Anxiety Reducers – Video Marketing

How often do you pick up your phone and shoot video without even thinking about it? Well, if you have young kids, you probably do it several times a weekend. Video is superb for many things (including keeping the grandparents happy), so why aren’t all small businesses taking advantage of this anxiety reducing medium?

Making videos used to mean big bucks, but not anymore. Here’s a few pieces of advice and links to help you make your first marketing video. This list is by no means exhaustive (I haven’t even touched on editing software for example), merely a taster to see that video is affordable, accessible and works.

  1. Making video is relatively easy and cost effective especially with the amazing technology in our smartphones, but sound quality is paramount for the end result to be watchable. Here the guys at Social Saturday Strategy show you a great way to get around the sound issue.
  2. Statistics show that adding video can significantly increase conversion rates and customer loyalty. (In case you need convincing!)
  3. Content can range from customer testimonials, product demonstrations, dialogues or monologues, but make sure the message is right and supportive of your marketing strategy. Have a look at these ‘how to’ guides for help with structure and objectives.
  4. Finally (for now), how do you get your video out to people once it’s made? Well, make sure it works on your website (homepage or landing pages, depending on your strategy) and, again from Social Saturday Strategy, get your video viewed.

I’d love to hear from you about your video dos and don’ts or examples of where it has really worked for your business, so leave your comments below.

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The good, the bad and the ugly things about holiday…

The good…going on holiday.

The bad…realising you haven’t written any blog posts and scheduled them to go live whilst you’re away.

The ugly…wondering if scheduling posts and updates to happen whilst you’re away is a good idea for a small business/sole trader? Does it make you look good that you’re always available and online? Or potentially damaging because you look like you’re there and contactable when you’re actually not. Discuss…

Should I run my business through Google?

Whilst researching webhosting options and working on another WordPress site, my thoughts turn to Google. Can I…? Should I…? Who else does…? …Run a business through Google?

When I say run a business, I mean my online presence and communications. Well for £3.30 per user per month it appears I can have my cake and eat it. Google Apps for Business seem to do everything a small business could want. Email, websites, calendars, video chat, groups, documents, mobile sync and more. You can even start with the free version if you don’t need it all and have under 10 users (which is more likely for me for now).

I’ve had my gmail account for a few years and have never had a problem accessing or using email. Now with Google+ and other things I’m running through it, such as adwords, reader etc, I genuinely believe that as Google works so well, then why not use it for business? Now, I’ve just got to convince the others and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Life Changes in 7 days – Countdown to Facebook Timeline

If you don’t already know, 30 March 2012 is when life changes forever.

Ok, slight exaggeration. It’s when we all get automatically updated to Facebook Timeline (the new Facebook pages layout), whether we like it or not.

You may have created your new-look page already and be perfectly happy with the timeline layout. Or you may be in complete panic mode and have no idea what this means or how to handle the change. My advice when it comes to Facebook is to use guides such as Nonprofit Facebook Guy who is unbelievably helpful. I often get lost trying to get the information I need directly from Facebook, so I use sites like this for a less stressful life.

Check out the video tutorial (only 3 and a half minutes) on customising the new pages. Even if you’ve been on Facebook for a while, now is a good time to make sure you’re using it to the fullest, so have a look at other sections, such as Newbies, for a refresh. I’ve got a couple of pages to change for people this week – here’s hoping all goes smoothly!

Most writing sucks – 5 ways to stop it

I’ve just read Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. It didn’t take long. It’s certainly more a novelty gift than a book, so don’t get your hopes up for anything revolutionary and read the reviews before parting with your money.

Why am I telling you this? Well, whether it’s a novel, a magazine article, or a company website, a lot of writing I read today sucks. It’s often carelessly written with a lack of understanding of audience engagement. So, I want to share a few basic things I’ve learnt over the years of writing press releases, case studies, websites and tweets, in the hope that it prevents silly mistakes and sloppy writing slipping into small business:

1. Spell check everything (just make sure what country your spell check is set to if you’re not sure when it should be a z or an s).

2. Grammar and punctuation still matter even in tweets, blogs and websites. Don’t fall into the trap of text speak – it’s not becoming of a professional business.

3. As much as possible, use active rather than passive language. For example: ‘I write’ rather than ‘I am writing’. An easy way to look for this is to check words ending in _ing and replace them with the more active form of the word. It may mean adjusting the sentence structure, however this is almost always beneficial to the flow of the copy.

4. Read your copy out loud. Always. See where you stumble and rewrite as necessary.

5. Avoid jargon and buzzwords. Read it to your gran or your ten year old. If they don’t get it, it may be poorly written. Complex concepts can be explained in plain English for anyone to understand with the right wording.

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll think up some more and let you know in due course.

Say it on camera

People buy from people. It’s a well known fact. If you’re selling online, whether it’s a product or service, testimonials can have a significant impact on turning a prospect into a customer. Words are great, but moving pictures are better. Here’s one I made earlier for Status Social following our intensive three day kick-start to the BTEC Level 3 Award in Social Media for Business. Enjoy 😉

Colour me happy!

So, I’m in the throes of designing a new site and also needing to give feedback on another. Following my attendance at Web Fuelled for Business this week, it has certainly boosted my confidence to give the advice that I would normally have given, but now I can say categorically this is what Doug Richard thinks too!

Interestingly, I’ve found over the years the one thing that is surprisingly difficult to get people to change or buy into is colour usage. Regardless of what sites you demonstrate and how you explain what attracts the eyes, decisions on colour still seem to be subjective rather than scientific.

I’m paraphrasing Doug here, but he made it really simple to understand:

Whatever you want people to take action on (register; call you; buy etc), that needs to be in an obvious ‘foreground’ colour to catch the eye. The rest should be in a less obvious ‘background’ colour. Take a quick look at his bootcamp site and decide which are the take action/foreground highlights and what is left more understated in the background. Interesting, isn’t it?

Oh, and one last thing…don’t use a black background. Yuk.