This blog is the first in a series of blogs about producing marketing videos. In my over ten years in the business, I have worked with a wide variety of companies. I have produced marketing videos for hospitals, non-profit organizations, product marketers, world-class playhouses, builders of actual playhouses for kids, medical device companies and many other industries. The only constant in these projects is in every one I had to manage and maintain a client relationship. So in this blog, I am going to give you 5 must-do tips for how I maintain excellent client relationships.
Why is it important to maintain good client relationships with your marketing video clients?
This may seem like a dumb question, but if you’re asking yourself: “why should I bother to maintain good client relationships?” Here’s why. Beyond your ability to capture a kick-ass image or tell an amazing story, your ability to create, establish and maintain good client relationships is what is going to keep you in business. Without a client you’re just a guy (or gal) with some production equipment. You’re not a business.
Maintaining excellent client relationships isn’t always easy.
There are others of you that are reading this and thinking that maintaining client relationships is easy and you don’t need these tips. To that I say maintaining client relationships is like maintaining any other type of relationship. It takes work and effort. As the producer, you act as the point of contact, not just for the client to crew but also from crew to client. Oftentimes the input of a client can be lost in translation or
So without further ado, I’m going to get into my 5 tips for creating and maintaining excellent relationships:
Tip 1 – Find their story:
In an earlier blog I talked about Story First and how it is the one constant that guides us through every project. So, of course it is the first thing I am going to mention when talking about maintaining an excellent client relationship. When you first engage a client, let them know that you are here to help them tell their story. Talk with them about their vision for the project. Let them know that this is a collaboration. Sometimes a client wants you to do almost everything to put together that story and to bring that vision to life. Other times you’re just along for the ride adding a tip here or a hint there as they bring their fully formed story to life.
No matter if it’s the former, the latter or more than likely somewhere in the middle, finding a client’s story is the first thing that will help build and maintain an excellent client relationship.
Tip 2 – Manage Expectations (Don’t set yourself up for failure):
We’ve all been there. You’re contacted by a client with an amazing opportunity but the catch is it’s due yesterday. You examine your calendar, and you’re busier than you’ve even been. But, maybe you’re just starting out and you think it’s an offer that is too good to pass up. So you say yes and fast forward to two weeks later and you’re missing deadlines left and right. This new client, the one that you thought could be the newest member of your core-four or even a top-three, is likely going to walk away from their first encounter with you with a bad taste in their mouth.
There is a simple way to avoid this and it is all about being honest with your client and being honest with yourself every step of the way. If you KNOW you can do something in two weeks, give yourself three. You wouldn’t make a budget without a contingency, right? The same principle applies here. On top of that explain this to your client from the beginning so they don’t ever feel like you’re neglecting them. An excellent way to do this is by utilizing a creative brief.
What’s a Creative Brief and how can I use it for my Marketing Video clients?
A Creative Brief takes is perfect for setting expectations. It is a document that lays out all of the steps in the creation of your client’s marketing video. I have a template that I use and I revise it to fit the details of the specific project. But as far as tools for setting expectations go, the Creative Brief is one of, if not the best way to do that and as an added bonus it keeps you on track.
Tip 3 – Under-promise but over-deliver:
This tip ties into Managing Expectations but I think it’s so important that I’m going to double down on it and that’s making sure that you’re under-promising and over-delivering. This is all about giving you and your team the freedom that is created by setting expectations. As I mentioned above, if you think that something is going to take two weeks, tell the it will take three. If you tell a client they only get 1 round of additional edits, throw in an additional round to keep them happy.
I can remember more than one time when a client came up with an idea on the day of a shoot that they were sure would make their video better. Instead of shooting it down, we always propose to do it both ways. This lets the client know that you’re willing to be flexible and try out new things. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard raves from clients regarding our flexibility, even if oftentimes we don’t end up using the footage they suggested. This flexibility and spontaneity can be the difference between a one and done client and a core-four client.
Tip 4 – In Post-Stay in constant communication:
When you’ve moved on to the post-production portion of the project it is critically important that you stay in constant communication with your client. This really comes in handy if you’re working on any type of product or course videos where deadlines are extremely important. If a client sends you an email checking in on the progress of the edit, make sure you respond in no more than 24 hours. This will let them know that you’re there for them, no matter what. It doesn’t even hurt to send a preemptive email at times to let the client in on the progress you’re making on their video. They will appreciate it and remember you for doing these little things.
Tip 5 – Follow-Up:
We do alot of videos for fundraising events and oftentimes we are not going to be present when the video plays for its intended audience. These events are the lifeblood of the non-profit organizations that hire us. Oftentimes there are weeks in-between delivery of the final video and their event. In that time many things can and will go wrong. Maybe the AV company doesn’t support the codec that you delivered the final file in? Maybe your client accidentally sent the wrong version of the file to the AV company or use. Nevertheless, these things can all be nipped in the bud by simply following up with your client after final delivery.
I typically follow-up a week before the event to ask if they have delivered the video to the AV company and then I will offer to follow-up with the AV company to make sure they have the right version and that it is playing without issue. All of this will take maybe an hour of your time, but it will be remembered by your client long after their event.
Bonus Tip – The Customer is ALWAYS right:
This may feel like a hacky, cliched customer service trope that doesn’t apply to you or your business. I’m here to say it does. I’m not saying this is a hard and fast rule. What I’m saying is that when it is possible and it comes down to either doing things your way or your client’s way,
go with their way. Even if it goes against basic mise-en-scene that you learned in Film Making 101, just go with it. At the end of the day they are the client, you are the vendor and odds are you are fighting over a hill that is by no means worth dying on.
So there you have it, my five tips (plus one bonus) tip on how to maintain excellent client relationships. If you do these five things and you’re a competent video producer you will build and maintain an excellent client base that looks to you as their go-to video producer for years to come.