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Nick StaggeNick Stagge is the CEO of VidArmy, a video production company that makes professional grade content accessible to companies of all sizes. VidArmy’s mission is to make branded videos affordable and easy, and it produces videos for as low as $499.

Before joining VidArmy, Nick worked at GoPro, Skullcandy, and Zumiez. He is also the host of The Ordinary Podcast, as well as a Partner of Forbes Ignite and a Contributor to Utah Business.

 


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Nick Stagge talks about his struggles with anxiety and depression and the breathing exercises that transformed his life
  • How Nick helps his team overcome mental health issues in the workplace
  • Nick explains his film crew’s process for producing videos during the current COVID-19 health crisis
  • How the VidArmy business model works and the types of clients the company works with
  • What are VidArmy’s different price offerings?
  • Nick talks about building his company’s sales pipeline and the importance of finding your “why”
  • How the VidArmy team builds rapport with customers in 15 minutes or less
  • Where to learn more about VidArmy and Nick Stagge

In this episode…

Without a doubt, the use of an engaging brand video goes a long way when marketing a product or service. In recent years, more companies and individuals have embraced the use of promotional videos—not just in mainstream channels like TV advertisements, but also through social media and e-commerce websites.

However, the cost of producing quality videos is often beyond the reach of many small and mid-sized companies. That’s because most video production agencies charge a small fortune to produce a single video, and these costs increase substantially when multiple videos are required. To solve this problem, Nick Stagge and his team at VidArmy have created a solution that makes it easier to produce quality videos at an affordable price.

In this week’s episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast, host Eric Stopper interviews Nick Stagge, the CEO of VidArmy, about his company’s video production process and innovative business model. Nick talks about VidArmy’s low pricing compared to other companies, the importance of finding the “why” behind your business, and how to effectively handle mental health issues in the workplace. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

Eric Stopper 0:18

Hey welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast. This is Eric Stopper. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. We are in q4, I’m sure you’re stressed. I’m sure you had an inventory. Come in, hit us up, we’d love to talk to you. We’d love to help you expand your business. Our consultants have been particularly interested in helping you find new territories for growth inside of your existing product lines. We want to be able to help you find a niche. So go to buyboxexperts.com, click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. Today I am so pleased to be joined by Nick Stagge, the CEO at VidArmy. VidArmy is a video production company that makes professional grade content accessible to companies of all sizes. On their website, they say get video for as low as 499. Nick was previously at GoPro, Skullcandy, and Zumiez, and he is the host of The Ordinary Podcast. Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick Stagge 1:21

Thanks for having me, man.

Eric Stopper 1:23

So I know we were talking a little bit before the show, and you said that, you know, our listeners might not quite be interested in you know, the little breathing read that you have around your neck. But I want to start there man to talk to me about that thing that you got around your neck.

Nick Stagge 1:36

Oh, man. Well, the truth behind that story is for years and years, like 30 plus years, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. I’ve always felt like I had to hide it. In fact, I’ve recently just found these poker chips that I would play with. And because they helped soothe my anxiety, but I was always playing with them at work. And when people would ask me like, what’s up with the poker chips? I would, I would tell them, oh, I have a gambling problem. That’s a true story.

Eric Stopper 2:15

So you got to tell them you have a gambling problem rather than an anxiety problem.

