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Archive for September, 2013

No Such Thing as “Positioning”

This is something that business leaders (and even veteran marketers) so often get wrong. We speak of “positioning” ourselves in the market, as though a few hyperbolic ads can alter reality as customers understand it.

Consider the increasingly desperate feel of Microsoft ads over the past few years. Here’s one called “The Surface Movement” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mSckyoAMHg) that tries really hard to be cool. (It actually is cool, if considered in isolation, but we scoff because it’s Microsoft. And because they’ve arrived late to the tablet / touchscreen party, and tried to make it seem like the hip new thing all the kids are doing.)

You look at an ad like the Microsoft one, and you know that somewhere behind it, someone is insisting that “this new campaign will position us as THE market leader in innovative tablet technologies.”

But you can’t position yourself as anything, at least not with a simple marketing campaign. Your position is predetermined by your customers. It’s what you are, not what you say you are, or pretend to be.

You can influence the results of your position through clever marketing, by re-framing what your position means (see our post on re-framing). But to change the position itself? Forget it. The “thought leader” we’ve never heard of, the “authority” without a single publication, the back-country diner with “World Famous Apple Pie,” they all look like what they are: little kids in grown up clothing, complete with shoe-polish mustache.

Better to be honest about where you stand. Do a video about why your most loyal customers keep coming back.

Picture Unrelated

 

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Finding a Video Production Company for Your Online Marketing: Ten Questions to Make the Process a Snap

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By now, most businesses understand the strong marketing power of a professionally-created video for their online marketing campaigns. An engaging and relevant video is one of the best tools to attract website visitors, as well as to keep them coming back, and hopefully to encourage them to become both loyal customers and brand evangelists, too. However, this marketing insight has created a bigger issue: Fierce competition. Let’s face it, many companies are out there vying for the attention of online users, so your video has to stand out above the rest in order for people to notice it and want to view it. For this reason, hiring a professional video marketing company is the most effective way to create a video that will serve as your top marketing tool.

The most important factor to remember is to shop around for the right video production company, because there are so many that have recently cropped up to answer the demand for online video production. Taking the time to screen each one will help you find a company you will want to work with for years, creating a long-term business relationship that will benefit you both exceedingly well.

Here are ten questions that will help you choose the best video production company for your specific needs:

1. Do you offer scriptwriting services? A professional video production service will offer scriptwriting or editing services, using images and music to tell your story creatively. You can ask them for samples, so you can get an idea of how they write, such as tone and structure. An experienced company will also let you contribute during the scriptwriting process.

 2. Do you include marketing services? A reputable video production company understands their services don’t stop after they have completed your video. Choose a company that will not only help you produce your video, but will also help you market it effectively. They should have people on board who are knowledgeable in online marketing techniques, such as SEO, so that they can add the right keywords to make your marketing video easy for people to find.

 3. Do you offer many choices? When selecting your video production company, make sure to find out if they provide a variety of packages to fit your needs, both now and in the future. Ask them if what types of videos they offer, and if they are willing to create a custom concept, should you need it. You don’t want to have to do start shopping for a video company all over again, so make certain the company will focus on keeping your branding consistent with the rest of your marketing platforms. Look for a top-notch video production company that asks to review your current marketing materials, such as pamphlets and advertisements in order to gain more insight on your specific needs and goals.

 4. Are you truly professional? For best results, check to make sure your creative professional is really a professional. Find out what professional associations they belong to, such as the Chamber of Commerce. Find out if they have any complaints to the Better Business Bureau. Check to see if their clients come back for repeat business, and make sure that the equipment they use is professional and up-to-date.

 5. Do you have references or testimonials? Client references and testimonials will give you reliable information about a video production company. They should come from firsthand experience of past customers. Ask them to share references with you and make sure to follow up on them. With some video production companies, you can look for reviews and/or complaints online. However, do keep in mind that one negative complaint or review does not make a bad company. If you are uncertain about what you find online about them, ask for an explanation of how they handled this unhappy customer. This will give you some insight as to how they deal with their clients on a regular basis.

