Online Video: A Small Business Owner's Friend
In December 2005, a small start-up company launched a site that allowed users to post their own video clips. By July 2006, the site had become the web's fastest-growing site, generating 100M video views and 65,000 video uploads a day. In October 2006, the company was bought by Google for $1.65 Billion. That company was YouTube.
Consider the ramifications of the following figures according to YouTube's statistics page:
Dealing with Mobile and Devices:
Small Business Owners can not ignore the huge numbers of potential clients that online video can bring to your website. One common complaint that I hear from Small Business Owners is that they don't have the resources or the knowledge to create or edit video that they can upload to YouTube. I have compiled a list of Online Video Making Resources. So, why wait? Get out there and create!
Online Video Making Resources
Animoto is a great site that turns photos, video clips, and music into stunning video masterpieces to share. It is very fast and easy. Animoto also offers commercially licensed music that is sellable with a professional license. You can make a 30 second movie for free, but has limited styles and music. You can download your movies for burning to a DVD or share the videos to YouTube easily.
Stupeflix: Stupeflix allows users to create video mixes of photos video clips and music. Some of their features include: Video theme templates, the ability to add photos and video clips from social media or a local computer. Users can also edit text, add maps and use Stupeflix's text to speech capability which makes voiceovers a snap. Users are also able to choose from over 130 licensed music tracks, or they may upload their own music as well. Pricing plans include: Personal $5/month: for unlimited videos, 360 video quality or Personal HD $8/mo.: HD720/360p video quality. Stupeflix offers a Pro version for $39/mo. which allows users to white label videos and use commercial licensing. Their Reseller package is $59/mo. and allows users reseller licensing (sell videos to clients)
Flixtime: - Allows users to create an account, upload pictures, video clips, and music. Users can add cover images for the clip and text slides. Users additionally can choose to save video in either 640 x 360 dimension, or iPod-friendly 320 x 180, and in either FLV, MP4, or DIVX formats. Videos can be 60 seconds long.
Holiday Marketing: A Lesson Learned from McDonald's McRib.
In the fall of 2011, McDonald's brought the McRib sandwich back nationwide for the first time in 16 years. The McRib has become a cult hit with fast food diners. Despite McRib's limited availability of a few weeks, McDonald's posted a nearly 5% increase in sales in November 2011 presumably due to the return of the sandwich. McRib disappeared from McDonald's nationwide menus just as it did the year before, leaving McRib fans to nurse a yearlong craving for the novelty sandwich.
The Secret to the Success of McRib: Limited Availability.
What makes the McRib such a hit among its fans? I believe that the popularity of the McRib stems from its limited availability. It is only available in the fall. By limiting the release of the sandwich to only the fall, McDonalds has created demand that is seasonally based. We associate seasons with foods that we eat. For instance, I love eggnog. I feel excited when the weather turns cold because I know that soon eggnog returns to the shelves. Cranberries are another example of a food item that we eat mainly during the fall and winter. By keeping McRib a seasonal product, McDonalds lets its loyal McRib enthusiasts enjoy the thrill of rediscovering their beloved sandwich every year. Small business owners should take a lesson from McDonalds. Consider promoting a product or service that you only offer during limited times of the year. You may just create a loyal following of dedicated fans.
photo credit: Calgary Reviews - Some Rights Reserved http://www.flickr.com/photos/calgaryreviews/5901096115/
Business, Marketing, and Life Lessons Learned From My First Job: Paperboy
I couldn’t wait to turn eleven. Turning eleven was big deal - You had to be eleven to become a paperboy. My first job as a paperboy taught me many lessons in Business, Marketing, and Life.
Business Lessons Learned
Getting Paid Is Difficult -
We had to Collect Money directly from our customers. We had to go collecting every month. It was the least favorite activity for us. – Usually the boys would say,: “I want to go and buy some comic books – I have to go collecting”. No collecting = no money. Sometimes I would have a customer who would refuse to pay – we could negotiate with them, or use our “nuclear” option: Stop delivery.
