Today, videos are not just used for marketing, they're also used in businesses, internally and externally, for explainer videos or to communicate something. In this episode, Howie Zales of Viridity, says that you should start using it to pitch to clients too. Howie also shares how he built Viridity and scaled it during COVID, and how you could #getnoticed by creating videos, staying in your lane of expertise, by being visible on social media, and most importantly, being good to others.
AI Writer - Content writing made easier
Generate Accurate, Relevant & Quality Content in 2 Minutes
Peppertype - Virtual Content Assistant
Generate better content copies in seconds.
Riverside - Your online recording studio
The easiest way to record podcasts and videos in studio quality from anywhere. All from the browser.
Launch your podcast website in minutes.
Post-production, transcript and show notes by XCD Virtual Assistant.
The UnNoticed Entrepreneur is produced in the UK by the EASTWEST Public Relations Group.
Hello, and welcome to this episode of The Unnoticed Entrepreneur with me, Jim James, here in UK. And today, we're going to the Big Apple to New York to meet Howie Zales. Howie, welcome to the show.Howie Zales:
Hey, Jim. How are you?Jim James:
Look, I'm really excited because you and I are going to talk about how you have managed to build a business from being a sports cameraman into having both a course and now a multimillion dollar business in video. How you've got that noticed using podcasting? Why you never engage in political tweets? And also, some tips from you about live streaming for entrepreneurs. So Howie, just tell us a little bit about your business first, so my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs have the opportunity to know you better.Howie Zales:
Sure. Again, my name is Howie. I have two businesses focused in the television production world. HJZ Productions is my first business. I started in 2000. We hire sports and entertainment TV crews around the United States. And then my other business, "Viridity Entertainment Services" or "VES". We do live stream, hybrid events, virtual events, any type of event that's streamed over the internet, even sporting events.Jim James:
Howie I think let's talk about "Viridity," although you mentioned it a second, because that's a product that you built really out of the COVID, right? So, just tell us, you managed to innovate and create a new business in spite of COVID. Just tell us the genesis of that and then talk to us because "viridity" could be confused with other words that mean something to with masculinity. So, how did you come up with a name like "Viridity" that's so memorable and also, I think means so much.Howie Zales:
Yeah. I went to a mastermind, and one of the lessons at the beginning of the day was not to be very reactionary in business and in life. And what they meant by that was if something in business goes really bad and you react very quickly, you get into that "hot zone," that's called being in the "red." Conversely, if something happens really good — you get a great contract, you react very quickly, and you get very happy — you're in the "blue zone." But if you stay kind of even keeled for if things go up and down, you're clearer focused, you make better decisions. It's called being in the "green zone." And that kind of describes me. I'm even-keeled no matter what the scenario is. And we looked for a word that meant green, that did not mean money, because that would be obnoxious, and we wanted it to kind of flow with entertainment services. And my wife found the word "viridity," which means green.Jim James:
I love that, and plainly, being calm and collected is why you so good, for example, on the camera with the sports. I can see behind, for those of you who can't see Howie's got NBC Sports behind there. He's got some big game tickets as lanyards there as well. Howie, let's just look at live streaming first, because more and more businesses can use it, I think now, right? Do you want to just tell us what's the opportunity that you see for entrepreneurs when it comes to live streaming and what are the barriers to using it?Howie Zales:
Yeah, I can only say for myself, but I think people rather watch a video. I mean, look at the explosion of TikTok and things like that. People rather watch a video than read a long sales pitchy email. To me, that's super annoying and delete it right away. So, if you are someone that's offering a service or can offer tips to people out there to try to get them into your funnel, do a 90-second video. Once or twice a week, and I think it would serve you much, much better than spending money on having someone write a sales, pitch email that most people probably won't read.Jim James:
Video creation though, Howie, for many people is even more daunting than writing a newsletter or a sales mail. What would be some advice that you would give, and what do you do in terms of using video? Like some, explain some tools, for example, or some techniques.Howie Zales:
Sure. Start simple. If you don't have any experience, start simple. You can get something called the "Loom Cube" on Amazon or any store, and you can put your mobile phone right in it. You can sit 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. and that's a good way to practice and to live. You can live stream right from there to any of those social platforms. have a good background. My background is peel-and-stick wallpaper, maybe cost $30. But the good keys are you want to look good and sound good. And what I mean by "look good" is you want to be well lit. You don't want to have one face in the shadow or your entire face in the shadow and the background be brighter than you are. You want to be well-lit and well-heard.Jim James:
