be doing great, especially considering the specific nature of the services you would be providing. I know that you would be focusing on attorneys but I would bet that most of those attorneys already have someone that they've used before and the question you have to ask, why would they chose to use you, someone they don't know, over someone they've used before or maybe are going to be referred to by a colleague? I'm not saying it won't work, but I wouldn't put too much investment into that form of marketing.

Cold calls are not usually very successful in today's times. As Paul said, you get the ones who just put the phone down or they just hang up. It doesn't require much capital outlay but the return rate for your most valuable resource (time) is low so for me, I don't do cold calls.

The most successful way to generate new business in the video production market seems to be networking. Make contact with other people involved not just in video production, but industries that require their services. Theaters, bands, communications departments, and don't forget to look up any local film societies, etc. There, you will meet people who don't necessarily use video services all the time but they are the people that others turn to for advise on hiring someone. An example, I just got a referral for someone who just opened up a new shop who is looking to make a commercial. I got that referral from an actor who I worked with on an indie film shoot.

For a new business in a niche field you should probably try all of the avenues for marketing. But you will want to figure out what your best return is and focus on those types of campaigns. So a very important tool is to keep records of all of the business development activities. Log all calls you get and make. Track the results of those calls. Anytime you meet someone and discuss your business make note of it and the results of those discussions. That way you will have accurate data to develop the most cost effective marketing plan.

My main focus is corporate communication videos. For that market, 100% of my new business has been from referrals or from me meeting or being introduced to the new client through network connections. Pressing the flesh, for me, is the most effective way to market.

Tim Polster May 17th, 2012 10:49 PM

Re: Business plan & advertising
Great post Garrett.

Marketing is tough. When I look back at what worked and what did not, is seems personal connections are always involved with what works. And when you think about it, we all mostly do business with people we can meet, see, talk to, trust or have been told to trust by a friend.

Face to face will have so much more potential than these cold attempts. Maybe attend some BAR association functions, or just go to the local BAR association and chat up some folks there. Maybe offer to shoot something for them that might be seen by the lawyers.

Lawyers are great at screening their calls and input to the business. They never know when an unhappy person mght be looking them up so they are very careful. So junk mail etc... might not be very effective.

Or, it sounds like you have not worked in this space before. Why not freelance with some established comapnies to get a feel for how it all works. I did it for six years and it definately is a culture to be learned. Trust is a huge factor in this space. A lot can be on the line.

Jim Michael May 18th, 2012 06:16 AM

Re: Business plan & advertising
There is a small legal newspaper delivered to many attorneys in Atlanta metro. I'd look into placing a small ad there on a regular basis, preferably the same location each time so that when someone needs you they can find the ad quickly. Does someone print 4 color postcards with a Rolodex cutout pre-punched in the paper? That might make a good mailer.

Found an example http://www.stargatedesign.com/PS/rolodex_postcards.htm

Garrett Low May 18th, 2012 07:26 AM

Re: Business plan & advertising

Originally Posted by Jim Michael (Post 1733913)
Does someone print 4 color postcards with a Rolodex cutout pre-punched in the paper? That might make a good mailer. Rolodex Postcard Mailers Full Color

Do people still use Rolodexes? Just kidding.


Jim Michael May 18th, 2012 03:03 PM

Re: Business plan & advertising

Originally Posted by Garrett Low (Post 1733925)
Do people still use Rolodexes? Just kidding.


No, that's a good question and I don't know the answer. However when I think law firm I think of something that doesn't tend to change much over time, so there seems to be a reasonably high probability that it would be in use.

David Barnett May 19th, 2012 08:01 AM

Re: Business plan & advertising
I think you seriously need to consider what you will do if after 80 phone calls, you get pure rejection from receptionists who answer the phone?! Couldn't your time be better spent elsewhere, possibly working on a kickass demo reel, or learning web design?

You numbers are skewed, most lawyers don't even do trial law. Alot work in arbitration, contracts, commercial real estate transactions, coprorate law etc. In fact I think most lawyers never set foot in a court room. That said then those who do probably works for a firm who already schedules a videographer. Typically however, what they do is call their court reporting firm and mention "Oh yeah, we want this dep videotaped too." Then the court reporter finds video, usually from a list of contacts they have.

So there you have it, you may finally reach a lawyer, and ask him if he ever needs video shot. Do you think they'll give you much time?? You just bothered him while he's at work in the middle of the day. And, as I said, most already use their firms video guy, in which he'll respond "No thanks, we already have a guy". And after banging your head against a wall, making that 100th phone call after 99 rejections, you finally get that one dep, from that one lawyer. Now, how many cases and how many depositions do you think that lawyer will be doing?? Sure, if it's really a multi million dollar insurance case you may get several doctors, experts, etc, but law firms like that definitely use people already. So you're left with one deposition, averaging 2-3 hours, then back to the phones, 99 more rejections. Is that really what you want to do & can you really take it? Personally I think just business cards & letters mailed might be better, but even then at $.45 stamp plus the price of paper, envelopes & the cards, let's say $.55 total, x100 you putting a $55 investment into something you might not get one phone call out of, let alone a scheduled dep.

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