I have been very busy working on the company, and I wanted to give an update on what takes up all my time each day. There are 3 main areas that I’m focusing on, and everything I’m doing is connected to them. These 3 areas are Ad Agencies, Direct to Business, and a GC Animated Project. I will go over each of them below.
The first area I’m working on is building the number of ad agencies I work on projects for. Normally larger companies with with an ad agency to create their marketing campaigns, and those ad agencies will hire production companies to do the production work. For example, the VFX work we did on the Toys”R”Us commercials was through an ad agency. The ad agency is who hired us, and we actually had very little contact with Toys”R”Us. This is how much of the broadcast commercial work is done.
One ad agency has many clients that they work for, so getting into one ad agency you have a chance of working on multiple client projects. The budgets for these projects are often higher, and can be very lucrative for the production companies they hire to help. This also means that it is very competitive to win these projects.
I’m always trying to figure out how to get more agencies that will call me for any of their animation needs. I still have not figured out the secret to winning these contracts, but I’m putting a lot of time and effort into learning. One approach is getting a commercial rep, but that has also proven to be difficult. There seems to be very few commercial reps that are taking on new clients, so I have mostly been trying to reach out to the ad agencies on my own. This of course can be very time consuming, and more often ends with no positive results.
The one benefit I have is that I already have my foot in the door from the work we did with the Toys”R”Us projects. I have heard from several people with production companies that getting your first project with an advertising agency is always the most difficult, but once you have worked for one it is much easier to get work with other ad agencies.
I also recently received this great testimonial from Kent, the Executive Producer of the ad agency I have been working with.
There very well may not have been Christmas this year if not for Eric Miller’s steady hand on the reins. Eric Miller and the team at Eric Miller Animation played an invaluable role in putting the magic in our 2014 Toys R Us Holiday campaign. With over 80 spots in 2 short months, each requiring photo real 3d and character animation to breathe life into magic imaginations, the ask was truly immense. Eric MIller’s experienced professionalism, coupled with a talented and scalable team helped us easily and responsibly manage the ongoing flux that defines a mercurial holiday retail environment. From late season offer and product changes to unplanned branding needs, the team was regularly relied on to exceed expectations, and to do so within reasonable budget parameters and under impossibly short timelines. Santa could not have delivered a better Holiday partner.
Direct to business:
The second area that I’m pursuing is working directly with business to make animated videos for their companies. These could be anything from explainer videos that they can post online, or training videos that can be shown to their employees. This is why I have been looking for artist that I can work with to make these videos. I want to be able to offer whiteboard animated videos, motion graphics, cartoon, and CG animated videos explainer videos. I plan to make a few of these videos to explain my company, and also show the quality of work I can offer.
My first step is adding a section to my website that markets specifically to businesses offering these types of videos. After my website is in place I plan to have a copywriter write scripts for a few minute to minute and half videos that highlight the different types of videos we offer. Then I will pull a team of artists together that I can work with to produce these projects.
After we make a few of these videos for the company I can add them to the section on my website for small businesses, and start reaching out to businesses offering our services. The “Selling” of these services seem a little clearer to me then the selling to ad agencies, since there are many more clients to reach out to directly.
CG Animated Project:
The final area that I’m working on is producing my own animated shorts. I worked with a friend to come up with a basic idea for the shorts, and I have now been working on putting a team of artists together to make it happen. The plan is to design a lovable character for the shorts, and make several 10-15 second videos that we can post on YouTube. These will all be high quality CG animated videos to show off what our team can do, since so far I have very few examples of that kind of work. This will give some great examples of the kind of cg work I want to do with the company.
Unlike the other two areas this one will not bring any money into the company, and will actually require a significant amount of investment to get them made. I will be using the money I made from the Toys”R”Us project to help fund it. I had a decision to make that I could either play it safe, and keep the money I already made for a rainy day, or take a risk and use the money to make something great. I decided that I did not leave my “secure” job at DreamWorks to start a company so that I could play it safe.
There are a few things that I hope to achieve with these videos.
1) Build a team: Creating these videos will help me in finding talented people, and assembling a talented amazing team that works well together.
2) Animation Pipeline: I will need to develop our animation pipeline, and work flows in order to make these shorts. Creating these videos I will learn what areas need to be improved. It is better to figure it out on these projects then when we have a paying customers that are expecting the pipeline to already be figured out.
3) Develop the Brand: By making really great, gorgeous shorts it will help in building our brand. It will show people what kind of work we can do, and what people can expect from us.
4) Gain a following: Hopefully if people enjoy our shorts we can start to gain a greater following through social networks. I want to create something that will entertain people, and having a following will make sure we have an audience to actually see our work.
5) Source of Pride: The idea of pulling a team together, and creating something amazing is very exciting. Being able to create something from nothing is why I love animation. It will give me and the company something to be very proud of.
If I can accomplish any of the above with these shorts I will feel like they where worth the money spent on them.
There you have it! The 3 areas that I’m working on to build my business, and creating a brand. I was also looking into the government contracts, but decided that was not worth the trouble at this time. Not only do you get buried in tons of paperwork, but often they have a requirement that you have been in business for 5+ years. So for the time being I will shelf that idea, and focus on these 3 areas instead.
As you can see I have a lot to do, and a long way to go. I often find myself jumping back and forth between working on the different areas trying to make progress. Sometimes I wonder if I should not be dividing my focus, and find one thing to go after. I think for right now I feel like these are all working towards the same goal, and worth me splitting my time. The Ad Agencies will be a main source of income for the business, but those are not enough to keep us busy all year long. The direct to business will help keep us busy for more of the year, and these two things can help fund the third. This will hopefully allow me to do what I want which is make amazing animation.
If you have not already, I hope you will join me on my journey by subscribing to my blog. If you have any thoughts or advice I would love to hear what you have to say, so please feel free to leave me any comments below. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@MillerAnimation). Only Time Will Tell.