Category Archives: Marketing

The Obligatory Google+ Post

gplus-thumb


The nerdosphere (a place I proudly call home) has been on fire the last two weeks with the introduction of Google+, the search giant’s latest foray into social media. There’s a lot of talk about it being a Facebook or Twitter killer, but here’s my take:

The Bad News: It’s Too Early to Tell

I was one of the lucky few that was able to get into Google+ (G+) that first night they introduced it. (Thanks to a swell guy named Anthony Horton). It was a bright shiny thing, and all new and stuff. It still has that new car smell, but there are a few stray french fries aging under the seat, and we’ve thrown out the protective paper mats a while ago.

I've Moved to G+ Shortly into week 1, the “I’ve Moved” images started showing up in my Facebook timeline. While I knew it was true that many people loath Facebook, and their convoluted ways of doing things, and seemingly never ending quest to define how the internet works these days, I found it a little odd that people would be jumping ship for G+ this early into the game. After all, G+ has barely opened up for general consumption, and they admit that they have a number of things to address, before they’re ready for the general public.

The key here is that Google is addressing the issues, heck, they’ve already addressed some of them, no small feat turning a ship the size of Google so quickly. Facebook? They’re moving at the pace you’d expect a huge corporation to move at.

The biggest surprise to me, is the seeming lack of response from Twitter. Most of the people I’m connected with on G+ come from my network on Twitter. Many of them have been talking about ditching Twitter for G+ rather than Facebook. Twitter should be worried. Granted, the early adopters who populate my G+ circles aren’t using either Twitter or G+ for purely social reasons, to them (and to some extent me) Social Media is a source for professional networking in a more relaxed atmosphere than sites like LinkedIn. They aren’t using Facebook to play those gol dern Facebook games, or flare, or hugs, or pokes, or whatever; they aren’t using Twitter to update people with any of the inane things that TV commercials say people use Twitter for; they won’t be using G+ like either of that either.

The Good News: It’s too Early to Tell

So should your business move to Google+? Well, technically you can’t be quite yet, but soon you will be able to. It’s a little too early, as Google builds up the G+ user base (OK, community) in preparation of launching pages/profiles for businesses, but if you’re using social media for your business, here’s what I’ve been telling my clients:

  • Don’t be in too much of a rush to join – Sure it’s tempting to be in the initial rush, and be seen as an early adopter (Like Ford for example), But unless you’re a global brand, with the resources to dedicate additional time to another social network, you risk diluting your social media presence.
  • Don’t be in too much of a rush to leave – If you use any social site for business, the worst thing you can do is to not be present. How many abandoned MySpace accounts are out there languishing away, telling everyone that the owner has moved on to the next big thing? Step back and evaluate what’s working (or not,) and why it’s working (or not.) Ready to ditch your Twitter account? Take a look at your stream, and do an honest assessment, have you really interacted there, or is your Tweet stream just a list of sales pitches and auto-DM’s? If it is, Google+ will make your head spin with interaction. Sales pitches stand out like sore thumbs, and unless your target market is other sales pitchers who don’t interact, you won’t be included in any relevant circles.
  • Watch it, don’t just ignore it – The business account waiting period is actually a good thing for your business: it gives you the opportunity to see how this whole thing plays out without having to dedicate a lot of time to it. In the mean time, make sure your Google Places listing is in good shape, as it’s the most likely way that businesses are going to be brought into Google+.

The Social Media Numbers Game

Validate My Questionable Social Media Strategy

Validate My Questionable Social Media Strategy
One of my first jobs when I was fresh out of college was as a marketing assistant at a Sci/Tech publishing house. The main focus of the job was basically finding targeted direct mail lists in niche markets like organic chemistry, landscape management, wastewater treatment, and various human organ disease treatments. Exciting stuff, huh?

What it taught me was the value of targeting a niche rather than blasting a “universe” of potential buyers. We lived by direct mail, we could just as easily die by it, so if the lists I was able to find were right, all was well. The Marketing VP’s instructions to me were clear: “Find me small, targeted lists, we don’t mail to everyone.”

