Posts tagged with ‘marketing with video’

3 Essential Members of Your Desert Island Content Dream Team

Unless you are Superman or Wonder Woman (and we know she reads our blog.. hey there!), you’re going to require a helping hand now and then in generating the mountains of digital content expected of any thriving business with an online presence today.  You don’t have to hire content strategists like us, but it’s important to begin building a Content Dream Team that can crank out various multimedia, social and SEO/SEM content.

So, we asked ourselves, if we were stranded on a desert island, which three players would be indispensable in helping us generate our marketing content? (This is assuming that we would care about such things, being recently stranded on a desert island, and all…)  These are our answers:

  1. The Multimedia Pro. This is the person who can easily and effortlessly crank out video after video from their cool iPhone4, and upload them to YouTube seconds after catching a poignant story moment in the office or out in the field.  Make no mistake, the person who is a natural for this role is the person who is already engaged with the technologies to make this sort of thing happen, and that means that this person is particularly hard to source.  If you’re lucky enough to have one on staff doing something else, then make it part of their job description to follow around people and get this content captured and published to share with your hungry public!
  2. The Social Butterfly. I bet you never thought that the person who spends 2 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter while at work could ever prove to be an undiscovered asset to your company, huh? Well, maybe, maybe not. They’ve certainly proved how enticing and potent the medium can be.  And they certainly have an understanding of the workings of the various online social spaces.  But if they have an interest in helping you develop an authentic voice in those spaces, you may have just just hit pay dirt.  Ask them to give you a written proposal on how Facebook or Twitter could become a part of what they do for you on a daily basis.
  3. The SEO/SEM Robot. Writing articles, blog posts, submitting a site to multiple directories, and increasing the number of inbound links coming to your site from good sources is the bane of most small business owners. Who has the time?  Well, if you can add someone who has a penchant for technical details and obscure strategies, it’ll take most of this tedious-yet-essential stuff off your plate.  The best person for this job is someone who finds the Zen in keyword research and loves to get lost in formulating vast charts and spreadsheets of links and potential links to go after.

So there you have it. It’s not going to be easy to find natural fits for each of these roles, but we cannot see how you’ll be able to keep the content coming in any meaningful quantities without them.

What is the Goal of Digital Marketing?

Recently I was with a group of business owners who were talking about different “marketing tools” they were using for their businesses.  There seemed to be a rabid desire among them to learn about some “Holy Grail” new tactic or technique they could use. But as I started asking them how they would use one particular tool or another, their answers started sounding more like the feature lists these tools use to market themselves.

  • “It lets me add all my contacts and manage discussions in one place.”
  • “I can see results from my email campaign in real time!”
  • “I can post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all from the same program.”

Not to belabor the point, but these stated reasons for using a tool aren’t reasons at all. They don’t identify the one crucial element every marketing activity must possess: The Goal.

So what is the goal of any marketing effort, digital or otherwise? It’s simple: To increase revenue and profit.

Any tool, tactic or strategy must be able to demonstrate how it will help you hit this goal, or it’s nothing but a waste of time, money and resources.

Lately, it seems like many respected tools and tactics cannot seem to quantify any bottom line objective.  I guess that’s what makes us different from other creative digital agencies. We genuinely think that if a service can’t justify it’s price, then neither can we.

Are you asking the tough question about your marketing efforts? Or are you wasting precious resources without a strategy that moves you closer to your revenue or profit goal? Either way, you should know and be able to quantify how each new tool or tactic moves you closer or farther away from revenue and profit. To riff on an old axiom, “Experiment, but verify.”

The Expert Economy

In economic down times, businesses have more and more to do to generate the same levels of revenue, with fewer and fewer resources allocated to those tasks. It’s no secret that marketing activities are usually one of the last areas to be affected, because marketing is (correctly) viewed as the one activity that can still have a bottom-line impact.

But not just any run-of-the-mill marketing activities. After all, marketing dollars have to be stretched too. The holy grail of recession marketing is figuring out how to separate the most expensive, least profitable prospects from the prospects who are eager and willing to do business today, perhaps even at a premium. So how does this happen?

Stand up and be the expert in your market.