It Takes Supplies to Get the Job Done -
You had to make sure that you had enough rubber bands and plastic bags on hand in the case of foul weather. Rain spelled disaster for a paperboy. Fortunately, the bags and the rubber bands were free.
Risk is Always Present in business –
I had to content with dogs (Everyone knows that dogs hate Paperboys), rain, ice, hills, cars and accidents. On one occasion, I was knocked unconscious when the straps of my paper bag came undone and wound around the front wheel of my bike which sent me flying through the air with no helmet – I woke up in a twisted mess with the bike in the gravel on the side of the road with a goose egg on my head.
Do it Right The First Time -
We got charged $1 for every complaint we got from someone who couldn’t find their paper or if the paper was wet or under the car or not delivered. Every paper I threw had a $1 risk associated with it. If I threw the paper a little off course, I had to stop and fix it. I couldn’t afford complaints.
Marketing Lessons Learned
Marketing moves the world –
The advertising section of the Sunday paper was dropped off to me on Friday morning. All the ads were already sold – we just had to wait until Sunday to get the actual news section of the paper that was always smaller than the advertising section. The ad section was very important
Perks are a great reward-
Every job has its perks. My mom got the coupons first, and our group of paperboys got rewarded with pizza parties for having low numbers of complaints. The best perk of all: People Tip for a job well done. We got to see our customers face to face each month when we collected money. If you did a good job, you most often got a tip. Christmas time was the best time to collect. During the holidays there were always tips, gifts, and treats.
You Need Data to Make Decisions-
Every day we had a printout of the new subscribers to the paper and the ones that want to be removed from paper service. The list also showed us any complaints that customers had made to the newspaper. I had a very valuable list in front of me. The list shows me my “difficult” clients as well as my new clients that I needed to impress. Most important of all was the list of those who wanted to be removed from the list. I knew which ones I had serviced poorly and exactly why they were quitting the paper. It was a sobering fact to see that my revenue was based upon how happy I kept my customers.
How to Assess a Deal –
Trash collection happened 2 times a week and we would get first pick at what people were throwing away. One mans trash is another mans treasure. There were always treasures to be found that people put out on the curb as trash. Some of these treasures were “Fools Gold”, and really deserved to be in the trash. However, other treasures were wonderful to find.
Work is Work –
Newspapers are a dirty business – your hands and your paper bag was always soiled from the ink. The ink got onto your clothes as well. It was hard work.
Deadlines are important –
All papers had to be delivered by 6am. No exceptions
Life Lessons Learned
People Do Bad Things -
At 11 years old, I was well aware of the ugly side of humanity. I have seen next-door neighbors steal the paper from their neighbor. People would lie and say that their paper was not delivered, when I knew that I had put one on their driveway. I always had that one difficult person who would constantly complain to get free papers or a discount on their subscription. Larry, my paper dealer, who I turned in my collection money to and who brought the stacks of newspapers to my front porch every day, ended up stealing all the money that we as a group of paperboys collected and skipped town.
Know when to ask for help -
Sunday papers were brutal on us paperboys. Luckily, Dad agreed to drive me around in the car on Sundays. That made life a lot easier for me. Sometimes the paper was so big on Sunday that I had to take two loads to complete the route. My Dad liked to help. He thought that the hard work was good for me. He was right. I am grateful to my Dad because on more than one occasion he would come into the entryway of our house where I had fallen asleep folding papers at 4am to nudge me awake.
Work is a Fraternity –
All my friends who had paper routes were done at 6am as the sun came up. We would meet on Saturdays at a convenience store for a healthy breakfast of chili-cheese hot dogs while playing arcade video games and reading the latest comic books. After all, we could afford it. We were self-employed micro business owners who were flush with cash because we always went collecting on Fridays; Because everyone knows Friday is payday.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons License, Some rights Reserved: rosscrawford1
I have had many inventors as clients that come to me for marketing assistance. They all have the same problem: the product isn’t selling. They all came up with a brilliant idea, patented it, found a manufacturer, and sunk their savings into production run of their invention. Now they are broke, sitting on a garage full of their great idea gathering dust. What is really funny is that most of the inventions seem like they would sell. They seem like wow! This is a great product! But, no one purchases the product. Sometimes the best inventions don’t sell in the marketplace. Sometimes the best product doesn’t sell. Consumers are fickle. They are taken by fads. They are predictable in one moment and erratic in the next. Even when the product is extensively tested in the marketplace there can be unpredictable results. Just ask Coca-Cola. Remember “New Coke” formula that was introduced in April 1985. It tested well in focus groups. It was abandoned 3 moths later due to 400,000 complaint letters and phone calls that Coca-Cola received from disappointed customers.