So with the lighting, you mentioned like this "Loom Cube," and with the microphone, so you're all set, what is that? 50 to a hundred dollars or something?Howie Zales:
Okay. And then what about the platform? I'm kind of picking your brains because this is your expertise. Do people live stream into LinkedIn? Is that your experiences good? Or onto Twitter? Is that worth doing? What's your experience there?Howie Zales:
Yeah, you can live stream, right to LinkedIn. You just have to make sure your account is set up for that. You can live stream to Instagram. You can live stream to Vimeo, if you have a Vimeo account, and then send that out to multiple destinations at one time.Jim James:
Right. In fact, the Riverside that we are using now also has the option to live stream to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as well. So, I guess the overall message, Howie, is that live streaming is no longer the preserve of big companies? Is it what we used to call OTT, right? The over-the-top broadcasters now it's in the home or in the office.Howie Zales:
And something that we're just getting into this year is "Shopping live stream." So if you have products to sell, and you can line up 10 or 15 products, we can do a live stream. And basically, a person could be watching right on their mobile device, iPad, computer, and when piece of item comes up, in a little box as you're showing it off, a person could buy right from the screen. And that's just another form of easy live streaming with the help of a few different apps out there that could bring your sales to next level.Jim James:
Oh, wow. Can you mention an app that you know, Howie, where you could live stream and have the shopping kind of bit like QVC, the old Barry Diller?Howie Zales:
It's like QVC, but for live streaming. Yeah, the one we use it's called "Firework," and it works great. And feel free to contact me and I could, put you in touch with the right people.Jim James:
Okay, Howie. That's wonderful. Really, it's transformed, hasn't it? Now a business of any size, as you say, can have global distribution.Howie Zales:
I think live stream shopping is going to be a 250 billion dollar business.Jim James:
Wow. And of course, in China, it's massive as well. So perhaps we're learning something from them as well. With your Viridity business, VES. Obviously, that's a little bit different to you as a production crew. And you've been building out a course, I believe, to teach people how to become coaches, a TV sports course. How have you, as an entrepreneur built your brand, and how are you getting people to come to you? Because you've got a reputation, of course, but we all need to grow beyond the personal brand. How are you doing that?Howie Zales:
Yeah. my personal brand is based on my personality. Both companies operate off my personal brand, and each business is run by one person. Lori runs HJZ, Jen runs VES, and I float between the two. But, they have the same personalities as I do. And all three of us treat the clients the same way. And people know that's what sets us aside from other companies, and part of how we go about getting clients is through lead generation and things like that.Jim James:
Yeah. So, tell us about lead gen then. What are you doing there, Howie? Because before we started recording, you were sharing some insights that you got from your mastermind, which I'd love to share again, about, staying in the zone and what that's like, and yeah. How you managing the sales process with such a lean team?Howie Zales:
So, I hired a business coach about two years ago, and one of the best advice that he gave me was, "Stay in your lane. Do the three to 5% of the things that you're good at. That will help move the needle, and outsource the rest." So, one thing that I'm not good at is writing. We think I battle a little undiagnosed dyslexia. And so if I send an important email out, I'll never send it out without my wife proofreading it. So, email sales is not my strong point. Connecting with people over email for the first time. It's not going to happen. So I hired a company that goes in and does the lead gen that does the first beginnings of the sale and reaching out. And then if it's determined that they're a good fit and we're a good fit, then I'll take it from there. But it's just a way to help move the needle without wasting a lot of my time.Jim James:
And how does that work with this lead gen company? What do you have to give them for them to be effective? Because we've all been approached by people on LinkedIn saying, "I'll get you this many leads a week or this many leads a month," and a lot of the experiences with those lead gens, frankly, not that great. So, I'm wondering how you're managing to get the kind of efficiency and effectiveness from the team.Howie Zales:
Yeah. I broke it down real simple. This is the type of people or the titles of the people who are my current clients. So go after those same types of people with those titles, and I made sure that they have a complete understanding of what I do and what we're searching for. I gave them a glossary of terms, so if those terms come up, they'll know how to use them and know what they mean.Jim James:
Oh, how interesting. And then do they, like, get data for you and put it into your CRM? For example, do they do harvesting of contacts? Do they keep those, or do you get to keep them and somehow put them into your CRM?Howie Zales:
Yes. I do get them. I have a weekly sales call with them. And anyone that I have the meeting with, yes, I get all their information.Jim James:
Okay, so that's great. So, a really efficient way of generating leads. Would you mind sharing what volume of leads they're giving and what sort of cost per acquisition there is on that?Howie Zales:
