"You're doing what now?"
That's the response a married pair of entrepreneurs in San Francisco heard again and again when they told people about their latest marketing effort: a month-long daily vlog documenting their lives.
"It's definitely not something most new business owners take on," says Mary Pratt. "We're showing all of our cards, and we know that's a risk."
Pratt and her husband, Myles, are hoping it’s a risk that will pay off for their 6-month-old company Forward Films, which makes promo videos for brands. The partners, both 31, recently finished a series of 30 near-daily vlogs about their experiences trying to grow their young venture.
In it, the Pratts candidly share that they're still “figuring things out” with their business, often recording in their (not always spotless) studio apartment where they work. Other vlogs include, among other things:
- musings about potential pathways to success (hand-drawn illustrations included)
- interviews between the spouses that distill their dynamic
- tips on making videos
- lively outings spanning both professional and personal commitments
Why are these founders sharing so much? And, more importantly, why do they think it will help their business?
“Well, when you’re a service business, that’s personal. That’s about long-term relationships,” Myles says. “We’re pretty new to the area, and we wanted to let people get to know us.”
“These videos show what we’re really like, which is good to know if you’re interested in working with us,” he adds.
Beyond that, the Pratts say the vlog project is simply an effort to share knowledge and connect with others.
“Starting a business affects all parts of your life — your health, your personal relationships, your sanity,” Mary says laughing. “You have to learn to balance all of that to get anywhere.”
“We liked the idea of sharing real-time insights and struggles with other entrepreneurs,” she goes on to say. “It can be very motivating to see what others are going through.”
Some, however, have questioned whether they’re revealing too much.
Will potential clients find the amount of personal info they’re sharing inappropriate, one viewer asks. Why would they admit that they’re still figuring their business plan out, another asks, adding that he would not hire them. Another commenter predicts that their business will fail because of it.
“In the beginning we started with your standard fare of fake-it-till-we-make-it posts on social media, but we felt ourselves feeling phony,” Mary explains.
“We don’t see it as a weakness to admit that we’re still figuring things out. The world is always changing and even the biggest companies need to adapt. What is business if not ‘figuring it out’? We plan to do that forever and want to work with people who do, too,” Mary says.
So what have the Pratts figured out after a month of daily vlogging?
Well, they have no plans to stop sharing their lives (maybe not daily, though, Myles adds). On the business side, they want to help brands share more authentically through online video and say they’ve already received interest because of the vlog.
“Marketing is so different than in the past. For our generation — millennials — authenticity is what gets our attention and respect,” Mary says. “And authenticity is not something we’re figuring out. We’ve got that down.”
Mary and Myles Pratt are the co-founders of Forward Films, a San Francisco-based company that makes short "super-authentic" marketing videos for brands. From explainer videos to testimonials to event coverage, there's one common thread: no actors; true stories only. Learn more at goforwardfilms.com.