Nick Stagge 2:20

It’s 100% the truth, as ridiculous as that is not bashing people with gambling problems. I love to hit the tables myself, but I look at it as if it was easier for me to just say I have a gambling problem and to say, Yeah, I struggle with anxiety and depression. I thought that people would limit me in opportunities and responsibilities that I would have, I thought that people would look down on me or whatever the case might be right. And over the course of the last few years, I’ve been very open about my struggles and the realities that I deal with in the end. And I’ve also been pretty open about the ways that I try to cope with it. One of the things I’ve done is 75 HARD, which man oh man, you want an intense podcast go listen to Andy Frisella talk about 75 HARD in that model. But that really kind of like fundamentally reshaped a lot of who I am and how I think about mental fortitude and toughness. And it put me on this path where I started looking at the biology behind it. And part of the biology behind anxiety and stress and even depression is breathing. And most people they don’t fully breathe in or fully exhale. So hundreds of years ago, in Japan, they figured out that if they breathe out through long reads, just naturally it would help them exhale more fully. And by doing so it would relieve the muscles it would open up your body and it would do these things. So I saw this online and I bought it. It’s called a commode. So and man, it’s awesome. I do breathing exercises a couple of times a day through it. And it’s just kind of grounding and it’s almost a form of meditation. I love it. I know you’re doing ice baths and Wim Hof stuff. I mean it’s in that same vein and I just think it’s important that we take care of ourselves, one by being open about what our needs are and our realities are and then by sharing best practices or techniques or tricks that we use to help keep ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.

Eric Stopper 4:48

Totally man, thank you for sharing, sharing that I uh, yeah, I’ve been doing the Wim Hof breathing. I feel absolutely invincible. It’s interesting for men and women anxiety and depression manifests instead Different ways. Like, when my wife is anxious or depressed, it manifests itself as this, like, absolute like, like a pressure, like, like a weight on top of her, like she can’t get out of bed. And for me, it’s this, this feeling of being behind. Like, I feel like there’s something chasing me and I like I can’t get away from it. But I’m stuck in my seat. And so for anybody listening and struggling with any of this stuff, like, the most useful thing on your Apple Watch is that breathing time, where it says, Hey, you need to breathe, do it. Turn off all your other Bs, social media notifications, and just let your let your, you know, $500 Apple Watch be your breathing guide. For I think it prompts you like two or three times a day, because your whole life will get better.

Nick Stagge 5:58

Yeah, yeah.

Eric Stopper 6:01

Our CEO talks about every Friday, we have a sink. And he says James Johansen, the only things that he really talks about, you know, he gives you updates about the company where we’re all at and everything. But he talks about how burnout in the workplace, what impacts that, and how it you know, how it can decrease your how to decrease your threat level, and how to just decrease the amount of stress that you have in the workplace. And he says, look, you got to, you got to limit your social media in your news. And you’ve got to have a plan in place for when the anxiety starts creeping up on you, when you feel like the lion is at your door. You’ve got to have your spears and all your stuff ready to defeat it. And so everyone in our company is on this path at the same time. And I guess a good question for you. Because you have such a great focus on mental health in the workplace. Your team has grown at VidArmy. And so how have you guys helped your employees kind of Institute things that help them with mental health? What’s what’s kind of guidance that you are as the CEO, shaman of your company?

Nick Stagge 7:13

Yeah, I mean, that’s a good question. It’s so hard, because everybody is different. Everybody has it, hopefully they’re on their path, but they’re all at different stages of their path and where they’re at. And so for me, the first and most important thing to do was to try to create an environment where people knew that, above all else, you are you because you’re awesome, and you’re enough. And that means that you can be vulnerable with things that you’re dealing with, whether that’s a project at work, or an increase in stress levels, but I want to just create an open dialogue where the team knows, you can share yourself with an individual on the team or, or the team as a whole. And know that not only will you not be judged, but you’ll be embraced for it. And so making that happen, there’s so many ways that that and things that you can do to try to make that happen. But I think it starts with the leadership team being open and being vulnerable. And then the way that we react when someone does show us a hint of here’s something that I’m dealing with and struggling with. So, that’s a part of it. The second is that we are just very open with the concept that our team is the priority that the employees come first for us, and we value taking care of them and being a team first sort of environment. Just last week, we had a customer that, despite many conversations and interactions, continued to be really negative, disrespectful, combative, and didn’t want to play by the rules of the contract that we agreed on. And so I reached out to this, this client of ours and I said, we appreciate that we tried to do business together. But at this point, we’re going to refund your money and you go find another agency to work with because the environment that you’re creating for my team is not something that I will allow. And despite us talking about this, it hasn’t changed. So we wish you nothing but but good things and we hope that you’re successful. We just won’t be a part of being that success with you. So there’s a lot of examples of things that you can do, but I think sometimes it’s putting your employees ahead of revenue. I think sometimes it’s about being vulnerable. I think sometimes it’s about embracing the team. I think sometimes it’s about getting everyone in your company set up with headspace so they can meditate when they want. Like, there’s all sorts of things that you can do, but it really comes down to just being open and embracing to your team.

