Printer Friendly

Producing an A-rated video on a B-movie budget.

Producing an A-Rated Video on a B-Movie Budget

Producing a videotape sounded ludicrous to the Kansas Pharmacists Association (KPhA), Topeka, a small association with an annual budget under $300,000. When we began discussing the idea at a public affairs committee meeting, it seemed overwhelming. None of us knew anything about videotape production, and we had not budgeted for it. I envisioned committee members and myself taking turns holding a cam corder, trying desperately not to jiggle it, and hoping the tape would look professional.

Now when I play KPhA's videotape I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. We raised the funds to produce it, wrote the script, and became extremely clever at keeping within our budget. To top it off, we won first prize in the Film/Videos category of ASAE's 1989 Gold Circle Awards. Here's how we did it.

Determining the problem

For the past several years, community pharmacies have struggled to combat the negative effects of mail-order pharmacies, physician dispensing, and third-party prescription plans, all of which boast cheaper prescription prices. Surveys typically show the average consumer believes pharmacists just count and pour pills into a bottle. Pharmacists began losing many long-time customers because of this surge in pharmacy alternatives. And as these pharmacists began losing their customers, they began closing their stores. In turn, KPhA began losing members.

By 1988 the crisis peaked: The traditional corner drugstore would soon be a thing of the past unless pharmacists began to market their professional services.

The real problem, though, was that marketing was alien to most pharmacists. Many older pharmacists believed they had developed a niche in their community and their customers would always purchase medications from them. Until now they had never had to explain their services - like checking for possible drug interactions among a person's prescriptions or providing consultation on how to take a drug correctly.

Choosing the medium

The public affairs committee decided KPhA needed a marketing campaign that would address the problems of obtaining medications from places other than a community pharmacy. The committee reviewed brochures, public service announcements, and other publicity items developed by state pharmaceutical associations. We found the message to be the same: Down with the competitor.

KPhA wanted to take a different approach to the problem. Instead of knocking the competitor, we would explain the benefits of using a local pharmacy for prescription needs. Before we could explain these benefits to the public, however, we had to convince our members of the importance of marketing their services to their customers.

This task wouldn't be easy; we knew we had to develop something that had great impact. We wanted to make our point in a clear yet succinct manner.

When the idea of making a videotape came up at the committee meeting, it didn't seem feasible. As staff liaison to the committee, I felt obligated to keep committee members from thinking too big for our budget.

I steered the group toward creating written materials to convey the need to market pharmacy services, but the committee didn't feel the written word would be convicting enough to make our point. KPhA had been trying to get its members to market their services for the past two years through newsletter articles filled with marketing tips, sample letters that pharmacists could send to patients to introduce their services, and articles in the association's journal. None of these methods seemed to work.

Next on my agenda of low-budget ideas for the group to discuss was to have KPhA staff speak to pharmacists at district meetings held throughout the state each year. Although this idea received a few "yes" votes, the majority of the committee felt it still wasn't enough. We couldn't just talk. We had to almost hit the pharmacists over the head with the reality of the issue: Market or your store won't be around much longer.

So it was back to the videotape idea. The more the committee talked about it, the more excited everyone became. They liked the versatility of a videotape. * KPhA staff could show the tape at meetings throughout the state, or individual members could borrow it from the KPhA office and show it to a small group of pharmacists. * A videotape, unlike someone speaking to a group, ensures that everyone receives the same information each time it is viewed. * Watching a videotape on a large screen has a greater impact than written materials.

After an hour or so of discussing the pros and cons of making a tape, the committee determined it was the only way to get our message across.

Funding the video

The public affairs committee knew the cam corder idea wouldn't work, so I contacted an advertising agency KPhA had previously used and received an estimte for producing a videotape. When we say the $15,000 price tag, the committee again began rethinking the idea.

Ironically, a few weeks later a letter arrived in the mail announcing a new grant program for state pharmaceutical associations sponsored by the National Council of State Pharmaceutical Association Executives (NCSPAE), Richmond, Virginia, and the Upjohn Company, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Under the grant, associations could receive up to $10,000 to fund a project used by other state pharmacy associations.

We submitted a proposal for making the videotape to NCSPAE and were awarded a $10,000 grant about a month later. Not knowing where else to turn for the last $5,000 needed to produce the tape, I wrote to the board of trustees of the Kansas Pharmacy Foundation (KPF), Topeka, a nonprofit organization run by past presidents of KPhA. In the letter I stressed we had already secured $10,000 from a grant and only needed $5,000. When KPF's president told me the foundation would give us the money, an uneasy feeling came over me. Collecting the money had been so easy. In two short months we had raised $15,000.

Developing the script

With the money figuratively in hand, I recontacted the advertising agency to begin production. They agreed to meet with the committee to generate the ideas and focus of the videotape. At the meeting, we told the agency's account representatives to begin the videotape with a short segment of the "good old days" of pharmacy when customers were able to see a pharmacist compounding medicines, follow up with eye-opening statistics on how mail-order prescriptions and physician dispensing had drastically increased, and conclude with how pharmacists should market their services.

I received the first script draft from the ad agency quickly. Each committee member was mailed a copy for review, and then we met one more time for final revisions. It was interesting to discuss the revisions each person added to the script. Some were concerned with grammar. Others thought certain segments were trite or corny, and consequently some areas were cut or changed. I was glad we had so much input from the committee. Everyone was needed to ensure that each word had a purpose.

We did find it difficult, however, to visualize the actors' directions written to the side of the spoken words. We tried to visualize what the director would do with a particular camera angle or graphic insert, and after rereading the script line by line and discussing each scene we began to see the whole product instead of individual lines.

