Tag Archives: production planning

I’VE STOPPED PRODUCING TESTIMONIALS


It happened again: A client came to me with the idea of producing a series of customer testimonials. Another video producer had already shot one testimonial with one of his best customers. I watched it.

The testimonial – let’s pretend it was for Fred’s Lawn Service – shares the time when Fred summed up his service in one sentence.

“That’s when I knew that he understood me,” the testimonial says.

With that one sentence, Fred won over a new customer. It’s a golden, pivotal moment, and one that every prospect should hear. So what’s wrong? – That moment occurred more than three-fourths of the way thru the video!

It’s a three minute video, so statistics show that most of the viewers have already stopped watching. It’s called Burying The Lead.

Many video producers don’t take the time to find those golden moments. They shoot the footage, maybe make a few linear edits and they’re done.

Testimonial videos can be one of the most powerful things that you can invest in. But if the message doesn’t get thru, it’s not going to bring you more customers. That’s why I’ve stopped producing them.

I produce YES-timonials.
There’s lots of things that go into making a YES-timonial. The most important one is knowing the stories and the phrases that trigger the buying impulse in prospects. My experience in broadcasting, working with every imaginable category of business, along with nine years of producing successful business videos, is why I can make that claim.

Want to know more about video YES-timonials? Let me send you my FREE e-book. Then, let’s have a conversation about your business.

–that’s a wrap.

The Cincinnati Dayton Video Production Buyers Guide


Planning a Video Shoot in SW Ohio? Use these tips:
Maybe your customers, or a vendor, or even a business coach has told you that you should have one or more videos on your website. Or maybe you’ve decided that you could use a training video instead of finding time to teach the same things over and over. What do you need to produce your marketing video? Your first big step should be finding a Cincinnati video production company. Let us make it easy for you with these practical tips.
Most small business owners have their hands full with just the day to day business. Even larger companies need advice on shopping for a production company. Sure, somebody could shoot something with their smartphone, or a consumer video camera, but the last thing you need is something that looks amateurish and isn’t even functional. Should creating a video be a big Hollywood-like production, or are there smaller, boutique creative firms that understand your business and can guide you each step of the way?
That’s why we’ve created this guide. Of course, we’d love for you to just hire us, but there are a lot of Cincinnati video production companies. We want to help find the right one for your project.

Why Should You Get Bids From Multiple Production Companies
Each one is different. Some are big; some are small. A few can actually help with scripting and show you what to do with your video afterward. Others might shoot weddings as their bread and butter and only produce corporate videos on the side. One of the biggest differences is equipment and the people who know how to use it. This goes not only for cameras and the stuff you see, but editing platforms, and the stuff you don’t see.
When you take these things into account, you can understand why looking and two or three companies will give you a better sense of what you need for your project. It may even spark a new idea or two.
A big budget production can mean multiple cameras, a large crew, fancy equipment that arrives in semi trailers. If that’s what you’re planning, you’re going to need a big video production company that you can hire, and then get out of their way.
On the other hand, if you have a story to tell, a factory tour, or just some compelling customer testimonials then you won’t need the complicated production gadgets. In this case, a smaller company could take care of your needs.
Here’s how to begin

Tip #1: Look at their samples
Most production companies, whether large or small, will have samples of their work on their website.
One of them will be the “sizzle reel”. This is simply a highlight video… a compilation of some of their neat shots. That will be them putting their best foot forward.
They should also have samples of actual client productions. If they have a samples or portfolio page, see if a variety of businesses are represented. If there are three videos for the same client, you may want to see what they do for other types of businesses. See if a business similar to yours is there.
Beyond the actual demos, see if that production company has produced something for… themselves. That make sense, doesn’t it? I mean, would you want your website designed by a company that doesn’t build their own website? Then why wouldn’t you want a video production company that doesn’t produce a few “About Us” videos?