 6. Can I view your portfolio? Video production companies are creative professionals and artists, so you should be able to identify their style in their projects. If their past projects don’t meet with your vision and preferences, you are most likely not a match. Make sure your tastes and the voice of your company align with the artistic creativity of the video company. A professional video service enjoys showing off their creative work, so look at a few their past projects, so you can get an idea of their style. You should also look for the following:

  • Engaging and relevant storylines
  • Clear and appropriate audio
  • Well-presented interviews and cameos
  • Properly-balanced colors and lighting
  • Evenly and creatively-framed shots
  • Attractive captions and consistent fonts

 7. Can you meet my goals? Bear in mind, anyone can buy video equipment, learn some basic video editing skills, and then call themselves a video marketing professional. A professional video production company will know exactly how to convey your story through images and sound in an online video. Make sure that your online video production company can tell an engaging story that will captivate your audience, so be sure to browse their portfolio, and take time to view a few samples from beginning to end. Make sure that the professional video company you hire has the creative, technical and marketing expertise to align with the goals of your company.

 8. Can you meet my budget? Have a ballpark budget in mind when you talk to a professional video production company. True professionals will give you a realistic idea of what they can accomplish within your budget. Even if you are not sure what your project goals are, a good professional should still be able to offer you some viable choices, so talk to them about your budget, as well as your project goals. A professional video company will let you know whether they can work with you or not, and in the worst-case scenario, they can refer you to someone that can work within your financial means.

 9. Can you work with my schedule? Are you a start-up business with a big media campaign set to launch on a specific date, or can you take your time with the project before you have to launch it? Are you in the midst of a big branding update and need everything released on a certain time schedule? Whatever your situation may be, make certain your video production company knows your time constraints, and is sure they can help you work within them.

 10. What makes you different from other video production companies? There is an important reason to ask this question last. Give the video company time to learn what your goals and visions are for your brand and your marketing campaign. If they have listened to you carefully, they will be able to tell you why they feel they are a good fit for your company. And, if they answer this question with any negative talk of their competition, consider that a red flag. A professional video production company will be able to express their unique value to you with ease. They should never have to bash another company just to get your business.

Remember, the success of your online marketing video depends on clear communication between you and your video production company. Make sure you choose one that listens to your ideas and goals carefully, and then comes up with useful ideas and a solid plan for creating effective online content for you. They should also have a firm grasp on how to incorporate videos into your website, social media and other digital marketing platforms. So take the time and effort necessary to find the best video production company for you and your business, so you’ll have an invaluable ally in the war to win viewership, as well as to promote your brand.

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Speak Their Language

There’s an internet cartoon making the rounds right now that shows the kind of insane egocentrism we all exhibit from time to time. We can’t find it right now, so here’s an approximate recreation:

 

 

 

The point here is that, despite how focused we are on ourselves, other people just don’t care about us that much. Because our problems/concerns/hopes/insecurities are so big in our own minds, we assume they’re big to other people. Not so. Other people have themselves to worry about.

The implications for brand marketing are obvious. Other people do not care about your brand, your company, your story, or your offerings. They have a thousand other things on their mind. You can’t just wedge your way in there, or expect them to push those thousand other things aside and focus on you.

Here’s the trick: find a way to associate yourself with one of those other things. Find a way to speak the language of your prospect’s mind. Then talk about the things that come across the loudest.

Most people want to belong. Most people want to be liked. Most people want more money, more sex, better stuff, better sex. Most people care about the health and safety of their loved ones. They want a better version of the story of their life. They want to hear that everything’s okay.

They don’t want to hear about your taste test, your features, or your story. Not unless it relates to them. Focus on speaking their language.

P.S. Those of you who read our “Pick One Thing” post (http://11loudproductions.com/pick-one-thing) know you should pick one thing to focus your marketing efforts on. Getting inside the minds of your customers helps with that.

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Eight Essential Questions for Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Video Campaign

Although vSan Francisco video production servicesideo marketing takes some time and effort, it can reap exciting benefits; so many businesses are embracing this effective media option for online marketing. The result is a variety of video content that runs the gamut from a basic 30-second video using an iPhone, to a full on professionally produced video created by a video production company. However, no matter how sophisticated or simple your video, there are some basic questions you can ask to determine whether your video is doing the intended job. Rather than tossing a dart at your hoped-for target, here are eight key questions to help you better gauge the impact of your marking video. Be sure to answer all of them when you launch your next online video marketing campaign:

Can I cross-purpose my video across multiple marketing objectives?
Highly successful marketers create videos that they can re-purpose or re-cut from the original online video format. Examples include trade show videos, sales conference promos, product demonstrations or customer testimonials. Video producers can also format a video to include placeholders that they can change later to promote a variety of products, such as sale or seasonal items.

Does my video encourage sales conversions at key points in the consumer sales journey, by increasing phone calls, link clicks, shopping cart or checkout visits?
Historically, most marketers used videos as a means to generate awareness of their product or service, but many are now recognizing how videos can close a business deal quickly and easily. In addition, online video marketers are using video content to support consumer research online, and to encourage brand confidence in consumers. Videos are increasingly becoming highly interactive, with click-through taking place directly inside the video, often leading to a product content page or a shopping cart. 

