Making it in Video

Stephen Jackson and wife Making a successful career in video production has a lot to do with finding the right niche and being innovative, say husband-and-wife team Stephen Jackson and Jennifer Young-Jackson.

New York-based RoaDDoggZ Productions L.L.C., which they founded in 2003, offers innovative video and new-media solutions for corporations seeking, say, a recruiting, sales or training video.

The journey to establishing RoaDDoggZ Productions shifted into high gear when the Jacksons began working on Seagram?s Gin Live Concert tour in 2001. Their task was to create an interactive event for concertgoers. Jackson came up with a ?Walk of Fame,? in which concertgoers were interviewed like VIPs. The footage was then placed on the Seagram?s Gin Web site. The Jacksons? work with the tour increased in subsequent years and the team decided to create RoaDDoggZ Productions, with Young-Jackson serving as CEO/president and Jackson as the general manager. Today, the company provides videotaping, editing, sound mixing, special effects and other pre- and postproduction services to a clientele that includes Pernod Ricard USA, the New York/New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council, Heritage Brands L.L.C. and Walker International Transportation.

In addition to staying abreast of new technology, RoaDDoggZ?s success rests on three strategic moves, Jackson says: becoming active in a professional organization; defining a target market, and developing strategic alliances and joint ventures. The Jacksons joined the New York/New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council, which certifies minority business enterprises and facilitates procurement opportunities with major corporations. Soon after they were certified, the Jacksons offered to record several of the council?s request-for-proposal training classes.

Too often, entrepreneurs blindly market their services to a wide group of potential clients without fully understanding their needs, Jackson says.? ?In business, you should identify a pain that you can solve,? he notes. By targeting a specific group, you can concentrate on understanding that group and more efficiently sell them your services. RoaDDoggZ targets a corporate clientele.

Developing strategic alliances and joint ventures is really about ?finding the right person or company for the job,? Jackson says. There is no need for the owner of a videoproduction company to be a master of everything. While RoaDDoggZ Productions has a talented writing and production team, it outsources some of its animation and media-services projects, enabling it to offer existing clients more services and have a stronger business advantage during the RFP process.

Video productionA strong business advantage is? increasingly critical in the video-production industry since the cost to enter the field has become more affordable.

Many less-experienced videographers now offer inexpensive production services, making it more difficult for more-established companies to justify their prices. To counter this, the RoaDDoggZ team uses a marketing approach that concentrates on the value it brings to the table.

For example, the company enhanced its services by creating VidPact?, aimed at minority business enterprises. VidPact?, or ?Video Brochures that Impact,? offers three- to five-minute marketing videos that can be seen wherever video is viewed ? from large-screen projections to iPods. They provide MBEs an affordable and convenient way to demonstrate their products and services.

Numerous opportunities exist in video production, even though the industry has become more competitive, Jackson says. Careers are not only limited to camera operation, but also include video editing, directing, producing, scriptwriting and sound-technician tasks. The key is to be passionate about it and ?get out there and see what?s going on,? Jackson says. Obtaining an internship or a part-time job in the field is a good way to gain a better understanding of the industry, he advises.

The Jacksons plan to expand RoaDDoggZ Productions to the Chicago and Miami markets to capitalize on opportunities resulting from a video-production growth spurt in these cities.