By Chris Bray, the founder and CEO of BiG Media, an innovation firm that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and unlock new revenue streams for content creation and distribution companies.
If you’re like many, you entered 2019 with noble resolutions for yourself and the best intentions to keep them. Now, the first quarter has ended, and Dr. Joseph Luciani, a clinical psychologist, says 80 percent of those resolutions have already fizzled.
Really? I get it — life gets busy, clients get crabby, bosses get demanding. There’s no doubt it’s tough, but we can do better than that, can’t we? In spite of this, there’s good news: If the majority of resolutions have broken down, that still leaves 20 percent alive and well. You’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and know what to focus on the rest of the year.
In the world of content creation, we have to keep reaching for new heights to stay relevant and competitive, which is why certain goals are more important than others. Take a look at the top priorities you should have the rest of this year, what the experts say about them, and why they matter:
1. Forge partnerships that take you to the next level.
Content creation has always been a dog-eat-dog world, but these days, dogs had better be sharing with other dogs. Partnerships are key and should be a top focus for creators in any medium.
“My 2019 business goal is to create more partnerships for projects I pitch to various platforms,” says Joe Livecchi, CEO of Noble Savages. “As a content company existing in a very competitive environment, as long as the concepts are of quality, have a unique hook, and are not derivative, I think more is more right now when it comes to approaching the market, and partnerships help make that happen.”
Getting a project off the ground requires more than a great idea. You need the star, a big-name executive producer, and a team that excels at producing that type of content. If you don’t check all these boxes, bringing a show to life is going to be difficult. That’s where bridging the gap with partnerships comes in: It opens new doors and increases the likelihood of selling a project.
For Mike Amoia, co-founder of Mibe Music, this is a way to jump into new waters: “Some entrepreneurs are scared of the unknown. Our philosophy is to turn fear into curiosity, curiosity into inspiration, then inspiration into action.”
The most important thing is that you can’t do it alone anymore. You need to surround yourself with the people in front of and behind the camera who buyers know can pull it off.
2. Seek new names and faces.
Partnerships don’t happen without thriving connections. If broadening your professional network isn’t a goal, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.
Colby Gaines, founder of Back Roads Entertainment, puts it this way: “Someone once told me that one truism of business is that you’ll lose business. So one resolution I put on the list every year is to find new business. Every month, I reach out to at least three new buyers, talent, and potential brand partners. Even after almost 25 years in the TV business, I’m still cultivating new relationships.”
The landscape of content creation is changing by the second. As distribution flattens and direct-to-consumer becomes more important, there are more opportunities to make content for new players. Many traditional media players, executives, creatives, etc., are getting jobs with new content groups. Leverage your network to learn more about what these companies are doing and inform them of how you can enhance their content objectives.
There are a ton of ways to increase your network. Conferences are one of the best. As direct-to-consumer becomes more popular, I recommend going to marketing conferences where brands tend to go. Online platforms can also be powerful tools to find like-minded people and make connections.
The most important thing when networking is to add value. What do you bring to the table that will benefit the other person? How can you help others achieve their objectives? As The Ancient One said in “Doctor Strange,” “It’s not about you.” When networking, it is important to bring value to the relationship. If one side doesn’t bring value, why exactly are you looking for the relationship?
3. Claim your “white space.”
Take a step back. Think inward. What do you consider to be your “white space” — the area of the market you alone specialize in?
According to Glass Entertainment Group President and General Manager J.C. Mills, brands and networks want to work with specialists: “We at Glass Entertainment Group asked ourselves, ‘What are areas of growth that we can become content leaders in?’ Identifying this white space is paramount in a media landscape where the only certainty is constant change. To support our thriving unscripted business and position our company for continued growth, we must take calculated steps that diversify us while maintaining a leadership position in our target content areas.”
I do white-space mapping before building any production software solution. The three-step process starts with examining your experiences and determining where you have excelled. Second, look at what others perceive are your strengths and weaknesses. Finally, map out the industry by content category, and determine where the competition resides. The more specific you make the content categories, the better. So “dessert food shows” is better than “food shows.”
The intersection of where your strengths are, where your perceived strengths are, and where few other people reside is your white-space target area. From there, it’s about crafting a message that illustrates why you are the sole owner of and the premier specialist in that white space.
If you can find your own white space — a corner of the market where there’s little to no competition — you can get more work and command more money.
No one said sticking to goals is an easy task, but that’s why the process improves us and our craft. So stick to it. Make connections, forge partnerships, leverage your expertise, and carve out your content niche, and at the end of the year, you’ll be able to look back proudly on what you’ve accomplished.
When not running companies, Chris Bray is an avid angel investor, with investments in more than 15 startups and multiple exits. Prior to BiG, Bray was the founder and owner of Bray Entertainment, a production company that has created, produced, and delivered hundreds of hours of content.
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