P – Z about Making Videos27 October 2019 | Lakshmi at Red Bangle
Prove it with every video
Even if you’ve done it before, often you have to prove it again. I have met enough clients, who – even though we’ve made some 350 videos – still want us to pitch and prove that:
- We understand what they want,
- We can deliver what they want, and
- We can deliver to the timeline they want us to.
It is trying and tiring, yes, but that’s just how it goes. And it sure keeps you on top of your game! So, over time, I’ve come to accept this as a fact of life. I welcome it as a little challenge and see it less as another hurdle. And I tell the team, “Let’s go win this baby!”
Question every Concept
The thing about being a Creative Head is this: you see lots of briefs, see lots of business models, get lots of references and concepts… and you are constantly tweaking, aligning, enhancing and enabling. And in this process, the one thing I always have to do is question: question every script, every concept, every scene. It can really suck the energy out of me and put me at odds with everybody else on the project – but heck, if I don’t question and help make things better, then I don’t deserve my job.
And what’s been really inspiring for me is to have a team that also questions. Yes, admittedly, I don’t always have the patience for all the questioning we can do, but I am open to it and that is the only way forward for our growth.
Reach Out and Remedy
Things did not go right with a project? Well, you took it on, your reputation is on the line, so it is important to reach out and remedy. Think through which type of remedy is affordable to you and suitable to the client, discuss with your team and get inputs on what might be the most viable remedy, propose the same to the client and take it from there. In all likelihood, the client will negotiate a bit but will go ahead and accept the remedy, and appreciate the fact that they can count on you to deliver one way or another. This is about relationship building, about growing together every step of the way even when things get rough. We’ve had clients invest in us, pay us advances that they haven’t used in months… We’ve built trust. That counts for a lot!
Send it out with all your love
Whether it is a proposal, a concept, a script or a final video handover: send it out to the client with all your love. So, what do I mean by love here? I really mean soul, energy. No point just sending the file without your views, thoughts on next steps or how you think this works or something else doesn’t, or how excited you are about this project or about working together again. So, put your soul into it. Show that you love what you are doing, and show you loved working on this project – even if it was just a little bit. Every video made means something to somebody and if you were part of making it, send it out with some love and you never know how far it might go for the relationship with the client.
Halfway through a script, after the budget is signed off, it is okay to go back and think again about why this video is being made the way it is and whether it should be given a completely different treatment. Better now than later – when all the client money is spent, all the creative effort is invested and then the video never gets put to good use. Your client will thank you and stay with you forever. This is a long term approach and the best way to become video partners – much more than a vendor!
Understand Capability Requirement
Something I often miss doing, is matching our own capability in terms of time to client projects. And in the creative line, it is probably hard to match accurately because things are constantly evolving and there is never an absolute straight path to creating a video. Goes back to #A where I talk about a buffer I suppose. Is it possible to have a buffer for time allocated to a project too and feed the buffer into project processes? Let me think about it, try it out and comment on this in the near future, shall I?
Ah, that word. Must be the word of the century! Everybody wants a viral video. Everybody loves one. Unfortunately, if you are someone who is excited about making super high-quality videos, then forget about going viral unless you’re okay to shock a little. Very few high quality videos go viral without a bit of shock value. Viral is made of something else: a surprising mix of treatments / styles, and a bit of the blatant. Entertain a little, shock a little, remind your audience of a particular emotion and relate a lot through some use of satire.
Write it all down
Every meeting note, every amendment to the brief, every bit of feedback: write it all down. Put it in an email and send it to the client and keep the core team in the loop. How else are you going to manage several projects at once or even all the details of one large project without things slipping by?
The Experiences and the Explanations
Every client that walks through your door, no matter how small or big, how do you respond to them? How do you say yes or no? What is the email that says you cannot do something or would like to try something else? On a busy day, writing a detailed email can really feel like too much to ask. Explaining is the difficult part, its quite tempting to want to take the easier route and just stick to whatever you’re doing. But the explaining, the communicating, the effort you put into it, the words you choose, how often and how proactively you communicate are probably the biggest reasons a client is going to stay with you long term. And even if they do move on, there is every chance they will come back to you someday day because you have surely done everything you could to build that positive relationship of trust and partnership. And if they’re too small a client for you to work with now, no problem… say no very encouragingly. It is not your business to judge how small they are. They just might be very big 5 years from now and you definitely want them to come back knocking on your door then.
Your Team is Everything
No one grew a business 10 or 100 X without a strong team. To me, as an early entrepreneur, there is still a lot of learning happening around this.
On the whole though, your gut and their attitude play a big role on who gets in, stays and grows. Attitude and cultural fit are the biggest things. Skill – that money can buy, but soul – money can’t buy. If you can find skill and soul at the budget you can afford – that’s a dream, but hard to come by.
Possibly the hardest thing for an entrepreneur is when the first few team members move on to work on something else: it goes down like a personal hardship or rejection. But you’ve got to look past that. Look at the number of times you yourself might have quit on an employer and think about where each of your team members are. It’s okay if they walk away, but it means a lot more if they come back someday and want to work with you again. That says something about the experience they had with you and the opportunity they possibly see with your business and in your team. Hopefully they will stay long enough to build things up with you.
Zzzz is Important
Take breaks and get enough sleep. Change your lifestyle and working style to make some of this happen. Use your available days off and be happy.
Let your team take breaks and ensure they’re healthy too. We all work hard for happiness; money is just one way of getting to it. And happiness is very important, even if sometimes the best of creativity comes from a hard place.
It’s just not humanly possible to go from one project to another, from one goal to another without breathing space. You need breathing space to allow for cross-pollination of ideas and to allow for serendipity to create some magic. In the end, we all love magic!