Monthly Archives: June 2011

Small Business vs. Big Business

In Social Media Marketing an Hour a Day, Dave Evans remarks on one of the reasons a company wouldn’t want to start an online social networking campaign.  Not enough happy customers!  In the online world, it takes seconds to share information with hundreds, even thousands of millions of people.  If your customers mostly don’t have good things to say about your service or product, opening the door to social media and the uncontrolled conversations that occur online could be costly.

Because small business owners tend to do a lot of the work themselves, and the customers often have direct access to the owner, it usually is easier to get good service.   Even custom service.  The result is that the customer tends to be happier and there is a better chance customers will be become Brand Advocates.  Compare this to a franchised operation!  The whole reason for franchising is so you can make a ton of money, in most cases.  Customized service tends to be a little lower on the list of priorities.

Ok, so as a small business owner you probably have more happy customers than your larger competitors.  And this is where your edge is over big business when it comes to social media.  The big companies tend to forget about the past customers and all of their efforts are on gaining new ones.  A great example of this are cell phone companies that give the best deals to the new customer, leaving their long-term customers out in the cold.

Why is this an edge for you?  Well, because in the case of a small business with a high ratio of happy customers, the customers can do the heavy lifting for you in the “new customer” department.  Remember, we are talking about happy customers here.  This edge doesn’t exist if your customers are mostly unhappy with your services.   The happy customers, however, by blogging and tweeting about their experiences, can affect the new customer’s opinion and decision to buy.  Do you research a purchase on Google before you commit?  Well, so do your customers!

Here’s a really simple strategy almost any business owner can use:

1.  Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business.

2.  As you come into contact your leads, prospects and customers like you normally do, work out a way to capture their email address with the purpose of inviting them to your Fan Page. This could be as simple as a sheet of paper on a clip board for their name and email address.  Tip: When a customer is interested but declines to purchase “right now”, mention you have a Fan Page on Facebook. 9 times out of 10 they are on Facebook and will agree to be sent a link to the Fan Page.

3. Schedule time each week or each month to email the Fan Page URL to these specific customers.

4. Keep updating the content on the Fan Page with news, photos, event dates, etc.  Make sure to add the “Reviews” application to the Fan Page!

5. Ask customers to write reviews and have promotions from time to time that give an incentive for your customers to share your company with their friends. Facebook has applications for that too.

A really, really good reason to have a Facebook Fan Page for your business is because it is completely indexed by Google.  One of my smaller clients has only been on the Internet for about 4 months, if that.  She doesn’t have a website yet, but she has a Fan Page.  With minimal content, she is now on the first page of Google when you search for her product by name.  Ever since we started that Fan Page her phone orders have been steadily increasing as well.

There is a lot you can do with a Fan page, and it’s free so it’s a good place to start!  As long as you keep your customers happy with good service, keep inviting people to join your page, and interact (read “listen”) with your customers, you’ll find that in most cases, your customers start marketing for you.  At the very least, you can improve your ranking on Google.

Having a Fan Page doesn’t mean you should avoid getting proper SEO done, or avoid getting a website or even avoid doing marketing and advertising.  All of those tried and true actions are valid and should be done if you can.  But if you can’t afford them, Facebook Fan Pages are a great way to get started.

Anyway, the point is, as a small business owner you have something the big guys don’t have.  YOU.  As long as your customers can easily “share” you with their friends (who are likely in the same demographic as your customer!), they can pioneer in areas you couldn’t reach for lack of a budget or other reasons.  I can’t think of any other medium where it’s easier to share than Social Media and online Social Networking . Ok, maybe preschool.   But 4 year olds are probably not the right demographic!

Written by: Trevor Eisenmen

Sh!t Happens

No matter how prepared you are, whenever you shoot on location something is going to come up that is totally unexpected. I don’t know why this is, I only know that it’s never not happened to me in over 25 years of production. Often this unexpected occurrence can be a “shoot threatening” emergency that is totally unforeseen. For instance, I can recall my sound man informing me, “I’m worried, I’m peeing blood” as we sailed away on the Royal Princess from Acapulco toward the Panama Canal with our next stop five days away. (Fortunately there were great doctors onboard.)

Other times this can be just a little glitch, such as the time we were shooting a custom video production that required a water slide.  As we were ready to lock and load, we discovered we had the wrong tape for the camera we were using. It literally would not fit into the carriage. And it was Saturday.  The nearest resource for the correct tape was twenty miles away.  And they were closed. At the time this seemed like more than “a little glitch” but we solved the problem and got everything done, though we chased the sun all day because of the delay.

Knowing that a curve ball is going to come my way every single time, I’ve developed several policies to “prepare for the unexpected”. The best one is to be thoroughly prepared for all the normal contingencies. But on any shoot at least one thing will come up that is totally unexpected. So I’ve come up with a corollary to the “be prepared” motto, and that is “be really flexible”. So much of location production depends on keeping a cool head and being able to come up with creative solutions to unusual situations. Experience helps, but only as a calming influence. The problems do need to be solved. Which brings up my third policy for location shooting, “never get complacent”. Even when you feel you’ve got every fire put out and every weird event handled, don’t stop watching for more. A recent direct response TV commercial shoot we did for a toy company really brought this home to me.

