Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
We are CFF Media, a video production company located out of Atlanta, GA. We create video content (About Us, Testimonials, Promotional, Drone videos) for the Greater Atlanta area with a primary focus on videos representing other companies and what they stand for, but we love the opportunity to try other avenues of video production!
We started just four and half years ago, working out of our house and trying to understand how we could make our way into the industry. I look around now and cannot believe the progress that we have made and every day I’m still shocked to find myself walking into an office with our very own studio. These moments make me look back and really appreciate just how far our company has come in such a short amount of time.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Friendship is the backbone of CFF Media. Most of us were friends in middle school and even some of us meeting back in elementary school. As college came around, we found ourselves going to different parts of the country and diving into different ventures of media. Some of us went into acting, but others pursued editing, directing, and cinematography.
Understand what you can do, what you're really good at, and what you need from others. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Focus on what you do well and don’t be afraid to seek professional help with things you struggle to complete yourself.
As we got back from college we thought, “Hey, maybe we could make a company with all of us together.” It was almost too perfect! From there, CFF Media was born! Well, actually Cold Feet Films was born. It wasn’t until two years in that we rebranded ourselves as CFF Media to try and attract a more “corporate” audience.
At first, we had a rough start, if we are being honest. We were trying to figure out how to value ourselves as well as our work and none of us had experience in running our own business. We needed to understand how to value our quality of work, and running our own business was no easy task either. In the meantime, we all started with part-time jobs, coming together in our free time to develop the company. One of our biggest tasks was to create a portfolio together, or as we like to call it, “the year of making videos for free.” This would give us a good gauge of how our future clients would like our videos and after this, we could finally understand if we were doing work that people truly would pay for.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
It all started when we shot short films in college, giving us the knowledge we have working with cameras and editing videos. Our first few films had a creative feel to them; however, they didn’t have a direction. If we were going to be successful, we needed to figure out what our clients were looking for, but also give them professional input where it was needed.
Originally, we were trying to dip our toes into all different video ventures, and we spread a wide net out hoping to tackle every possible aspect of entertainment (Music videos, short films, documentaries, videos for small and large companies, etc.). Eventually, our net was spread so wide that we ended up spending more time on projects than it was worth. It was time for a strategy change, “Become good at your niche, and then branch out.” We began to focus our efforts on attracting corporations and small businesses by making videos they would want: About Us, Promotional, Testimonial, and Drone Videos.
Once we decided to change our business model, we knew it was a perfect time to switch our name from Cold Feet Films to CFF Media. We felt this name was better suited for the type of clients we wanted to attract. Over the next few months, our rebranding efforts were tough, but once we got our name out there, it was all a matter of time. Patience was key at this point, but we were always evolving and improving our process with every project, even if there weren’t many at first.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started Cold Feet Films in July of 2016, and the start was difficult, to say the least. We had zero experience running a business, no idea how to value our work, and no infrastructure within the company. On top of that, customers were few and far between. This was all brand-new territory for us, and we were afraid of failure. The only thing that kept us going was our desire to work together and create content that we could be proud of.
We worked hard to develop a solid business model and some of us even took additional classes to better understand the fundamentals of running a business. Once we started researching other companies in our field, we started to track our time spent working down to the second to develop competitive pricing. We worked together to identify our strengths and weaknesses then assigned roles within our organization to create an efficient workflow.
Suddenly things took a turn when we met that one customer. The kind of customer that makes you understand just how good you are at what you do. Someone that will be honest with you and say, “Hey, you can afford to charge more! Y’all are worth it!” This gave us the confidence to value what we do, and we knew we were on to something great.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Developing personal relationships with your clients is one of the best ways to retain them for the long haul. Doing your job well is another important aspect, but there is always room during the day to improve what you do professionally. Showing the client that you’re always looking to better yourself is valuable for them to see. We stay on top of what the market looks like and what people continue to look for in videos, that’s how we keep carrying on in this overcrowded industry.
Clients love professionals who are knowledgeable in their field and implement their expertise into practice. Blog and social media posts are where we display that knowledge and share it with our audience. Using Hootsuite, we usually post multiple times a month and can range from a variety of topics including video editing, best production practices, and cinematography tips.
