That Time of Year

Typically, this time of year can be a little slow for us here at Tweedee Productions.  I blame it on vacations.  You know, projects don’t get started, approvals take longer, and you get the dreaded “out of office” email response from the person you need a critical decision from.  I say no more August vacations!  (Except for mine of course, which I just returned from and had a lovely time, thank you.)  For me, my client-related workload has been a little light of late, which has given me some time to work on the business side of my duties.

I am constantly assessing and evaluating our business.  I ask myself tough questions like, are our prices in line with the market?  Are we working efficiently?  How can we improve our service?  Are our clients satisfied with our work?  That last one is the biggie, cuz without clients, we’d be nothing more than a video production drop-in shelter.  This week I observed our team handle a potentially sticky client related issue beautifully.

At the end of last week we received a call from a client we had delivered a project to several weeks ago.  Apparently, there were some “discrepancies” with some of the content.  (I read of this problem in an email on Friday afternoon while I was still on vacation.  Just before I looked at my email I thought, “looks like we had a good week at the office – no major problems”.)  A meeting was arranged with the client first thing Monday morning by Steve Donovan, our senior editor.  He arranged for our business development guy, Mac Chorlton to attend the meeting as well.

The project in question consisted of a series of hour-long Power Point presentations with a presenter on camera in front of a group of people.  We edited in the Power Point slides later in post production.  A DVD master was produced with about nine segments on it and delivered it to the client for approval.  Once approved, they shipped the master off to the duplicator.  But…a funny thing happened to some of the Power Point slides when they were imported into our editing system.  Apparently, since the slides were produced with an older version of Power Point, some of formating changed when they were imported, thus changing their meaning which was not good considering the highly technical nature of the presentations.  Since we have limited knowledge of this client’s industry, we didn’t recognize the discrepancies. This was something that definitely needed to be fixed.

So how did Steve and Mac handle it?  Well, like the pros they are!  They both listened to the client and figured out what went wrong and how to fix it.  Steve surmised that the cause of the problem was the importation of the old Power Point slides.  He requested that the client make PDF files of all the slides.  Mac realized that the client was not in the mood to pay any more for this project so he wisely did not go down that road.  Bottom line?  Nobody’s fault, a few hours to fix, let’s get this done and move on.  The client’s happy and we will do more work for them.  Nice job, guys.

Yes, running a business can be stressful even during slow months.  If I could only stay off the email during vacations!

Gregg reading his email on vacation.

Gregg Schieve

 

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“So, how much will that cost?”

We get that question a lot!  Usually it comes after a brief, five-minute phone conversation with a third level office assistant charged with “getting a number” for his or her boss.  The caller typically has very limited information as to what production elements are needed for their video.  Yet, they expect us to spit out a number that we will have to live with moving forward.  At times I’m tempted to say, “Good news!  We have a web video special running today only.  For the low, low-cost of only $1995 you get the web video, a thirty-second TV commercial, and…”  These jobs usually do not go well.

Our business development guy, Mac Chorlton, recently sent me a link to a LinkedIn discussion about production rates for web videos.  It was interesting to read about how other companies deal with the tricky issue of asking someone to pay a fee for what we do.  After reading the string of comments, I concluded that others in our field have similar problems dealing with this issue.  Obviously, there is no easy, one size fits all, answer to this question.  However, it is reassuring that Tweedee Production’s rates and the way we charge for our time are in the “video production ballpark” as compared to other video production companies around the country.

When it comes to giving a client a ballpark number for producing a video, some providers use the “per finished minute” concept in pricing.  This number typically ranges between $1,000 and $1,500.  I don’t like pricing projects this way because there are way too many variables in what we might have to do to produce a successful video.  Jack Trammell of Dallas/Fort Worth contributes this brilliant observation on the LinkedIn discussion, “Paying for a produced video by the minute is like paying for a car by the pound.  There are just too many variables that make that equation unrealistic for most productions…”  A post by Scott Frangos reads, “Rates in Portland, Oregon range from $1500 per finished minute to $4500, depending on size of team, scope of concept, and production values.”  Quite a range!

Our approach here at Tweedee Productions is to ask a lot of questions.  So, before you pop the question on cost, have a good understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with your video.  Be specific, usually the “one size fits all” approach results in a watered down, ineffective, generic video.  Once we know what the intent is for your video we will prepare a detailed budget based on fairly standard market rates and pricing concepts.  We structure our pricing the same way that Rich Dubek’s company does in Phoenix, “We bill based on set rates for full day or 1/2 day, and hourly rates for logging, script writing, and editing.”

Most of the story-based, interview-driven web videos we produce are in the $5,000-9,000 range on average.  Again, even within this narrowly defined video category, there can be a number variables that will determine the ultimate cost.  So, if someone tells you after a five-minute phone call that they can do your video for $1995, ask yourself if you will be getting a video specific to your needs.  Lauri Oliva of Miami confirms what we all know, “I always refer back to the old adage, you get what you pay for.”

Producing a web video.

