I’m going to share with you the big secret to being a successful wedding videographer… It’s Táve. That’s the crux of this article although it’s actually a little deeper than that and if you read on you will learn our secret in full. But if you are short on time, the answer is Táve.
We are also about to share with you some numbers. Our own numbers in fact. Something no one in this industry has ever done and I’m pretty sure no one else will ever do. I’m not going to tell you how much we earn, that’s between us and the tax men (there are sooo many tax men who take a slice from your pie, they clearly like pie). But I will share with you enquiry and booking numbers, how many we turn away, how many we take.
Let’s dig a little deeper now and also explain how Táve fits into what we do and how it’s our one big wedding videographer tip.
Many may think that we are a multi-brand, successful studio because of the quality of our films. They are after all part of the reason directors, movie producers and the people at BAFTA select us over the many other wedding videographers out there.
How our films look and feel are down to our training, talents and skills we possess as well as some of the gear we use. We need to be multi skilled. On a shoot day we must be the sound engineer while pulling focus at the same time as operating a Steadicam while reading the light in the room and still managing to dodge the children who are running around. That is a skill that to some degree you can learn and improve.
But that is what makes a beautiful film. Not a successful business.
We know quite a few talented shooters and editors who still struggle to make a business out of what they do. They still work a full time job despite their crazy good skills with a camera.
Because as well as the technical and the creative comes the business. To be a successful business you must also be good at the business. The sales, the marketing, the SEO, the reporting and the financial management. And for many in this industry they put far too much effort into the creative and next to nothing into the business. Ergo, they often fail or become nothing more than a part time videographer.
With a successful business you have the time to be a better creative. You have the clarity to grow and develop your business rather than fight to stay afloat.
So here is a quick test to see if you should read on or carry on your merry way because all is just fine.
Q: Do you buy the latest bit of kit because the guys who seem to be doing better than you have it, yet your leads are the same. Your prices are the same or lower than before? Infact. Your kit bag is almost identical, your films are similar or heck, they may be better yet you are not finding it as easy as you think it should be. Then read on.
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A: The chances are you are too focused on the technical and creative and not enough on the business.
We’ll my friend you are in luck for most of the business is taken care of by Táve. A seriously underpriced, cloud based studio management suite which literally changed our business and allowed it to leap forwards. It costs just £18 ($22) a month. But you’re now thinking “But I use my free email, Google docs, a post it note and the corner of a napkin just fine and it costs me nothing”. Honestly, £20 a month is nothing for what Táve can bring to your business be it video, photo, florist, DJ or anything else which relies on a set event date. I’m being serious! When people ask what tool helps us the most or what was our big break it’s this little bit of cloud based wonder. Because in this industry there is no magic pill. Its a combination of everything you do and in our experience this is the side which gets put to the bottom of the pile and thus means the entire machine can fail.
WHAT IT DOES
For us, it is our admin, reporting and client management.
The level at which Táve works for us is an entire person. Normally, that would be you or your partner. If you wanted to operate at the level we do. But as we mostly don’t have the time to edit and shoot and be super proactive on the sales we used to settle for a half way approach. The saying “There just isn’t enough hours in the day” is never more true than for those of us who are self employed.
I’ll take you through our entire client life cycle using Táve. This is going to be long so strap in.
First. A few generic features we use.
In each section I am going to talk about automations. The single, most powerful feature of Táve. An automation is just that. A series of actions that are triggered by another action or event. I will share with you some of the 54 that we use. Thats at least 54 things that Táve does for us that we don’t have to.
You can send branded emails via Táve and they are automatically logged in the system. You can also BCC in any emails you send via your preferred email client. This gives you a full history of everything anyone says. Táve also does some voodoo and can tell you each time an email is opened or a link is clicked. So we can tell when someone has received and opened a proposal or viewed their film. I can tell you from experience that having all the details about any given client in the same place is heaven sent. No more searching mailboxes or putting things into folders. It’s all just there, in order, with a full audit history of who opened what and when, who they forwarded it onto and more.