Flash forward 20+ years (sheesh, has it been that long?), and while direct mail is basically a thing of my past, the same principles apply to the Social Media world: small, targeted groups are generally better than large swaths of faceless “likers.”

Ahh if only the rest of the world would understand this. There’s a real numbers game happening in the social media world these days. It seems that in the race for national brands and local businesses to jump on the social media bandwagon, targeting has fallen by the wayside. I see what some social media consultants are pushing on clients who don’t know any better: the more Facebook likes, the more Twitter followers, the better. Well I call BS.

In his new book Social Media ROI (affiliate link), Olivier Blanchard gives the following example:

Then I asked him, “What is the value of having 25,000 followers on Twitter? To your company, I mean.”

He hesitated and finally answered, “More reach. More impressions.”

Then I explained to him, “Does a company want a million followers on Twitter or a million net new customers acquired through Twitter?”

He’s spot on, the number of followers you have on Twitter, or the number of Likes you get on Facebook mean nothing if you are not engaged with them. It’s pretty easy to bulk up a Twitter follower count; just auto follow everyone, and wait for the bots to descend, soon you tweet stream will be filled with valuable offers on all sorts of fun things. But shouting a sales message out to a bunch of uninterested (and in some cases, not even human) followers is kind of pointless, isn’t it? I mean, sure the social media consultant that’s sold you “follower count as proof of effectiveness” will be thrilled, but they’re probably going to be even more thrilled when you pay their bill.

What This Means for Local Businesses

If you’re a local small business, say a CPA firm here in New Jersey, and you are interested in using Twitter to generate referrals for your business, what’s more important: 1,000+ followers on Twitter, most of whom will never use your service, let alone read your Tweets, or 200 small business owners who need your service, and are looking for ways to make their lives a little bit easier?

So don’t play the numbers game. Right now, our @brunswickmedia Twitter account has 322 followers, not a huge number, but a respectable number. Could we be more engaged with them: we sure could. Do I care if that number climbs to 10,000: Meh.

An Aside: The Thing That Set Me Off On This Post

I saw a tweet earlier today from a “NJ based consulting service” that offers social media as part of their service offerings. Here’s the Tweet, with the names and link removed:

I just unfollowed @USER_NAME_X right back. Thanks to #NutshellMail for showing me quitters!

Wow! Really? Someone unfollowed you, and as a social media services provider, you felt it was a good idea to retaliate against them by calling them out, and calling them “quitters”? Spiteful & petty, that’s their brand to me now. Sure it “hurts” when someone unfollows you, but is it really necessary to scream at them as they leave? The consulting service is playing the numbers game. Don’t do that.

I just watched Scott Stratten’s recent keynote from an Adobe conference last night, and this particular part came to mind:

Don’t throw shoes at people either. 🙂

(And if you get the time, watch Scott’s full keynote; it’s well worth the time.)

Good News: Your Blog Stinks (But So Does Mine)

stinks-thumb


Procrastination is the Kryptonite to blogging’s Superman. We’re all guilty of it; you get caught up in the everyday business of running your business, and yet another day goes by and your poor, lonely blog sits idly by, neglected until you ignore it tomorrow.

There are almost unlimited blog posts & articles about using content to drive traffic to your site, and it’s true. Blogs are a great way to add fresh content to your site, whether it’s a post musing on how your blog stinks, or a video. The conventional wisdom is: fresh content is a good thing, old (stale) content is a bad thing. I say balderdash!

Tipping My Hand

I was knee-deep in my analytics program yesterday, and noticed that nearly 40% of the traffic coming to this website is coming from old (stale) content. In fact, the top draw to the site is a blog post (rant) that just turned 3-years-old:Video Production Rates. The second best traffic draw, Coleman… The Origin of Social Networking? is nearly 2-years-old. Long Tail marketing in action! (<--- That's an Amazon affiliate link BTW) This is the power of content, and why it's such a critical part of your marketing strategy, it's also a reminder that investing time in your blog now, can continue to pay off long into the future. So embrace the fact that your blog stinks, vow to add content on a more regular basis, and don't feel too bad about yourself when you don't; your old (stale) content will be there working for you.

