Today I want to share a failure of mine that took a while to learn from but has ultimately led to a valuable lesson.
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In early 2017 we hired a YouTube coach. One of the very best in the industry. A dude who has a channel with billions of views, that grew with intent, that has monetized both via views and products and owns a number of multi million dollar companies all built on the platforms back.
A coach who works with other business owners and teaches them how to build channels that have tens of thousands of subscribers and millions of views.
We paid him $2,500 a month for a year…. $30,000…..
And what did we do with it?
We gained a fantastic education and knowledge of the platform. We understand what to do and how to do it from a technical position. We understand the importance of the platform as a company for what we are doing.
But how many videos did we put out? What kind of content did we produce?
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
There were a couple of reasons why…. None of which were our coaches fault.
For starters, I was a novice. I will not pretend otherwise. Not only was I a novice, but in Soup North HQ here in NY, I worked in my office alone.
Soup South HQ in TX is where all the fun happens. Cooler people. More people. Younger people.
But as someone working alone, with no experience around shooting video or the platform we wanted to publish it on, I found myself spinning my wheels a lot.
Having to start and stop video constantly.
Having to try and figure out editing.
Having to figure out music, and lighting, and set, and key, and camera positioning, and more…
And then…. ONLY THEN… could I begin to apply myself in areas I am comfortable – marketing, writing copy, using my creativity, imagination, and understanding data and analytics.
All very overwhelming, right?
You see, while I had an idea that I wanted to launch I had no vision of how to bring it to life. It did not matter how badly I wanted it.
Most people want many things in life that they never wind up getting. Why? Lack of vision.
Lack of vision leads to a lack of direction and without direction we are bound to get lost no matter how badly we want to get to our destination.
So late last year we announced in Insurance Soup that we were launching a promotional item shop.
It’s still coming but we are streamlining some processes before we launch and making sure that it’s a well oiled machine. With 30,000 of you maniacs on Facebook, 8,000 of you on Linkedin, and more on Twitter already using promotional item stores without loyalty, rhyme, or reason, we know that our promotional item shop which will be discounted for all of you, will probably be popular and used heavily.
On the search for an employee to help run it, my sister in law approached me and said shed be interested in helping out.
She has not been in the workforce for some time as she stepped away about 10 years ago to raise her daughter; my Goddaughter.
What did she do before turning to the hardest profession in the world, full time Mom?
Oh nothing that big…. Just the Emmy Award winning set designer of the childrens show Blues Clues that has worked behind the scenes on many television shows, music videos, and movie sets.
You’d never know it… shes very humble. Doesn’t talk about it much and reading this article will probably make her a little uncomfortable.
But here I am with an Emmy award winning set designer with a ton of video shooting and editing experience… looking to work… and I was about to put her in a role taking orders for a promotional item shop.
Why isn’t she looking to get back into television you may be wondering? Emmy award winner would find work with her eyes closed if she wanted it that badly.
Well, we’re about 90 minutes from the city. Prior to having her daughter, she lived in Brooklyn and the commute was easy. She moved out this way to be with us, her mother, and her brother who is a couple towns over to raise her daughter and be closer to the people she cares most about and to provide her daughter with some local cousins. And here in Suffolk County, Long Island there is not a lot of ongoing work for Emmy award winners.
On her second day in my office our conversation switched gears from running the promotional item shop to video production, youtube, podcasts, and my office space.
I shared with her our experience spending $30,000 to learn Youtube that left us by and large simply out $30,000 but with a working understanding of the platform.
I explained to her that I struggled to shoot video by myself. Couldn’t figure out lighting, sets, and editing while trying to run businesses and produce other significantly easier content for the other platforms.
That it all seemed so expensive to have to outsource a lot of the work post shoot.
That it seemed like it would be expensive to make areas of the office look more interesting or cooler than they are. Like we weren’t sitting in a 600 square foot 3 office room.
And that’s where the magic happened.
She stood up and started walking around my office like a crazed Mary Poppins and began sharing her experience in television with me.
Showing me how not only do I have room to shoot video here… but how theres enough room for several small sets… and how easy we could pull it all off… and how inexpensive it all would be… and how much fun it would be… and how shes produced television SHOWS that were wildly popular in spaces SMALLER than my office…. and she lit up like a kid on Christmas morning…
And I stopped dead in my tracks and told her she was officially fired from the promotional items shop and we are going to use her in her zone of genius and get her back to doing things that energize and excite her.
Huge opportunity to get her back into what she loves and help Soup push out into areas we have previously been uncomfortable, unable, or…
LACKING VISION TO COMPLETE.
Fast forward a couple weeks later and I now have 4 spots in my office to shoot video with a 5th spot being set up as we speak. We are having conversations around several different segments we are planning on producing and are beginning to line up not only a Youtube channel but a Podcast as well.
Now I want to make something very clear as I know a lot of readers take the advice I give seriously and I do not want to guide you in the wrong direction.
I am not bullish on Youtube for Insurance Agents. Not in 2020. If video production and their platform get a little friendlier for the typical Agent with little to no marketing experience my opinion will probably evolve over time but the typical Agent does not have the time to conquer Youtube.
Yes, you may be able to create some videos that generate opportunity for you.
Yes, you may even find a guru or two telling you Youtube is amazing.
You wont find them on any incentive trips. You wont find them winning awards. You wont find many testimonials. You wont find many people other than them saying it’s great.
Yes, you may be able to find people looking for insurance.
But you can do that on all social platforms with a little bit of education and all the other social platforms do not require you to be Martin Scorcese AND David Ogilvy.
And the reason that I personally believe that Youtube is not particularly Agent friendly yet are for all the reasons I personally struggled to get off the ground on the platform…
A newer Agent, who is generally the type of Agent who buys education around marketing in our space, is NOT going to have the time to shoot videos and produce videos and turn them into ads and cross their fingers and HOPE it works.
The money coming into Agency isn’t there. The time isn’t there. The manpower isn’t there. The basic foundations of marketing are not there. Hell most of us come into the industry from the most random of places, the RAREST of them being “video producer”
AND they do not have an Emmy award winner in the family coming join the team in a triumphant return to the work force.
While I personally bring a lot of skills and talent to the Soup businesses I lacked vision in this area.
My sister in law was able to take my ideas and dreams and apply vision to it and now we are in business.
Within the next couple of weeks we will have segments covering sales, marketing, industry news, laughs, a podcast, and we have a full suite of products at our disposal to make some truly wacky and fun creative commercials and ads.
And we did it for about $1,000. I mean we literally created a desk out of a piece of Styrofoam that my printer / scanner came in by wrapping it in a wrap that gives off the look of wood.
Many of you are sitting on ideas that are quietly brilliant that you do not have the vision to execute.
That does not make it a bad idea or one that would fail to take flight.
There is a good chance you are simply lacking the vision to pull it all together and having the right consultant, employee, or friend in your corner could be all you need to turn a dream into a reality.
Do not let your dreams die on the vine. Reach out to people and share your thoughts. Share your roadblocks. Share your objections.
Chances are you have someone in your circle that can help solve the problem and share the vision.
Failed dreams are not necessarily failures. Theyre lessons. Opportunities.
And in some cases…
It’s just a lack of vision.
You can hire vision.
Oh yeah that last photo… of the shelving unit with the protein shakes, cups, and a piece of art for one of my kids?
You may not see it yet…. But theres a podcast studio right there… you just need the VISION.
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Look at me at my "fancy desk" in my beautiful library with a "book" made from a box a local Chinese food place gave me with a calendar inside of it for Chinese New Year!