How many views does my video capture from my target audience, and how fast do the views add up?
The key factor here is to define your audience, and then identify your market penetration ratio. During the first three months of launching a successful online video, you should see a penetration rate of 10 percent. Most online videos attract attention quickly at the beginning of a campaign, but then taper down after a few months. One way to counteract this is to create a video series, with each one linking to the next, so viewers will want to come back to view the sequence. You could also create different versions of the same video that will continue to build interest, even after the first few months. 

Are viewers are watching all or most of my video?
If viewers are exiting your video quickly without spending any time watching, there could be two fundamental problems. First, the content of the video may not be relevant to your target audience. Second, you may be adding your video to media outlets that are not appropriate venues. Remember, your goal with online content is to create a compelling tease during the first five to ten seconds of your video to compel your viewers want to keep on watching. 

Does my video continue to attract views over the long term?
Most videos have a life span of three to six months; however, a successful video will continue to attract viewers beyond that time frame. Sensational videos attract a large amount of attention in a short time period, but then die out. Traditional content videos will experience a gradual growth curve, but they also tend to last longer. Dramatic or exciting videos work well for new product launches where immediate awareness is a key factor, but traditional content is more conductive to long term brand building for an already-established product.

Does my video build or destroy brand equity?
Many videos use sensationalism and other attention-grabbing techniques to create instant awareness, with the main objective of selling more products quicker, in an effort to catch up with the current competition. There is a strong correlation between this strategy and new product launches, because new products do not have established brand equity; therefore, they have no brand value to lose. In contrast, established brands have substantial value built up in their products, so they are less likely to take the leap and use shocking content to promote their products. 

Does my video integrate with social media easily?
The best outcome you can get from video marketing is creating a viral video that generates millions of views. While this is certainly possible, it is safer to build a comprehensive content strategy using multiple videos and a variety of fresh content. Placing high hopes that your video will go viral is like buying a lottery ticket – your chances of winning are usually quite slim.

How often do viewers share my video online?
Making sure that your video content is sharable is crucial to its success, but you also need to be certain that you maintain final control over how and where people share it. To do this, you need to set up and manage all of your company’s YouTube and Facebook accounts properly, and if you are unsure how to do this, be wise and hire a professional to help you. 

No matter what techniques you use to create your online video marketing campaign, these tips will give you a better idea of how effective your video is promoting your product or services. Ask these questions to improve an existing video, or to make sure your next one helps you reach your marketing objectives. When it comes to online video marketing, knowledge is the power that gives you the edge over your competition.

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Pick One Thing

…and focus on it. To the exclusion of all others. The way Jimmy John’s focuses on “freaky fast delivery.” The way Little Caesar’s focuses on “hot and ready” pizza.

Both of those brands could spend a lot more time talking about quality of ingredients, or taste, or customer service, but they don’t. They give us a statement, a handle we can hold onto. Three words that could fit on a Post-it note, and that remind us of everything else they stand for.

It’s tempting when you’re doing a marketing video to try and pack everything in there. You’ve got so much time, you’re spending so much money. It’s tempting to say, “yeah we deliver fast, but we also do this, and this, and this.”

Resist the urge.

Think of the customer’s mind as a filing system. The more you dilute your message, the more “unclassifiable” you become. That’s great for nuanced, dynamic human beings. It’s poison for brand marketing. Brands should be obvious and one dimensional. We should know exactly what they stand for.

And in case all this talk of narrowing and positioning has you feeling claustrophobic, you should know: people will fill in the blanks for you. Every positive trait comes with a thousand associations. Jimmy John’s says they’re freaky fast, but we also know they’re high quality and delicious. Why else would quick delivery be so important? People are impatient because the food is good. So “freaky fast” tells us everything we need to know.

Your one, strong statement will tell us all we need to know about you. And your confidence – the fact that you have the gumption and sophistication to only talk about one thing – will make us trust you and want to do business with you. Less is more here. Pick one thing.

Luckily, most billboard ads seem to grasp this concept.

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Storytelling Techniques to Make Your Online Marketing Video a Viral Virtual Handshake

Online markevideo production company San Franciscoting videos are more popular than ever, and thanks to the explosion of mobile technologies, there are no signs of them going away any time soon. Videos have strong marketing influence, because people can view them anytime, anywhere, and share them easily with friends and family. You may be ready to try an online marketing video for your brand, but you may wonder how to spread the news without scaring your viewers away, like many marketing videos with poor or confusing storylines that are currently circulating the Web.