Save Money: Avoid the Creep

Ivy-Covered Building in Salem by fuzzcat

We’ve all had those kinds of projects: what starts out as a “simple” defined project with a quick turnaround turns into a 8-month monster that covers all bases for everybody.

Scope creep, project creep, requirement creep, whatever you call it, it’s always a budget and timeline buster. Videos are no exception to creep; in fact, they’re probably more susceptible to it than other projects. Maybe it’s the novelty of seeing a camera crew on-site, but as soon as the lights go on, it seems like everyone in the office suddenly gets another great idea for the video, and just as suddenly, the 5-minute employee orientation video becomes a 45-minute epic rivaling Cleopatra in both running time and cost.

So if it’s such a common problem, it must be the way to do it, right? Wrong. While it’s always tempting to add “just one more thing” to the video (or web site, or brochure, or postcard, or…) managing project creep will save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration. So here are a few tips for managing scope creep on your next video (with us):

  1. Committees plan, Producers implement – Ok, let’s start with the toughest one: I’ve worked for a number of companies, I understand that the idea for doing a video usually pops up in a committee or staff meeting, you’re put “in charge” of it, but the rest of the committee all want their input into the project, the boss wants the final OK, and her/his boss wants to put her/his stamp on it. As soon as the idea arises (or as soon as you’re able to do it) define the role of the committee as a planning and advisory group. Be firm, stand your ground.

    There is nothing worse for a video (or your sanity, or the editor’s sanity for that matter) than to have a room-full of people making edits, additions, and “creative choices” to a project once it’s been shot and is in the middle of editing; it adds time to the editing process, usually requires reshoots, and costs money. Be the Executive Producer, and manage the flow of edits/changes between your company and the video producers. There’s nothing more time consuming than a set of 6 or 10 edit lists, each contradicting each other. Manage the flow, combine the edits into a master list, save time and money.

    What this will save: Time, Sanity, Money

    How Much: It’s hard to put a price on sanity, but it could be big bucks in the end.

    Harness the creativity of the committee at the beginning of the process. Pour everyone’s ideas and energy at the front end of the project into the most important parts of the video: the Treatment and the Script.

  2. Have a Treatment – A script treatment is a planning document used to gather your ideas for a script into one place. While there are any number of ways to write a treatment, I’ve found it easiest to have clients develop a numbered outline of everything they (and the committee) want in the video. You and the committee members are probably pretty familiar with putting together an outline, and there’s no reason to have to let formatting the document get in the way of producing it.

    An outline (treatment) allows you to get everyone’s thinking down on paper, and see where some ideas meet, and can be combined, or logically placed together. It also focuses the committee members’ attention on “the big picture” (pun intended) giving them an overview of just how much everyone wants to put into the video.

    What this will save: Time & Money

    How Much: Countless hours time-wise, could-be thousands money-wise.

  3. Have a script BEFORE the Shoot – My fellow video folks just cringed a little, because we’ve all fallen victim to this on one project or another. The shoot day(s) are scheduled, the cast and crew are booked, equipment is checked and loaded… ahhh we just need a little more time with the script. The shoot is done, footage is captured, the editor is chomping at the bit… ahhh we just need a little more time with the script.

    The script is the roadmap of the project, without it, well… without a script there is no video, that is unless you’re going for that Andy Warhol shoot-and-see vibe. If you’re working with actors, there really is no sense in shooting until the script is finalized.

    A video script also focuses the producer’s and director’s work on set. A script gives them the tool they need to plan the shoot, and make style, design, equipment, and crew choices before they arrive. A script guides the editor as they pull the footage into an intelligible video. If your video includes a voice-over actor, it tells them what to say. Until the script is finished, polished, and thoroughly edited, it really makes no sense to even start the rest of the process. Scripts are kind-of ĂĽber-important.