Gregg Schieve

show it to me

Sandy shedding some light on the internets.

a friend pointed some research out to me… The Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting firm whose founder was deemed by the New York Times to be “the guru of Web page ‘usability,’” has done extensive research into what makes websites successful:  1)nothing higher than a sixth-grade reading level on the home page;  2)more “scannability” — highlighting, color-coding, bullet points; and  3)one idea per paragraph.

but maybe the most interesting bit was if you’re trying to reach young people – they don’t have the reading ability, patience or research skills to successfully complete what they set out to do online. kids now-a-days have a very different learning style. they don’t read, they watch – tv, youtube, web video.

my take-way (from reading all those words): the best way to reach your online audience? VIDEO.

no one, if you’re 8 or 80, wants to spend tons of time wading through a boatload of verbiage.  get my attention, get to the point and don’t waste my time.

we tried this experiment with the tweedee productions website. instead of a bunch of words, we did videos, lots of videos. we kept them short, interesting (in my opinion) and entertaining. we tried to eliminate as many written words as possible.

some of our clients have seen the light. they’ve started doing video newsletters instead of emailing newsletters full of words, articles and clip art. the vnl allows them to highlight their important industry news and map out articles of interest that drive clients to their website for all the details.

with the holiday season upon us…. instead of bogging up your snail mail with cards you’ll toss in the trash, we’re sending out this video greeting. no natural resources wasted. its short, sweet and filled with the spirit of the season.  happy holidays.

now if you’ll excuse me, i have to get back to my youtube.

this is cool – part 2

check this out – tweedee productions has its own bar code! yes – bar code! if you use an android smart phone, you just scan this bar code (called ZXing) and it will take you magically to the tweedee productions web site. google came up with this cool idea. you can make a ZXing code for just about anything you want to share… we are placing our code in conference print ads, on envelopes  – it has a ton of possibilities. check out the google ZXing site for the details…. and get scanning!

sandy thinks honesty is the best policy.

sandy is trying to stay trendy.

i get all twittery just thinking about it…

do you tweet? tweedee tweets. we got on the twitter band wagon quite a while ago. it was part of our early social networking plans (along with blogging, facebook and our vnl). why? we wanted to be able to talk about and advise our clients when they asked about social networking or marketing trends. at first, i admit, it was a bit odd to just write short tidbits of info or re-tweet interesting things from people we follow, but now twitter has become something much more. we’re not the lone wolf any longer. over the past year more of our clients, potential clients & vendors began tweeting. twitter has become a great way for us to keep in touch and share. for example…. yesterday steve wrapped up a video for a client & sent them to our ftp

sandy thinks honesty is the best policy.

sandy is trying to stay trendy.

for review. they loved it (steve rocks) and immediately posted it to their web site – and they immediately tweeted about it! so, of course, once i noticed their tweet – i re-tweeted it. this helps them and us get exposure. and it lets our client know we are paying attention – passing on the love.
tweedee twitters 3-5 times per day. i usually schedule these tweets the night before or in the morning on hootsuite. then i check our twitter site a couple times a day to see if anyone is corresponding with us. so, in total, i probably spend 5 minutes a day updating twitter.

i guess i look at twitter like i look at all of our marketing tools: practice what you preach.  twitter is social, current, now… so if you have a twitter account use it.  i can’t suggest a client use twitter and then never update our own page.
granted, tweedee productions is not pam anderson or jet blue with thousands of followers, but we do have followers. so join in the fun – if you follow us, we’ll follow you!

when something old is new again

it’s the time of year when the world starts anew…. and many of us look back at what we’ve done.   new year – it either gives a a sense of

sandy kowal - looking forward to.... something.

“better things to come” or “oh, no, not more of the same.” me, i tend to be melancholy. introspective.      each year its different for me.   this year i worry. what usually worries me is the sense of dread over things i can’t control…. like the economy, war, is God really listening to me? i do realize that worrying about stuff i can’t really control is probably not the best way to spend my time…  but i guess that’s what makes me who i am…   human a small business owner.

Don’t get me wrong i do feel blessed… by my relationships (yes, honey, i mean you), my fantastic job and the many gifts in my life.    life IS good.

i stumbled across this website last year… it’s like heaven for old discarded photos from a million years ago. when i get mucked in my melancholy madness i like to go look at these oldies but goodies. i like to look into the eyes of the proud parents with a newly hatched baby or the fancy ladies with fashionable hats or the fresh faced lovers on a date. they make me smile. they make my heart swell with hope. they make me look forward to better things coming in the new year… knowing that whenever i need to i can look back at this website, when something old is new again.   happy new year.

what have you done for me lately?

sandy flies

sandy flying high - you are the wind beneath her wings.

today i felt the power of social networking. i needed my team – and they came through. let me start at the beginning…

it’s my turn to blog this week. usually i have some clever idea (at least in my mind) or some concept i’d like to share. this week – nadda. empty. zip. everything i thought of was boring. uninspired. gray. in fact, as it turns out, my only good idea was calling on my Facebook and Twitter friends for ideas.

here are a few of their suggestions from tweets:

gchadwick@tweedeemedia write about how u did that intro video to your website. That video is awesome, I love it!!!

abcfloan@tweedeemedia NPR Music Question Of The Day: Have The Past Decade’s Changes In Technology Made The Music Better? http://su.pr/48ffYY

mlange221 how about using social media correctly. Why advertising speak doesn’t work on FB.

my Facebook friends gave me some spark:

Tracy Ann Mangold How a simple change of view can help you to see things from a totally different perspective. This can be physically changing your view or simply looking at things in a completely abstract or different way than you would normally. That would tie in perfect with what Tweedee does for clients.

Peter Kleppin how about how many feet of cable it takes to connect an editing computer… or the number of formats that have to be deliverables in today’s crazy digitized world…
Dan Montenegro Boy did you guys not understand the task at hand! This is what she really wants.
Tweedee,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
Tweedee,…
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.
Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
Greg and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay
“Come and play with me Gregg
Come and play with me.
And I will take you on a trip
Far across the sea.”
(this songs goes on and on, so i edited it down to this – but you get the idea…… sorry, dan – but i LOVE it)

from my friends and followers i got some really great ideas (you’ll be seeing some more of them detailed in future blogs). my creative team grew from the 6 of us in the office to the hundreds i can touch with just a few key strokes and clicks online. social networking is an easy and effective way to be inspired, reconnect with colleagues, increase your resources…  so, my friends, what have you done for me lately? a lot. thanks for being here for me.