Small Business Spotlight – Monzo Media ProductionsJon Steiert
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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this or not, but people watch a ton of video.
Whether it’s television, an iPad in the kitchen, a laptop on the couch, or an iPhone during a lunch break, the demand for video content is at an all-time high.
And it’s only going to increase from here.
According to a survey conducted by inbound marketing company HubSpot, participants were asked, specifically, about the amount of digital video content they consume in a given day. The average response was 1.5 hours, while 15% of those polled said they watch more than 3 hours of digital video on a typical day.
Information from the same survey reported that 81% of businesses use digital video as a marketing tool, up from 63% the previous year.
With the increase in video consumption comes an opportunity businesses must respond to. But video isn’t an easy medium to master, which is why it’s best left in the hands of a professional.
A professional like Joe Monzo.
Joe is the founder and lead art director for Monzo Media Productions, a growing video house in Wayne, PA.
He got his start like many of us as, interning for a growing corporation without a guaranteed position after graduation. Joe didn’t want to worry about losing or finding another job in the future, so he did something he had always dreamt of doing but wasn’t sure how – he started his own company.
With the amount of video being created in the business world, I wanted to talk with Joe to see what drove him to start his own adventure, the challenges of growing a business with ever-evolving new equipment, and how he’s been able to scale along the way.
How did you get your start?
It kinda started in high school. At the time, I wanted to do more filmmaking and that continued on into college. When I began to look into Hollywood sets and everything that came with that, I quickly realized that path wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to deal with all of the politics and the other BS that goes on. Plus, I really wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice on the art side of filmmaking.
My first client was a company called Apigee, which I started interning for after graduating, I learned how I could become a videographer in a way that could allow me to tell compelling stories that affect the business. And from there I just kinda grew.
When did you found your business?
I’d been freelancing for companies since 2014 and after my internship with Apigee morphed into a contract gig, I began thinking, ‘ya’know, there’s something I can do here (to make this into a business)’.
At the time, I called my company MonzPro – an obvious play off of my name – but I didn’t really have a business plan, per se. My approach at that point was kinda like, ‘if it can be filmed, I can do it’, so I’ve certainly evolved since then.
But I guess it was around 2015 when my contract with Apigee was altered to where my workload was cut in half and I had a decision to make; I could run my own business or find another job in my field. I already knew that if I took another job, I’d be the first one to go if something ever happened to the company.
So in March of 2016, I decided to go full bore with my freelance company and I also changed the name to Monzo Media Productions.
What was the most challenging part about evolving from freelance to full-time on the fly?
The hardest part was focusing. I needed to establish some kind of process and honing my pitch so that I could understand and then express how my work and any video that was done would provide an ROI for the client. I took an online course from a guy who is now a friend called Handcrafted Business Films which was incredibly helpful.
At the end of the day, the work I create for companies is often used as a marketing tool. If it’s not converting then it’s not doing its job.
How is your business helping people?
Generally, when people approach me, they have a problem that needs to be solved or they want to get ahead of the curve by having a specialized video.
If a client comes to me looking to solve a communication issue within the business and how they’re marketing themselves to their prospects, I explain to them that the best way to reach them is to be them.
I have these pillars that I work off of: engage, educate, and convert. Engage is the video aspect; does it look nice? Is it capturing the right attention? The education pillar is making sure I’ve captured the story correctly; What is the business? What makes them unique? And then for convert, obviously, it’s the question of what do you want them to do after they’ve watched the video?
At the end of the day, I’m trying to solve the problem for my client so that they can successfully solve problems for their own clients and customers.
What’s the toughest business challenge you’ve faced thus far?
I’m a one-man show, so I might go through a couple month period where I’m just focused on one project – and then that project ends, and I’m like, ‘oh, I guess I have to get back into the business development mode’, which I know how to do, it’s just a matter of setting aside the time to do it.
In the future, I’d like to act more as the Art Director and bring on freelancers to shoot the actual project; but I’m not at that stage just yet. At the same time, I want to always make sure I’m involved in the video creation process – that’s why I got started in the first place.
But I know where my strengths lie, too. For example, I have a freelance animator that I work with out of Oklahoma. I can’t do the same things he does, but when a project calls for it. Plus, having partners makes the whole world of entrepreneurship less lonely.
Being able to work with people who understand you makes it more fun.
What’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a fellow business owner?
Massive imperfect action. I actually have it on a wristband.
The idea is to just take action and start. You probably won’t get it right the first time, but you definitely won’t get it right at all if you don’t do it. My natural tendency, especially when I first started, was to let the work come to me. Of course, that doesn’t happen.
Everyone needs to go out there and get your name out into the world. A lot of the stuff I do during my spare time involves learning new skills, getting a feel for new techniques; things that are evolving in the video space. It’s just a lot of massive, imperfect action.
Ultimately, if you’re not doing something, it’ll never get done.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to a fellow business owner?
Same thing; massive imperfect action.
That’s not to say you should go into anything blindly or without any evaluation, but if you have an idea and you have something laid out, just go for it. Things won’t get done if you don’t try for it.
When you’re trying to make a better life for yourself, your family, it can be scary because there’s no security there, but ultimately you have to take that leap.
What role does money play in your business?
It’s always important in the sense that we need it to live and all that stuff, but I don’t think I take a gig just because it’s a high price project. That being said, it’s also important to know what you’re worth.
Money lets me scale my business, certainly. The more money I have on hand, the more freelancers I’m able to hire, which opens up the earning potential for the company. It helps us get new equipment, new software, or anything else we might need.
I think some people might have an evil feeling about money at times. You need money to sustain your business and fund your personal life, but you have to put it into the proper context and not allow it to control you.
What’s been the best marketing tool for you?
Right now, the best tool for Monzo Media Productions have been strategic partners and using current clients (for word of mouth marketing). Most of my strategic partners are web designers, SEO specialists, digital marketers, and photographers.
They’re great to have because they understand the entrepreneurial journey as well as the need for video. When they’re creating strategies for their own clients, they’re able to refer me as a go resource for quality video production. They vouch for me and that goes a long way.
Current clients are awesome though, too, since they’ve seen the work first hand. They’re able to reach other businesses through reviews and word of mouth that I couldn’t ever achieve through any other form of marketing or advertising.
And I should say, too, that over the next year or so, I plan on walking the talk myself, too. For my own company, I have about one explainer video for marketing purposes but I’m working on getting video testimonials for my business. I’ve been waiting to finish some of the great projects I wanted to showcase.
For me, growth is….?
Financial, personal, & mental.
If you had $10,000 to better your business right now, what would you do with it?
Maybe some new gear – but really Facebook advertising would be the thing I’d really experiment with if I had $10,000 to spend.
Considering how niche and targeted some of my new prospects are, I want to make sure that I’m reaching them in the most effective way possible.