    What this will save: Time & Money

    How Much: It could be thousands if you have to reschedule or reshoot

  4. Stay On-Message – The added benefit to all of this up-front planning is that it allows you to see just how much everyone wants to put into the video. This is a blessing in disguise: Let’s say you’re putting together a treatment for a safety training video for the manufacturing facility, but the HR representative keeps adding in office-related material. Sure you could double the length of the video, and make everyone watch the whole thing, but with this little treatment thing you’re doing, it’s a snap to plan separate videos; one for the manufacturing floor employees, and one for the office employees. Plan the shoot day(s) with the video producers, repeat the common parts of the script, and for a little extra planning and editing time, you have two custom videos for a little more.

    Repeat the process for as many videos as you’d like. Keep the message, or story in each video as tight and succinct as possible, and re-purpose the common elements. This keeps your story focused, improves message retention, and decreases the time needed for training.

    What this will save: Time & Money

    How Much: (Number of employees x amount of time in training x employee salaries for that time) + (lots of $$ on reshoots) = Quite a bit.

  5. Keep Your Ducks in a Row – Sometimes projects, usually videos are held up over small details. You know, legal clearances, the plant manager not knowing the crew is shooting that day, the union rep not knowing… We’ve run into this kind of delay before. While it’s generally OK to tape in a workplace, consult your legal department well before the video crew arrives. If legal wants to be extra-sure about it, ask your producer for sample release language, and have each employee sign a release stating that they may be taped, and that the footage will be used for internal training purposes. That keeps everyone informed, and avoids delays. How does this save you money? Delays waiting for legal approvals open the process up to “just a few more tweaks” from someone. Unsigned releases have also been know to cause the scrapping of entire segments of video, requiring reshoots, or less than graceful video edits to cover the footage that has to be dropped.

    As far as the plant manager and/or union reps go, make sure they are part of the committee planning the video, and know exactly when the shoot day(s) are, what needs to be running on those days. It also gives them a chance to spruce up the place before it’s all caught on video.

    What this will save: Time & Money

    How Much: Several hundred to several thousands of dollars.

  6. Clean Up Your Act – Producing an on-site video has a curious side-effect: it focuses attention on each part of your facility instead of as people normally see it, as a whole. We’ve done videos before, shot on-site for a couple of days, edited the footage into a first cut, and had to scrap it all because the plant manager/VP/President didn’t like the way the facility looked on the video. We call it the site-survey effect. Bring in the maintenance department, paint what should be painted, sweep what should be swept, change burned-out light bulbs, repair holes in walls, and generally tidy up the place in anticipation of the video crew arriving.

    What this will save: Time & Money

    How Much: Several hundred to several thousands of dollars.

So there are a few ideas for free, for your next (or current) video project. While these focus on producing an industrial safety or training video, hopefully you’ll find something you can use.

Image Credit: Ivy-Covered Building in Salem by fuzzcat

Coleman… The Origin of Social Networking?

Print ad from the Coleman website
Just caught a spot while watching The Deadliest Catch that caught my attention… which is saying something these days. The spot for The Coleman Company (THE camping equipment folks) makes the bold claim that Coleman is “The Original Social Networking Site”… well, actually, I’m not really sure if that claim is about the website or about any campsite using Coleman equipment, but that’s not the point of this.

It’s a bold statement indeed, enough to make me jump online and check out the Coleman website to see all of the cool things a venerable old company like Coleman was doing with social media… ummm, one word comes to mind: FAIL.

Here’s one of the TV spots:
(Oh, wait, they don’t give users the ability to share the videos through their social networks.

That’s OK, I’ll use their YouTube channel:
(I’ve been unable to find a Coleman channel on Youtube.)

How about Vimeo.com:
(Umm, this is starting to get embarrassing, nothing on Vimeo.)

Let’s try Dailymotion.com:
(Nada.)

OK, so maybe video sharing is a little too much to expect, I’ll just pop over to Twitter, and see what their Tweet Stream says about all of this, after all, they invented Social Media, surely they’ll have a presence on the fastest growing SM site… Don’t bother, they’re not there.

Facebook? Oh yeah!! We have Facebook… in fact, when you visit the Colman site, Facebook is the ONLY SM app they have a presence on, and the ONLY LINK under the “Start Networking” tab on the site. (And I’m sure they’re proud of their 850 or so fans… that’s right, 850 fans of a 109-year-old brand).