KISS: Keep It Simple and Strong

There are two basic rules you need to remember when developing an effective story for your video:

  1. Everyone loves an interesting story – No longer do people want to hear the same boring sales pitch telling them that a product is great, or that they should go out and buy it right away. Today’s consumers have heard it all, and they are tired of the same old song and dance. What they really want is to know your story, why you decided to sell your product or provide your service, and more importantly than anything else, they want to know why they should buy your product or service, and what it can do for them.
  2. Storytelling is has more punch than a sales pitch Many businesses have a tendency to cram as much information as possible into one online video, relevant or not, which overwhelms their audience and makes them want to hit the exit button as fast as possible. Storytelling solves this problem, because it is always engaging, and it can elicit an emotional reaction with ease, which creates a connection between you or your brand, and the consumer. With the right story, there is no need to include every single tidbit verbatim about your brand, because, with a solid story, you can include your information for viewers to discover behind the lines visually.

Use a Modern Storytelling Structure

Although many companies like to use the surprise factor by adding a twist to their story, marketing studies have revealed that the majority of video viewers respond positively to the modern storytelling structure in books, magazines and movies. The addition of an action item at the very end of the video makes it the complete marketing package. A classic narrative storytelling form includes the following components to tell your story in a clear and compelling way:

  • A brief, concise introduction
  • A protagonist with a clear goal
  • A problem or situation that needs to be solved
  • A point where the crisis or problem reaches a climax
  • A solution or resolution to the issue
  • A call to action or key takeaway

The Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Video

Now that you understand how to format your story in order to engage viewers, there are some tried and true tips that you need to utilize to add the marketing edge. When developing your video story, make sure that it has the following key characteristics:

  • Brief Yet Beefy – The videos that get the most views are no longer than three minutes at the very most. Show your audience that you value their time by keeping it short and concise. You may be surprised at how much information you can include in a 60-second video, which is optimal since attention spans on the Internet are generally short.
  • Relevant Yet Compelling – Start by understanding exactly who your audience is, and help them to discover themselves in your story by addressing their common concerns. You can accomplish this by asking a question, and then promising an answer at the end of the video.
  • Stomps Out Skepticism – Be upfront by telling your audience why you want to share your information and explain to them why it matters to them. You can take this chance to build trust with your viewers by being genuine and human; someone they can relate to with ease. Your story is their story, after all, so make them feel like they are an important part of it.
  • Never Leaves Them Hanging – Always end your video with a clear call to action, so your viewers won’t be left scratching their heads in confusion. Give them something concrete yet simple to do after your video ends, such as leaving a comment, using the information presented, viewing another video in the series, or how to contact you or your company. You can have viewers fill out a quick survey for special offers or discounts, or you can simply tell them where to go to order your product.

Remember, online video marketing is the next best thing to having potential clients standing in your showroom or company store, because you can share so much more than you can put down in writing on a webpage. By watching your story, viewers can connect with your personality; your energy and your body language, making them feel more as if they know you – a sort of virtual handshake that makes a solid connection. This encourages your audience to use your services or product, and to share your video, which helps get your message across faster, and to more people, with a minimal amount of time, effort and money.

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Show Them Who They Are

Social scientists know that direct persuasion is a useless tactic. The harder and more obviously we try to sell something, or to change a behavior, the more push-back we’re going to get. This is why people slow down when they’re tailgated in traffic. Humans don’t like to be bullied and we don’t like to be “sold.” When we get a sense of someone doing either, we react by doing the opposite of what they want.

The same is true for video marketing. In experiments tracking eye movements, 40% of participants will shift attention away from an ad as soon as they see the company’s logo. In other words, as soon as customers sense the sale, they’re no longer interested.

Here’s something to try: instead of “selling,” paint a picture of the kind of person your prospect is (or wants to be). Smart or wise or a fiscally responsible, a rugged individualist or a serene-faced septuagenarian. Show us an experience or lifestyle we’d happily project ourselves into and you’ve already made the sale, no heavy-handed pitch required.

Your move, dentist.

Tying a brand to someone’s identity also increases the chance they’ll actually make a purchase, instead of just being “convinced.” (I might be convinced that daily flossing is essential to dental health, but until I start thinking about myself as the kind of person who flosses daily, my gums will go neglected.) It’s the difference between a changed mind and changed behavior. Purely logical arguments about what we “should” do aren’t motivating, but we’ll go a long way to make sure our life fits our self image.