The company wanted to shoot two spots, one featuring a toy digital camera and the other a stuffed pony that kids could actually ride and scoot along by bouncing on the saddle. We really needed three days to get all the shots on the storyboard, but the budget only allowed for two. We decided to shoot over a weekend so we wouldn’t have to deal with school issues for the kids. Still, it was a pretty tight schedule and one that made me nervous. As luck would have it we found a location in Studio City with the perfect house interior and, right next door, the perfect driveway for our ponies. This would allow for maximum production time as we could prep one area once we were up and shooting at the other.

All was in readiness as we began on Saturday. Everything went swimmingly and we miraculously got all the shots we had intended. (Did I mention one of the spots included the classic Hollywood Headaches: dogs and a baby!!) So I was feeling pretty good on Sunday morning since the most difficult day was behind us. Things were going so well on the Pony Driveway set I decided to check on the prep for the afternoon back at the house. I was feeling pretty smug about things as I watched the caterer setting up on the lawn for our lunch.

That’s when I noticed a peculiar odor coming from the front of the house. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a flow of raw sewage literally pouring from a pipe in the ground. My heart sank. Just when I thought I was cruising toward the finish line, disaster struck. And it was my fault! In one of those “Producer moments” I had decided to save some money by forgoing the normal “honey wagon” (mobile outhouse) rental because the homeowners had graciously offered up their bathrooms.

Oops! I was 30 minutes away from the crew, the clients, and the kids coming over for lunch with no where to go to the bathroom and raw sewage flowing onto the lawn just a few feet from where that lunch was being set up. It was Sunday. Way too late to call the honey wagon folks. Fortunately I had a very resourceful Production Coordinator who was instantly on the phone and with offers of money and food enticed a Roto Rooter company to make an emergency stop.

They were there and gone within twenty minutes with the problem handled. When the cast, crew and clients showed up for lunch, the only evidence was a slight lingering smell. No one was the wiser and we went on to produce a great commercial spot which ended up selling out all the Giddy-Up Ponies for the 2008 Christmas Holiday Season. But as I said earlier, you just gotta remember that “Sh!t Happens”.

Canon HDSLR Used in Action Short with Director Kevin Shahinian

Snehal Patel is the visual director at The Association.  His fiSnehal Patel, Visual Director for The Association in Burbanklm roots date back to the age of seventeen when he hosted, produced and directed his own television show “Digital Basement”.  He worked in Bollywood, India following graduation from film school in Chicago.  After four years in Bollywood Snehal settled in Los Angeles and now trains professionals about new camera technologies and digital post production work flow for The Association.

The Association is hosting Canon camera classes in the form of Boot Camps throughout the summer to train new Canon users on its abilities.  In these classes, Snehal teaches participants the technical skills that are required to use the camera and many of the attendees can participate in a live shoot! All attendees are given a Canon certification for the Canon 5D/7D.

Snehal recently shot an action short titled “Flawless” with director Kevin Shahinian.  He served as a producer and a second unit director.  The Flawless team actually consisted of many Boot Camp graduates that came on to volunteer and use the HDSLR’s in action.  The cameras were used for the all the principal photography and Snehal said that “we got the shoot done because of the cameras…we did two and half weeks of shooting in just a few days”.   The Flawless team was composed of Canon pros so it made perfect sense to bring on graduates as well as Snehal, the HDSLR expert.

“FLAWLESS” The Official Trailer from PACIFIC PICTURES on Vimeo.

The cost effectiveness of the Canon cameras can reduce budgets by 85%.  Week long shoots can be minimized greatly and new footage can also be extracted.  The camera worked great for “Flawless” Snehal explains: “We were on a low budget so saving costs was huge” and the Canon certainly did the job.

Motion control and Multicam techniques are being explored in the upcoming Boot Camp.  These effects are most commonly attributed to the hit film “The Matrix”.  The advantages of the camera are vast and its amazing abilities are revolutionizing the film industry almost overnight.

Multicam Filming of Awesome Commercial Shots

Multicam is an array of Canon DSLR and still cameras that are computer controlled and can be programmed to snap an image all at once, or in a linear or non-linear sequence.  The resulting images are put together to make motion that is unbelievable!  Reel EFX has been working with these rigs since 1996 and provide full-service shoots and post for commercials, films and TV shows with multicam shots.

During our June 25th Canon Boot Camp, we will be using Reel EFX’s multicam system to get a shot for a high-end commercial that will be filmed during class. We will also use a motion control rig and various other setups for the Canon 5D and 7D. Sign up now and learn how the pros do it! Our Canon camera classes provide Canon Certification on the Canon DSLR 5D and 7D.

Multicam for Playstation
Multicam for Kellog