If you’re trying to reach potential customers, you have two ways to do it: digital and physical.
If you’re young, you probably know about digital. Facebook groups, Instagram, websites, Reddit…. and if you’re older, you’re more comfortable with the physical (in person) approach. Joining clubs, attending functions, taking out booth space at business conferences, direct mail, and that old favorite– cold calling.
Of course, a mix of the two is the correct choice. I must emphasise to those younger (much younger) than me… making REAL contact involves you showing up somewhere in person and having a business card ready.
A short conversation, a request to follow up, an exchange of business cards… BAM! You’ve got a lead.
This doesn’t matter whether you’re into corporate work or consumer work. People don’t like talking to machines, and the web is full of noise, so people are for more cynical about things they can’t see with their own eyes in real life (IRL). Any personal contact can become a lead! Even at Karaoke!
The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College has some not (to me) surprising news: more “seniors” are apt to start businesses than their younger counterparts.
I’ve started a bunch of businesses in my life: at 22, 33, and 46. Counting my latest production work and consulting, add to that list a start at age 65.
Why would seniors– many hitting retirement age– decide to go out on their own? There are a lot of obvious reasons.
They’re out of work. Young people (mostly) don’t hire old people. And young people, thanks to forced retirements, “rightsizing”, downsizing, and good old fashion layoffs / firings, are indeed today’s management– except for the billionaire CEO / COO.
They’re bored. Whether financially comfortable or not, they’re not intellectually challenged. Especially now that Lost if off the air.
They want to explore another talent, and the discipline of “work” will kick their butts into exploring it seriously.
They need the cash, but not too much of it. Combine social security with a part time or full time income and low overhead, and you have a low cost, low tax situation.
They want to try working all by their lonesome.
There are benefits to working on your own, and there are definite downsides, too.
Set your own schedule (this can be a disadvantage too). I know a lot of people who work against the grain, working from 2am to 6am, or a half day, or three super-days. He internet makes this more possible.
The internet. You can sell, promote, communicate, and make friends and clients on the internet (but you’ll still have to press the flesh occasionally.
Low overhead. Play your cards right, and you can work at home, or in cheap real estate. If you make money, working at home is a legitimate deduction. It also saves on gas, phones, office machinery, and everything from rent to electrical bills. And you can use your own coffee and food.
No distractions. If you are really committed, you can get more done in an hour than an office worker can get done in five.
Quick path to profitability. The above factors can add up to quick profitability. Low overhead and a good grasp of technology means you can create products from scratch, do most of the work yourself, and charge as little or as much as you want. Pricing is a big issue today. If you’re customers are corporate types, it’s going to get tough to get them to buy anything that requires a purchase authorization. On the ther hand, they know value when they see it. If your customers are consumers, all they care about is a perceived bargain, and your services or products will need to be value-priced. A $10,000 corporate video or website might only garner a grand or two from the less sophisticated buyer. But low overhead puts that money in your pocket, not in the pockets of suppliers.
You can set your own hours. If you are undisciplined, this can be a problem. I remember in high school, we took a class on study habits. The one thing it took from it was “Take frequent study breaks.” I did.
Distractions. Like the internet. Fantasy Football and YouTube beckon. You have to use the web to your advantage, not as a time waster. And if you’re living with someone, that other person may become a distraction of their plate isn;t full. And of course, you’re “unemployed status” makes you available for road trips, errands, and visits (which I love.) Just schedule them correctly and say no when you have to. Convince yourself that working for yourself is still work.
A little success can lead to hubris. Spending all your income; forgetting to market the same way you did when you started; taking risks that can not be rewarded. Don’t let the pink cloud become a black hole.
But the fact is, it can be done.
To succeed you need laser focus, commitment, and a very positive attitude. Your product and it’s market– not your business– must be your mission. You must believe– and become– the best at what you do. Anyone can do this– including Seniors.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a series of articles detailing a number of trends in corporate communications.
One trend they sighted was the increased reliance on something called “Corporate Storytellers”. These are folks who work with companies to unearth their past, often after years of conglomeration, buyouts, downsizing, and more. The story emphasizes the use of live narratives, even original songs, to help reinstate a sense of heritage, purpose and belonging.
Another trend they focused on some time back was the “Tribute” video—a life story on video or slides of an accomplished person, living or deceased, who has impacted a company, a group, or even a family.
