Strategically Investing in Yourself

2020 has been our year of strategic investment. We’re only halfway through February, but it’s true. Around New Years, we decided to really double down on the efforts that I’ve been making and try to make this business flourish. We had done a couple of projects last year that we’re really proud of, and wanted to grow.

We’ve been investing time and effort for a long time, but also a fair amount of money. The truth is, in all three areas (time, effort, and money) we’d spent without much thought or strategy. That was the most important change for us to make.

With a couple hundred dollars free to spend on this company, I had to decide, do I want to buy another piece of gear, or do I want to expand my ability to exhibit our work. I upgraded so that our website could be updated and redone, and expanded my Vimeo plan to better showcase our work.

These were not fun purchases. I would definitely rather have purchased another lens, or a slider, or any of the many pieces of gear on my Amazon wishlist, but we needed those upgrades. We obviously use WordPress for this site, and it’s a great platform, but what they allow you to do is directly related to what plan you’re on, and as a small business we needed more customization. With Vimeo, we were unable to download any videos at full HD, because the file sizes were to big. You see, it’s not the most fun, or most interesting stuff, but it’s essential.

Whether you’re a restauranteur, or an artist, or craftsperson, you’re almost definitely facing these same kinds of financial decision making we are. It’s way more exciting to buy a new set of knives, or paint, or any other kind of tool than to pay the legal fees to incorporate, or to purchase a space at a convention or expo. The choice between fun and smart is tough. The way I like to look at it is, if I make the smart decision now, I’ll hopefully get to make the fun decision later.

Now, a month and a half in, with our site improved, and our higher resolution videos uploaded, it’s time to make another push forward. It’s time to invest time, effort, and money to showcase who we are in an even better light. This investment is closer to the fun investment.

Making a couple of videos that will push our work further, requires that we spend some money to ensure that we can get good clean smooth shots, which means we finally get to purchase gear! (In this case it’s somewhat low-stakes gear, basically a SmallRig baseplate and some smaller rods to be able to use my follow-focus, cinema lens, and gimbal together without there being any major issues.)

It also means hiring actors! We’ve been very lucky, that in the past we’ve worked on projects which have been documentary style, and required no actors. On the rare occasion we needed actors we’ve been able to pull from the friends and family categories, and not had to pay. We’re shooting a spec ad, something that we want to look pristine, and fresh, and that we have a very specific vision for, and in order to make it look good, we wanted to hire actors, and we did. It’s still a pretty low cost shoot, just a couple of hours, but it’s exciting none-the-less.

Investing in yourself, and your business, has to be strategic. Make the smart decision, so that you can make the fun decision. Perhaps more importantly, if you make the smart decisions, eventually the fun decision will be the smart decision. If your business is something you’re passionate about, I don’t really see how at some point these two ideas won’t converge.

Why You Should Get a Professional Wedding Video

The process of planning your wedding is long and arduous, and then the day comes and goes in a moment. It’s kind of a sad reality, but it is reality. When you’re picking seating plans, and the menu, it seems like you have all the time in world. Often it feels like you have too much time. You not only have time to consider every possibility, but time to second guess every decision.

The day of your wedding comes, and the culmination of months (sometimes years) of planning goes off in less than a day. One minute you’re waking up having mimosas and getting ready, the next moment you’re having the final dance of the evening and people are starting to take off. You know you had fun, but remembering specific moments, remembering much of anything specifically seems impossible.

You’re going to get photographs taken, both professionally and by half of your guests. Some family member or friend may take a video on their phone. Before the wedding, these seem like they’ll be the perfect reminder. You don’t know ahead of time exactly what the time vortex that is a wedding day, is going to feel like, and so you think these will suffice.

Photographs are great, and you’ll be able to hang them up, show them to friends, share them on social media, but they don’t tell the whole story. Photographs may show you crying through your vows, or laughing at a toast, but those vows and that toast are lost in time without video. It’s not just those obvious moments either, but video can capture the little things from the way you get choked up during your vows, or your hands trembling holding your bride’s or groom’s.

