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Thread: Don't you just love first time clients

  1. #1

    Default Don't you just love first time clients

    Raise your hand, how many of you have heard this from a new "potential" client?:
    How much would a video cost? Like... 1 minute long!
    And that's pretty much the only thing they would say in an inquiry email.

    First of all, the length of a video has very little to do with the price of a video. This is not TV commercial airtime cost they are asking which is calculated by seconds or a minute.
    I mean - i totally understand if it's their first time ever thinking about some kind of video production, but damn... wouldn't common sense dictate that maybe more information would be required to estimate a price?

    I am pretty sure no person... ever... has asked a contractor "how much would a house cost?", before telling the contractor at least how big the house should be and from what it should be built (wood, bricks etc.).
    And i was a contractor for years among other things, but as soon as it comes to video production - people forget to use their brain, which i just don't understand.

    Obviously, i try to be professional and polite in replying that a lot more information is required before i can even start to put a budget together, but i feel like 1/3 of my day is spend educating people on how video production works, what goes in to it and ultimately - how costs are calculated.

  2. #2

    Default

    In web development I used to have a "visionary entrepreneur" client that always wanted to make super expensive stuff sound simple when he asked for a quote. The conversation would go like this (exaggerated for illustration):

    Client: I just want a simple search engine, like Google, very simple, just a white page with one search bar and a button. How hard is that?

    Me: Google keeps an up-to-date copy of the entire internet. The data storage alone is millions of dollars

    Client: But it's like one button on a white page, I'm not even asking for something designed or anything

    I think producers in any field are always working on new ways to educate our clients, because the more the client understands of production the easier it is to get them to understand the costs and requirements. I find that my most informed clients are also the ones with the lowest expectations, the most flexible, the ones that let me make more decisions - and those projects usually turn out better.

    In the case of people starting at the bottom in terms of their understanding of production costs, my approach is to talk to them. Instead of trying to answer via email I try to get them on the phone. That 45 mins call is to build rapport, establish that I know what I'm talking about (and that they don't) and to help them make sense of what they are asking for. It's a friendly and informative conversation and usually they get a better picture of what they want and how to go about it. I also try to make sure that I have a new direction for them by the end of the call, and sometimes that is to scrap the terrible idea they had before the call and instead do something reasonable that I recommend.

    People that don't want to educate the customer usually have a sales team/person that handles that aspect. But for a business, IMO educating and guiding the client is not optional, all business have to do it.

  3. Default

    Yep, it an occasion for an expository interview. "What is going to be in that one minute video?"

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    In web development I used to have a "visionary entrepreneur" client that always wanted to make super expensive stuff sound simple when he asked for a quote. The conversation would go like this (exaggerated for illustration):

    Client: I just want a simple search engine, like Google, very simple, just a white page with one search bar and a button. How hard is that?

    Me: Google keeps an up-to-date copy of the entire internet. The data storage alone is millions of dollars

    Client: But it's like one button on a white page, I'm not even asking for something designed or anything
    This made me laugh so hard!
    As someone who wrote websites for years i totally get the monumental difference illustrated here

    It's exactly the same thing as in high-end product photography!
    I would say it's the hardest sell for me these days - to make a client understand that to get that 1 "perfect" product shot in the end, a monumental amount of work needs to be done first and that it can cost hundreds or EUR simply because of the time and effort involved. Never mind the studio, gear expenses, props, stylist and what not for that full day of work.
    But their response is like - "but it's just one picture! How hard and how much time can that take".


    Quote Originally Posted by jochicago View Post
    In the case of people starting at the bottom in terms of their understanding of production costs, my approach is to talk to them. Instead of trying to answer via email I try to get them on the phone. That 45 mins call is to build rapport, establish that I know what I'm talking about (and that they don't) and to help them make sense of what they are asking for....
    Usually though - those clients who don't have the understanding and knowledge yet (the - how hard can that be or "it's just one button" guys) those are the ones who don't have the money to actually hire you for anything.
    At least in my country it seems to be the case 90% of the time.

    It's sort of the stereotypical thing - "if you have to ask how much it costs, then you can't afford it!"

    Obviously i am exaggerating to make a point here, but - real video production (i am not talking about a 1-man DSRL type thing) can be super expensive and if a client, for some fked up reason thinks, that a professional music video can be shot and edited for $500, then there is no amount of explaining and educating that will make that person understand that we are talking about a starting price of like 10K+ for a real music video production that would include:
    - an actual crew (producer, director, DP, camera operator, 1AC, 2AC, gaffer, grip, art director, set designer, costume designer, Hair and makeup artist, editor, assistants... )
    - rental gear
    - location scouting
    - location rental
    - set building
    - permits
    - catering and so on...

    I mean - why even come to a production company and ask for a Bentley if you only have the budget for a 1999 Opel with 500k miles on it?

    This is actually what happened like a week ago - a client contacted us about a music video. They asked for a 3 day shoot in 3 locations all over the country and showed us an example music video to sort of show us the direction they wanted to go and the level of the finished product.

    The demo video they showed us was made by a competitor that we know very well and my 1AC was also the 1AC during that video production so i knew exactly what crew and gear they used for that production.
    By my estimate that demo videos budged was around 12K - 14K, so we instantly knew the ballpark budged for a similar level production.

    Once i started explaining and educating the client on what went in to creating that music video they showed us, it became very clear that they had no budget at all. The client asked if we would make the same level of music video for $500!
    I mean - What the actual fuck? 500 bucks! Why do you even come to a production studio - go on craigslist and hire some kid with a dslr.
    Those 500 bucks don't even cover fuel costs to drive to 3 location all over the country with a crew and grip car. This is absurd!
    Catering for 8-10 people for 3 full day shoots costs more then 500 bucks... i mean... What?!

    Like - this is the mentality that infuriates me. This kind of stupidity.
    I don't mind clients who are reasonable and understanding, but simply don't have the experience yet and who actually think on their own, but something like that is just mind boggling.

  5. Default

    Why not simply get their requirements and quote them a price that works for you? You can send them away to find someone on Craigslist, but you could also develop contacts downmarket to refer those people to. Some of them may rise to the level where they can afford you, and then they'll probably come to you first.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    Why not simply get their requirements and quote them a price that works for you? You can send them away to find someone on Craigslist, but you could also develop contacts downmarket to refer those people to. Some of them may rise to the level where they can afford you, and then they'll probably come to you first.
    I don't mind low budget projects if they are interesting or if i have the time for them, but it is my goal to get rid of them entirely and switch to bigger budget productions.
    What i don't like are clients who point at a Mercedes and then expect (not just ask, but expect) that it should cost no more then a crashed 1999 Opel.
    I know that type of client and the whole thing will end in a disaster simply because reality and expectations are nowhere near on the same level for them (which is true for many, but some take it to the extreme).
    I try to avoid those altogether.

    My production studio is at a point where i can comfortably chose which clients we take and i don't have to go for the scraps just to pay the bills. It really changes your perspective on the whole thing.

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