I remember the first time I missed a deadline in my professional life. I was working for NBC in Phoenix and I had just returned from shooting a beautiful story. Back then, I thought everything I did was extraordinary, because I really thought I was something. Long story short: I sat down to edit this masterpiece. The clock ticks away. I miss getting my story on the 10 p.m. news.
Now, I only missed it by two minutes, but that meant everything, because it didn’t make it into the newscast.
One of the seasoned photojournalists walked into the edit bay right afterwards and said, “Hey, what’s up, Manley?”
I said, “Man, I just edited this beautiful masterpiece and I missed my deadline. But, take a look, it’s great.”
Uninterested, he walked towards the door, looked at me, and said in an old sage’s tone, “It ain’t great if nobody saw it.” Then he walked out.
That was over twenty years ago and I’ve taken that experience to heart almost every day. When I started Manley Films more than ten years ago, I made meeting and beating deadlines one of the cornerstones of our customer service experience. But, to meet deadlines, you have to have a few other organizational procedures in place. Here are five ways we work with our clients to ensure that deadlines are met and the outcome exceeds their expectations.
Before we even begin a project, we ask a lot of questions so everyone is on the same page. What is the most powerful impact possible from this video? Who is the audience? What ROI are we expecting? How can we maximize the footage we’re gathering and editing? These are just a few of the many questions we ask to achieve the clarity everyone craves.
No matter how big or small the project, we work very closely with our video clients to create a solid production calendar. This calendar contains dates for pre-production, script writing/storyboards, client feedback and changes, shooting the video, editing the video, more client feedback and changes, and dates for the final deliverables.
Bi-weekly Equipment Checks
One thing that can derail a good plan is a curveball like equipment failure on a shoot. So, at least once a week, we take an hour or so to test and clean our cameras, cables, batteries, tripods, monitors, and anything else we feel needs to be tested and cleaned.
As I sit here writing this, I’m listening to two Manley Filmers going over the project checklist for an upcoming commercial we’re shooting in Miami. Again, no matter how big or small the project, we go through the exact same process and the exact same checklist every single time. Things like: are there insurance considerations? Do we need hair and makeup, talent releases, props? Still photography, social media opportunities (for our client and for us)? Water, food, craft services, food allergies? These are all very important things which need to be addressed well before we shoot or edit video.
The Manley Films & Media Protocols
We’re sticklers for protocol. On shoots, we have a dress code, a neatness code, a “no cursing” policy, a “be nice and always use good manners” policy and a “don’t freak out” code. Most importantly, we have a “take tremendous care of our clients” code. These are not made-up things. We have them, we live by them, and we take them seriously.
The bottom line is this: what we do is fun. It’s also very important to our clients, to their bosses (if they’re not already the boss), and to their companies. And that makes it extremely important to us. So, all of these preparations, protocols, and systems are put in place to ensure that our video production clients get the most powerful impact possible from the video content we produce for them. Therefore, we must we deliver exactly what they need when they need it: on time, as promised, and in keeping with our personal code.
Want to experience a light-hearted look at how we communicate with our clients? Watch Episode 5 of the Manley Films & Media Vlog: Client Relations.
Something totally awesome happened in 1984.
It blew me away and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my life.
“Where’s the beef?” cawed Clara Peller. That was it. That did it.
First, I thought to myself, the person or people who came up with that commercial had to be mad creative geniuses.
Second, I pictured the scene in the corporate boardroom when “Where’s the Beef?” was pitched. I mean, can you imagine the look on the faces of the client when the creative madmen said, “Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do…since your target audience is 18-45 year olds, let’s get a 4 foot 11 inch, 81 year-old manicurist with no acting experience and a crow-like voice to be the spokesperson for your product in this new round of commercials. She’ll say 3 words and we believe those 3 words will take your product to the next level.”
After that, there had to be blank stares, hands on foreheads, and perhaps some curse words from the client. But, the madmen believed in their idea. They did their research, they accessed the competition, they dug deep into their years of experience, and they stood by their pitch, eventually gaining the buy-in from their valued client.
In two short years, Wendy’s sales jumped 31 percent worldwide. Wendy’s SVP of Communications, Denny Lynch, stated at the time, “With Clara we accomplished as much in five weeks as we did in 14½ years.” The offbeat campaign succeeded in part due to the simplicity of the idea. From Clara Peller’s squawk came one of the most recognizable slogans, still known today. Now, that’s endurance.
Thirty-two years later, here I am, in my twenty-third year of pitching ideas. The Manley team and I have seen those blank stares, hands on foreheads, and we’ve even been cursed at a few times. And you know what, that’s okay. No, it’s better than okay. It’s great.
Decisions driving revenue and decisions driving your company’s success should be scrutinized, explored and questioned. There is no room for ego. Yes, we may want to pitch a “where’s the beef” to you and we hope that you’ll consider it. But, when it comes down to it, we’re in a partnership with you. A giant sales jump sounds just as awesome to us as it sounds to you.
So, because of Clara, the mad creative geniuses, and Wendy’s corporate, I’m living a dream life. I get to partner with some of the finest companies in the world to help create memorable moments. And you know what? If you decide you’d like to sit in a conference room with me and my team, I would consider it an honor. But, please remember, if you feel like our ideas are too soft, you know what to say.
“Where’s the beef, Manley?”