Snafu, a newsletter about selling

Snafu: how to sell video

Published about 1 month ago • 7 min read

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I sat down with a Snafu reader recently who runs a one-man video production company. Today's article is for him.

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How to sell video production

I sat down with a Snafu reader recently who runs a one-man video production company.

In the five years I’ve been building my own agency, Zander Media, we’ve been in the fortunate position of handling inbound work, not cold calling prospects. I still have a lot to learn about selling video production.

Today’s newsletter is for solo professionals interested in doing bigger budget work for high quality clients.

Got Milk?

I watched a MasterClass with Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, the legendary founders of Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners. That's the advertising agency behind such icon marketing as “Got Milk?” and the Budweiser frogs.

Jeff and Rich discussed how they go about getting new work for their now 40-year-old ad agency. Jeff (or maybe it was Rich) describes pretending to be a journalist and talking his way into a fancy car convention in order to meet with a marketing executive at BMW to make a pitch.

Even having built and grown a 300+ person institution for decades, these two founders are not above entry-level tactics in order to meet the person they are trying to pitch.

Prior to this interview, I’d have believed that leaders as savvy and experienced as Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein wouldn’t need to sneak into an event in order to sell to a new client. But it turns out that nobody is above selling, no matter how fancy their title or company.

This approach – going out and finding new clients – I’ll call hunting. The other approach – cultivating existing clients; generating goodwill and referrals – I’ll call farming.

We'll tackle each in turn.


In order to hunt, you have to first know who you are trying to reach.

It wouldn’t have worked for Jeff and Rich to show up at a flea market and pitch their company. (Though I’m certain they’d have enjoyed that, too.)

They chose a very specific event, and one very specific attendee whom they were trying to reach. In short, they knew who they wanted to work with.

Most of us probably aren’t going to target the Head of Marketing for BMW North America, but we can target specific people.

Choose a single, specific person you’d like to work with. Go hunting for them. You can always expand your audience later on.

Identify the work you want to do

When my ideal customer sees an example of our work, they should be able to say “That looks like a Zander video!”

A video production company that does this especially well is Sandwich Video. Sandwich explainer videos are recognizable on sight – the bright colors, lighthearted demeanor, and the presence of their founder and CEO in each video.

What do you and your work stand for?

That mission statement might evolve over time, but you need a singular focus in order to be recognized and to stand out to your preferred customers.

Where to find your customers

Once you know who you are trying to reach and the type of work you want to do, you need to find the customers who want that work done. There are infinite numbers of ways of doing this, so here are just a few of my favorites…

Asking for connections

Asking for help from connections has been the most impactful approach I've found to date for building any kind of business.

I wrote an article on “How to sell with no network or connections” about selling tickets to my annual Responsive Conference.. Also, watch this video about how I went from selling $1,000 scopes of work to $100,000 scopes of work in just a couple of years at Zander Media.

Asking for help goes a long way!


Since 2014, I’ve run more than a hundred events on behavior change and the future of work.

If I’m not organizing an event myself, I try to set myself up to be an authority - by speaking, working at the event, or otherwise coming into contact with as many people as possible under favorable conditions.

Consider even just organizing a dinner or an un-conference targeted at the people you are trying to reach.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

There are a wide variety of digital tools that provide you easy access to people, including LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Most of the people you cold email won’t want to hear from you, so you’ll have to get over your reticence for contacting people who might not be interested. But LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and tools like it, allow you to reach out directly to the people you’re trying to contact.

Cold calling

The most extreme version of this approach is cold calling people directly, or even knocking on doors.

While you are likely to get a lot of “No, thank yous" in response, cold calling prospects is also the avenue that most sales people avoid or use poorly.

Most of us are scared of rejection and will go to great lengths to avoid asking people for what we want – and those who do use this approach rarely do so with finesse.

If you’re going to cold call people or knock on doors, use it as practice honing and refining your pitch, instead of actively trying to close a deal with every call.


