Don’t sell … give them an offer they can’t refuse!

Don’t sell … give them an offer they can’t refuse!

Written by Rustin Hamilton, Illumina Filmworks

If you’re in the video business, chances are, you’re not in the mob. The two just don’t seem to go together. So don’t let the above title fool you.


And, chances are, if you’re in the video business, especially if you’re on the creative side, you probably don’t like to sell. Nothing new there either.

Having said that, this little blog is about how to get business from clients, or bring in new clients, without using the standard sales pitch. And just so you know, I am a walking, talking cliché when it comes to this topic. We love our clients, we actually don’t mind sitting at the conference table with our clients, we just don’t like selling. So … we don’t do it.

Too often video companies forget the primary reason for their existence: We are here to help other people make money. There are exceptions I suppose. If you only produce documentaries, you may be an outlier in this conversation. (Even that is arguable). If you shoot weddings, your primary goal is to make people tear up and feel emotions. You get the idea.

There are other exceptions, but the majority of video companies in this country produce videos on the corporate level. As they say, “It’s what pays the bills.” Yet, we forget the one trigger that every company wants to hear when being approached: “we want to positively impact your bottom line.”

Today, we have more information available to us that helps quantify the benefits of video exposure, especially on web sites. Yet too often, video producers create videos for their own edification. I call it creating for creativities sake.  Damn the purpose, let’s see how much 3D we can incorporate into this 4k production!

Convincing a company to enlist your talents takes more than a good reel. You have to go into that first meeting with a general idea of how you can give value. That’s why I call it “an offer they can’t refuse.” Because if you can make anyone believe that their $20,000 investment in a video will net them $100,000, or more, over time? Heck, that’s not selling, that’s simple math.

Of course, it will rarely be that cut and dry. But let me give you a real example, with the numbers skewed … down. A company is getting fined by a government agency because of safety violations that are not getting resolved. All of the reminders, pamphlets (yea, I said pamphlets) and emails are not doing the job. And with every violation, comes a $10,000 fine. Unfortunately, the violation occurs often enough that the company actually budgets for the fines being paid. Can a video help? We all know the answer to that and if one video can actually decrease the violations by 50 percent? Well, very few people can refuse that offer.

So how can you drive the conversation with new or existing clients to get to this point?

⁃Do your homework online. What are the hot buttons for that industry? Are there any lawsuits that can give you some insight? How can you solve the problem or a potential problem?

⁃Check out the competition. No one wants to fall behind their adversary. This is an open door. Go in ready to present some big ideas. Don’t get caught up in details yet.

⁃Just ask your contact what issues they are facing. Keep the conversation fairly broad and you can solve this on the fly.

⁃Be the expert. Think of yourself as a consultant, not just a video producer. The more brain power you invest into that company the more valuable you become. Suddenly you’re more than a “video geek.” You’re now an extended part of their marketing team and out of that comes a long-term relationship.

Bottom line – show the value that you bring to your potential client. Make it about money, because it already is.