A few decades ago I started a post-production company focusing very specifically at one small sector of the market: TV and cinema ads. Our target market was very niche. We only worked with production companies and ad agencies. Everything was bespoke and tailor-made from scratch. And then things changed. The world fell apart financially but the internet improved dramatically and social media platforms erupted. We quickly realised that hidden in all this chaos lay a massive opportunity. There was an urgent need for digital video content but it had to be very cost effective.
Although SMEs could now afford to market and advertise on these new platforms most didn’t have large production budgets or (in some cases) any budget at all. With that in mind we started a new company called David de Shepard & Co that would utilize all the knowledge and skill we had accumulated over the decades but now also focus on, and cater for, two new sectors:
The one sector needed really good quality, cost-effective but more “bespoke” digital video content for audio visual presentations, their websites and/or social media platforms. For this sector we created a division called ROWDi who would produce digital content according to specific briefs and requirements. And then there is the other sector who also need engaging, good quality digital video content for their social media pages but have very limited production budgets. For this sector we created ADLib. A division that creates “readymade” digital content that can be used by many thus reducing costs dramatically.
Here is what Graham Smith from David de Shepard & Co had to say about success and overcoming tough times in business.
When did you consider yourself a success?
When I was asked to speak at my oldest daughter’s school about what I did for a living and she wasn’t embarrassed to say “Yes that’s my dad” when I was finished.
To what do you attribute your success?
Passion, perseverance, patience, and people.
What failure taught you the most about your business and what was the lesson?
No matter how brilliant the idea is you have to get it out there. No matter how small and/or simple, you have to have a marketing strategy and stick to it. We had an idea that was so brilliant we knew we wouldn’t have to spend any time or money marketing it. How wrong we were.
What was your best moment in business to date?
A client called to say that they had just viewed an edit I had done and that, bar none, I was the best, most creative individual they had ever worked with and that they “had worked all over the world”. Twenty minutes later another client called to tell me that his 13-year-old son could do better and that I should seriously look at other career opportunities.
What drives you to keep going when it gets tough?
My monthly rates, water and electricity bills. I still hold my breath and pray every month just before opening them.
What are your success habits?
After almost 30 years, I still get nervous before presenting new work. I see this as a sign that the passion is still there. I still don’t consider what I do – “a job”. I take ownership of each and every project and treat it as if it were my own and not my client’s. The clients we work with seem to like that a lot. I use my heart and gut to make creative decisions not my head. I try to never take things personally but being in a creative environment and industry it is sometimes very difficult to do. Take all the compliments and put them in your pocket not in your head. Always give credit where it is due. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child. And finally from day one this has been my or our mantra: “Try to deliver more than you promise, be utterly professional but above all have fun doing it.” And so far, it seems to have worked.
Well done, David de Shepard & Co. We hope you will grow from strength to strength.