When we talk about adding value to the client, a lot of the time it isn’t an addition but an exchange.
“We should offer this, and charge a little more”.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. However one of the downsides that we see here at Studio 24-7 is that it suggests that money is the only thing that can be exchanged for added value – that’s just not the case.
Value in Brand Trust
Having your existing customers trust your brand is obviously incredibly beneficial. It leads to repeat business and word of mouth marketing. Giving away free production stills will lead to this (as long as your product lives up to your client’s expectations, of course). What it will also do is offer proof to other companies that are shopping around for services similar to yours or you clients.
Let’s say that you do a job for a well-known fast food company. It’s a big job, and a giant juicy contract, so you decide to throw in some production still for free. Why not? You have a camera assistant who wants to get more stuck in, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to prove what his eye is like. So all is good. The video is delivered along with the unexpected production stills and you giant fast food company is happy with the job you’ve done.
Up goes your case study on your website, along with the beautiful new production stills. Your camera assistant really came through. Here we see the first benefit of taking production stills at all – free or not. You get content and context. Both of these are valuable to you. Not only can you keep a consistent content stream going and deliver a more in-depth case study, but you get a chance to show potential clients what being on set with you will be like. That’s pretty invaluable.
A client knowing your on-set process without working with you will elevate the trust in your brand. Being able to see that your operation is professional means the risk they take in hiring you is less. And that’s just the beginning.
Say your client starts posting these photos on their social media. Then their peers and competitors will be shown directly what being on-set with you looks like, putting you at the forefront of their minds and elevating your standing in the minds of the fast food companies. But why give them away for free?
Firstly, offering them up for a price may mean you’re declined. Now you’re in a catch 22. Do you do them anyway? Therefore indicating to your client that they aren’t as ‘valuable’ as you made out? Or do you forego the entire process and miss out on the benefits? Tricky one.
Next, free stuff creates word of mouth. Remember when you were in fresher’s a uni, and Dominos were handing out free pizzas at the fresher’s fair? That information spread like wildfire. Unfortunately free production stills are never going to be as exciting as free pizza, but free is free and it makes people talk.
Finally, giving free production stills can equate to over-delivering. This puts you in very good stead with your client, and planning to deliver more than your promised makes actually over-delivering much easier. Plan to give free photos, and you’ll impress your client very easily.
Value in Over Delivering
Why is there value in over-delivering? In short, your client wants to get the most value out of their purchase possible – that’s simple business. Building freebies into your pre-production makes achieving this easier for everyone. Just make sure you don’t mention them to your client. It should be more like
“oh, we did this for you too, in the spur of the moment”
“we can offer this to you for free”.
This way you seem more creative, and the offer feels more personalised than if it’s a built in freebie. People look for bespoke services these days and this is a really easy way to make your service feel as bespoke and personal as possible.
Over-delivering will also help boost your reputation through word of mouth, as we mentioned above. These two things work in a blissful positive feedback cycle, and it’s important not to overlook it.
Over-delivering can also gift you a little leeway if you run over the deadline or exceed the budget in someway. The value of having the over delivery be something done in production is that it seems like something you were planning on gifting anyway, and not a tacked on extra to make up for the mistake. Having forgiving clients can be invaluable in relieving stress from your team – just be conscious of taking this one too far. It could be easy to slip into a mindset of sloppiness because you’re giving away freebies. You should definitely be making sure your production stills are that little bit extra, not an apology note.
Value in Extra Content and the Free Marketing it Could Give
Creating production stills has a value beyond whether you offer them for free or not, and that’s the extra content it allows you to post. We all know that the world of content marketing is tough because of the sheer amount of things that are need to be created. In this instance, production stills a ‘free content’. They’re free because you’re going to be on-set anyway, and so documenting the process and using the product for content allows you to achieve two things with one shoot, therefore reducing the investment in content creation.
You could even go a step further and create a behind the scenes video for your client along with the production stills. The beauty of this is that it can be as polished as you like, and it gives further opportunity for little Timmy the camera assistant that he can be trusted with something other than a DSLR. Obviously a lot more effort and finesse goes into a BTS video, and you would gain a lot more value by having it be polished to the same (or similar) standard as the main video you deliver – but you do benefit from all the above by a little bit extra. You’ve gone further above and beyond, you’ve created more content to share and god knows how much we think video is more shareable than stills content.
Value in Documentation
Documenting your process also has value. Imagine looking back on the sets and jobs you’re working on now in 10 years. Having that record is a pretty cool way to satisfy/invoke a little nostalgia, as well as track how much you’ve grown of course. Additionally, it will help you remember. Imagine being an ultra-successful filmmaker/business man and being asked to write a book but realizing you never documented any of your process! It would be a shame not to remember the things going on in your life at the moment just because your client doesn’t have the budget for production stills.
The long and short of it is that freebies are good and making your client happy is better. Free production stills are a simple and effective way to keep everyone happy and give your content folder a nice little supplementary filling.