Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes of My $100,000 Video Shoot

by Ezra Firestone



We know as business owners know that if we want to create a sustainable brand (and not just a temporary flow of income)… We need content.

And a common question among content creators is, Does production value matter?

I think we can all agree that it does, at least to a point. So the question then becomes, in regard to content quality, At what point do I stop receiving return on my investment?

Well I’m currently working on our largest and most expensive piece of content for BOOM!, and in my new video I want to share the thought process behind it and give you a quick look behind the scenes.


CONTENT UNLIKE ANYTHING WE’VE EVER DONE

BOOM! is my most profitable ecommerce business. It’s where I focus most of my entrepreneurial attention and where I test the strategies that I share with this community.

And I’m currently testing a new strategy: We’re holding a large scale photo and video shoot.

This is unlike anything we’ve ever done. Until now, we’ve created our content pretty informally. We’ve always had pretty good production value, but we produced everything ourselves on a relatively small budget (mostly spent on equipment).

(A quick note on that: In my opinion, what matters most in small-scale video production is actually the audio; any modern smartphone will produce good enough video these days. Just FYI.)

And over time we’ve improved the quality of our content — going from shooting with just an iPhone to using nice cameras and mics and incorporating multiple angles and sophisticated video editing.

Now we’re taking it one step further: We’re renting a production studio and hiring a director, videographer, lighting person, headshot photographer, hair and makeup artist — the whole nine.

Then there’s the talent: 1000 women replied to our casting call, 100 came in to interview and 25 got hired.

We’ve invested a lot of money in this — probably over $100,000 when you consider all the costs…

So, are we crazy? We’ve been producing content for a fraction of that cost and it’s been working well. If isn’t broken don’t fix it, right?

Here’s why we decided to invest so heavily in new brand content…


PARTICIPATING IN THE CONVERSATION

Most businesses — especially small businesses — are built around a group of people having a collective experience: They’re rock climbers, dog lovers, or, in the case of BOOM!, they’re women over 40 who share a pro-age outlook.

And it’s our job to add value to these people’s lives, both with our products and by using content to participate in the conversation around our products. Rock climbers don’t just want to buy climbing gear — they want to talk about top-rope vs. bouldering; they want to share strategies; they want to express their identities as rock climbers.

And in your content, it’s a very effective strategy to let the voices of your customers dictate this conversation and not try to dictate it yourself.


CONNECTING WITH OUR CUSTOMERS

So at BOOM!, we’re heavily invested in understanding the experience of our customers and the conversation they’re engaged in, and reflecting that through our messaging and content.

As we’ve grown the brand and built up a larger customer base, we’ve worked do this more and more effectively. Which doesn’t necessarily mean increasing the budget and scale of our productions…

But with this video shoot, we’re trying to capture an experience and present in a striking way that is engaging and really connects with people.

We want to show women over 40 that, by using BOOM!, they aren’t just getting makeup and skincare; they are becoming a part of a community. They are expressing their identity. And this goes for new and past customers alike — we believe that 50% of your revenue should come from past customers, so we want to give ours a compelling reason to stick around. To effectively express this, we invested in talented artists and in gathering women who represent our customer base.

Fortunately, we’re in a place where we can throw a little money at this project and see if we’re able to connect with people.

I’m definitely interested to see how this type of content performs versus our more informal, smaller-scale stuff.

By the time I’m writing this post, we should be finishing up the final touches on this content and getting ready to roll it out soon…

So I’ll keep you posted!

Video Highlights:
0:25 Engage customers with relevant content
0:45 Hired a casting agency for BOOM photo shoot
2:15 Come down to NYC to meet some of the ladies in the photo shoot
3:01 There is nothing to be afraid about aging
3:31 Its empowering to give voice to something people think you should be ashamed about
4:02 Why is brand content so important?
4:38 Let your customers dictate the direction of the content of your brand
5:25 We are heavily invested in telling the story of our customers
5:56 Ultimately a business is a group of people and a collective experience
6:46 Thank you for taking a look behind the scenes
7:35 Outro



Click Here For Video Transcript

Ezra: Hey, Ezra here behind the scenes. Well, you’re not behind the scenes yet, but you’re gonna be. We are doing a BOOM! photoshoot in New York City. So we’ve done, like, all of our stuff to date has been really informal, sort of, you know…we have good production value, but we’ve done it ourselves. We’ve developed the skill set to shoot content in-house. One of the things we wanted to do with BOOM!, as you grow your brand, as you have more of a customer base, it becomes more and more important that you engage them with content they like that is relevant to them, that they want to consume.

Because ideally your brand is generating 50% of its revenue from past customers, from people who bought from you once before. You’re running a sale campaign every six weeks. So I’m gonna take you behind the scenes in New York City to one of our photoshoots. What we did was we hired a casting agency. We had them put out a casting call. One thousand women applied to be in this thing. Here are some of the women that are gonna get cast, or that applied to be in our shoot. So we had 1,000 women apply, and 100 of them came in, we interviewed them. And of those 100 folks, we hired 25 of them. And we’re gonna be shooting, and this is like we have a director, and we’ve got a camera person, we’ve got a lighting person, we’ve got a headshot photographer. It’s like a hair and makeup, it’s like a whole thing.

