“Success is a job well done and a satisfied client”, is the belief of Producer/Director/
Entrepreneur, Diane Dowling.
Diane Dowling is a Producer/Director/Writer with several decades of experience working in the internet, cable, and broadcast TV industries. Dowling is, also, a Marketing Consultant for numerous consumer-oriented and entertainment organizations and the former Director of Marketing for the Theater Museum in NYC.
Dowling has been on staff as a producer, director, or writer for WTTG, HBO, WCVB, Showtime, and WNEV. Dowling founded her own company and is currently working on video production projects, and advertising and marketing campaigns for companies in New York and Florida.
Diane Dowling shares her views on success strategies and tips, and motivation with Business Upside in this interview.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Business Upside [BU]: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Diane Dowling [DD]: TV free of commercials or PAY Television was pioneered by Home Box Office (HBO) and I was fortunate enough to start there almost from their inception. Without commercials I had to write and produce branding materials, “shorts”, movie promos, and other videos, the likes of which had never been seen before, to keep people engaged and watching between programs. I dubbed this content “interstitial programming” and that term is still used as the industry standard to this day.
My work at HBO inspired my entrepreneurial spirit and taught me to think outside the box. Actually, I approached my tasks as if there were no box, no rules, and no standards of operating, allowing me to create unusual solutions to unique problems. Eventually, this would become the foundation and concept for my future business.
Business Upside [BU]: How did you come up with the name for your company?
Diane Dowling [DD]: By the time I went out on my own I had already been in the industry for quite some time working on staff at CBS, ABC, WTTG, Showtime, and others. From those companies, I had contacts and colleagues willing to work with me as an independent. I knew I was selling myself, my experience, and my unique vision so using my name Diane Dowling Productions seemed the best way to go.
Business Upside [BU]: Have you ever turned down a client?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Twice. Once because the client’s needs were such that there was a better route for them to go which I outlined for them. The second time was a start-up company that asked me to produce the video production of their upcoming concert as a kick-off to their new service. Unfortunately, there was no budget and they asked me to do it for free. I couldn’t afford to do that at the time so I gave them the names of several other production companies. The client turned out to be I Heart Radio. Sigh. You win some you lose some.
Business Upside [BU]: What is unique about your business?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Taking a holistic approach to my client’s business while working on their marketing needs is one way that seems to set me apart. Really delving into all facets of the business, listening, and learning from them and their employees how things operate and where they believe their strengths lie, and where they think there is room for improvement helps me personalize and strengthen their messaging and branding.
Before the trend became popular through social media, I, for many years, encouraged clients to present themselves as experts through demonstration and advice videos as opposed to hard-sell advertising and marketing.
For example: When I was writing and producing advertisements for an international delivery company, the trend in TV ads was outrageously loud commercials competing for audience attention. Thinking about how I could break through the noise I wrote and produced a silent commercial forcing people to come out of their kitchens to see what was wrong with their TV sets. The spot was a complete success. My client gleefully called it the “I made you look commercial”. I was paid with free travel for the next year and set off with my crew to Belgium to shoot an archaeological documentary.
Partnering is an important vehicle by which companies can extend their reach. Discovering innovative and sometimes seemingly unconventional companies, services, and organizations for my clients to partner with is a way for them to broaden their visibility.
Teaching clients, through projects and seminars, how to keep in touch with their core clientele without over-communicating and becoming just another noise to ignore is another way to keep their customers coming back. Showing clients how to demonstrate that they are willing to respond to their customer’s opinions, advice and needs is another way I like to work with my clients.
Finally helping clients find ways to stay relevant and to respond to market changes and demands is another method I employ to help my clients succeed.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you generate new ideas?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Whether I am exploring new places, taking a walk, enjoying a sunset or sunrise, or visiting with friends I am always on the lookout for inspiration. Research, brainstorming, making lists, outlining, and writing ideas are my go-to methods. Do a repetitive mundane or physical job so my brain can be working in the background without “me” getting in the way. Getting outside perspectives by talking to people about current projects and ideas also helps.
When I would be stuck for ideas or in my writing my father used to say “Don’t get it right, get it written. Then go back and get it right.” I believe he was quoting someone but I don’t remember who.
Business Upside [BU]: If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Work hard. Learn everything you can about your business and your target market. Always think about how you and upcoming projects could be better. Find a Mentor. Find a place you’d like to work (and don’t wait to be invited) show up every day and make yourself indispensable.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you define success?
Diane Dowling [DD]: A job well done and a client satisfied. Pride in your work and a sense of enjoyment at the task.
To quote Mark Twain …“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I love what I do.
Business Upside [BU]: Do you believe there is some sort of formula or pattern to become a successful Businessperson?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Opportunities rarely fall into your lap so don’t wait for them to happen. Be tenacious, be dedicated to your clients. Share your skills, your talents, and your passions for your business and your clients. Hone your listening skills, be a cheerleader, have a “Can Do” attitude. Learn all you can about your potential client’s and current client’s businesses. Your passion is infectious and encourages others’ passion. That’s a win-win situation.
Business Upside [BU]: How do you market your business, and which method has been most successful?
Diane Dowling [DD]: Word of mouth. Satisfied clients are the cornerstone to a good and successful career.
Business Upside [BU]: What motivated you to become an Entrepreneur?
Diane Dowling [DD]: After working in large companies like HBO, Showtime, CBS, and ABC and not following the standard path of moving away from production into management I decided to go out on my own. My first entrepreneurial endeavor was to create Homespun Audio, an audiobook company. My father, a writer, actor, and voice-over narrator was my partner and president of the company. After licensing, abridging, and producing our first run of audiobooks my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so we sold off our inventory and closed the company. I began freelancing and teaching video production in the evenings.
To date, my most significant entrepreneurial effort was writing, producing, and directing a documentary with executive producers Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane. Of Horse & Man, a limited series narrated by actress Glenn Close has recently been released on Prime TV. Bonnie and Stewart provided me with important resources, were insightful, encouraging, and great to work with. This 3 hour, 3 part documentary traces man’s relationship with the horse throughout the ages. Episode One is the history of our relationship with the horse. Episode Two talks about this $112 billion dollar industry that’s greater than the railroad industry, furniture manufacturing, and Radio & TV production industries. Episode Three talks about the future of our relationship with the horse, through green spaces, medicine, and sport. Find the documentary here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FX5N9BX
Business Upside [BU]: Other advice or comments about your entrepreneurial style or your specific business?
Diane Dowling [DD]: I love sharing my knowledge and inspiring other people interested in communications, media, journalism, and entertainment. I have taught for many years and found that I learn as much from those I teach as they may learn from me. As the world moves forward and my industry goes through significant changes I continue to change and reinvent myself and my services to stay current. Branching out and networking through social media and zoom have become great vehicles for inspiration and opportunity during these trying times.