It’s such a shame when a possibly great campaign concept and beautifully executed “old” media pieces are overshadowed by the lack of follow through, or understanding. Coleman has a real chance to take a 100+ year old brand and bring it into the 21st century with this campaign, but unless they act fast, this campaign will end up being written off as an expensive mistake, and the only thing the company will “learn” from it is that “Social Media doesn’t work.”

According to joeytomatoes.com, the agency behind the campaign is Doner Advertising, a well respected group; so I’m not sure who will bear the brunt of the blame when this campaign fails or only succeeds mildly well.

To Coleman’s credit, they do have 2 free iPhone apps available… and desktop wallpaper, but since I’m a Blackberry user, I can’t tell you what the apps do, or if they are worth the download. (And they also provide an iTunes link to buy the music from the commercial.)

So let’s review, Coleman invented social networking, check. Coleman has a Facebook page, check. Coleman has iPhone apps, check. And that is the sum total of their Social Networking…

(Dear folks at Coleman and/or Doner Advertising: give me a call, drop me an email, find me on Twitter, or Facebook, or any of the other SM sites here. We’ll see what we can do to get the Coleman Social Networking program up and running. I would have left this all in a comment on your blog… but well, you know… YOU DON’T HAVE ONE.

Dear NYC Post-Production House:

The old three-calls-in-five-minutes ploy, eh?January 5, 2009
Dear NYC Post-Production House:

I would address this to you by your company name, but of the three people who just called me (within 5 minutes) on your behalf, none could speak English well enough for me to understand. Not that I didn’t ask each of them to say the name of the company again; it’s just that they chose not to respond to my question, they just continued on with the script.

Happy 2009 NYC Post-Production House! I’m glad to see that you’ve been doing so well, that you can afford to throw money down the drain on marketing that does not work! In fact, I’m sort of in awe of the fact that you are in such good shape financially, that you can afford to annoy potential customers. Was the three-calls-in-five-minutes strategy your idea, or something you worked out with the quasi-legitimate phone spammers? Whomever came up with that ploy is a genius! What better way to alert your potential customer base that you are doing so well?

And, may I say, what a bold, laugh-in-the-face-of-convention move it was to springboard into the, just-keep-calling-until-someone-has-a-stroke gambit. Brilliant!

Congratulations again, hope to see you in 2010!
Mike

It’s 2009 folks. We all aren’t doing quite as well as the NYC Post-Production House. Ask yourself this before you start firing employees and/or consultants: Am I wasting money on old marketing that annoys more potential customers than it brings in?

Here’s to a GREAT 2009!

On Being Fearless

How can I put this delicately?

There really is no way to… err… Have you ever been or known a 10-year-old boy? (Or or a 40-year-old one?)

Ummm….. Well, there really isn’t anyway to be delicate about this one. If you follow the link below, you’ll see that it’s:

  • puerile
  • sophomoric
  • uncouth
  • indelicate
  • One of the funniest holiday campaigns you’ll see this year.

Harry Hoover from My Creative Team, Inc. twittered an innocuous little post:

Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this: http://www.laughyourgasoff.com/

The only word I could come up with for my reaction was Gobsmacked. Yes, it is funny, and yes it should drive traffic to the site. I was gobsmacked by the guts it took to pitch this to the client, BernzOmatic, but even more gobsmacked at the guts of the BernzOmatic folks to OK the campaign.

So kudos to BernzOmatic, and to My Creative Team. Now, how can I pitch something like this to the folks at The Gutster?

Marketing is fun sometimes.

When in Doubt…Specialize

A couple of recent things have got me thinking about specialization. (Wow, what a lofty first sentence.)

EventDV July 2008 IssueThe July issue of EventDV magazine arrived on Friday, with perhaps the most memorable cover story I’ve seen in quite a long time: “Brian MacKenzie: Unicycling Glidecam Videographer.” Now, I’ve been at this video thing for a while, but I’ve never put those words together in one sentence. Talk about a specialist.