It is generally accepted that recognized experts make more than others for the same basic work. It is also generally true that experts stay busier, with fewer recession-related dips in business.  With such compelling reasons to demonstrate your expertise, what steps can you take today to begin doing just that?  Here’s our list:

  1. Start Podcasting. A simple, sustainable, 5-minute podcast production every week with one central point that touches on your area of expertise; that seminal item that you get paid to know or do for your clients. Use the podcast as a teaser to demonstrate the many solid reasons your prospects should be calling you today.
  2. Release regular Video Tutorials that address the most painful problems your prospects face. If done artfully, the unspoken conclusion of these short, pointed video productions is that you are capable of providing the solution they desperately need.
  3. Create a Blog. If you do either or both of the items above, then you will be using a blog to do it, anyway.  A blog post twice a week builds a record of authority, both for human visitors and (perhaps even more importantly) for Google.
  4. Get your best customers to go on the record by testifying to the value of your expertise. A written testimonial, or better yet, a video testimonial can be a compelling badge of expertise.
  5. Begin Publicly Speaking. Anywhere. Anytime. In front of any audience with your market’s focus. This is a long-play strategy, however.  If you signed up today to speak for a group, it might be 5-6 months before the actual engagement.

Expertise is currency. And those that can demonstrate it to their market stand to reap rewards far greater than money alone.

Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Web Video Strategy

There is a lot to consider when planning your web video strategy. SEO, text vs. visual information presentation, the engagement object level, your market demographic, production quality, and more, all bearing on the success or failure of the effort. But don’t let this scare you. All of these factors need to be considered for a successful web page copy strategy too.

In our experience, here are a few tips for getting the most our of your web video strategy.

  • Keep it short and free of too much visual filler. I regularly read blog post comments about the intolerance people feel toward long, meaningless stretches of content that isn’t relevant to them. “Short” is a relative term, by the way. A 30-second video on the intricacies of the impact of government involvement in free market dynamics is too short.  Keeping  the content only as long as it needs to be is a good rule of thumb, whether the medium is text or video. Complex, information-dense subjects can still be kept brief, as highlighted by this video we recently produced for a client:

  • Be considerate. Provide player controls in a Flash player. YouTube has a good player, albeit not the best quality picture in the video space.  At the very minimum, use a Flash player with a clearly identifiable play/pause control, and a scrubbable timeline (to be able to scan through lengthy content). A volume control is less of a concern if you are being considerate with your volume levels during production and editing. Full-screen toggle control is nice but not essential at all.
  • Take time to visually conceive the video before production begins. Is there a clear story or thought progression?  What is the best way to visually convey the ideas being expressed? If the content is candid, captured in the wild, and less than 90 seconds, it should contain one main point and get right to it.
  • Do a DIY or How-To video. How-To Videos are wildly successful, and can quite easily get you and your brand on the radar in your market.  Think about what content you could freely offer your customers.  Think of the video content as bait without a hard hook; free without strings, yet clearly demonstrating expertise and brand value.
  • Include a full transcript of videos that contain audio dialogue or narration. Post it on the page in close proximity to the video, so that Google can see and index it, and visitors can scan it to see if the video is worth their time. If the video has no spoken word component, compose a detailed paragraph or two that hightlights the value of the content a viewer could expect to see if they click “play”.
  • Know your customer profile. Are they entertainment seekers? Busy people with little patience for fluff or filler? Engaged community members? Info seekers on a mission? Answering this question will greatly inform your choice of video style and length.
  • Get the production right. More and more, web video is being seen as a primary informational source, and in some cases, is preferable to text only.  Production values count more these days, whereas just two years ago, they didn’t.  Just don’t confuse quality production with over-slick, fluff content that is meaningless to a viewer.  30 second animated logo sequences rarely have a determinative impact on customers.

Web video productions, used well and in conjunction with other informational mediums, can be a great and profitable way to relate relevant and valuable information to customers and prospective clients.

9 Low Cost Opportunities in 2009

Happy New Year! Some of you no doubt would like to put last year far behind, but if there was one word to sum up what this new year holds for all of us, in my opinion, it would be: OPPORTUNITY.

As a small business person, opportunity has always been found in the places where there is real need. In our case, those needs have centered on companies who are branding and creating marketing messages in various digital forms. We are so proud to have worked with such a great client roster during the past year, and hopefully met some pressing needs in web design, print design motion graphics design and video production. Thank you all for making last year such a fun one for us!

As a feeble thank you, here are 9 Low Cost Opportunities for Your Business in 2009.