Tip #2: Due Diligence
Once you’ve narrowed down the list to a few companies with videos you like, you’re going to want to vet them.
Is there a client list? Who has hired them in the past? Could one of them be a competitor of yours? Do they mostly work with Fortune 500, medium-size companies, micro-businesses… see any companies that seem to be about the same size as your business? Are there any in related industries?
At this point cost may also come into play. And you’ll find that most production companies don’t list any prices. The reason for this is that each project has its own unique challenges and budget
Still, if you’re a small business owner, you may be on a limited budget. That’s one of the reasons we’ve created video production packages for one-time, or multiple productions. We can price out the basics, and then get with you to take a look at any special needs or add-ons for your video.
So for each production company you want to look at, get on the phone and talk to them. While you’re at it, pay attention to how their phone is answered and their demeanor while talking to you.
While they’ll ask you a bunch of questions for your price quote, you should ask some as well, like:
• Is there a minimum cost?
• How do they charge? By the hour, day, video length?
• Make sure to ask if they’ll give you a fixed price, or will it change depending on how the production goes?
We have clients who were burned by production companies in the past. They thought the price was fixed, but things were added during the production process (extra shoot days, special equipment, more post-production time) and next thing they knew the price had skyrocketed.
It’s okay if it’s not a fixed price, but make sure the production company will agree to talk with you in advance of any additional expenses.
• You need to know what you’re getting for your money.
• Will they brainstorm with you? Will they come up with creative ideas and help you write them, or will they simply shoot and produce and be done with it?
• Ask about their process. Find out what’s involved, how long will the production take, and what is the approval process?
• Are revisions included in the price? If so, how many rounds and are there deadlines?

Tip #3: Getting it in writing
You’ve watched some sample videos and demo reels, you’ve found a company you can work with, and you have come to an agreement on price.
Some companies will put everything into a formal proposal. Others may leave the details in the contract. Whatever it is, make sure everything you’ve discussed is there. No one wants any last minute surprises. While I’m at it: have some respect for both the production company and the process. If they offer one round of revisions, don’t hold out for unlimited revisions with no increase in price.

Congratulations
You’ve Selected Your Cincinnati / Dayton Video Production Company
I hope I didn’t overwhelm you. There is a lot of factors that go into making the decision, but it’s all worthwhile. And now that you have this trusted guide, the process should be much easier.
And the good news? At the end… you’ll have a compelling message and a marketing edge that will work for you and your business 24 / 7 / 365.

–that’s a wrap
(c) 2018 Ron Harper Creative, llc

Baseball, The 30 Second Pitch, and Sigourney Weaver

It was a glorious summer day, the first Friday of July, 1941. Almost four thousand fans filed into Ebbets Field to watch their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers lose to the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4. But there was another bit of history taking place that day. For just as many fans were able to watch the game elsewhere – thanks to a new piece of technology called Television.

The baseball broadcast began with a map of the U.S.and a clock, as an announcer intoned, “America Runs On Bulova Time.” History’s first TV commercial.

It ran for only ten seconds. Bulova paid $9.00, about $130 in today’s money.

Within seven years, advertisers flocked to the new medium. Entire TV shows were sponsored by one company, and those businesses could often dictate the content of the shows. It wasn’t until the late 1950s that one man changed the way TV and advertising did business. Actually, he changed a LOT of things on TV: he invented the Today Show, and he invented the Tonight Show, too. Pat Weaver can lay credit to many of the ways television works today.

A side note: Pat Weaver was once a guest lecturer in my college broadcasting class. He’s one of the more fascinating men I’ve been privileged to meet. A couple of years after he had been in class, his daughter got a bit part in a Woody Allen movie. Yep. Pat Weaver is Sigourney’s dad.

Anyway, Pat figured out it was more cost effective – both for TV and for advertisers to sell that sponsorship to more than one company, and suggested one to two minute chunks of ads within the programming. In an hour, they could sell nine minutes of commercials. Cut those in half, and there are EIGHTEEN 30 second spots. Cue the cheering salesmen.

I did not achieve as much fame or significance in broadcasting as Pat Weaver, but I have written and produced thousands of 30 second spots. And I’ve learned this:

  • They are very difficult to write …and
  • Thirty Seconds Is For Broadcasting

Ever since I started Videos On Your Website, folks ask if I will do a 30 second video for their website. I won’t. Maybe the message takes 47 seconds to get across; maybe it takes two minutes and five seconds. Whatever it is, you don’t want to be constrained to a specific length. Studies have shown that folks will watch a video of about four minutes, IF it is compelling enough.

Remember: people don’t search for commercials.

Sixty year old factors should not determine the length of your message. Just get out there and tell your story.

— that’s a wrap.
(note: this post originally appeared on LinkedInJuly, 2015. I brought it back because of the World Series.)

Customer Testimonials: Five things to watch for. (and one of them can make all the difference in your video)

80 percent of Americans research online before ever hitting the “Buy” button. and reviews as well as customer testimonials are powerful methods to bring the prospect one step closer to buying from you.

I see lots of websites in Cincinnati who have a page of glowing reports of their products and services, features and benefits. Unfortunately, most of those testimonials are signed “S.P.” or “Mary C.” Are they real people? You’re not really sure. Given a company that uses these kinds of customer comments and one that uses video testimonials from customers, guess which one is going to have more engagement? I hope you said video.

