In this blog post, I’m going to be sharing my experiences of how I won my first client in video production for Stada Media, and the lessons I learned from that miracle moment. This is the Diary of an Entrepreneur. So, let’s get started!
Getting the money coming in
Now, if you’re in business, you’ll know this feeling well: the anxiety and worry going into setting up your own business. You’ve left your job, or you’re already out of a job – and you’ve not got much money. So, you’re trying to find that next thing – the thing that could bring the money in to put a roof over your head, pay the bills and keep the family happy.
When I first decided I wanted to set up a video production company, I spent about a thousand pounds on a camera – that was some of our savings, for this harebrained idea of setting up my own business. I also had the editing software. Back in those days, it was on CD – Final Cut Pro, for those geeky enough to know!
So, I was sat there with all this kit, which was lovely – but I was only spending money, not bringing any in.
So, it was time to find clients.
Cold calling my first client
Picture the scene: I’m sitting at my desk in my spare room at home. I’m looking at my computer screen, thinking, crikey – how and where do I find new clients?
Out of the corner of my eye was a copy of the Yellow Pages (yes, this was the days of the Yellow Pages, for anyone old enough to remember!). I grabbed it, and decided I was going to find a hundred businesses within the Yellow Pages, from all different sections and categories.
Back then, we did have emails, but digital communication wasn’t as popular. So, I decided I was going to start cold calling.
Desperate times, desperate measures
However, finding my hundred businesses took me three times longer than it should have: I was procrastinating, simply because I knew that this wasn’t something I was going to enjoy. Even though I’m good at sales and can handle a conversation, I hate the idea of picking up the phone and cold calling. I’ve not done it since, and I don’t want to again. I just hate it.
However, in this instance, desperate times called for desperate measures.
I wrote a script to work from, to make it easier for me to pick up the phone and start a conversation. I was still procrastinating, but then realised I couldn’t just sit there doing nothing; it was time to hit the phones and make some money.
The first three or four were an absolute nightmare – slamming the phone down, ‘not interested’, ‘scram’, ‘get lost’, ‘you idiot’. To be fair, I can’t blame them for being pretty mean on the other end; it wasn’t the best introduction to me or my business.
However, by call four or five, I was starting to see a pattern and evolve my script. When I got to call number seven, I finally hit the jackpot.
The guy answered the phone, and he was driving. I remember saying ‘Hi, my name is Danny. I’m calling from a company called Stada Media. I’m wondering if your business would be interested in video?’
This is as far as I got before he interrupted me. He said, ‘Danny, your timing couldn’t be any better. I am literally on my way to one of my clients right now to talk about how we can improve our current services, using’ – you guessed it – ‘video.’
Sealing the deal
Then, things twisted a little back on me. He asked me a question, and I had no idea how to answer it.
I was thinking on my feet, but then he said, ‘Look, I’m on my way to meet this client. I’m going to be there in about an hour. I need to know how much you would charge me for a health and safety video. Just you and a camera, half day, filming five-minute videos.’ I can’t remember the exact amount – but he was giving me a little bit of time to get back to him.
So, I thought, you know what – I’m going to impress him. I was going to get back to him pretty quick with a quote, and hopefully we’ll get the job. I went in with a price – I don’t know why, but £450 jumped out at me. He said, ‘Sold.’
That’s when I asked him who the client was. Guess who it was?
A massive DIY chain in the UK, and I was doing it for £450.
Luckily for me, he went to the meeting, gave me a call back and said, ‘Look, £450… seems a bit cheap.’
When your client tells you you’re going in too cheap, that’s definitely a client you want to be working with.
He said, ‘Look, here’s the full brief having spoken to my client. We’ve got a budget of 2 grand. So just go away, give me a breakdown of what you can do for us, and let’s go from there.’
It was a euphoric moment.
I never rang any of the other targets on that little hit list I’d put together from the Yellow Pages. I’d got as far as call 7, and that was my first client. I was off.
I learned loads from that first job. On the video production side of things, I wasn’t very good. The videos were okay, but if I’m honest, they were on the wrong side of average. But it got us started – and the client was really happy with them. So much so that they booked us in for more work, and it just escalated from there.
The power of portfolio
The B&Q health and safety videos weren’t just great on a ‘wow, we’ve won our first client’ level, – they were also the first step in putting a really good portfolio of work together.
I didn’t realise at the time, but this is really important. If you can show people – future prospects and potential clients – a good body of work, it makes sales a whole lot easier.
At that time, I had nothing – I hadn’t created any videos. So, whoever was taking us on as a video production company at the time was taking us on on trust. They’re going, ‘This guy sounds credible. It sounds like he could do a good job. We’ll go with it.’
For the next batch of clients after that, I didn’t do any more cold calling. I decided I wasn’t very good at it – even though I’d won that client, that was just pure luck and timing. I went in many other directions, including print and email campaigns.
Your clients are right under your nose
Once people found out I was producing videos, they were approaching me and asking me for quotes on videos for their business.
Instead of trying to look beyond my resources and capabilities, I decided to look at my contact list. Who do I know who owns a business or works for somebody in a business, and how do I reach out to them? How do I get them interested in my service?
And that’s what I did. We ended up with maybe half a dozen customers.
To this day, it’s the same: when we’re trying to attract clients, we often miss the businesses on our own doorstep. We’re always looking further afield.
So, that was how I won my first video production client. As always, many lessons to be learned – but lessons are a thousand times more valuable for your growth than constant achievements. Look out for the next post in the Diary of an Entrepreneur!
Read my previous post on setting up my first business and learning my first lessons as an entrepreneur!
If you’d like to have a chat with me about business or marketing, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!