I have my marketing hat on today. I'm figuring out how to sell the benefits of one person providing both video and still photography to a client.

Edit: Original Video Removed. Feedback good and overwhelming. 

My premise is that clients pay, in time, money and lost productivity, for a duplication of resources when they source video and still photography from two different vendors. Now, there are lots of situations where the expertise required means that two different creatives makes sense. Like a sporting goods company who want to have a high end video made with lots of complex moves and perhaps a Phantom camera for smooth, super slow motion work. Alternately they may need a certain style that for which a photographer is well known.

But many times, in the realm of basic website content, a client is looking for good solid work in both camps but with no really tough problems to solve. The example I've been getting a lot lately is the client who wants to have portraits made of their key people. The agency wants a lighting and background treatment that we've done many times in still work but they now want the same style and look to bridge across and be implemented into video interviews as well. The client is looking for competence and experience as well as good value. They don't want to re-invent the wheel but they don't want to pay for on the job training either.

My solution is to use one continuous light lighting set up, create a lighting design and compositional style and then carry that across in both the still images and the interviews. It's a classic: Light Once, Shoot Twice solution. What is the benefit for me? Well, I'm adding more services to my bill so I'm adding more income in each job. If I do the editing (or outsource the editing) that is a secondary source of income.

My ability to solve two problems for a client means that I'm less likely to be cut out of the deal entirely by a video production company that also offers photography. The benefits to the client are several. First, they have the comfortable convenience of only having to deal with one vendor. That means only one pre-production or creative meeting instead of two. It means less total time elapsed to do both sides of the project. It's very appealing to most clients to be able to schedule their key people into one slot that accomplishes both creative goals rather than having to schedule two different encounters for a busy executive. So, Schedule Once, Shoot Twice.

The next benefit is a little dangerous. Most photographers are used to traveling light when it comes to crew. We can make good use of one assistant but most of us aren't that hot on having a different position for every little task on the set. I can act as camera operator and director while my assistant works well as a lighting grip and a sound man. The videos we're shooting are not so complex as to require laying dolly track or bringing an entire truck full of HMI lights.

We can't scrimp where it makes a  difference and so this benefit varies by the job. But if the two of us can set up the lighting we need and create good sound then, for 90% of the projects we do we are in good shape. But there is a real benefit in not having to tromp into a busy office or factory and set up lighting at two different times. There is tremendous benefit in getting everything you need, stills and video, in one episodic encounter with the subjects in the video. And there is an additional benefit in that the still imaging can act as a warm-up for the live video work.  And most people need a bit of time in front of a camera to feel comfortable.

Finally, there is a mindset difference in terms of gear between the two worlds. The dedicated motion guys might be smarter than us because few of them own their own inventory of lights, grip gear, cameras and lenses. They rent everything. They mark-up the rental fees and bill it all back to the client. We have a tradition of owning our everyday gear. We tend to own our cameras and lenses, as well as our grip gear and our lights. On web-type projects we tend to include the use of the gear in our overall price. We should probably charge a rental fee for each project but that's not the tradition in our part of the industry. While our clients understand the need to rent (and pass along the costs) of generators, specialized lighting and esoteric video cameras they choke a little on the rental of basics like microphones and lightstands. We offer more value in the simple, hybrid projects because we are using the same tools for both halves of the assignment.

And since we own the gear and practice with it every day we're pretty good with it.

So the marketing is: Light Once, Shoot Twice. Budget Once, Shoot Twice. Schedule Once, Shoot Twice.

In the end all that marketing can do is get you in the front door or get you invited to solicit an estimate. The next step is proving that you can do the work, you can mesh with the client's team and that you truly understand their creative direction.

I put together a minute and thirty second video to show off some of our work. We'll flesh it out as we do more contemporary stuff. Hope your marketing efforts are coming along smoothly. Mine are coming slowly, like wisdom teeth being removed by small tweezers. But that's all part of the game...


John said...

Interesting and timely as I am dealing with this very issue. I prefer to strip this down one more level. I do everything I can to seek out available light locations for my still photography and I'm trying to bring that look and small footprint to these quick videos. Are you adopting a "video" type billing or are you billing for these video services in a way more compatible with your traditional still photography structure?


