Month: September 2012

Online Video: It’s Not Only Video Production – It’s Marketing

As our plugged-in business world is becoming far more receptive to video messages, and online video is entering marketing’s mainstream, it’s natural to feel a little daunted about using video for the first time.

As the owner of a marketing agency with a full service video production company, and over 13 international video awards, I receive a daily deluge of questions from my clients who are thinking about using video in their marketing, but have concerns about jumping into this medium.

From low-cost do-it-yourself video blogs, to polished corporate overviews, there are certainly more options available today, but beware: The notion “you get what you pay for” still applies. Businesses today would benefit from understanding more about what they are paying for, and the value it brings to their business.

Below, I’ve provided you with answers to the questions that many of my clients are asking, in the hopes that they will allay your trepidations about using video in your marketing plans.

How can a video help my company?

Video is a powerful tool for reaching your audience, whether you’re selling a product, a service or a new concept. With a combined visual and verbal message, your message is 70% more memorable on video than it is in print alone.

Can I produce the video myself, or do I need professional help?

You could certainly apply the do-it-yourself approach, using basic consumer video equipment and self-taught talent.  (Think YouTube.) The benefits are speed and low costs, but the risks could be huge, as the results often look amateurish. This may erode credibility and brand messaging.

When it comes to video, particularly online video, I strongly recommend hiring a video production company, ideally one attached to a marketing agency. No, this is not shameless self-promotion; it is the truth.  Video is a marketing tool and so you’ll need to consult with a marketing agency.  Most video production companies are focused on producing videos, but not on helping you set the video’s objectives, position its message, and ultimately achieve your marketing ROI.

If your video production company simply shoots video without understanding the broader context, your video message may miss the point, and your video will not give meet your marketing objectives and ROI.  See next question for more details on the process.

When hiring a professional marketing agency with a video production arm, look at their past work to make sure it is compatible with what you want.  Ask them to give you details of their involvement in the video.  Make sure they know your industry, and understand marketing.  Ask them to share with you how your video will help you accomplish your specific marketing goals and objectives. Note: You are looking for a concrete answer here, not a broad stroke “it will increase brand awareness” type of answer.

What is the process for creating a video?

First, be sure you know what you are trying to accomplish.  One of the biggest reasons a project falls short of expectations is that the client can’t decide what they want, and keeps moving the target during production.  This adds cost, and erodes quality.

Before you can produce the video, you’ll need to clarify what you want to accomplish, and determine what resources you have available to you. You’ll also need to know your unique selling proposition, your target audience, your marketing goals and objectives, how and where your audience will view this video, and how you will measure the ROI.

Some questions to consider might include: do you want to increase credibility, build your brand, attract new clients or recruit new staff?  What marker decides success? Who should be profiled in the video? Do they need media training?

Once the marketing purpose has been established, and you have a general direction, there are three basic stages to completing your video:

  1. Pre-production: Deciding on the locations and on camera talent, writing scripts, creating a shot list, arranging for the appropriate equipment, camera, and site logistics and clearances
  2. Production: This is actually shooting the video.
  3. Post-production: This involves the editing of the video, including motion graphics, special FX, onscreen text, adding in other visuals images or footage and a soundtrack.

How long does it take to produce a video?

In general, the process can take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks, depending on the complexity of your production.

Should you use video as a method to support your marketing? Absolutely, but make sure you consult with a marketing professional who actually produces video. You only have one chance to make a lasting, first impression. This has never been as true as it is today, with online video.

So… how much will a video cost? And how are these costs determined? I have dedicated next week’s blog to answering those questions regarding budget-related costs associated with video production.

Do you have any questions about using video in your marketing?  Have you used, or are you considering using video in your online marketing campaigns?  Please share your questions and stories about producing video in the comments below.

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Steps to Making Your Online Campaign a Success

A large part of marketing these days involves developing some type of online marketing strategy. Online marketing can mean something as simple as using Google AdWords, or placing an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook, to generating an ad to be placed on a trade publication website.

The goal of online marketing is no different than that of any other advertisement: to increase brand awareness and find potential customers, in order to increase revenue and growth.

The huge advantage of online campaigns is that they are digital, and you can improve and adjust them throughout a campaign to help you achieve your objectives.  The other advantage of online marketing is that you have the ability to easily track and measure your campaigns by the day, hour, or even minute (if you really wanted to).