Eric Stopper 10:25

Totally. I love it. Um, with this remote thing, are you guys all still in your office? Or is everybody pretty much remote at this point? It’s gotta

Nick Stagge 10:34

be let our team Oh, sorry, go ahead.

Eric Stopper 10:36

Well, I was just gonna say it’s gonna be hard for a video production agency to not have some sort of like, single location that you can go to to shoot like, you know, studio video.

Nick Stagge 10:46

Yeah, yeah. So we have a, we have our own office slash studio. And our film crew obviously has to be on set. So we help them practice safe social distancing. And we go through good protocol to make sure that they’re protecting our clients and that they’re protecting themselves. And then for anyone else, you can kind of go. We asked that when you come into the office, you’re respectful of others, you’re respectful of the environment that we’re in. But there’s absolutely zero pressure for someone to be in the office or not. I think, at this very moment, there might be three of us in the office. Last week, we had, we had a moment where there were like 18, or 19 of us in the office. So I think the key there is it’s more about the output than it is about the input. It’s more about reality than it is about perception. So I let the team manage themselves and be you know, take on the owner’s mentality, if you will. But where they want to be is where they want to be.

Eric Stopper 12:09

Okay, man on man. How you know, I have lots of questions for you. I want to switch gears and let’s talk about VidArmy. Okay, so the economics of the business model are very puzzling to me. In most video production agencies, they charge a whole bunch of money for like one video and I guess it kind of depends on the type of video that they’re going for. You have some like, you know, the famous ones here in Utah, you had Harmon Brothers did purple and, and

Nick Stagge 12:39

Squatty Potty,

Eric Stopper 12:40

Squatty Potty, all those types of ones,

Nick Stagge 12:42

their work is outstanding.

Eric Stopper 12:44

Yeah. So talk to me about the kind of the scale, the quality, like how the business model works, and you know, how you guys got started and how the market has responded to everything.

Nick Stagge 12:57

Yeah, well, video is a funny thing, because no one needs to be sold that video works. If you’re running digital ad campaigns. Well, if you have videos to AB variant test against, you can increase your conversion and maximize your role as if you’re a company that was customer facing and was reliant on personalized interaction, then video is something that can humanize you and keep you connected to your customers. If you have a complex product, video can help simplify that product and showcase the features and benefits so there’s so many things that video does, and people just know it. The problem is, people have been afraid that it’s too expensive and they can’t afford it because who has the budget to go hire Harmon Brothers. And, and when you do their work is great, but who has that budget, and even if you do have the budget, it can be really hard. It’s a challenging thing to create video. And so VidArmy’s idea is that everyone deserves video, we should make it accessible to everyone. And if we can eliminate those two hurdles, maybe maybe we have something here. So yeah, we offer video for as low as $500. But we do video that is in six figures. And we have a balance now. The vast majority of our clients, our clients that are spending hundreds of dollars to create multiple videos, we have a smaller set of customers numerically that are running big production type video with us but but the way that we make that happen is one you hire in house and you take care People that are individually skilled at either the pre pro side, the filming side or the editing side. But there, they may not be, the editor may not be passionate about filmmaking. But if that editor is a freelancer on their own, they also have to get behind the camera and film. Or they have to partner with someone who likes to film but doesn’t like to edit. And so when you start, when you start hiring out freelancers, it becomes really expensive. And you become disjointed. But from the freelancer side, it becomes really hard to know who to partner with, it becomes hard, because, wow, I’m really good at editing. But now I also have to be good at sales and marketing and finance. And, you know, even just basic things like setting up a business license. So we pull in a team of very specialized employees, and we tell them, we’re going to enable you to just focus on those things. And when you sit down and you focus on just those things, your input increases, because you’re not you’re not being pulled to also drive sales chase that lead or go catch that chat, though, I guess