Customer testimonials on video are usually the first kind of web content a business owner thinks about. If done well, it’s like your customers are an additional sales force for you. Here’s the difference between doing it yourself and having someone do it for you:

1. Sound and lighting must be perfect. You want the viewer to hear every nuance and not have to strain to listen to something a tiny microphone picks up from 6 feet away. Also, don’t ask your best customers to sit in front of a camera if they don’t look their best. Bad lighting ruins more videos than you think.

2. NEVER ask someone to read a prepared script. Even if the customer himself wrote it, this is not genuine.

3. Ask open ended questions. Find out what was going on before they found the business, what led them to the business, and why they keep returning. If they’re uncomfortable being on camera, get them to talk about their hobbies or kids first. It will warm them up and they will begin to free associate your business with their thoughts.

4. It’s okay for them to ramble as they’re giving their testimonial. Although, this is the spot where all the do-it-yourselfers get in trouble. What if the customer comes up with a gem in the middle of all the other stuff? The viewer watching the video might not stay around that long. In the newspaper industry – it’s called “Burying The Lead”. A skilled video editor can take that gem and form the rest of the testimonial around it. The difference being one is something that might get watched, and the other is one that will create an emotional connection. Which do you think creates more sales?

5. I know there’s a lot of discussion over which is right and which is wrong, but I do not believe a customer should give a testimonial looking directly into the camera. Let the camera be the onlooker while they tell the story to an off-camera interviewer. It’s much more comfortable for the customer, and a lot easier to watch for the viewer.

You wouldn’t allow just anyone with a paintbrush to paint your house. So make sure you have a professional direct and edit your video testimonials for maximum punch and effectiveness in your marketing tool kit. I’d like to be your resource for producing video testimonials that get results. Contact me for details.
— that’s a wrap.

The 1 Thing You Should Do For Your Business This Year

Charm City Cakes. Antique Archeology, The Gold And Silver Pawn Shop, Duck Commander. Recognize any of these?  They are all small businesses who got big by being on TV. And while those businesses are profiting from their own reality exposure, look at Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale Arizona, who developed a booming business for having the most embarrassing and customer un-friendly episode in history.

What if your business could have its own TV show? You could. Actually, you should.

The good news is: you don’t need the drama those shows thrive on in order to be compelling and watchable. If you know, or can find out, what your customer base needs, you have your subject matter. Use your personality to make it interesting. Do product demos, talk to your staff, heck, talk to your customers!

It doesn’t have to be completely serious. If you’re a business that has fun, show that. Have your customers interview each other. Do on the street demonstrations…what will you come up with?

Is it easy? No.

Will it keep you in the minds of your prospects? Absolutely!

I’m so excited about the upcoming roll out of my new video series and all of the episodes I have planned.

Let me know if I can help in planning YOUR new TV show too.

–that’s a wrap.

Thanks, Steve

Steve owned a company that made computers. Steve wanted to buy some commercials. I was one of four radio and television stations to meet with him one day. I sat next to the account executive while he detailed the proposed buy. Then, I was introduced as the one who would write and produce the commercial.

I went through my usual list of questions, asking Steve about his business and more importantly his customers: who they were and the kinds of problems they were bringing for Steve to solve. When we finished, I had a pretty good idea of what I would write if we got the order.
The next day Steve called. “I was really floored,” he said, “Out of all the stations I met with, you were the only one to ask about my business. Everyone else just told me what I should be doing.”

We got the order. Not only that, but Steve hired me to produce all of his commercials for the entire market.

When someone asks me what sets Videos On Your Website apart, I tell them about Steve and how he doubled his business because he partnered with someone who asked and listened about his business.

Thanks, Steve.

–that’s a wrap.

Client Spotlight – Bed Bug Shield

Product demos are one of the most effective uses of online video. Customers can see the product in action, learn best practices, and see effective uses while they seamlessly slip from discovery mode to buying mode.
I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of inventors and innovators with Videos On Your Website to produce targeted and compelling demos that work. Bed Bug Shield is one of my favorites.

This area has long been on the top of the list nationally for bed bug problems. There are scores of exterminators who deal not only with primary infestations, but also with folks who inadvertently bring the little critters home from a trip. Bed Bug Shield deals with both of those problems.

When they first contacted me, one of the issues we had to solve was location – since they wanted to show the product using LIVE bed bugs. Of course, there would be absolutely no risk, since bed bugs cannot fly, and we would have a little “corral” in which to shoot them and the product at work. As it turned out, that was the least of my worries. The morning of the shoot, I developed an abscessed tooth, and made the drive to the location in more than a little pain.