My biggest piece of advice would be to admit to yourself what you can and can’t do. Be truly honest with yourself as you take your entrepreneurial journey. Yes, that means hire outside help when you need it, and don’t try to take the whole world on when you don’t need to. This is something we are still trying to fully take advantage of ourselves and are improving every year.
Recently, we hired some outside marketing help to truly boost our online presence and It is something we have been trying to do in-house for years, but in the end, we needed help. This marketing company has set us up with tools on Hubspot and is finally establishing our presence online as a knowledgeable company in our field, a source for video production information, and someone you can truly trust as a professional.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, a great deal of our sales is still through word of mouth, as a loyal customer will always talk well on your behalf! Our online presence has truly been improved though, and through the implementation of more new website pages, search engine optimization (SEO), and our blog, we expect it to continue to improve for years to come.
A lot of our day-to-day tasks can be split from current projects to internal work, constantly working to market ourselves while working on jobs for our clients. We also have started to rent out our studio space for local photographers and videographers to use for their own work for themselves! Overall, we are positive about what the future has in store for CFF Media and are excited for what’s to come.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Our biggest piece of wisdom that we have learned is, to be honest with ourselves. Understand what you can do, what you're really good at, and what you need from others. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Focus on what you do well and don’t be afraid to seek professional help with things you struggle to complete yourself. Let professionals handle parts of your business that are beyond your expertise. Staying passionate about your craft while not getting overwhelmed is a great reason to welcome outsourced work.
We thought we could all run this company as equal members. It’s the perfect dream of course! When it got down to the wire though, we couldn’t get anything done with everyone being a “leader”. We needed someone to push us along and develop specific positions for everyone so tasks can be delegated accordingly.
You are never done growing as a company or even as a person for that matter. There is always something to be done and more importantly something to learn. Things are constantly changing and evolving so we try to evolve with it!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
One of our favorite tools for our business would have to be the Adobe Suite as well as websites like Artlist.io. When you are constantly editing videos and photos alike, it’s great to have programs that all interlink and run together. It sure makes our job a lot easier. While constantly looking for songs to give your content a specific feel, Artlist.io has really come in handy.
As for marketing and CRM, the best software we were introduced to late last year was HubSpot. Going back to getting outside help, the marketing company we started working with helped us with the HubSpot onboarding. They continue to help us create blog content as well as newsletter and landing pages, growing our online presence to what it is today.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Family has been a big influence on us existing today. Most of our families instilled our entrepreneurial drive and the drive to run a company of our own from the ground up is highly mentally rewarding. It’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment that we can’t get from doing anything else.
Another one of the most powerful influences that have helped us with our endeavor is YouTube. I don’t think I would have said anything like this ten years ago, but YouTube has become a hub for self-teaching. Starting a business, specific editing problems, customer relations, managing finances, human resources management, the list goes on and on and this includes most things you need to know about running a business. Don’t believe that the only place to learn is in a classroom. The internet has come a long way since we were kids.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
One of the most overlooked tips in our experience was one that we actually didn’t think would be a problem. We thought we could all run this company as equal members. It’s the perfect dream of course! When it got down to the wire though, we couldn’t get anything done with everyone being a “leader”. We needed someone to push us along and develop specific positions for everyone so tasks can be delegated accordingly. This will also prevent stepping on each other's toes and will create faster growth as well as a faster workflow.
Another thing we have learned is that your best clients are the ones you befriend and the people you truly look forward to working with again. Don’t just gain another client but earn another friend.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re still growing and narrowing our niche base so, in the future, we will always be looking for additional people to grow with us. Our first major hire will be an additional video editor to help lighten the workload for our current editors. This person would be fully responsible for editing videos and will take the pressure off of the others while they are busy with other work around the company.
At the moment, we are currently not looking to hire, however, if you would like to send your resume for a future interview, please send it to [email protected].
Where can we go to learn more?
If you would like to see more about us, we proudly welcome you. You can check us out on our website at CFF.Media. You’ll get a more detailed view of our services and some of our finished products through our portfolio. If you’re an Instagram fanatic like us, you can check out @cffmedia to see weekly posts and stay up to date with our crew!
Business professionals and companies alike can follow us on our LinkedIn page and if you are looking for a light read-around video production subject, you can subscribe to our blog to get great tips that have helped us on our entrepreneurial adventure!
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