Eric Stopper 16:13

the idea of specialization, then, right? You’ve basically made like almost a conveyor belt to video production for your clients.

Nick Stagge 16:22

It’s funny, because my team when I first came on, I was like, look, I think VidArmy, in many ways, is a factory. And they, they were like, whoa, whoa, man. I can’t say that. And to me, it’s more along the lines of how Dr. Seuss wrote Cat in the Hat. This might feel like a weird tangent. But for like 25 years, Dr. Seuss tried to write children’s books and he couldn’t, couldn’t get anything published. Nobody wanted his work. And finally, some I’m err, quoting here, thought leaders in children’s literacy came to him and they were like, yo, Dr. Seuss, we want you to write a children’s book that first and second graders can’t put down. And he kind of looks around like, yeah, I’ve been trying to do that for 30 years, like, sorry, I don’t know what to tell you. And they said, Well, we have an idea, we think that you should just use these words. And they sent him a list of like 250 words or something that were first grade and second grade vocabulary. And they’re like, don’t use anything other than these words. And Dr. Seuss has created, he’s a creative genius, right. But what he found out is, wow, when he had some structure, it actually enabled him to be more creative. And cotton hat was the first book that he published as an author, and it’s the most read children’s book of all time. And it’s often credited as the most creative children’s book of all time. And yet he was given very, very strict parameters. So when I talked about VidArmy being a factory, I simply mean, look, we should make things really easy, we should make things simple, we should, we should focus on creativity instead of the process. So help us build a, a well oiled process help us build a factory that can mass produce, but mass produce in a way that actually gives you the time and the freedom to tap into your creativity, and push that envelope as far as possible.

Eric Stopper 18:30

I love it. You know, I had a, I had a teacher, a professor, who I don’t even know, I think it was called the build class at Brigham Young University. And he always would say that creativity loves constraint. If you ever want to build something beautiful, just make a line on the board, and then use that to draw, you know, have somebody draw a squiggle and then make a picture out of that. If you ever struggle to be creative, that’s definitely a way to make it happen. So VidArmy is a system of processes with incredibly creative people that are built into each of the processes. So that when a client comes to the door, there’s a very specific set of guidelines that, you know, designates how that person is moved through the process. Like talk to me about when you first onboard as someone, how do you make sure that that structure remains really solid? When there’s a bunch of creative people involved in the process? I standardized

