Telling great stories is an important part of running a successful production or post production business. But it's not the only thing you need to do well.
Even if you offer the best services around, premium clients - clients you really want to work with - won't give you a chance if they're questioning your credibility.
Potential clients start considering your credibility the first time they encounter you. Their assessment doesn't end as long as they continue to interact with you.
Expecting prospects to give you the benefit of the doubt - especially if you don't have an established reputation - is a recipe for disappointment. Many have been scammed in the past (especially online). Almost all of them are busy and distracted.
So the first step to winning more projects is to pay some attention to your credibility before anyone even considers hiring you.
Credibility Starts with Your Website
As a video professional, you're responsible for helping clients tell compelling visual stories. Your website - a visual presentation itself - is a direct reflection of your ability to help clients get the results they're looking for.
This doesn't mean your website has to be fancy or stuffed with animated elements to succeed. You have only a few seconds to grab someone's attention and get your message across. Simple designs - designs that let clients know who you are and how you can help quickly - convey an image of credibility and professionalism you won't find with cluttered, poorly designed websites.
FortyOneTwenty, a San Diego-based full service video production company, uses simple navigation and a prominently-placed video to make a great first impression:
The last thing you want is for an interested visitor to navigate to your page, get confused by a cluttered layout, and leave out of frustration.
It's also critical your website loads fast and displays properly on a variety of devices. KISSMetrics reported that 40% of visitors abandon websites that take more than three seconds to load. Cover your bases with a fast, responsive site, and you'll convey credibility no matter how visitors interact with it.
Finally, does your website incorporate trust elements like client testimonials, portfolios, and pictures of you and your team? Adding these can dramatically increase perceived credibility before clients hire you. ConversionXL put together an excellent 39-point website credibility checklist if you don't know where to start.
Focus Where You Have a Competitive Advantage
To win more projects, you might feel you have to market yourself as better than your competitors in every aspect.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
It's actually a great way to undermine your credibility. I don't know of any business that's better than their competitors in every possible facet. Neither do your prospective clients. So when you present yourself that way, people don't believe you.
You don't have to be better than your competitors across the board to win more projects. You just need to be better in one area - an area that's important to prospective clients.
Your competitive advantage could be that you only serve certain markets, so you have a lot of experience dealing with its challenges. Or maybe you only produce certain types of videos. Maybe you're located in the same area as the client, making it easy to film and set up in-person meetings.
#1 Explainer Video creates awesome explainer videos and focused on those exclusively:
Use your competitive advantage to guide which projects you submit proposals for, and you'll position yourself in a more credible way. It's easier for clients to understand why you apply for their projects and why you're the best fit.
Understand and Articulate Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition, or "USP," is a statement of the value you create for clients they can't find anywhere else.
One of the greatest historical examples of a USP done well: Domino's Pizza. For decades, Domino's dominated the market by promising delivery customers pizza in "30 minutes or less - or it's free."
Identifying the unique selling proposition (speed of delivery and a special money-back guarantee) and clearly presenting it to customers gave Domino's a credibility advantage over generic competitors.
This strategy can work for you too. It shows potential clients that: 1) you've been serving people long enough to know what you're best at, and 2) you're focusing on your strengths instead of weaknesses.
Both of those have a huge impact on your credibility. With a USP, you come off as a one-of-a-kind service provider - an expert - instead of someone just offering a commodity. That makes it much easier to impress premium clients and justify high rates.
If you don't know what your USP is, here are a few possibilities to consider:
- All-inclusive, hands-off solution
- Customer service
- Production quality
- Turnaround time
FremantleMedia, a global production company, separates itself from competitors by specializing on the entertainment industry:
Once you understand your USP, emphasize it at every contact point with potential clients: your website, testimonials, portfolio, blog, and even project proposals.
Price Your Services Strategically
For many video professionals, pricing is where things get intimidating. No one wants to scare away a dream client at the last second if things are going well.
Some of the biggest mistakes? Pricing your services like it's a commodity and waffling on rates.
Quoting an hourly or project rate is simple, but it isn't the best path to credibility. Clients can comparison shop your rates with the rates of other providers. They start seeing your services as a commodity they can get almost anywhere (like an apple at a grocery store). Your rate isn't any more or less credible than your competitor's - even if you've been in business 30 years and they've only been operating for three months.
Using basic statements of work - itemized lists of different project tasks - doesn't help your credibility either. Most potential clients will look at them without understanding why you chose those specific tasks or how they'll produce the results they need.
A better alternative is to frame your project quote as a solution to the client's problem. This takes a bit more effort and creativity. But it shows the client you understand their needs, boosts your credibility, and makes it much easier to justify a higher price tag.
The Power to Shape Your Credibility Is in Your Hands
Potential clients are assessing your credibility from the first moment they encounter you. The sooner you position yourself as an incomparable expert, the easier it becomes to persuade people to become clients.
Fortunately, the power to mold and shape your credibility is in your hands. Paying attention to this - even before someone is seriously considering hiring you - will put you at a huge advantage over your competitors.
If you're interested in boosting your credibility after you land a client, stay tuned for our upcoming posts about how to do this at the beginning of new projects and once they're underway.