I am a student in NYC who is attempting to create and sell short-form video ads, the target clientele being early stage startups that are also in NYC (the idea being that they don't have the time or manpower to create compelling content for their social media platforms or website). We are a little stuck, however, on the best strategy to attempt to get our first clients. We don't know much about typical pricing, so any recommendations on what our payment model should be, how much or when we should start charging money, and the most effective strategies to get paying clients would be much appreciated.
its an elbowing competitive art form....the films. you will be pushed out by big dogs already established. Most clients sticks with the one they already have. and continue to use them again and again event though they are crap!!! you should target up and coming corporations and start up companies....though the dilemma is that they tend to be tight with money. you ask typically a moderate $1000 from client for a short piece corporate video..... and move up $2000 as you establish your client and confidence in the art of film.
start with product/market fit. that means going out and talking with your prospective customers to confirm need. The other things that startups typically lack is $$ and when they do they are likely to spend it with established/proven vendors, which i presume, is why you are targeting startups - you aren't yet proven. makes sense. Where to find startups: go to Meetup.com and join all the startup MeetUp groups you can find and go to their events. Meet, pitch, ask for feedback, including pricing, refine your pitch. rinse and repeat. Most meetups will offer you an opportunity to give a short pitch if you ask - another opportunity to get feedback on your pitch.
As a potential future customer... I'd be looking for a portfolio or at least a few samples the demonstrate something unique from the zillions of consultants/agencies doing same thing. Highly recommend you do following...
1) Start by finding pain points in market. Do informal 'informational' interviews with targeted clients/industry. Don't pitch. Ask questions and listen to understand what they are trying to get done and their frustrations with current choices.
2) Likely you'll end up attempting #1 more than once as you look at different potential customer types (small businesses, startups, non-profits, local companies, etc.).
3) Once you find a niche with some opportunity (enough customers in this segment, and suffering enough pain that they'd consider switching to you)... make sure that you can offer something truly unique that delivers on that need. Have some special skill or differentiator (Fastest turnaround, humor, special effects, etc.) that will mean something to this target group.
4) Then go do a few free (or cheap) videos that over-deliver and demonstrate what you can do. Get advance permission to use these as portfolio items and then start marketing/selling with that in hand... and the testimonials these free clients agree to give (in advance if they are happy).
Hope that helps!
Michael D brings up a good point, so let me clarify. Product/market fit is all about understanding the needs of your prospective users/customers/market/audience. You should never be 'pitching' until you understand your audience. That said you should at least have a 30 second elevator pitch so people have a basic understanding of what you do and why it matters. So to be clear: go to MeetUps, meet, ask questions to be sure you understand that individual's/company's needs, rinse and repeat until you think you understand the needs or your target market (assuming you know who your target market really is). Then tune you pitch to those needs. Go back to said meetups, meet, pitch (use your 30 second and 2 minute pitches), listen to feedback (including pricing), adjust the pitch, rinse and repeat.
The nice thing about startup meetup groups is that everyone there understands or is trying to learn the startup world so you can simply ask "hey we are a startup and we are working on our product/market fit (or pricing or pitch or ????) so do you have 10 min to chat about ___?" Just be straight with them. Start with open ended questions like "have you considered using video on your web site or social media? How did that go? Have a conversation, but use your ears and your mouth in proportion (1 mouth, 2 ears). once you zero in on pricing and terms you can use more closed end questions so you can collect some statistics - like "here's what we think we might charge for a 30 second, XYZ video. what do you think: sounds too cheap, too pricey, just about right?"
For my current startup the most consistent feedback we heard when doing early P/M fit meetings was "your pricing sounds too low. I think you could charge more...". We purposely set our pricing low and purposely did not ask for feedback on pricing in these early meetings as we wanted to test people's reactions to our pricing. Almost without fail the first question would be 'How much does it cost" (if they asked prior to an actual presentation). We wanted our pricing to be a 'no brainer'. It turned out to be a 'no brainer', but we also learned that we could increase our pricing some and still be a 'no brainer'. valuable feedback. Also, one of the first things we did was produce a short (120 second) video :). After our initial P/M work when we thought we clearly understood the needs of our target market, we put together the video and used the video for prospecting and to pre-qualify our earliest prospects (buyers). it works well.
Startups typically don't have the money, so maybe breaking it down into monthly payments or if possible results based --> "We get paid only when the content delivers." Is there anyway you could do something results based?