This could apply to any business but in my case, it is based on how I operate my video production/edit business. There are several basic questions in business but in my mind the most important one is: “How do I develop great clients?”
This is not the same as how to attract new clients, or grow my client base necessarily, but more to the point of, how can I engage and retain loyalty with my best, repeat clients? It is not about lowest pricing, although fair pricing is expected. It’s not about having the latest/greatest gear, although you are expected to have the right tools for the job and budget. The real answer is, to be a problem solver.
To be a problem solver for your clients is probably the best single skill and competitive advantage you can have. It requires being able to tackle the challenges your client presents in a realistic way, with an open-minded ability to take in the project specs, deal with the deadline and budget realities and come up with a solution. This is not the same scenario as being willing to say, “No” to unreasonable demands, because that is an important skill to have also. This is about working with trusted clients that you already have a working relationship with, since the first project with a new client is really only that; a first step. When you have established a base-level of competency with your client over the course of a few projects, I suggest you put your attention to the highest level of service to these very clients, who you have produced projects with successfully before. Of course, every project has some aspects about it that aren’t perfect and those are the parts that you should attempt to overcome. In my case, sometimes I get an edit/post project with a pile of footage shot by someone else. I usually much prefer to shoot AND edit but there are always reasons beyond your control that you can’t get 100% of the job. Maybe very good and valid reasons. So, in these cases I’m faced with editing a finished piece without having everything I would like in terms of production content. This is the challenge. You absolutely don’t want to deliver something mediocre, just because the production was mediocre. Your job is to work around all those faults and find new solutions. This is the most important part of editing/post anyway. My good clients know what they’ve got, the reasons why they have what they have, and why they are now coming to me to make something usable. But, I don’t want to be another link in the chain of mediocrity. Giving my client a finished edit that is just “OK”, is not good enough. I want my client to be blown away beyond what they thought they had and was possible to finally get in their finished video.
Not only does this attitude and approach make you look like a hero, it more importantly solves your client’s problem. Your best work makes everyone look good and have faith that the guys who shot the footage for it will thank you if you know it or not. Who knows, maybe your client had to hire their boss’ cousin to shoot as a favor, or some similar political nightmare. Once you solve these sets of problems for your client, you can certainly make recommendations like, “Next time I suggest this…”, or “Keep me in mind for shooting and production also, whenever you can.” A friendly reminder at the conclusion of a successful project is to keep me in mind for the full spectrum of services I offer: Creative concept, production, edit/post. I can provide the overall best bang for the $, best timeline to complete, and complete creative control on behalf of the client, since time and $ can be saved when you shoot for the edit and edit for the shoot.
This is how you get the quality, long-term, clients that you really want. These are clients that will pay fairly, work reasonably with you; all based on a mutual trust and respect. You want these clients.