After a quick set up, we started shooting footage. We got great shots of the product, closeups of the bed bugs, and easy to follow demonstrations of how it keeps bed bugs from hitching a ride on clothes, or in a suitcase during a trip.

They recently contacted me with an update on their progress:

We have picked up a contract for 8 surrounding counties with the Area on Aging not to mention a few large name exterminators refer to us on a regular basis, so things are going well. We would always like to be busier but we have tripled our volume just in the last 6 months. The video is on our website and people love it!!! We have had a good response to it

It’s always nice to hear things like that. Videos DO work, whether it’s product demonstrations, customer testimonials, or answering customer’s questions.

Here’s the Bed Bug Shield video.Bed Bug Products – Business Video

–that’s a wrap.

Seven Steps To Writing For Reading On Camera

My friend Rick Dearborn had some great tips on his MARKETVIDPOST blog. I asked his permission to share them with you, and he graciously accepted. Here is Rick’s post:

Most marketers are already good writers. They’re involved in carefully choosing words and crafting marketing messages all day long. But writing a script to be read on camera is a whole different experience that requires a few new skills. Here are a few useful tips that will help you create scripts that area easier to read aloud:

1. READ IT ALOUD. No matter what you’ve written, read it out loud to yourself. See how it flows and feels, and make changes accordingly. Then put it down for a while, and do it again. You will be surprised at the edits that will be needed.

2. CONTRACTIONS. When writing we rarely use contractions, but they’re commonplace in our speach. When writing to be read aloud, contractions are essential. After you write your script, read it over an look for places where contractions make sense. Here is an example that shows what a difference contractionscan make:

Before: “Now you are ready to get started. We are sure you aready know there is a best way to begin. But, if you do not, here is how you can start. You will need to write a draft first and you will need to read it aloud. It is always a good idea to start that way.”

After: “Now you’re ready to get started. We’re sure you already know there’s a best way to begin. But, if you don’t, here’s how you can start. You’ll need to write a draft first, and you’ll need to read it aloud. It’s always a good idea to start that way.”

3. COMMAS. Commas make good gramatical sense, but in most cases they don’t work well when reading aloud. The reason is, when we read aloud we feel we need to pause when we see a comma. The gramatical use of a comma does not necessarily result in the best phrasing when reading aloud. After you write your script, take all the commas out and read it aloud. Where it feels natural to pause, put dashes in instead of commas. Then read aloud again and adjust as necessary.

4. UNDERLINING. If there are particular words you need to emphasis when reading aloud, underline them. But, don’t go crazy with it. Use underlining sparingly, only on the words that are really important. Some techniques recommend single, double, and triple underlining of words all through your script to ensure different levels of emphasis. If you go crazy with underlining, your reading can sound mechanical. It should be natural and real. I recommend using underlining only for the words that really matter.

5. PARAGRAPH PHRASING. Don’t hesitate to break your script up into smaller, shorter paragraphs – it will help you phrase the concepts when reading aloud. I’ts ok to even make a paragraph out of a single sentence.

6. FONT SIZE AND LINE SPACING. It really helps to write the script in a larger than usual font, one that is easy to read aloud. I also recommend greater than normal line spacing. I like 24 point Arial font, with 1.5 to 2.0 line spacing. That gives you a little space to enter hand written underlining or other small changes. (But, don’t get too carried away with hand written edits on your script. They can get hard to read. It’s always better to make them in the computer and print out a new copy, if you can).

7. ALL CAPS. When you write a script in ALL CAPS, you can focus more on the emphasis of the meaning, rather than on the structural, making it easier to read.

That last tip is controversial to some, but I have to say that when I write scripts for myself, I write in all caps. Maybe it has something to do with the teletype copy I used to read. Those machines only had caps, and everyone in radio learnedly to read copy that way. I hope this helps.
— that’s a wrap

My Cat Eats Small Meals

I work with a few clients on a monthly basis helping them build their video blog.

When a business decides to do a video or two every month, they’re understandably very excited.  Come the day of the shoot, they are in one of two camps: They have a three page written script  –or—they have no idea what they’re going to say.

I have the same advice for both of them:  My cat eats small meals.

A few times a day, my cat will saunter over to her bowl and take a few bites.  That’s all she needs. After that, it can be playtime, naptime, or she’ll sit on one of her favorite surfaces in my office and watch me work.

Humans can be the same way with information: don’t give them too much to digest.

Instead of putting all of your messages into one video, think about what you want your viewer to come away with.  What inspires you? What motivates you every day?  Those are great video blog posts.  It doesn’t always have to be about your product.

By breaking up your information into small “bites” you can feed your customers and prospects just the right information diet that will have them coming back for more.

That’s a wrap.