Well, we all know trends come and go, and we also know (those of us that have been around a bit) that trends are cyclical. One thing that seems to be a steady interest? People to want to rediscover their roots.
That’s a healthy thing—at home, and especially in business. And telling the true stories of companies and their people is a great way to rekindle a company’s purpose and passion.
People Want to Belong
People want to belong. People want to believe. People want to work for the common good. Ignore these needs, and you have people that will substitute these needs with personal agendas, or even worse, counter-corporate agendas. They have to fill the vacuum!
We believe there is no more powerful tool than the well crafted, well documented, well produced, honest and entertaining…. VideoStory.
That’s the name of my production company. Why? We succeed most when we tell the stories of our clients in ways that make that material motivating, accessible, believable, and purposeful. People want to believe in people. They need heroes, role models and road signs. You can provide them that with the right kinds of stories.
We helped a mushrooming corporation bring its various acquisitions worldwide together in a common belief system, when we pointed out that the company’s growth could be liked to the growth of a tree. Why a tree? The company started in wooden products, developed forests, moved into paper, and moved beyond paper into products that provided many of the same functions. The company still owned and nurtured forests. A foreman in a Washington State location took us (and our cameras) on a tour, and we were able to build in logical departures that helped bring together the diverse divisions, their people, and even their local communities into an understanding of the company’s heritage and values, and the part they could play in its future.
One of the Country’s leading Marine engine manufacturers celebrated a major anniversary. Having gone from being owned and operated by the engineer that developed the company’s engines, to a division of a major international corporation, there was a disconnect between the company’s family heritage and perceived issues about the nature of corporate owners. The story of the founder, his genius, his quirks, his marketing techniques, the struggles to grow, the need for funding and the acquisition, and the public’s ongoing devotion to the product and company helped that anniversary become a true celebration—of the company’s past, it’s future, and the dedication of the current owners.
And many times, we’ve had the opportunity to show that the philosophies of the founder of a large drug store chain have been the framework for the company’s ongoing success over the course of 100 years, through new merchandising trends, health care changes, and even in the wake of amazing growth. We’ve produced documentaries, original songs, and video communications both silly and sublime to help keep the ship on course.
Learning From The Past
We learn from the lessons of the past. But those lessons must be recorded, codified, visualized, and made entertaining AND meaningful. And they must be told with consistency.
That’s why we produce VideoStories. We know of no better way to convey the essence of a company, its foundations, its new directions, and the role its people play than through VideoStories distributed on DVD, CD-ROM, tape, TV, the Web, or within PowerPoint presentations. Send them in an email. Send them a DVD. Tell your dealers or your employees the story, so they get onboard and sale with their captain.
As you consider your future in video storytelling, and as you read our book, remember that it’s the people that count the most. It’s attitude, dedication, teamwork and just rewards. If a company can tell this story, I hope you get to tell it.
I’m proud to announce that the VideoBiz Book is now available on Amazon.
This book looks at the challenges of starting up or growing a video business, whether that business in serving, corporates, the home market, or something in between.
I started four different businesses in my career. I left my first business, a slide show business (yes, this existed), to get into video. I sold my second business and took a management position with a video equipment supplier for two years (I had a no-compete clause). This taught me a lot from the equipment side of things. After that, I joined a competitor to build up that company’s high end business. After the owner of that company retired and closed the business, I was encouraged by my Walgreens client, Dave Harnish, to start up again so I and some associates could continue to serve his big meeting video needs. That was 20 years ago.
It goes without saying I learned a lot. There were plenty of successes, and a few failures. As a creative first, and business person second, I learned an incredible amount about both ends of the business. The creative stuff I taught to my staff, and many of those lessons are in the book. The business stuff are lessons that have stayed with me until now, and maybe they are things you already know… but you haven’t heard it from my perspective.
This book is my perspective, and there are plenty of real life examples and case histories attached. There is an appendix full of resources, from quote sheets to creative proposals, to music libraries and video info sources.
As I write this, February 2nd, 2019, I have schedule this book to be free on the 4th and 5th of February. I encourage you to download it and give it at least the once-over. There are lessons in their for everyone! Improve your creative and avoid business pitfalls with The VideoBiz Book ebook on Amazon. (Paperback should be ready by late next week.)