ODL Designs said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head, and the slogan works very well. If I were to offer two comments, I think a 1:30 is a little long for this type of quick cutting... and the music made me want to crack out some ecstasy :D

Aside from that, looks good, and a great idea!!


Kirk Tuck said...

Abraham, I agree about the music. But then who doesn't love ecstasy? My goal was to produce something quickly to get in front of two clients who've been long term still clients. I wanted to show them that we've been working on this video thing for a while now.... while I"m not ready to go out and do complicated productions it's good to let people know what you are up to to stay on the radar. I"m having fun experimenting. At least I didn't use country and western music....


John Krumm said...

I like the music, but think this little video might work better without the muted talking-to-the-camera shots. Perhaps you could end it with the music fading and one talker coming in (or not, I really don't know video stuff).

Anyway, interesting stuff, thanks.

Michael Matthews said...

Well, one way to not do it is to present the prospect nearly a minute-and-a-half of talking heads in which there is no voice heard, only music.

It suggests -- wrongly, but strongly -- that the producer screwed up or doesn't know what he's doing.

The slogan is good though. Plants the concept and offers of good starting point for further selling.

Michael Matthews said...

Hey -- that comment of mine reads as unduly harsh. Sorry.

Basically what I should have said was that if this is part of an ongoing conversation, as with existing clients, OK. You're expanding on a point already made.

But if it's liable to be seen by someone to whom it is new, without that context, kill it. The impact is confusing and net negative.

Kirk Tuck said...

Good feedback. Thanks.

Dave said...

Just to echo the above comments, having people talking but not being able to hear them leaves the viewer (at least me) frustrated and feeling like I am missing something.

richard swearinger said...

As a freelancer, here's what I think. Most people don't have the ability to digest multiple ideas in one sentence, so your slogan should only be one thought. If you want a slogan, it should be cut to "Budget Once, Shoot Twice." A typical reader won't understand what lighting, budgeting, and scheduling have to do with one another especially not in the space of a single sentence. My second thought is that your market is more than just art directors; the people to whom you really need to market are the money people above the AD, i.e. the publishers and non-creative executives who will make the final decision. For them you need a slogan more like "Half the Time, Half the Budget, Twice the Results".
Finally, if you're going to have video, it needs to illustrate the concept. Here's how it has to go....
Dissolve to handsome, charismatic Kirk in his beautifully lit studio. "Hi, I'm Kirk Tuck and i want to show you how i can solve one of the biggest problems facing marketers today: getting stills and video that work together. I use the experience I've gained shooting for clients big and small over 30 years and combine that with the latest equipment and technology; it's a method that will save you money and time...and you'll get more consistent images that make your brand look better than it ever has.
No more struggling to match video with stills or vice versa" Then you need to say: "Here's an example" then show one of your videos (if someone is talking in the video, you need to have it slightly audible in the soundtrack) then cut to the corresponding still. While that sequence is running, you'll explain in a voiceover what exactly you did and how much less time it took. Follow that with a few more video-still comparison shots.
Next, you need a couple of testimonials, maybe from that nice Beth Broderick,
The closer: back to you saying 'thanks" fade to black.

Dave said...

In the past photographers offered the ability to provide great photos to their clients.

I believe that in the future the key a successful career in photography will be the ability to provide the story or message the client want to deliver.

For example, in the case of a theater production, the theater will say: our audience for this play are those who want to: 1) laugh at a funny story, or 2) have an exciting evening experiencing high drama, or 3) be swept off their feet watching a love story ...

The role of the photographer will not be not to just provide individual clips or stills showing the actors but instead will be to provide an integrated story that pulls clips and stills together to project the message/mood the theater wants and helps them bring the audience they need for that production.

The ability to do this has very little to do with the amount you spend on hardware, and if you have the skills needed it will be very hard to replace you.

My suggestion on marketing photography and stills together is that everything should be done as an integrated whole to implement the client's vision and goals and that is much harder to do with separate teams.

Kirk Tuck said...

All the feedback I'm getting on here is just what I wanted. Thanks to everyone! Keep it coming. It's making a difference for me.

dave said...

I sell computer software at a fairly high level (our software is used for critical purposes by customers and is not a commodity item) and we are constantly told:

The decision to buy depends on how well we help the customer meet their business needs. The only people who care about technical considerations in and of themselves are those who do not make the decision.