“THREE STEPS TO HEAVEN!”
OUR SUCCESS STORY – By Cliff Williams
How “Memories On Video” was born … and how it has been optimised into an internet success!
In February 1984, I decided to take Emily on holiday to The Gambia in West African. Whilst relaxing on the beach, I was intrigued to see a fellow guest at the hotel using a very large camera to take movies. I could not resist asking him for a demonstration and to our utter astonishment, he recorded pictures of us and played them back for us to see there and then! It was our first experience of video photography and though I had been involved for many years with still photography and cine photography, this was a defining moment.
I recognized immediately the potential for using this new video technology to start a business to replace the successful one we had just sold (for a LOT of money) after running it for over 10 years. On our return to the UK, I researched and purchased as much material about this new technology as I could find. I purchased professional cameras and equipment and practiced video filming and editing for hundreds of hours until we felt able to establish “Memories On Video” on June 8th 1984.
At first, we did wedding videos, advertising on ‘Radio Bristol’ and we very quickly filled our appointments diary. Weddings though, tend to be at weekends…
…. and so we needed something extra to fill the working week. I devised the cine film to video process and we started taking orders in from all of the photographic retail outlets in Bristol and the surrounding area. Emily used to call on the shops twice a week and bring the considerable numbers of orders back to our home where I had set up a spare bedroom as a studio. Throughout the rest of 1984 and all of 1985 we ran this business very profitably.
In early 1986 whilst on holiday, we saw Eddie Shah on breakfast TV. He was a successful newspaper proprietor and he said “I’m launching the first COLOUR newspaper this week, it’s called ‘Today’ and if there are any small business people out there who would like to run an advert for a fraction of the cost of other newspapers, give me a call!” I did! and I ran an ad in the first Saturday issue. I did not expect the response that we experienced in the following week!
The post kept arriving in mailbags – LOTS of them!! we struggled to cope. We had purpose built studios erected at the rear of our house as quickly as we could.
We were now in mail order and we had to eventually stop doing the weddings and serving the shops in Bristol.
STEP THREE – THE AGE OF THE INTERNET
We were not of the age of people who naturally embraced the new technology in the 1990s, but as the decade progressed we did acquire PCs to run our paperwork side at first and we had a very primitive one page website designed to simply have a ‘presence’ on the web. This website was not successful, it never really took off and it simply ticked over for several years. The guy who had set it up was not at all enthusiastic about keeping it up to date.
The majority of our work consisted of copying cine film to video but in 2003 we decided to start offering our services on DVD, as well as on the traditional VHS video format. I first of all had to develop the computer technology to actually scan the cine films into a PC and then produce domestic DVDs for our customers.
Once this was accomplished, I needed to have my computer man update the website to say that we now do DVDs as well as VHS. HE NEVER DID THIS!!! – unbelieveable – he just wasn’t interested.
Disillusioned, I considered my options about what to do. I knocked on the right door – AND A WHIRLWIND BLEW IN!!!
I called Jerry Vahrman at Lois Software who was extremely keen and energetic, applying himself as he did to design and develop this website which you see here today. Jerry has become a good friend and trusted confidant.
He did not ‘charge the Earth’ for what I think (and others have told me) is one of the very BEST websites I have ever seen – bar NONE!
Please judge for yourself by taking the time to examine this very comprehensive website – it emphasises the personal service which Emily and I provide, it is extremely well laid out and easy to follow.
One of the most important aspects to us is the feature which Jerry has built in to enable me to add to the customer feedback section – as often as EVERY DAY if I want to – and I DO most days! Prospective customers are very reassured by reading these ‘up to the minute’ feedbacks – please take a look yourself – click on the customer feedback.
The affect that Jerry’s website has had on our business has been phenomenal. We used to spend about £12,000 per year on national press advertising, but as the website grew stronger, getting more enquiries every day, we have been able to reduce our spend on press adverts to a fraction of their former level.
And can you believe that the site eventually became number 1 in the Google search for many of my ‘keywords’? A GREAT success story.
There you have it – our “Three Steps To Heaven”.