Good question. I think the goal is to have 10 actual meetings a week with people.Jim James:
Yeah, so it's quite a high volume, actually, right?Howie Zales:
And so far, out of those 10, maybe one, maybe two of them get passed onto me.Jim James:
Yeah. Okay. So that's the usual set of a 100 to 10 to 1 ratio that so many of us have in sales.Howie Zales:
But I don't have time to have 10 meetings a week or to set up those 10 meetings a week.Jim James:
Yeah, I know, that's right. So it's wonderfully efficient. When we were talking beforehand, you were also talking about your podcast, which is how I originally reached out to you because you had a show. And you can tell us the original name and the role that a podcast has been playing for you and the VES.Howie Zales:
Sure. My original podcast and my wife came up with the name "The Unexpected Entrepreneur" because I was a camera operator travelling the world for over 20 years. And I always had a business on the side, but I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I was the camera guy that had a business on the side. And so we came up with "The Unexpected Entrepreneur," and I did about 20 shows. I just wasn't getting the listeners or viewers because we did it with video. that made it worth it. And then I kind of stopped it, did some research, figured out what I was doing wrong, and basically niched it down. And what do I know best? I know television, sports. I did it for 20 something years, and I also have a course. And what better way to drive audience or drive future clients to the course, then people that would listen to the podcast. So I came up with the name "TV Crew Talk," and I interview people in the business just like me — camera people, audio people, replay people — that have, travelled the world and do the biggest events and sell the business to the younger generation of people that are just coming up there, going to college for television. And then hopefully, those people will contact me about the course. And the primary sponsor of the podcast is the Broadcast Sports Course. So there's no money exchanging hands, but that's the primary sponsor, and that's who gets a commercial or promo within the podcast.Jim James:
So that's wonderful. And with the podcast, what sort of frequency are you doing in Howie to make that worthwhile? Because there's this trade-off isn't there, if you do it so often, it becomes quite a burden, but if it's not frequent enough, then you don't get the consistency for the listeners.Howie Zales:
Good question. I, publish a new one every two weeks. And in the week that I do the publish, I do it on Wednesday and I publish the video portion of it. And then the following Wednesday, I published the audio only side of it. And then, there's something coming out every week with a reason to publicize it, but I don't have to do it every week.Jim James:
Okay. I'm interested to hear that you're doing video separately to audio. What's the difference, do you think, in terms of audience engagement between doing the video and doing the audio? Or is just the video on YouTube and the audio on the podcast distribution?Howie Zales:
So, part of several reasons I do the video. One, I'm in TV, and I'm selling TV, right? So how could I not do it? I also own a business that it's primary function is live streaming. So how do I not do that? And then the third thing is I'm interviewing some people that have the coolest jobs on the planet. I can be at a party with doctors, lawyers, surgeons. And no one wants to hear anything about what the Yankees' locker room looks like or what does it feel like to be on the sideline of a Super Bowl. So, I'm interviewing some of the coolest people that have some of the coolest jobs in the world and that always have pictures. I have pictures of me at every event in the world, which we show off, and you can only do that with video.Jim James:
Yes, that's right. So that's a limitation of audio only — all those visual elements, as you rightly say. You know, Howie, that's fantastic. So, you've managed to build this business through a combination of outsourcing some of your own content production as well. If there was one piece of advice you'd give to someone that was starting out in their entrepreneur journey, from a getting noticed perspective, which is what this show is about, because otherwise there's many pieces of advice as we know, as entrepreneurs. What would you say has been really moving the needle for you? What's a recurring something that you think works as in terms of getting noticed?Howie Zales:
Yeah, I think to get noticed, you need to put yourself out there. Social media definitely helps. And you just 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. So you've got to treat every relationship like gold. And one of the things that I stay away from is social media and politics. I never get involved because that's a good way to isolate 50% of potential clients. Okay,Jim James:
that's wonderful. So this idea that, as you say, every relationship is golden, and in this era of sort of mass personalization, retaining that personal connection is something you've obviously done really well. So Howie Zales, joining me from New York, cameraman turned professional live stream operator, course builder. Thank you so much for joining my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs and me on the show today.Howie Zales:
My pleasure.Jim James:
So, you've listened to Howie over there in New York and me, Jim James, here in the UK. And of course, as always, I'll put all the details in the show notes. And until we meet again, I just encourage you to keep on communicating.