This sports cameraman-turned-entrepreneur and podcast host explains how video can deliver sales
By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Howie Zales was in the new episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur and talked about how he went from being a sports cameraman into having a course and multimillion-dollar businesses in videos. He also discussed how he got that noticed using podcasting, why he never engages in political tweets, and what tips he could give to entrepreneurs about live streaming.
Image from LinkedIn
Howie has two businesses focused on the television production world. HJZ Productions was his first business, which he started in 2000, and they hire sports and entertainment TV crews around the United States. His other business is Viridity Entertainment Services (VES), which does live streams, hybrid events, virtual events — any type of event that's streamed over the internet, even sporting events.
What is ‘Viridity’?
Howie once went to a mastermind and one of the lessons taught there was not to be very reactionary in business and life. That means if something in business goes bad and you react very quickly and you get into that “hot zone,” it’s called being in the red.
Conversely, if something happens good — for example, you get a great contract — you also react very quickly and get very happy, you’re in the “blue zone.” However, if you stay even-keeled for when things go up or down — when you're clear and focused — you make better decisions, it's called being in the “green zone.”
The last one describes Howie: He’s even-keeled no matter what the scenario is. He and his wife looked for a word that meant green and that did not mean money (because that would be obnoxious, and they wanted it to flow with “entertainment services”). His wife then found the word “viridity,” which means green.
Opportunities in Live Streams
For Howie, personally, a long email is annoying and he’d delete it right away. As he emphasised, people would rather watch a video than read a long sales pitchy email. You can just look at the explosion of TikTok and other things like that.
So if you are someone offering a service or if you can offer tips to people out there to try to get them into your funnel, do a 90-second video. Doing that once or twice a week would serve you much, much better than spending money on having someone write a sales pitch email that most people probably won't read.
Image from Unsplash
However, for many, video creation is even more daunting than writing a newsletter or a sales mail.
If you don’t have any experience, start simple. You can buy products like Lume Cube (around $100) where you can put your mobile phone and place it right on your desktop. It comes with a light and a microphone, and you can just practice by talking right into it and recording it as a selfie. You can live stream right from there to any of those social platforms.
You must also have a good background. Howie’s background is peel-and-stick wallpaper that costs around $30.
The key is you want to look good and sound good. And to “look good” means to be well-lit. You don't want to have one part of your face or your entire face in the shadow and the background to be brighter than you are. You want to be well-lit and well-heard.
There are various platforms where you can live stream. You can live stream right on LinkedIn but make sure that your account is set up for that. You can also live stream on Instagram. If you have a Vimeo account, you can live stream on Vimeo and send that out to multiple destinations at one time. Riverside is another option to live stream on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
All this goes to show that live streaming is no longer the preserve of big companies
This year, Howie’s company is also getting into what is called “shopping live stream.” If you have products to sell, and you can line up 10 or 15 products, they can do a live stream for you.
In this setup, a person could be watching right on their mobile device or computer. When an item comes up in a little box as you're showing it off, that person could buy it right from the screen. This is just another form of easy live streaming with the help of a few different apps out there that could bring your sales to the next level. At Viridity, they use an app called Firework for that.
With all this, a business of any size can have global distribution via live streaming. In fact, according to Howie, live stream shopping is going to be a 250 billion-dollar business.
On Branding and Lead Generation
Howie’s personal brand is based on his personality. Both his companies operate off that brand, and each business is run by one person: Lori Krutman runs HJZ, Jennifer Klotz runs VES; he floats between the two but they have the same personalities as he does.
All three of them treat the clients the same way. And people know that's what sets them apart from other companies.
Part of how they go about getting clients is through lead generation.
About two years ago, Howie hired a business coach and one of the best pieces of advice that he gave was to stay in your lane. He advised Howie to do 3 to 5% of the things that you’re good at and that will help move the needle, then outsource the rest.
Image from Freepik
One thing that he’s not good at is writing and he thinks he battles undiagnosed dyslexia. This is why before sending out an important email, he’ll have his wife proofread it.
As email sales is not his strong point, he hired a company that does lead generation and takes care of the first beginnings of the sale and reaching out. He then determined if that company and he are a good fit, and took it from there. This is one way of helping move the needle without wasting a lot of his time.
To ensure that the lead generation company indeed generates results, he broke it down into something simple. He relayed the type of people or the titles of the people who are his current clients. He instructed them to go after those same types of people with those titles, and he made sure that they have a complete understanding of what he does and what his business is searching for.
He also gave them a glossary of terms, so if those terms come up, they'll know how to use them and what they mean.
Currently, Howie has a weekly sales call with the company and gets all the information about the leads. The goal of the lead-gen team is to have 10 actual meetings a week with people. Out of those people, one to two get passed on to him.
Howie’s wife came up with the name of his original podcast, “The Unexpected Entrepreneur.” That name came from the fact that he was a camera operator travelling the world for over 20 years. He always had a business on the side, but he never thought of himself as an entrepreneur — he was always that the camera guy who had a business on the side.
He and his wife came up with the podcast and did about 20 episodes but he wasn’t getting listeners. He stopped, did some research, figured out what he was doing wrong, and basically niched it down.
He thought of what he knew best, and that was television and sports. He did it for 20-something years and he also has a course. What better way to drive audience or future clients to the course than have people that would listen to the podcast?
Screengrab from howiezales.com
So, he came up with “TV Crew Talk,” where he interviews people in the business just like him — camera people, audio people, replay people — who have travelled the world and done the biggest events. His guests helped sell the business to the younger generation of people who are coming up there and going to college for television. Hopefully, those people will contact him about the course.
The primary sponsor of the podcast is the Broadcast Sports Course. There's no money exchanging hands, but that primary sponsor gets a commercial or promo within the podcast.
He publishes one episode every two weeks. In the week that he does publish, he does it on Wednesday and publishes a video portion of it. The following Wednesday, he publishes the audio-only side of it. So something is coming out every week.
Part of the several reasons that he does video is because he’s in on TV and he’s selling TV. He also owns a business wherein its primary function is live streaming. The third reason is that he’s interviewing some people who have the coolest jobs on the planet — and they always have pictures (he himself has pictures of him of every event he’s been in). His guests would show those off on the podcast, and you can only do that with video.
A Word For Fellow Entrepreneurs
To get noticed, you need to put yourself out there. And social media definitely helps.
Image from Freepik
Also, you need to treat people the way you want to be treated. It's a very small world. People move around from company to company. So if you have a bad relationship or something bad happened between you and a person at a company and they go to another company you were trying to get business from, they're never going to hire you.
You must treat every relationship like gold.
One of the things that Howie also stays away from is social media and politics. He never gets involved because that’s a good way to isolate 50% of potential clients.
To learn more about him, visit https://www.howiezales.com.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.
Cover image by rawpixel.com on Freepik