The Small Business Google Search Nightmare.
One of my clients is a local handyman. He came in to talk with me about marketing his business more effectively. He was concerned because his clients weren’t finding his business online. I typed the search term “handyman las vegas” into Google. The Google search returned 2.2 million results! We don’t even have 2.2 Million people in Las Vegas. My client was also not pleased to see his closest 25 competitors fighting it out on the first page of Google’s search results. He asked me how it was possible for a small business to compete against so many similar businesses. Our conversation led to a discussion on Differentiation.
What is Differentiation? Be Different – Be Better
Differentiation is strategically deciding to make your business different from your competition, while at the same time making it better as well. Differentiation allows companies that sell similar products to justify pricing fluctuation between brands. For example, Texaco, Shell, Citgo, and Chevron all sell gasoline. They all charge differently for their product. Why? Because each product has been differentiated from the other. In Las Vegas, the most expensive gas comes from Chevron, then Texaco, Shell and finally Citgo. Citgo is sold exclusively at 7-11 convenience stores. One of the ways that Citgo is differentiated from Chevron is that you can buy a Slurpee and a BigBite hot dog while you are pumping gas. At Chevron, Texaco, and Shell you can’t. But you probably can purchase a car wash. Many Chevron, Texaco, and Shell stations are paired with car wash services. This is something that you will rarely see at a 7-11. You have to be able to set your business apart from your competition and then be better.
5 Tips on How to Be Better Than Your Competition
1. Make differentiation part of your overall marketing strategy
2. Know your customers and give them what they want and need
3. Don’t try to compete head-to-head with a rival. Find your niche instead
4. Add value in all areas of your business: Operations, Finance, and Marketing
5. Branding helps you remember your promise to your customer
I was watching a video of Seth Godin http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/ where he talks about 7 Kinds of Broken Business or Marketing Processes. Seth is a master marketer; he gets it. One of his types of broken was “Broken on Purpose”. I thought to myself, who makes a business process that is broken on purpose? Well, I found one myself: The Department of Motor Vehicles. Some might say, hey Mike, that’s is not a big surprise- everyone knows that he DMV is the worst place you could spend your day. But, I will tell you that here in Nevada the DMV has made significant improvements in the last 20 years. When I got my license at 16, we had to follow multicolored lines, painted on the floor that started at the front entrance of the DMV. It was confusing, it was de-humanizing, and it was ineffective; people kept bumping into each other because they were looking at the floor. The DMV has come a long way. Now they have modern facilities where automated “Now Serving number A43 at window 17” voices direct you to the person waiting to help you. It usually takes less than an hour to get your business finished at the DMV. Yes, the DMV has come a long way, however, they haven’t come far enough.
I was trying to register my vehicle with the DMV Online Registration Service. I got home from work and got on the website only to find this message: Sorry the Online System is Currently Closed. Closed? What do you mean closed? I must have read it wrong – perhaps the system is down for maintenance? No. They were closed. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME IN THIS DAY AND AGE – HOW CAN A WEBSITE BE CLOSED? Isn’t that the purpose of having a website instead of a brick-and-mortar store? If you can’t purchase something from an online store – what is the point? Imagine Amazon.com or ebay.com saying: sorry our store is closed, please come back tomorrow during normal operating hours. This is not only illogical, but it is also BROKEN. Seth Godin was right.
My Favorite Superbowl 2011 Ads
I have always watched the Superbowl for the ads. Yes, the game is always good to watch, but the ads are spectacular in their own right. I have broken my nominations down by catagory for your review.