And, you know, fortunately we’re able to produce this kind of content and be in a position where we can afford to produce this kind of content. So it’ll be interesting to kinda see the difference between a highly produced, sort of, cast, and set up photoshoot, as opposed to the kind of content that we’ve done before, which is direct, face-to-camera, simple, really kinda not fancy production value for the BOOM! brand. But the goal is that we engage our community with content that they’re interested in. So I wanna kind of take you behind the scenes and introduce you to some of the people, and show you a little bit of that photo shoot, just because I think it’s an interesting case study.

I have a feeling that the content will work just about as well as the content that we’ve produced before, because, again, I think that, you know, when it comes to production value, what matters most is audio quality. not necessarily quality of video, because your iPhone is gonna…yeah, and that is rose pink. Your iPhone’s gonna shoot high enough quality, you know, video. So if you stick a good mic on it, you can shoot everything on an iPhone and be just fine for your brand. But we are testing out a little bit higher produced, multi-angle, super high-quality audio, super simple. So you’ll be able to see that on the BOOM! blog when it launches. But come on down to New York City. Let’s take a look at the photoshoot. We’ll introduce you to a couple of the ladies, and then we’ll have a chat after the behind the scenes is done, so I’ll see you there.

Female 1: I love Cindy Joseph’s story. She is a phenomenal inspiration to those of us who have decided to age naturally. Really appreciate her approach to the natural look, the healthy look, the idea of enhancing what you have, not covering it up. It’s just a wonderful philosophy of beauty.

Female 2: I thought I’d be scared talking about aging, but actually it was fun, you know? There’s nothing to be afraid about age.

Female 3: It feels really evocative and fun, and like I can still be myself even though I’m using the product.

Female 4: I am one of those weird people that has never lied about my age. I’ve always been honest about it. And so having an opportunity to talk about it in a place where that is celebrated was really a great experience. Obviously the products are great, and so it felt beautiful and luxurious to be made up with this great stuff today on my face. It’s so empowering to have an opportunity to give voice to something that people think is something that you should be ashamed about. And we proved that you don’t have to be ashamed about it.

Ezra: Hey, so that’s a little bit of behind the scenes of that photoshoot that we did. We have invested a lot of money in this photoshoot, probably over $100,000 when you consider paying the talent, the makeup artist, the photographer, the videographer, the director, the editor, renting the studio space. We’ve really invested a lot in producing this content, and why would we do that? Why does brand content become so important? Well, I think a couple things are interesting here. One is letting the voice of your customers dictate the conversation that’s happening.

So essentially what we did was we asked our customers about their experience in relationship to our, sort of, product, and our content, and our philosophy, and, like, how they engage in their daily life as women over 40, which is essentially what our brand is about. And I think this is sort of, like, analogous to reading Amazon reviews, reading what people are saying about your products and using some of those ideas in the sales copy. Letting your customers, and the lingo, and the conversations that they’re having dictate the direction of the content of your brand.

And one thing that will happen for you is, as you build a brand, as you generate a customer base, as you, sort of, build a community, it becomes so much more important to have engagement with that community, ongoing content with that community, cross-selling, and stuff like that. So, like, I think the barometer is really you want 50% of your sales to be coming from past customers. That’s what we’re shooting for as a business, is to have half of our revenue from people who have already engaged with us once before, and one of the ways that we do that is through content.

And so it’ll be really interesting to see how this content turns out, see how it resonates with people. You can keep an eye on the BOOM! blog and I’ll do an update post and see, like, how viral it goes. See how people respond to it. But, like, we’re very heavily investing in telling the story of our customers, which is something that you see across a lot of brands, is, like, who are the people that are engaging with this product? Why are they engaging with this product? What does it mean to them?

Going out and telling that story is invaluable for your brand, and you can use that content in a number of ways. And we’re investing very heavily in understanding who our customer database is, and how they feel about who they are in the world, and what they’re up to in the world, and this particular product set, and these particular set of experiences. Because ultimately a business is, essentially, a group of people and a collective experience. So it’s a group of people who are all having a similar experience in one area. They are all rock climbers, or they are all jujitsu people, or they are all women of this particular demographic who are engaging in this particular idea set, or whatever.

The point is that it’s a group of people and a collective experience, and your job is to serve that group of people, and comment on that experience, and add value to that. And that’s what we’re attempting to do with this photoshoot, and I think, you know, we’re so far really, really, really…like now I’m shooting this outro video maybe 30, 45 days after we actually shot the initial content. It’s just finishing being edited, so we’re about to start releasing, some of it, on our blog, and we’re super excited about it. And, you know, I’ll do an update and let you know how that content went.

But thank you for taking a quick look, you know, behind the scenes of one of the photoshoots that we’ve done here at BOOM!, and you’ll be seeing more content like this. I wanna put out more stuff that’s like, “Here’s, sort of, the process that we went through to get this particular result in one of our brands.” And this was something new for us, where we, like, kind of went, you know, “big business” in a sense, you know? Usually what we do is we produce stuff, like, really small scale, really, sort of, low budget, really, sort of, like, as, sort of, nimble as possible. And here, we said, “Let’s invest a little bit in the other direction. Let’s invest in, you know, crafting a storyline ahead of time and hiring some talent, and, you know, renting a studio space instead of shooting it at home. Let’s try something new from a content production standpoint, and we’ll see how it goes.”

So as we’re here for “Smart Marketer” blog, thanks for watching. I’ll catch up with you in the next one.

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