Nick Stagge 19:27

so this is one of the first I think, risky things I did when I got here. VidArmy had grown and been successful off of one tagline unlimited video for $499. And the truth is, I started looking into the data behind it. And I was like, yeah, this works but like it’s actually not all that profitable the way that we’re running it and you’re creating some false expectations and you have customers that are unsure of how that works, because there’s no process in place. So then they’re frustrated that they didn’t get 10,000 videos like, let’s, let’s not dip our toes into slowly transforming what we’re offering, let’s just go for it. And what we do, and this, this felt risky because we literally didn’t A B test we didn’t, we didn’t even reach out to customers and ask, we were like, We just fundamentally believe that this is the right way to go. So we’re going to go. And we said, Look, let’s have three different packages that we can offer. And we’ll put customers into these buckets. And then based on the bucket, they know what their constraints are, and what their capabilities are. So when you buy a basic package, you get one hour in our studio, and any video that we film is a video that we add. So if we can legitimately film 61 minute videos, then we’ll edit 61 minute videos for you. And you can have those. And we’ll do that for as little as $500. Now, if you need more time filming, and you want something on location, and you’re a little bit more focused on having helped with the pre pro side, then we offer that. And we offer that for 1000 bucks for one shoot. And, and then we have clients that are like, Look, we don’t want to do anything, we’re in New York City, we want to ship you our product or whatever, you know, whatever it is, and we want you to do pre production all the way to post production, full service, we’re like, great, we can do that. And we can do it for as cheap as 1500 bucks. So we have these packages. And they’re very set in what we do from an input standpoint, we do. So you get a very specific creative brief based on what package you buy, you’re assigned a very specific producer or executive producer based on what package you buy, you get in studio or out of studio based on what package you buy, you get x number of revisions based on what package you buy. And then from there, our team is able to be very creative within those constraints and put together a whole host of videos for a whole host of clients. We do anything from agency work, where we are literally creating digital ads for digital marketing agencies that they turn and use for their clients. We do things with doctors and dentists or commercial good products to tech companies. I mean, the customer base for us is all across. It’s all across the map small businesses to large businesses, and pretty much every industry in between. So it’s an interesting play. But that really worked. And what happened is the way we set those packages up, we gave discounts based on how many shoots you’d buy at once. So it’s almost like a Costco buy in bulk, you get the discount, right? So people were then turning around buying 12 1824 shoots at 1500 bucks a pop, like Okay, great. Well, that’s our video content for the year. And every month or every so many weeks, we’ll get together and create new content. So I can tell my story and grow my business. And I know what the budget is, I know what the spend is, it’s it’s a very different approach from where video production has been because one, video production has almost been a race to the top, it was like a badge of honor to be able to say I just closed $100,000 deal for a three minute video. Like, it’s, it’s crazy, all these industries are a race to the bottom. And here video is a race to the top. Then the other pieces, a lot of agencies want to have a little bit of mystery behind the process, and how they go about it and what you’re going to get and what you’re not going to get. And I think candidly that they want to do that to hide some of the steps to help elevate them and justify that price. And so these packages that we put together, we’re like, we’re not going to compete in a race to the top because we fundamentally believe it’s the wrong thing to do. We’re going to be very transparent with pricing, we’re going to be very transparent with what you get. And we’re going to be very transparent with how we work together. And if that’s something you’re interested in, great, let’s work together if it’s not, there are really good agencies all up and down the Wasatch Front or the US for that matter. Go Go work with them. We’re, we’re totally cool with that. We’re like, I text people at Harmon Brothers almost every day and love them. Guy, so I have nothing but good things to say. It’s just a different customer. To be totally honest, it’s a different customer.

Eric Stopper 25:08

You said that was your first risky move was kind of almost doing away with the tagline. It sounded like it was more of a segmentation activity, right? Like, putting them into these buckets. Before the risky

Nick Stagge 25:21

move was the I think the risky move was we should be transparent with pricing and, and exactly what you get. And by doing so, we’re going to create three packages that are just super straightforward. And, and we’re going to offer bulk discounting, if you buy in bulk. And I mean, look, our average contract value increased eight x in one month, because of it,

Eric Stopper 25:50

your average contract value increased eight x in one month because of those packages. Yeah, I wonder if the same type of transparency and stuff can be applied to other agency practices, because I feel like we’re pretty transparent. And what we offer and how it works and everything was shown to them exactly what it looks like. But there are others, like, if I don’t understand something like SEO or email marketing, you know, like, I have, I don’t know, you know, I even talk to I’ve interviewed people. And I still don’t even know, it’s so easy. You mentioned that like, direct to b2b and b2c, those two types of markets. And business models have been very different and that it’s probably time for b2b to start looking more like b2c. And that’s where you guys are at, right? You’re making your VidArmy process into an easy type of checkout. Like, let’s let’s get this moving. Talk about this.

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