BEST USE OF ANIMALS - My 2 favorites in this catagory are: "Bridgestone - Carma" and "CareerBuilder - Parking Lot".
There is nothing better than a pleasant marketing surprise! While nursing a cold, I purchased a bag of my usual Halls Cough Drops. I noticed that they had re-designed their packaging as I hurriedly popped one in my mouth. I was about to throw the wrapper away when I discovered a pleasant surprise: “A Pep Talk in Every Drop”.
Halls, in a brilliant marketing move, has placed little “Pep Talk” messages on the wrapper. Mine included: “Bet on yourself”, “High-five yourself”, “Put a little strut in it”, “March forward”, and “Turn can-do into can-did”. The cost of this campaign must have been miniscule to Halls, since they are currently printing their logo on the wrapper anyway. By the way, the Halls logo is printed over a dozen times on the little wrapper – surrounding the “Pep Talk” messages.
This little wrapper which normally is quickly disposed of remained on my desk, I didn’t throw it away. And I have to admit, I felt a little better after reading the wrapper. It had the same emotional appeal as a fortune cookie with one exception: everyone who is using this product is feeling ill. Duh! That is why we use Halls – because we are sick and not feeling our best. Isn’t that when we all need a pep talk? Sure, there are days when we feel sick; both emotionally and physically. It is at those times when we reach for a Halls Cough Drop. Halls get it and gets us. What a perfect example of product positioning and understanding the mindset of your target market.
I researched this campaign and found out that it had been running throughout 2010. Apparently, I don’t get sick often enough. Below are video links to the TV ads for the campaign.
Thank you Halls for the “Pep Talk”
Target is back again this year with their brilliant ad campaign for Black Friday - Featuring the high strung and about to crack holiday loving shopper. This year her sister is not present. We get to enjoy her holiday neurosis all to ourselves. What is great about the creative in this campaign is the fact that we all know someone like her, and we all secretly want to like her in some way: devoted to our cause of choice. Hers just happens to be Black Friday. Target included a heavy social media component to their campaign which fetures video, text messaging, Twitter, and Facebook. If last year's campaign was any indicator of this year's success, it will do it job very well: Bring shoppers out in droves for holiday shopping during a bad economic time.
Marketing kudos to Target. I will be in line at 4am on November 26th.
A couple of weeks ago, the City of Henderson, NV hosted Wild Fest, a 3-day long country themed fair that included carnival rides and games. One of my favorite Carnival games is the shooting range. Of course I had to try my luck. The shooting range has one simple rule: shoot all the red area of the target and you win! This is easier said than done as the red area is in the shape of a star. I posted my results to the left. I got very close, however I did not win the prize. Despite my pleas to the carnival worker, he repeated the rules to the game: you have to shoot all the red area of the target to win. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. It got me thinking about marketing. If your fail to hit your target market in business, you lose. Even though you might be close, you lose. How important it is that we as small business owners focus on hitting our proper target markets so that we can win in the carnival of business. In business, close doesn’t count. There are no medals for second best. Make sure you are aiming and hitting the right target in your small business.
Productize Your Service
Every service business has one major problem: You only earn money when you are performing your service. In a business that sells services, there is a limit on how many you can perform a day. Even when business is booming, you only have 24 hours in the day that you can work. Whether you are an interior designer, accountant, or window washer, you have the same problem.
THE SOLUTION: PRODUCTIZE YOUR SERVICE.
What does it mean to “productize” your service? It means to take some aspect of what you provide as a service company and put it into a tangible product. Take the knowledge and expertise in your field and create a product based on this knowledge. You can sell your product online 24 hours a day, without you as the service provider being there in person. Here are a few examples: The interior designer could create a DVD series that helps people to decorate their homes. The accountant could write a “how-to” book for small business owners that would teach them how to use financial accounting software. The window washer could create their own brand of window washing solution, formulated to work in our climate conditions. All of these solutions help to grow the brand of the service company. Brands demand more money in the marketplace. If your service business creates and grows its own brands, it will ultimately be worth more when you decide to sell it or merge it with another company.
As an expert service provider in your field, what kind of product could you come up with to promote your business? Productize your business today!
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