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Proof in the Pudding: Research Reveals the Power of Video Marketing

You may be well aware of why video marketing is a highly effective marketing tool, but what can you do to convince others, like your co-workers, boss or partner to get on board? There are so many viable reasons everyone should use video marketing, but here are the most compelling:

  • Everyone is Watching – If you want to reach all of your customers, including potential ones, bear in mind that everyone enjoys watching video, and today’s mobile devices make it easier to watch anytime, anywhere. Research studies have shown that in 2012, 78 percent of people watched at least one video per week with at least 55 percent watching each day. On YouTube alone, there were over four billion views daily; making it the second largest search engine besides Google, which now owns YouTube.
  • Your Competition is Already Using It – The chances are good that your competition is already using video marketing. According to MarketingProfs.com, the use of online video content as part of a marketing campaign continues to rise steadily, with 81 percent of senior marketing executives saying they use it with great success.
  • Easily Accessible and Sharable – More consumers are comparing products and services by searching online. For example, in 2012, video results came up in nearly 70 percent of the top 100 search listings on Google. Social media ties into all this, because it has an effect on Google search results, and you can use it to attract visitors to your website. Remember, YouTube is also a search engine, meaning videos there rank higher in Google results. The numbers are staggering: People share more than 700 YouTube videos on Twitter every minute of every day, and they watch over 500 years-worth of YouTube videos on Facebook.
  • A Sticky Storyteller – According to MarketingCharts.com, more than 60 percent of consumers will gladly spend at the minimum, two minutes, to watch a video that teaches them more about a product they are interested in buying. Using images and audio, video becomes an effective storyteller that keeps visitors on your website.
  • Encourages Real Time Feedback – People are comfortable leaving comments on videos, and you can use this as a tool to learn what your consumers want and expect from your product or service. Comments can also help you gauge the effectiveness of your video marketing, too.
  • Measurable Results – You can use analytics software programs to measure the success rate of your videos. There are many available, including Google and Adobe analytics. This means no more guesswork, and with the resulting numbers, you and your team can decide what works – and what does not for increased sales and improving your marketing program going forward.
  • The Gift That Keeps on Giving – Unless you take dire action to remove them, your videos remain on the Web, and on search engine results, like Google, for a long time. Although you will need to spend money to promote your video initially, your video will stay online and continue to get your message out there; minimizing the amount you spent in the beginning over the course of time.
  • Bottom Line: Video Sells – According to research conducted by Retail Touchpoints, those who watched a video were a whopping 174 percent more apt to purchase a product or service than those who did not. However, the video must be entertaining, yet relevant, and contain clear calls to action and objectives in order to be an effective marketing tool. Consumers want to know why they need to purchase your product or service, and what they need to do next to buy it easily.
  • A Simple Way to Connect – Use video to connect with consumers using promotions, advertisements, instructional Web series or video blogs, also known as a vblogs, because people are just waiting to watch. They like to take video with them on their phones and tablets, mainly because they are interested in a specific topic, or need a way to pass the time while waiting in line or traveling. Therefore, with mobile video you have the awesome potential to put your product in people’s hands, helping them to understand everything about what you offer, and placing them just one click away from buying, which is the whole point.

Video has provided marketers with an even playing field to compete, because even though the larger, more established brands have bigger budgets for production and promotion, the key to success is being compelling and creative while targeting your consumers in order to attract, engage and retain them for the long term.

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You Can Only Sell What Customers Understand

Full disclosure: some of us display "honorary degrees" from the university of life.

This is something doctors have known for a long time, with their walls full of reassuring degrees, their white coats and their prescription pads. A good doctor does not give complex, Latin-laden explanations, or ask you to read their dozen-or-so publications, no matter how impressive those things may be to their colleagues. Instead, they say what’s wrong in layman’s terms, and give you a way to fix the problem as easily as possible.

The same rule of selling should apply to all professions.

Because it doesn’t matter how “expert” you are, or how brilliant your work appears to people with a deep understanding of your field. What matters is communicating value to the people who hold the purse strings.

Here are some things that matter to them:

  • How you treat them
  • How the end result of your work benefits them

A sales video best serves by focusing on these.

If you want to talk more about the theory of what you do, you can do a series of educational videos or blog posts (these actually help build the scaffolding of trust necessary to reach a sale, see: “Don’t Be That Guy”), but even in creating educational materials, you should keep your audience in mind. Remember: you’re not selling to yourself or to your industry. You’re selling to the client.

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