EVERY SINGLE LEAD goes into Táve. The reason for this is reporting and if you’re not reporting on your business then there is no way you can have any idea whatsoever as to what is really happening.
So each lead, even if we are booked gets entered. Thankfully most come via our website and there is a handy wordpress plugin which means each website enquiry automatically goes into the system.
Automation: Táve will respond to the lead to let them know we have received their enquiry and when to expect a response.
When we send the a appropriate price list the lead is then moved to a new sales status via an automation. This then queues it up for the next automation. A week later a follow up email is sent if they have yet to book and a week after that a final email. If the lead does not respond then after a set period of time the lead is closed.
So we have a client who is interested in booking. The next stage is to send a proposal from one of our templates. Our couples have the ability to complete the booking online, buy addons, sign the contract and pay their booking fee within about 2 minutes. We ended post based booking years ago.
With proposals they can work if your model is package based or à la carte. You just create the options which are required or optional and let the client make selections. This is all done via a very cool branded web portal.
Automation: Once a proposal is sent an automation will change the sales status of the lead to ‘proposal sent’. This is important as the status of a lead determines if they receive any chase emails.
Huzzah! A booking. Now the fun starts and this one is all automation.
Automation: Tasks are created and assigned to shooter, editors or admin. Things like ‘buy music licences’, a request for Mini Magoos to create one of her bespoke thank you gifts and if any extras were purchased like super slow mo a task to book the camera or procure any other elements for the shoot based on the clients selections. Everything is given a date to be completed by and if needed reminder emails can be set.
Automation: 6 weeks before the wedding a balance reminder is sent with details about any outstanding balance along with payment details. A pre-wedding questionnaire is also sent for the couple to fill out that will give us all the info we need for their day. It also invites them to suggest dates and times to chat. What they enter here is automatically put in our diary as a tentative entry. Once we confirm the date it automatically emails the client a confirmation with a single click.
A few days before the shoot the details are sent to the assigned shooters. The contents of which are derived from the clients questionnaire and our chat. A week before the wedding an email to the couple is sent asking if everything is all OK along with confirmed details to see if anything has changed. 30% of the time something has and this simple ‘touch’ reminds to client to let is know that the prep locations have changed.
Automations can contain conditions. These are checks you put in place to ensure they only run on a particular job type. So a corporate job won’t receive the emails for a wedding job. A same sex wedding won’t receive the questionnaire which mentions bride and groom (although some automations like this one can be shared). We also have the option in some of our automations to not trigger the automatic emails using a series of ‘override’ tick boxes.
Automation: The job status is changed to production and a whole string of tasks are created. Things like ‘carve up footage’, ‘take backups’ and more. As each of these is completed the next task is created right up until competition.
Certain stages will trigger an email to the couple with an update. We could send more but we must balance useful information with annoying. Tasks are also created with deadlines based on our contractual promises. Every single step of production from editing to burning disks has a task but using automations means the next task is only created upon completion of the last. This means that at any time when I view my task list the only things listed are tasks that can actually be worked on, no future tasks.
Automation : When we mark a job as completed it will check to see if a parcel tracking number is present in the job sheet. If it is, an email letting the couple know everything is on its way will be sent with a lovely little tracking link they can click on. All with a single click. 2 weeks later it will ask for feedback and a year after the wedding it will remind them of their film and even send them a link to watch it online.
Now we get to the true meaning of a studio management system like Táve and the reason we log and capture all leads even if we are booked. How do you know where you should market? What brings in the most leads, then which of those actually translates into sales and which sources bring in the higher paying clients?
With reporting you can start to also plot your trends. We know every year when the leads will slow down and when they will just explode. This means we don’t panic when things go quiet because we know every year when this will be and why. Reporting is also the reason we grow. We can see just how many jobs we turn away and why. If it’s down to price then we can see if this is a market we want to capture (but remember, no matter how cheap you are, even if you are doing it for free then there will always be someone cheaper or willing to give more away for free than you). Lets look a little more into our own reporting and what we can get from it.