Farming is reminding your current and former clients that you exist, up-selling, and cultivating raving fans who will recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

Do great work

The first principle of farming is that you have to do great work. This is a good principle of business in general because without great work, the best marketing and sales in the world will just reveal that you have a terrible product all the quicker!

Promote your work

You should always be striving to improve the quality of your work – both in your delivery of the work and in how you communicate about it to your customer.

Doing great work that nobody knows about is doing a disservice to your potential future customers!

Ask for referrals

Anytime, you deliver work for a customer, asking for referrals.

When a client walks away satisfied with the work you have delivered, it isn’t enough to just anticipate or expect that they will recommend you in the future. As we know, most people are bad at selling, and referring work is a form of sales.

Towards the end of an engagement, schedule 30 minutes with your client and tell them that part of your business revolves around people – like them – referring clients to your business.

Keep in touch

The best referral system in the world doesn’t matter if you are not then top of mind for your customer. They need to be thinking about you at the appropriate time in order to hire you again or refer you to a likely connection.

My preferred mechanism for keeping in contact is an email newsletter, because everybody uses email. But this can also be through consistent social media, contact, videos, or even a text base platform.

The key is to remain top of mind, so that your clients think of you at the right moment.

Surprise and delight

Look for ways to surprise and delight your clients.

At the end of every year, I receive a handful of care packages from customers and clients, all with varying degrees of thoughtfulness and care. This is the same principle behind the ubiquitous startup branded hoodie and other swag.

But surprise and delight can be more nuanced. What’s a little thing at the right time that can encourage or delight your customer?

A get well card for a sick child. A sports jersey to their favorite team. Thoughtful gestures that take time and consideration can have an impact for years.


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things that can be done to improve your business.

The only recourse is to take one small step today every day towards one of the objectives, and focus on that goal every day until it has been improved.

Your homework is to pick a specific tactic from this list and write out the incremental steps towards its improvement.

What are a few small steps which will improve your client's experience?

3 Things I’ve Loved This Week

Video we made: Juno Kids

My agency Zander Media recently produced this short commercial for a special needs insurance company. We sat down for an interview with Elle Meza, the Global Head of Benefits at a number of name-brand tech. companies, who also happens to be a special-needs mother.

As someone who spent many years working 1:1 with special needs children and their family, this was a really touching commercial to film.

Book I love: Impro: Improvisation and Theater by Keith Johnstone

This book is one of the classics of modern day acting, but it also explores things like power dynamics and authority that are even more useful off the stage.

I just discovered, though, that Keith Johnstone has another book called Impro for Storytellers, which is more of a tactical handbook. I just purchased a copy and will report back!

Supplement I'm taking: Micro Ingredients Organic Turkey Tail Mushroom Powder

I recently started sprinkling a bit of turkey tail mushroom powder on my daily meal of zucchini and bison. Turkey tail has some anti-cancer properties, but I also enjoy the umami flavor.

Support Snafu

This newsletter is free and I don’t run ads, but I do spend dozens of hours researching and writing about selling each week. Here’s how you can support Snafu.

30-day sales course - Each day for a month, you'll receive an email with a short video, an article and homework. The course also comes with a money-back guarantee! Want to be the first to know when the course is live? Join the waitlist!

​Attend Responsive Conference - We are hosting an immersive 2-day conference this September in Oakland, CA. This is my one big event of the year and I'd love to see you there!

Books by Robin - I've published two books - so far! If you’re interested in learning to do a handstand, check out How to Do a Handstand. If you’re building a company or want to improve your company’s culture, read Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

Thanks for your consideration!

Until next week,

Thanks for reading!

I appreciate you being here. Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback? Just reply and let me know.

This newsletter is copyrighted by Responsive LLC. Commissions may be earned from the links above.

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Snafu, a newsletter about selling

by Robin P. Zander

Learn how to sell without being salesy. For anyone who has something to offer but is a bit hesitant about asking people to buy.

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