Generating leads and customers not increasing site traffic are indications of success and by tracking and measuring the success of your campaign, you can determine if your objectives are being met, and if not, you can adjust your campaign to meet them.

One example of how quickly you can react to an online campaign is to run an advertisement on a trade publication’s site, make note of the click through rate, use Google Analytics to track the traffic to your site and referral sources, and finally, to look at the conversion rate of traffic to leads.  If you see that there is a low click through rate, you might need to rethink your ad. But if you find you have a high click through rate, and high traffic, but see no leads being generated, then something is happening on your site that stopped a potential customer from becoming a lead. This might mean you need to make a change not to the advertisement, but to the mechanism that was designed to convert the traffic into leads.

Before you start planning your next online campaign, determine if you have the time and resources to properly monitor its development and success.  You might want to consult with a marketing agency, which can provide you with the insights and expertise necessary to make your campaign a success.

Over the past 20 years of marketing for small and mid-sized businesses, I’ve developed a number of questions that you should take under consideration before launching any online campaign:

  1. Clearly outline the goals and objectives of your campaign (e.g. increase leads by 5%, 10%).
  2. Identify which publication the ad should appear in (target the campaign to the audience).
  3. Clearly outline the time your campaign will run (1 day only, 1 week, etc.).
  4. Create an incentive offer, whether that is free product or service; leads increase depending on incentives.
  5. Put a tracking mechanism in place. That way, you can measure the results and make improvements to your marketing strategy as you go.
  6. An ideal tracking mechanism is Google Analytics. It is free to use, and is one of the most powerful online analytics tools available today. (It tracks much more than website traffic, as displayed in my example).
  7. Before the campaign launches, offer your campaign offer to existing clients.
  8. Post in your social networks the day you launch the campaign.
  9. Track your campaign by the hour, day, minute, etc.
  10. If you are not seeing the results you want, look at the flow of the campaign. Are there any ‘sticky’ places? See if you can make any adjustments to get your campaign ‘unstuck’.

Online marketing can generate the leads you are looking for, but you need to consider not just the message you’re sending, but also how you have planned to convert the message into a lead gen tool.

Do you have any questions on Internet marketing? What has been your most successful online marketing campaign? Or have you had any negative experiences with online marketing that have helped you to re-strategize your methods for future online campaigns? Feel free to share your questions and stories in the comments below.

Lead Gen – Asking The Right Questions

In a perfect world, our marketing and sales efforts would produce our desired revenue growth. But as many small and mid-sized businesses know, the challenge is not just deciding on the right lead generation activities to drive enough qualified leads, but also to increase the productivity of your sales team, and to improve your visibility to your target audience.

Like many business owners, you might understand the need to make changes to your marketing and sales processes, but aren’t quite sure what needs to be fixed or how to fix it. You want increased sales and increased brand exposure – but how do you get there, and where do you start?

The answer to fixing your sales processes lies in asking yourself the right questions.  “Leave no stone unturned,” as it is said, because the more you ask, the more you answer, and the better your business becomes.

As the owner of a marketing agency, with almost 20 years of marketing experience focusing on small and mid-sized businesses, I’d like to share with you a few questions that you should consider, in order to generate the right leads, increase your productivity and improve your visibility, to help get you to where you want to be. The questions do not have simple answers, and will require some time and consultation with your sales and marketing team.

If you need some more clarification on any of these questions, or help in deciding what to do with your answers, consult with a marketing agency you trust to find more specific advice on how to generate your desired results.

  1. What market segments do you target, and why (e.g. Small businesses)?
  2. Which specific businesses do you tend to approach (e.g. bakeries, daycares)?
  3. How much do you know about them? (What is important to them?)
  4. Who are your competitors, and how well do you know them?
  5. How do you fare compared to your competition? (Do they have more staff? How do your prices compare? Do you serve different regions? etc.)
  6. How are your current lead generation tactics performing?
  7. How can your current lead generation tactics be improved?
  8. How effective is the current sales process in educating prospective clients, and optimizing close rates?
  9. What marketing and sales tools are currently in place, and how can they be improved?
  10. Are there additional marketing and sales tools that should be developed?
  11. Is the required marketing and sales technology in place to support the lead generation, sales and post sales activities?
  12. What are the technologies that should be put into place?

Can you see how asking yourself these questions might help your business to strategize more efficiently? Are there any questions that you didn’t understand – or are there any questions that you ask yourself, when strategizing a new lead gen, that you think ought to have been included in this list? Please let me know in the comments below.