A professionally done video, can take all of that important aesthetic and ambiance that cannot be portrayed in a still, and capture it, in a crystal clear stream from one wonderful moment to the next. Whether it’s your first anniversary, or your 50th, rewatching that day can bring the butterflies back into your stomach, and the twinkle back into your eyes.

Video is often overlooked in the planning process, it seems like an extra expense. You’re spending a lot of money, and adding high cost items probably doesn’t feel necessary. It’s totally understandable, but the truth is, a well made video can last forever. You want to be able to hear every word without wind or crickets, or murmuring covering them. You want to be able to see it all without the sun glaring, or someone in a front row blocking the camera’s view. Most importantly, you want it it edited together in a way that makes it look as special as it felt to you. It’s one of the most special days of your life, and the video should be as special.

What I’m hoping that you think about when you read this, and when you’re planning your wedding is, “what is going to last?” and “what will we get to keep?” If you consider those two questions, it will help you to have a better wedding experience.

Where Marketing Meets Video

I want to give you and idea of who we are as a company (and who I, Michael Cole, am) when it comes to marketing and video.

My interest in film and video started in high school. I participated in my city’s (Marlborough, MA) local television station. My friends and I were always trying to make feature films, and biting off more than we could chew. (This was before digital filmmaking had broken through, and so it seemed impossible). In college, I majored in communications, focusing on film and video production.

It wasn’t until the summer before senior year of college, that I got into the idea of advertising. I wasn’t sure what jobs would be available to me with a communications degree, but it was important that I work. That summer, I took an internship with a company with ‘Advertising’ right in the title.

I learned that the company was actually in marketing, and not advertising. It was news to me, that there was a difference, and so I continued. That internship taught me a ton about the digital marketing landscape. I hadn’t planned on learning about SEO, and social media marketing but I liked the work. It was something where I got to exhibit my creative side, which was important, and rewarding to me.

As an added bonus, the company was doing video work! I knew the production side of video, but this let me see how to optimize marketing videos. I also learned how they helped to build brand awareness. We were dealing with small, local companies (restaurants, landscapers, and salons were our big clients). So there was a boutique feel, and this was no more true than in the videos. They were professional, but personal. Using them to bolster other forms of marketing like social media and blogs helped small companies to connect with their audience.

The internship ended before going back for my senior year, and I had learned a lot. I wasn’t sure what it would do for my resume, but the truth was it launched my career in marketing. It took me about a year after graduating to find a job, but when I did, the deciding factor was my experience at my internship.

At that first job, I was half of the marketing team and I was also given the opportunity to make videos. I made fun fun videos to market to let customers know that we were wishing them Happy Holidays. I also made customer testimonial videos used to entice leads on the verge of purchasing. I even made vlog style videos to help create a brand style to engage prospective customers.

From that position, I moved into marketing data analysis. It was much less video oriented, and focused more on the ‘nitty gritty’ of how all marketing efforts are reaching and effecting audiences. This is an essential part of any marketing campaign. It helps to maximize effect (replicating success), and minimize cost (reducing failed attempts).

From there, I moved into a branding department. While I was in the branding department, I also began doing video work with the company. My day to day consisted of ensuring that the elements of style, grammar, font, and look, were consistent and created a cohesive look for the company. That extended into the video work that they were also having me do. I created video highlight reels of different team building events. And quarterly meetings videos. Training videos. Employee interviews.

While I was working there, I began doing the videos that I’m doing now. My first client was Che Empanadas in Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall.

Creating this video, helped me to realize that, I wanted to combine video production on much more significant scale. I wanted to combine it with my own marketing expertise. While filming, I was able to work with the entire team at Che Empanadas. We created a video that would give a feeling of their restaurant to the internet. While photography is getting a lot of hype on social media, video is as important to businesses like this. Neither a photo nor a video can give you the smell or flavor of food, but video can help to create texture and atmosphere that photos cannot. When combined with proper use of SEO, a well placed video can capture someone’s imagination in a way that photography doesn’t have a chance of doing.

Later in the summer, I had the opportunity to be the second camera person on an ad, a project that I immensely proud of.

I’m excited to continue to combine this knowledge and experience making a video for you. And to help your small business capture the market, and more to connect with your audience.