Do Reels Have Any Value?

I've been cutting reels for awhile now - and I don't usually just cut one.

I'm more of a generalist - I do cinematography, direct commercials, edit, even do some VFX work. I'll usually cut a showreel once a year with that years best work plus a few of my overall favorite clips. At the same time, I may cut a directing reel, a narrative DP reel, as well as a corporate reel so I have all my bases covered.

But the question I keep asking myself is - are these reels I'm cutting helping me get work?

So I've started to listen carefully to the clients who hire me. They did watch my work? What did they see that sparked their interest? What made them pick up the phone and call me and not some other guy?

It turns out, for the most part, that individual projects or commercials I made had a bigger impact on them than any of my reels. That doesn't necessarily mean that they didn't watch my reel first and then have an inclination to seek out individual videos I've made. Maybe they wanted to see a video that fits in line with their brand.

Of the last three new clients who have hired me, one told me about a specific video of mine that made them laugh and prompted them to choose me. The second new clients said they "watched all my videos" and really liked my work (I feel bad for anyone who watches all my videos). The third client declined to say anything specific about why I was hired.

Unfortunately, I can't draw a conclusion as to whether or not a reel is worth it. I guess conventional wisdom says there are probably clients who don't have the luxury of spending more than a minute or two watching video, so a reel with one's best work could lead to a hire.

For now, I'm going to assume that in some way they work, and keep cutting them.

What do you think? Does your reel get you work?