Self-employed Ithacans Reinventing Businesses
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
(Excerpted From Ithaca Times Story by Taryn Thompson)
Though he's been in business for a number of years, Thomas Hoebbel, owner of Hoebbel Photography, was just a photographer working as his own boss when he decided a year ago to start utilizing video in his business - a decision he made based on a premonition that it would benefit him in the long run. He realized before the recession that people were getting interested in video.
"I was almost banking on it," Hoebbel recalls. "But I felt like I saw it coming and had to push it. In the beginning I really had to convince people that this was a good idea and now I don't even have to say anything. All I have to do is say I do video. It's a really valuable way to do marketing. I got in right at the beginning of the wave and it's really just taken off, and all despite the recession."
Now, only 25 percent of Hoebbel's work is still photography. He said it goes through annual cycles: November is slow, February and March are slow. But Hoebbel has more video projects to work on than he can accomplish in one day. He's currently working on four simultaneously.
"I've noticed - and it's hard to separate, because I've been focusing on video more - there's been a decrease definitely in the still photography I'm doing over the past six months," Hoebbel said.
Is that because people are spending less? Because the downturn has affected photography? Or is it because he's focusing more of his energy on video?
"I think the medium [of video] is becoming really more popular," Hoebbel said. "As far as Web sites go, people are really making this transition to putting video [online]. We saw You tube over the past two years become really, really popular, and the speeds of bandwidth and Internet are moving to a point where everybody can watch video on their computers, which two years ago you really couldn't."
Hoebbel said it's still an emerging market as far as Web content goes, and that was his initial impetus in the midst of the downturn. Now, 75 percent of what Hoebbel does is video, where as it was only 10 percent of his work a year ago, when he first invested in video equipment. His clientele is shifting a bit, too, partly because he's pursuing certain clients.
"My initial thought - and I think this is still pretty prevalent - was using this medium for businesses [for whom] it's not really simple to say, 'this is what we do,'" Hoebbel said.
The Greater Ithaca Art Trail, he said, is a great example, and one of his most exciting clients.
"If I saw a sign for the Art Trail, I don't really know what that is or what that means," he said. "And even if you say 'open artists studios,' that gives you a little bit of an idea. You can go to the Web and look at photographs of different artists and their work, but that still doesn't give you an idea."
The video that Hoebbel created for the Art Trail, about four minutes long, gave a better impression of a true open studio.
"It's not like a gallery walk," he said. "You're going into a studio and seeing someone doing their work, whether there's sparks flying everywhere or he's painting a piece of pottery. I interviewed the artists, interviewed people that go on the art trail, and showed a pretty diverse range."
Hoebbel said he thought about who would benefit most from video and approached them.
"I kind of picked out the niche market: businesses who need some time to explain what they do," he said. "And some of the stuff you can't even do in a 30- or 60-second commercial or radio ad. There's a huge difference between [that] and showing a video. It's a totally different experience."
Video imparts an impact on the audience that trumps a radio advertisement or television commercial or a billboard.
"Those all raise awareness about the business, but this is a motivator, or increases understanding," Hoebbel said. "I think the consumer is changing, too. Five years ago you had to have a Web site, then they got photos on the Web site, and they had ten different pages. I think the consumer is even growing."
The more user-friendly one's presentation or message, the better.
"Photos are great, but when you turn it into a video, the impact is much higher," he said. "Even [with] news stories, you go to a Web site and you can read the article, or you can click on the video where they read it to you. And that's the trend: that's what people are looking for."
Content Â© 2009