  1. Determine the stress points of your customers, and develop legitimate marketing that positions your product or service as the immediate relief they seek. Acute economic stress can become a great motivator to solve a nagging problem.  Do you know what your product or service addresses in today’s buying climate?
  2. Down time during the first quarter? There is no better time to revisit your web site strategy and make sure it is really working for you. Some of our clients saw exponential growth occur in their business, simply by optimizing a few pages of text for search engines, or adding intelligent, descriptive video!
  3. Take advantage of the holes in your market left by competitors who couldn’t weather the recession. Many competitors are thankful when a business offers to step up and take over a client roster, to support their orphans instead of leaving them in a lurch.
  4. Position yourself as an expert in your market. Write articles. Take speaking engagements. BLOG! Much of the “getting to know and trust you” phase of new client development can be taken care of in this way.
  5. Twitter. Share valuable links to solid, relevant information aimed at people in your marketplace.
  6. Organize a small social event for people  in your client list who need to know each other.  Ask them to invite some of their best customers as well.
  7. Revamp your business card. It’s an inexpensive move that can have a transformative effect on your first impressions.
  8. Start a podcast to cover industry news, or tips and tricks, Q & A, how-to.  Offer the audio in a player on your site as well as a downloadable, and get your feed listed in a dozen or more podcast directories where people often look for information related to your area of expertise.
  9. Has the economic news spooked your customers and made them overly price sensitive?  Find ways to redefine your value in terms that make sense to them in this light.  An example: KFC started a video commercial campaign that more or less dared people to try to cook a 7 piece dinner with two sides for less than could be had in their stores.  No one was paying attention to the fact that it used to be an 8 peice deal for the same price, because the focus became the value of the deal they were offering, compared to the time and expense of making it yourself.

Well, from the team at Harkins Creative, we sincerely wish you a prosperous New Year full of ripe opportunities! Let us know how we can help.

YouTube Has Changed Everything

(Video Interview) Carter Harkins, the founder of Harkins Creative, talks about the changed expectations of internet users for web sites, in light of the “YouTube Revolution”.

The web is an amazing platform to tell a corporate story and engage visitors in more immersive brand experiences. And although it was once considered something only the mega-brands could afford, web video production is actually more reasonable than you think.

In a series of short video interviews with our founder, we will discover the trends that are shaping today’s internet experience, and lock in on key strategies using audio and video to drive traffic and engage consumers. Stay tuned in the days and weeks to come!

web video…what works?

I think a lot about this question, and there isn’t a single answer. Much of the answer is informed by the market, the purpose, and the audience, so let’s look at these three factors in more detail.

The Market
It really goes without saying, but the appropriateness of a video is largely dictated by the market for which it is created. Financial institutions are no more likely to get value from a viral prank video than a high-caffeine energy drink is likely to get traction with a “Hallmark Moment” style video production. The market dictates the type of video that is likely to make an impact, and any consultant, director or producer worth his/her salt has a highly developed intuition about such things. Often, the really good ones choose to specialize in certain markets, because their understanding of the nuances of, say, panty hose keeps their work sharp and tuned, while delivering a visual message with conviction and authenticity (two words I’ll likely unpack in a separate post soon). Web video, of necessity, should employ a slightly more informal tone than other visual mass mediums, and only recently has the video production industry begun to figure this out. Still, it’s all a matter of degrees, and any giant departures from established norms had better be able to stand up to the scrutiny of honest web-surfers who rarely hesitate to provide raw feedback.

The Purpose
I’m amazed at how many times this crucial element is left out of the early discussions about video production. “We know we need a video. Everyone has video on their web site. Can you do something for us?” But video on the web without a clear purpose is a certain failure. Web-based video is a weapon that can take down a variety of game, but not unless it is loaded correctly and aimed properly. Knowing what savage beast you are hunting will help you choose the weapon and the ammunition you need to take with you out into the web-wilderness. A few good questions to help you clarify your purpose: What information does my customer need to know before making a purchase? Can I answer the five most frequently asked questions in a quick video tutorial? What three things distinguish me, my product or my service from the rest of the pack? What information do people come to my web site to obtain?

The Audience
Would you take a three-year-old to a gruesome slasher movie? Hopefully not. But why do businesses think that it’s acceptable to offer their customers under-thirty a video with a hip-quotient equal to CSPAN? Match the video production values with the intended audience. Think about it: You have slaved over making sure that your product is exactly what your target consumer wants and is willing to pay you for. But if you tell them about your product in a video message that isn’t speaking to them in a tone or a style they understand, you might as well have saved all the trouble in developing anything at all. When blowing through an ad budget for mediums such as television, video production is scrutinized under the demographic and psychographic microscopes, and much care and attention is given to crafting visual content that hits its mark with audiences. The same cannot be said with regard to web video. The vagaries of broadcast successes don’t always transfer to the online medium, for one, but even more horrendous is the fact that online audiences aren’t even attempted to be understood, even though the argument can be made that we have the potential for vastly more specific and valuable information about behavior online.

A video production begun by examining these three fundamental areas will be much more likely to achieve realistic goals and return on investment.