Let’s be honest, we have bills to pay so income will always be a very important factor for all of us. But given that what we do is seasonal we need to understand how much we make, is it enough and when are we making that money? This just helps with planning life but also growth, when can we afford to invest in our business?
With the income report in Táve you can easily see just how much you bring in from month to month and also compare it to previous years.
Where do you need to spend on advertising? Do you actually know or do you just have a feeling? With this report we can not only see which sources are the most popular but how many of those turn into leads and then also how much money they bring in. So one source may bring in a butt load of leads but none of those turn into sales (wedding shows used to do this for us, which is why we dont do them any more). You can also see the average time to book. For us friend referrals have a pretty nice conversion rate but a time to book which is twice as high as any other source. Search engine is our most popular source and also given that it costs us nothing is a great reason we invest so heavily in good SEO. However the big winner is photographer referrals. A very healthy conversion rate and an average time to book of just 12 days. Which is why we LOVE photographers 🙂
We can also see which months we expect to see the biggest number of enquiries and with the data we have we can compare this year on year. February will always be our most popular month for bookings and enquiries but we can see that we must also be prepared for April and September.
So with this we can see where we need to invest more and where we need to invest less. For us wedding shows took up a massive amount of time and silly levels of money for what was a very small return. Thats time and money we could invest elsewhere for a much greater return and the reason you don’t see them on the reports, we simply don’t do them anymore. For those who do wedding shows and feel it’s a great winner for you, what if you could see this data and have a lightbulb moment that maybe somewhere else is actually working out better for you or bringing in clients who spend more?
JOB CLOSED REASON
My personal favourite report. Why did we close the lead?
The biggest is stale, this is just people who received our price list, received the 2 automated followups and then just simply didn’t get back to us for whatever reason (we shall never know). But after that we get a really useful snapshot into whats going on. Just look at that, look at how many jobs we are turning away because we are already booked that day. Therein lies the true problem of what we do. Everyone gets married on a Saturday and usually in the summer months. That is a very small number of days we can actually work and even less if it was just the 2 of us. This will always be what limits your potential income as a wedding videographer, resource! With this report you can gauge just how much potential income there is and if it’s enough to justify expansion plans.
It was this single report which made us realise we needed to grow and had the potential clients to do so.
It was this report that gave us one of our biggest boosts yet. We could see just how much we were turning away, how much work we were giving our fellow filmmakers who we recommended. We then looked at the other reason people didn’t book, price, and looked into if we could secure that gap in our offering and thus, A Hint of Mint was born. But the team grew, they improved and our statistics showed us that what we really needed was a second minty team. And so this year we focus on growing our new second Minty team so we can now offer cover 2 weddings on the same day as Minty Slippers. Before you jump to conclusions about the ‘Didn’t want the job’ category. That’s used for jobs we can’t do due to our daughters school times or when people email us asking us to produce a copy of someone elses work.
There is so much more we do with Táve but I feel like I would just be rambling at this point. The best thing for you to do is give it a go. You can use our referral link here and you will get a 60 day trial instead of the usual 30 https://tave.com/join/mintyslippers
GETTING STARTED TIPS
In recent months Táve has made it so much easier to get going with some templates to set things up for you and they have them for all sorts of business types. But they really are just to get you going as you can dig so much deeper. My advice to try it though is dive in. Don’t just put a couple of clients in as you will find that running your old system and the new one to be too much trouble and you will naturally gravitate to your old ways. Spend a week and put in an entire season of clients. Integrate the lead system with your website and really see what it can do for you.
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If you have any questions about Táve or need help setting up your own system then feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.
Danny O’Neill (Chief user of crayons)
Danny’s background is in IT having been in charge of the storage and backup teams for a number of clients. Now he spends his days fine tuning the Minty Slippers films and playing on his PS4.