What struck me as I read the article, was just how matter-of-fact it is to him. Here’s a guy who just combined two of the things he does, that’s about it, but to us uninitiated folks, it seems like such a far-fetched combination, that no one could possibly put them together successfully. Well, he has, and seemingly quite well. Brian’s website is http://www.balanceproductions.ca/, if you’re looking for a Unicycling Glidecam Videographer.

The second thing that got me a-thinkin’ was a brief conversation with Tom Clifford (aka Director Tom,) who called me after I congratulated him in a blog comment on his new blogging gig at FastCompany. Like most conversations with video guys, the conversation turned to: “So what are you shooting these days?”

I told him about an ongoing project we’ve been doing for the Dome-Tech Group and one of their clients, Columbia University on their newest building Studebaker Hall. We’re documenting all of the building systems (HVAC, Fire Control, Building Management System, Plumbing, etc.) with reps from the installation companies for future reference; so 10 years from now, when a new boiler tech starts, he/she has access to just how each system works as-installed.

Tom seemed genuinely surprised when he said he’d never thought of that as a use for video before. (I’m paraphrasing) I suppose that’s one of our specialties here at Brunswick Media Services, but it never really struck me as anything out of the ordinary. For the most part, we do industrial & corporate video, which means on any given shoot, we’ll be crawling around a manufacturing facility taking shots of machines in action… a la Dirty Jobs, but without the slick on-camera hosting. So it was pretty natural for us to move into this kind of video: we know a bit about the machinery, we know a bit more about the video, voila: our specialty.

Sure we’ll shoot just about anything our clients need, but we’re at our best wearing steel-toe boots, and proper PPE with some Super-Axe-Hacker cranking away in front of the camera.

So what’s your specialty?

Tales of cellos, organizational performance, and Lavado de manos

One of the best things about this business is the broad range of businesses and topics you have to get to learn about during the course of any given day/week/month.

I wish I could remember who said it, it may have been Harry Beckwith, it may have been Tom Peters!, but “you never know where your clients will take you business.” Case and point(s): December 2007 – January 2008:

Organizational Performance

Altus Training Solutions
We just completed the web site for this training and organizational development firm in Camp Hill, PA. Earlier in 2007, we did the logo design for them. In the market for a little team building? Give Susan a call at Altus Training Solutions… and yes Susan, I think you have the coolest business cards in all of Camp Hill as well.

Cellos

Ashley Bathgate
OK, so this one is still technically in the works… We just launched the web site for this amazingly talented young cellist in advance of her Carnegie Hall debut in February 2008. In addition to the web work, we’ve designed the concert poster, post-cards, and are currently working on the program for the evening. Check out a few of her performance videos on her YouTube Channel.

Lavado de manos

Perhaps the most challenging (in a good way) project has been the translation of the Hartz Mountain Corporation cGMP video for the Bloomfield, NJ facility into Spanish. Since the last time I read this much Spanish was 5th period in St. Thomas Aquinas HS my Sophomore year, we were lucky to find a great partner in CTS LanguageLink. Oh, BTW… Lavado de manos = Hand Washing.

and the rest

As they say, meanwhile back in the studio…
– Currently working on the finishing touches to a promo video for a totally rad, local 80s cover band Amethyst
– Localized a few TV spots for the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ.
– Assorted ongoing projects with various organizations great and small…

Gotta run and do a press check, shoot a couple of scenes, debug a javascript, and whatever else comes up today.

Solid Thinking on Video Production

I’m a little late to the party with this, but well…no excuses.

If you don’t know about Thomas Clifford, you should. Tom is a corporate video producer, OK, some would say he’s THE corporate video producer.

I “cyber met” Tom through Squidoo, and his lens Corporate Video & Remarkable Storytelling last year. Right off the bat I knew I liked this guy, and his take on corporate video production.

Last month (August 2007) Tom published a “manifesto” through ChangeThis called Bring Your Brand to Life: Harnessing the Power of Remarkable Corporate Video Stories which is not only the most helpful guidebook I’ve seen for people thrown into the “go out and make a video after you finish your real job” cauldron, it neatly sums up the way you should be approaching all of your corporate communications.

I’m HIGHLY recommending it for all of our current and future clients.

Go download it now from ChangeThis, or from Brunswick Media Services.