I started Heartbeest because I knew something about the “how to” of film and video production. I’ve worn many hats – from production assistant to producer – and I figured I could put that expertise to use on behalf of businesses. Along the way I learned a lot about what I’m really providing: assurance.
I don’t know everything about video production. In fact, there’s more that I don’t know than what I do know. Dear reader, that should not concern you. In fact you might be relieved. Expertise is conferred in two ways: by an acknowledging public or by self-proclamation. Beware of experts who make claims of their expertise. I’ve found it’s often best to not know and go do some research.
The following are the Five C’s of Everything Matters, the Heartbeest motto. Why five “C”s? Dunno. Alliteration is mnemonic and therefore memorable. There will not be a quiz, by the way.
Number 1 – Communicate
Humans traffic in language. Whether we use words to represent things or ideas or we cry out in some emotional outburst, we are unique in our ability to language our way forward. I have more to say about language in future posts.
But in brief, let’s examine something called Speech-Act Theory originally devised by British philosopher JL Austin in the 1950s. Austin identified several basic linguistic moves that could be broken into two main groupings: assertions and assessments. When you say, “I will” or “I promise,” you are making an assertion about something you’re going to do (whether you follow through or not) and when you say, “I don’t like this drink,” you are making an assessment. If you’re at all curious about speech-act theory I urge you to read up on it. Here’s the Wikipedia entry about it. It’s pretty interesting stuff.
I reference it here, because we humans use the word “communication” a lot, but I’m not sure we fully grasp its entire meaning. The dictionary says, “share or exchange information, news or ideas” and “impart or pass on.” There are other definitions, but they describe a generalized exchange of speech that lacks the nifty specificity of speech-acts. With acts of speech, you can:
• Make promises
• Make requests (these include demands and pleadings, too)
• Decline requests
• Make counter-offers to requests
• Make proposals
• Make declarations
There are others, but you can see that an act of speech can be a very specific kind of communication move.
And, why I point this out is that when you’re doing business with anyone, your joint ability to communicate with clarity and specificity confers the responsibility of those communications upon both parties. Nothing is left to chance. When elements of a business deal are well articulated (preferably in a contract) nothing is left to chance or misinterpretation.
Number 2 – Commit
When you or I agree to something we’re making a commitment. And for commitment-phobes (you know who you are) this can be alarming. But, for any endeavor to succeed – at least for the life of the endeavor – you have to make a commitment to see it through; dating, not necessarily marriage, with a defined expiration date.
While this may seem obvious, commitment is best expressed in a contract or letter-of-agreement, but in any kind of relationship, it’s best to renew the commitment every-so-often – reflected in lunches, phone calls, and drinks – it lives in an ongoing dance between parties designed to produce the very best work possible.
Number 3 – Class
Anchorman Ron Burgundy uses it as his sign-off – “stay classy,” he says. By “class” I’m really referring to taste, but taste starts with a “t” and well… never mind.
Yes you’re entitled to order up nothing but talking heads who drone on endlessly or use stock photo images/video with superimposed titles or shoe-leather shots of people walking, talking, smiling, shaking hands and on and on, while a dull narrator reads something that would have been better off purposed as an emailed PDF. Yes, you’re entitled to do any or all of those things, but don’t.
I urge you not to succumb to derivative clichés just because they reach the lowest common denominator and they’re cheap and easy to do. You’re better than that, you know? You have taste. You have class. Stay classy.
I considered calling this C Creativity (and I guess there’s no reason why I couldn’t have six Cs, but five seems so much more likeable… anyway), but feel free to include creativity as a 2nd or 3rd cousin of class. The dictionary says that creativity is… “the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work” Artistic? Video for business? Well yeah, why not? Didja ever see those Old Spice ads with that really good-looking guy on horseback? Of course you did. How about that Snickers ad with Betty White (RIP Betty)? Yeah, you saw it.
Yes, be as artistic as your budget will allow and you’ll be very happy you did. Be as original as possible (see Class, above) – don’t copy anything unless you can top it or make it fresh.
Number 4 – Close
Close, as in personal. Today marketing is all about learning as much as you can about your customers and satisfying their desires (more about Desire in a future, sexy post) and needs as fully as possible. How close is close? Well, if you were having a dinner party, it might be a really good idea to find out if any of your guests have dietary restrictions or food allergies (or keep an EpiPen on hand). It’s simply polite and really smart.
Number 5 – Complete
Yes, you’re going to get it finished – from proposal to distribution.
By completion, what I mean is, that you must take the time to assess the outcome. Put the finished product under a microscope, with all the important stakeholders taking part in this autopsy, and really take it apart. You need to really examine it from all angles to determine what worked, what didn’t work, what practices should be kept, which ones to toss or change. And finally to determine if you’d do it again, do it differently, or do it at all.
Some call this gap analysis and it’s a perfectly valid way to view the relative success of a given project. Whatever you call it, it will help to pave the way for the next project or phase of a larger initiative. Completion tells the universe that it’s time to move on and explore something new.