Our goals were to make the point, make the tape believable, and make it professional. When the final draft was completed, the committee believed it had accomplished these goals. They made sure every action in the tape was a legitimate pharmacist activity: stocking shelves, reviewing a patient medication record on a computer, and so forth. The committee felt that as pharmacists watched the tape they had to believe they were listening to a colleague as he or she prepared to open a store.

From the completed script, a final production figure was calculated. It was $23,500 - $8,500 more than the original estimate.

I looked at the proposed estimate over and over. With the number of scenes we had in the tape, we needed seven actors. The ad agency chose local actors, but the narrator of the tape alone cost $1,500. The other six actors' fees totaled $800 because their parts were small. Makeup, lights, production crew, set design, editing - the list didn't end, and the prices kept adding up.

I reviewed the itemized costs one by one, looking for ways to cut back without changing the final version of the videotape. With my funding sources depleted, I knew I would have to be creative to get this videotape produced.

Keeping costs down

Negotiating with the advertising agency was the key to keeping costs within our budget. On the price breakdown of production costs, $8,500 was listed for set construction. This was where I decided to concentrate my efforts. The agency agreed to use an existing pharmacy instead of building a set if customers wouldn't interfere with the shoot. This compromise wasn't helpful because no pharmacist could afford to close his or her store for two days to shoot the videotape. It would cost us just as much money in lost revenue for the pharmacist as it would to build a set. And taping on weekends wasn't a viable alternative because we would have had to pay the production crew overtime.

There didn't seem to be other alternatives. I put the ad agency on hold while I tried to decide what to do. Fate seemed to intervene once again. We heard a rumor that a pharmacy in Topeka was closing. After confirming the rumor, I found there was a one-week lapse between the time the store was closing and when the new owners were moving in. The pharmacist was thrilled to let us use the store as long as we were done by the time the new owner was scheduled to move in. The last snag in the plan was making sure the production crew could complete the shoot during that particular week.

While the director worked to assemble a crew, I began the next phase of the project. Since the pharmacy would be out of business while we were taping, there would be no merchandise behind the counter or at its front end. I had to find a way to stock the store with enough merchandise to make it look like a functional pharmacy in the videotape.

I knew I wouldn't be allowed to order prescription drugs to stock the shelves. Since the containers didn't need to be full, I called several local pharmacists and asked them to save their empty prescription bottles.

For the front-end merchandise - in our case, over-the-counter medication - I arranged with a local pharmacist to order merchandise through his store account from a wholesale company. By giving the wholesaler credit in the video, we were able to order whatever we wanted, stock it on the shelves, and return the merchandise after the shoot without paying anything.

Another pharmacy allowed us to borrow home health equipment and merchandise to make a small display. And still another pharmacy loaned us coats, a pill counter, brochures, and the items normally found on a pharmacy counter.

Shooting the video

After hearing that the ad agency was set to shoot the video the first week in August, I began coordinating the stock for the store. With even a minute scheduling problem, the store would be gone and there wouldn't be a videotape.

We ordered the merchandise from the wholesaler Monday, had it delivered Tuesday to stock the store, shot the video Wednesday and Thursday, and used Friday for returning the merchandise and cleaning the store.

During the two-day shoot, the ad agency let KPhA staff watch. It was interesting to watch the director listen for the correct vocal inflections of the actors so that each word or phrase had the right impact. By the end of the two days. I could recite every line in the videotape.

The following week I finalized the credits and gave the ad agency the exact title, "Marketing Pharmacy Services." About three weeks later, we received the final version of the tape for its premier showing to KPhA staff.

Measuring its success

With editing and the addition of music and graphics, the video was as we wanted it. The contrast between the old-time pharmacy and a 1980s version was evident, and the part in the video where tablets are pushed off the pill counter to represent the various segments of the marketplace taking customers away from community pharmacies was powerful. We felt the tape had the impact we wanted and was entertaining.

The real measure of success was the response from our members at our annual meeting a month later. At a session with more than 125 pharmacists, I introduced the videotape and turned out the lights. Hearing the deafening applause at the end, we knew we had a hit.

Since the first viewing, the videotape has been shown throughout Kansas at 12-15 district meetings. In the spring of 1989, the tape was shown at the American Pharmaceutical Association's spring convention. Twelve state pharmaceutical associations have since purchased a copy of the tape to use in their state. Also, the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy borrows a copy from the KPhA office each semester to show in a practice management class.

The videotape accomplished its objective: More of our members now understand they need to market their services, and we continue to hear about ideas they have put into practice. For example, three groups of pharmacists banded together in their local areas and began a cooperative advertising campaign. Each pharmacist contributed an agreed-uipon price to purchase television and radio ads in their community promoting independent pharmacy. In another instance, one of our past presidents had elderly customers turning to mail order, so he met with them to discuss the services included in his prescription price. He won them back.

Another member explains to callers who ask questions about their medicine that information is provided free to customers but that he now charges $25 for drug information to those who buy through mail-order companies.

More than 200 pharmacists attended a marketing continuing education program given a few months after the debut of the videotape. Our task now has shifted to developing written materials our members can use in their pharmacies when consulting with their customers. The competition hasn't gone away, but independent pharmacies seem to be getting by a little easier these days.

Producing a videotape takes work. Even with a limited staff and resources, many things can be accomplished if small associations are willing to shoot for the moon once in a while and take on a challenge.

Karen S. Thatcher is director of communications at the Kansas Pharmacists Association, Topeka.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Thatcher, Karen S.
Publication:Association Management
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Quality programming, quality town.
Next Article:Making lemonade from lemons.

Related Articles
Effective marketing videos: think before you shoot.
Studios' win-win stance best kept secret.
Made-for-video vs. MOW: the difference is a game of mirrors.
Hip-hop at the movies: rappers produce reel profits on the silver screen. (The hip-hop economy: part 2 of a series).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters