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Melissa Magic is the best magic!

Kat Newton | Client Service Manager | Purposeful Wealth Advisors

CASE STORY Distinguishing your firm from all the others.

David Goodman, Founder of Goodman Law Group | Chicago, spent most of his career working as a commercial litigator for a handful of law firms, and from time to time he’d dream about opening his own. In 2019, the time was right and by coincidence he found himself in a meeting with Melissa Costello. “I listened to Melissa talking about branding and capturing who you are and why you do what you do. She said, ‘You need to let people really know you, and talking to clients who have worked with you is the fastest way to do that.’ It just made sense.”

So he set up a meeting to propose that her team produce his video, and asked for the name of the company that created her business card as well as the company that developed her website. “Her company and her company. Ok! One stop shopping.”

Goodman continued… “I wanted to practice law differently and it only made sense that my website should look unlike other law firms’ and so should my card and my video. Melissa gets at Who are you really? It’s her MO. It’s her differentiator. And she’s a master storyteller, and at the end of the day what I wanted was for my branding to tell our authentic story.”

To uncover what makes Goodman exceptional, Costello conducted interviews with his clients and asked them what they thought makes him an outstanding litigator. “Hearing your clients describe why what you do matters is an amazing experience,” said Goodman. “When you see the final results, you will end up understanding your organization better and how to communicate it to the world.”

Using the information gathered through her interviews, the MC team created a website that weaves together the Goodman team’s professional experience with stories from clients whose lives they’ve changed.

Today, Goodman credits his website for helping bring in new clients whose stories can one day be added to the list. “A new client told us the other day that what was said on our website made him comfortable to work with us,” Goodman said. “That’s why you hire Melissa’s team, because if we don’t engage people on an emotional level, they won’t engage us professionally.”

Anyone who doesn’t have video – and the very best video they can afford – on their website is losing business every day, they just don’t know it. Potential clients are often sold from watching our video. This team has such a vast talent. Being able to tap into that talent is an honor. It’s one of those unforgettable experiences. You should not be considering anyone else.

Mark DeBofsky | Shareholder | DeBofsky Sherman Casciari Reynolds
Via email upon seeing the first cut of their gala video…

Melissa – Even the polar vortex is no match for the warmth and love that resonates from this video.Thank you!

Cathy Junia | Development Services & Events Manager | Erie Family Health Centers

Love it! Made me tear up, too. You worked your magic again, Melissa.

Melissa Hilton | VP Development & Executive Director | Erie Family Health Foundation

MELISSA! This totally rough cut just made Melissa H., Cathy & I get all teary eyed! (I’ve watched it 3x already, and it happens every time!) We can’t even imagine what it will look like as you keep working your magic. I just think the way that it goes effortlessly back and forth between the beautiful, more articulate statements of gratitude from the parents, and the total honest, unfiltered perceptions of the kids, and the really fluid b-roll, tells such a full, moving story. You laugh, you cry… We have no notes at this stage, but just encourage you to keep going and share it once you feel it’s ready for us to see again. Now where’s that Kleenex…

Kate Birdwell | Senior Communications Manager | Erie Family Health Centers

Melissa has a rare knack for infusing heart and soul into her finished product and for making the complex easy to understand and compelling. She delivered a powerful video that captured the emotion that is deeply embedded in the work we do every day.

Sally Benjamin Young | Senior Vice President, Public Affairs | Lundbeck, Inc.
CASE STORY Getting results is worth every penny.

Just a handful of days after shooting a testimonial video with the MC team for his company Amata Law Office Suites, CEO and Founder Ron Bockstahler called Melissa Costello and asked if there was any way he could get the video early. He knew he wanted it on the company website, but after reading the script Melissa wrote from interviews with his clients, Bockstahler had a feeling it could make a difference in an important upcoming pitch meeting.

Melissa is a magical interviewer. She can pull genius out of you you didn’t even know you had,” said Bockstahler. “You watch the video and you think, ‘I belong there.'”

Bockstahler was blown away by the video’s effect on the people in his pitch meeting. “All the investors stopped to talk to me about the video after the meeting,” Bockstahler said. “I will never do another pitch meeting without video. Ever. Melissa gets results.”

After witnessing the impact of two video products created by the MC team, Bockstahler wondered what the company could bring to Amata’s other marketing efforts.

Next, the team conducted brand research to refine Amata’s messaging strategy, and brought PR Strategist Kellee Johnson and digital marketing guru Sonny Sultani into the mix to strategically tell stories in the press, on landing pages, social media platforms, and other channels.

“I’m pretty stoked. Melissa produced work that increases revenue and gets repeat business over time because the messaging is consistent and compelling,” Bockstahler said. “They get results. Worth every penny.”

This is one tight, light, touching, exceptionally well crafted video. Who knew we’d get so much out of one long day last Thanksgiving weekend? It was a treat working with you.

Gerald Linda | Owner | Gerald Linda & Associates
CASE STORY Putting the ‘person’ back into personal injury.

“Our clients have already been through a lot,” said Ken Levinson of the personal injury law firm, Levinson & Stefani, in Chicago. “So when it came time to choose a company to shoot our video and talk to our clients, we knew we needed an expert storyteller to handle our video – and our clients – with care.”

The MC team has been handling clients and their clients with care for decades. As an interviewer, Melissa Costello takes her time. “A great interview is just a great conversation. You have to set the right tone for it to happen. So if I show up focused and relaxed – as opposed to distracted and in a hurry – we’ll have a great conversation and my client will get a great testimonial,” said Costello. Bringing that attitude to a situation where there’s already a fair amount of anxiety around appearing on camera allowed both Levinson and his clients to feel confident that their story will be honored.

“She’s the best. Her meticulous attention to every detail delivers a product that is very human, emotional, and persuasive. She’s extraordinarily talented,” said Levinson. “It’s so impressive what the MC team can do to help your business. Thanks to the video, potential clients can hear from families we’ve already helped. That’s a powerful draw for those who are unsure of where to turn after an accident.”

Catholic Charities USA needed a very inspiring, once-in-a-lifetime video for our Centennial. Melissa Costello was simply perfect for the job – exceeding expectations in every way. This is a filmmaker who not only makes a great product but is a sheer joy to work with. Her subjects and her crew love her – and the client jumps for joy.

Roger Conner | President & CEO | Conner Communications
CASE STORY Visual storytelling for the things we cannot see.

How do you create a compelling video for a medical procedure that’s still in clinical trials? That’s what Kellee Johnson of The Ballast Group wondered when she invited the MC team to create videos that explain the complex science of a new field and the benefits of cellular implant for her client, GID Bio. But how to make it more engaging than a typical explainer video? Time to get creative.

Johnson knew that if anything could powerfully demonstrate the difference between her client’s cellular implant and total knee replacement, it was video.

And since interviewing patients or doctors was out of the question, she guessed it should be animated video. Costello imagined a scenario in which identical twins Jack and Zack both inherit their dad’s bad knees but choose different methods to correct it. Jack chooses the traditional solution, total knee replacement, while Zack chooses GID Bio’s cellular implant. Their experiences are as distinct as their choices. Using storytelling to illustrate those distinctions pulls the viewer in with humor and keeps them rapt as the story unfolds. The title of the first of four videos? A Tale of Two Knees.

“She asks all the right questions and comes up with great solutions. Such a great writer, and such a visual storyteller,” said Johnson. “Super smart, so creative. And her team doesn’t stop until they’ve got something brilliant for you.”

Just reviewed the final cut of the law firm brand video Melissa and team created. It is truly remarkable. She was able to capture the firm’s ‘why’ and position the firm’s lawyers as both uniquely qualified and caring. If you’re considering a video project, I strongly encourage you to consider
MELISSACOSTELLO.COM. Really impresssive work.”

Gyi Tsakalakis | President & Co-Founder | AttornySync
CASE STORY She can get anyone to talk about anything.

For more than 20 years, Devon Dougherty has relied on Melissa Costello to direct his television commercials. He’d grown to trust that she could get anyone to talk about anything in order to end up with a compelling customer story and emotional tv ad. When he accepted a position at ActivStyle, however, and was considering doing a testimonial commercial for their incontinence home delivery program, he doubted that even Costello could get clients to open up about their own stories on camera. He confided to her that he expected the shoot would fail because incontinence is a tough subject to talk about to family and friends, let alone a stranger! “I told him, ‘Devon, I really appreciate you setting the bar so low for me,’ Costello replied.

On the day of the shoot, Dougherty watched as anxious clients sat before Costello, nervously awaiting their interviews. Within minutes, they’d relaxed, opened up, and began sharing their moving stories.

“I go back to Melissa time and time again. She’s one of the most talented directors I know. Her ability to connect with customers is very unique. From politics to healthcare to fitness to the arts, her versatility to move from industry to industry, and the way she digs deeper to find those little sound bite gems that make a commercial shine is also very unique. She gets it. She understands how to make real people open up and tell a compelling customer story that translates into a positive ROI,” said Dougherty. “It doesn’t hurt that she’s fun to work with and smart, but that’s not why we hire her. We hire her because she’s the opposite of a hired gun – she invests herself in our productions and our company. She becomes part of the team and the team’s success.”

A few hours after wrapping the shoot as her plane landed at O’Hare, Costello received a phone call from Dougherty. “He said, ‘We want you to come back in a few weeks.’ Is something wrong? ‘No. We want you to interview our catheter clients. Now, we fully expect there’s a good chance it won’t work, but if anyone can do it, it’s you…”

Amazing video, fantastic!
The audience was in rapture.

Lee Francis, MD, MPH | President & CEO | Erie Family Health Centers
CASE STORY Getting at the heart of your business.

Purposeful Wealth Advisors’ president, Beth Kraszewski, knew her website was missing something. “Video. A website without video seems so 2-dimensional,” Kraszewski mused.

This wasn’t her first foray into video marketing, however. “We had done a video before and it wasn’t nearly as professional. The quality wasn’t there. It looked cheap. With Melissa’s team, you get an amazing production. I was really surprised at the level and quality of the team that worked on our project – these people work on movies and tv shows.”

As impressed as she was with the production, Kraszewski feels the MC team got at something even more important. “The video they created helped us articulate the heart of what we do. It’s almost like they became part of the passion. Melissa steps into you and becomes part of the heart of your business.”

Measuring video’s return on investment can be notoriously tricky, but that hasn’t been true for Purposeful Wealth Advisors. “We could see the ROI almost immediately. One prospective client commented, ‘Now I understand how different your company is!’ There’s no substitute for communicating what you do with emotion. It brought our website to life. It’s that element missing from most marketing products. This video seems to make our website 4-dimensional. It articulates the very heart of our work – not just what we do but why we do it.”

Melissa Costello was an outstanding creative consultant helping our museum develop an online exhibition and film to highlight our International Creche Collection. Her ability to create engaging (marketing) products using a fine art collection allowed the Loyola University Museum of Art to extend its reach to new audiences. Bravo Melissa!

Pam Ambrose | Director of Cultural Affairs |
Loyola University Museum of Art
CASE STORY Stepping up your fundraising.

What do you do when you’re a nonprofit and the paddles just aren’t raising at your gala like you want them to? Mary Franklin of the National Headache Foundation had been pondering a solution. “We needed to step up our game. And I knew we had lousy videos because I had seen other nonprofits do them really well. What cemented me with Melissa, she got our goal right away: telling stories of our impact on people’s lives,” said Franklin. What she perhaps couldn’t have anticipated is how the actual shoot would be run and how willing chronic migraine patients would be to tell their story on-camera – even while in pain.

“The whole team does an amazing amount of prep work, they’re so well prepared. The production itself is amazing,” Franklin reported. “And then secondly, Melissa makes everyone feel at ease and she intuitively knows how to get a story out of these patients. She manages to capture the essence of each individual in a compelling way. She picked right up on the relationship between our founder and his daughter and produced a very touching video for us. I love it. She met the doctor’s grandson at an event and he told her how much the video she made of his mother and grandfather meant to him. That is a testament to her work.”

So the now retired Executive Director is pleased and the son and grandson of the video’s subjects is pleased, but did the paddles respond? “Such a step up. We’ve definitely had better paddle raises for our galas with the videos. The donations went up for sure. And then after the gala, we have had better success on the website, too. It’s the total package. You get great research, exceptional production, and the final product with all the personal touches they put into it, is beautifully edited and can be used in all sorts of ways. Brilliant product from beginning to end.”

I would like to get us all together for lunch and celebrate what a profound impact your videos are having on our business. My Treat!

James W. Buik | President | Roscoe Company

Simply put, Melissa knows storytelling. She has a strong vision. Having worked with her on several occasions, I can say that Melissa always brings a fresh perspective to projects and ultimately elevates the work to truly engage and inform the audience. Plus, she’s a joy to work with.

John Newton | VP, Creative Director | TBWA/WorldHealth
CASE STORY Two clients, two videos, one shoot day.

Joshua Haid, partner at Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group, knew his firm needed a video to maintain its edge online and demonstrate its powerful form of advocacy to potential clients. And as a member of the board, he knew that NAMI Illinois also needed a video to illustrate its own form of advocacy. Where to find a company equally skilled at emotionally communicating the work of a for-profit as well as a nonprofit? That could shoot both videos in one day?

“I’d seen examples of videos Melissa and her company had made for other firms, both for-profit and nonprofit, and was impressed by her ability to tell their unique stories through their clients,” said Haid. “That’s exactly what she did for us and for NAMI. She’s a unicorn in getting the story.

“Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group was founded by attorneys who recognize the challenges and the stress women face while fighting for their rights. NAMI Illinois is an organization that supports individuals and families struggling with mental illness. Both have profoundly emotional stories to tell.

“Melissa has an innate ability to draw out people’s passion in an authentic way. What you consistently get is an authentic product built on a foundation of interviews that are backed up with real emotion, uncoachable emotion. You can’t fake that. It’s brilliant,” said Haid. “She’s a brilliant human being who delivers a one-of-a-kind exceptional product.”

By interviewing past clients, the MC team demonstrated that those who choose to trust either Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group or NAMI Illinois will be heard and handled with care.

“What a production! It was an amazing, well-orchestrated day with clients coming and going. Melissa and her team found our best stories and told them in an emotionally compelling way. Done.”

Whether it’s larger than life characters or down-to-earth naturalism, Melissa is a genius at bringing the best out of on-camera talent.

TJ Cimfel | Chief Creative Officer | Razorfish Health

You rock. This last version of the video is so good it gave me chills. Thank you for sharing your considerable gift of storytelling. I’m a solid fan.

Jon LoDuca | Founder & CEO | The Wisdom Link
CASE STORY Capturing culture on-camera.

“It’s truly like having a business partner. Every single new client we’ve gotten in the door has made reference to our video and how impressed they were.”

Kurt Carlson, Managing Member of business law firm, Carlson Dash, hadn’t quite figured out how to capture his law firm online. “We knew that selling culture online is important to attracting new business, and it’s one of our biggest differentiators. But we were struggling to communicate that through the written word on our website.”

Meanwhile, another attorney at the firm had met Melissa Costello and suggested they meet. “That was such a fun shoot,” remembers Costello. “Three camera crews shooting simultaneously in all corners of the building. Hanging out with the firm and their clients for a whole day we got a first-hand feel for the culture Kurt had hoped to capture.”

It evidently worked. “The video brought our culture to life and gave it meaning,” Carlson reports. “I would say she’s the complete package. She not only gives you a terrific end product, but she thinks of all the little things along the way that make for a great outcome. She gets to know your business and helps you market your business through the video and beyond.”

Carlson isn’t the only one impressed with the work. “It’s truly like having a business partner. Every single new client we’ve gotten in the door has made reference to our video and how impressed they were.”

We love love love the website!!!

Alana Kahan | VP of Sales & Operations | Lang Financial Group
CASE STORY Uncovering who you are.

Business owners often find they’re too close to the subject to determine what it is about their business that clients value most. They can wonder at the reason clients return or recommend them, but until someone sits down and asks them, they’ll only be guessing. That was the situation Dory A. Rodriguez, a wealth advisor at Highpoint Planning Partners, found herself in. She wanted the MC team’s help in determining what distinguishes her from her competitors.

The first step was to interview Rodriguez to discover what about her work motivates her, how she defines success, and the most rewarding part of her job. According to Rodriguez, “Melissa has a sincere desire to bring out the best in people and see them be successful. So many people in the business world want to make you feel good, Melissa wants to make you better.

“The team then conducted phone interviews with Rodriguez’s clients to dig deeper into the client experience. “It takes a lot of trust to open your top clients to someone else,” confessed Rodriguez. “I had complete trust in her, and the output was amazing.

‘While Melissa Costello led the primary research, conducting and assessing interviews, the MC team got busy with secondary research into the state of the industry and client demographics including the average client’s most common complaints. Armed with both, a branding and messaging strategy began to take shape that exploits Highpoint’s natural assets while targeting untapped markets and opportunities.

“Melissa is a creative translator. You never know what she’s going to see, but when you get your final product it’s clear she understood you to the core. It’s almost like she takes you in, not just what you do or your specialty, but what people need to know about it, and then she communicates that essential ‘you’ to the world,” said Rodriguez.

Update: Contrary to expectations, the SEC just lifted the ban on using testimonials in marketing and advertising. So all the glorious stories Rodriguez’ clients were happy to share with the MC team can now be shared online, and the people who know her work product best – her grateful clients – can directly speak to her quality and character.

Exceeded our expectations. From the moment we started working together, Melissa was a true partner. Her work gave us a powerful way to convey our emotional message.

Mary Patrick | CEO & Managing Partner |
Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications
CASE STORY A site of one’s own.

Stacy Kahan, Owner and President of Lang Financial Group, wanted a complete overhaul of her brand and website, but she wasn’t sure where to find someone who could come up with an approach that was as smart and contemporary and creative as the business she had built.

“After speaking with Melissa, I had a feeling she was a good fit with us. I work with my daughters and I wanted our website to reflect more than just our business, I wanted it to be about our values and our style as well,” said Kahan. “Melissa is all about that, about why we do what we do, what it means to us, and what we bring to our clients.”

After interviewing Stacy, Cara, and Lana Kahan, Costello interviewed the same clients who would participate in the photo shoot to discover what they found most valuable about their experience.

These are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met,” said Kahan. “Unbelievable storytelling, unparalleled skill with language. It’s amazing how they translated interviews into a clear vision that captures who we are.”

Once the ideas were laid out, the MC team organized a photoshoot. “When I think of professional photos, headshots always come to mind,” said Kahan. “It wasn’t until working with Melissa that I realized they could be something more.”

Instead of creating a contrived set up, Costello asked that Kahan and her daughters invite clients to their office and carry out the activities that occur every day while the photographer captured images showing the women as engaged professionals who enjoy their clients and their work rather than stationary mannequins.

“The end product was so much more than I ever could have imagined. I had heard great things about the company so on the one hand I wasn’t surprised, but on the other hand I hadn’t expected that it would so perfectly convey who we are. It’s what I would have done if I had that kind of creativity,” said Kahan. “The MC team helped us create a website that could only be our website. They figured us out better than we ever could have on our own. And the pictures are outstanding. Anyone who looks at them gets to feel like they’re already sitting in the office with us.”

Working with Melissa Costello was a fantastic experience. Not only is she a talented filmmaker, she is a wonderful storyteller, and she even reads minds! Melissa was able to help us tell our story with words and images that I didn’t even know we needed to include. It was magical! I highly recommend working with Melissa.

Eden Juron Pearlman | Museum Director | Evanston History Center