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Five Tips for Better Videos

I am really excited about today’s guest post, especially since I am now involved in the #ShutUpShow with my very good friend, Berni and my friend, Noeleen, is fantastic and offers up some great tips for you!! Please let me know which ones you find most useful.

©AUDIA NMcGrath 19 10 20013WEB 107x150 Five Tips for Better VideosNoeleen McGrath is the President of McGrath Comm. Her firm specializes in executive media training and executive presentation skills coaching. She recently launched a podcast, “Eat The Lens,” where she offers bite-sized tips to help you improve your on-camera performance. You can also find her on twitter as @McGrathComm and on google+.

As an executive media trainer and executive presentation skills coach, I work with many people to improve their on-camera performance. While the executives I work with usually perform at a very high level, occasionally I work with people who are new to being on-camera. Some are even trying to produce their own videos to promote their practices and businesses. Typically I start my coaching sessions with these professionals by reviewing videos that they have already produced. Without fail, I see the same mistakes over and over again. But with a little coaching– and a better understanding of video production—they show great improvement.

Here are some tips to help you improve your on-camera performance and appearance.

FIVE TIPS FOR BETTER VIDEOS

#1 Get some light on your face. Good lighting makes a HUGE difference to your on-camera appearance. The inexpensive option is to go outside. The downside is that if you’re like me you’ll squint in the sunlight. That’s why I invested in a professional video light for my office. I just set it up about five feet from my face and I look like a million bucks.

#2 Keep your messaging tight. Figure out what you want to say and don’t repeat yourself. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see beginners make. They are trying to talk their way through what they want to say and they wind up babbling like a brook. Practice off-camera first. Then record yourself.

#3 Keep your videos short. If it’s just you on-camera, don’t go longer than a minute.  That’s a long time to watch someone, especially if they aren’t really charismatic. If you’ve got some video to cover when you’re on-camera, then you can probably go two minutes.

#4 Make sure your camera is level with or higher than your face. The fastest way to create double chins is to have your camera or laptop shooting up at you. My advice is to buy a tripod for your camera. Or if you need to raise up your laptop– stack some dictionaries or phone books underneath it until the chins disappear.

#5 Smile! Nothing will endear you more to an audience than a great smile. Make it real. Make it warm. You will find that people will forgive most of your mistakes while you’re learning how to perform on-camera if you flash those pearly whites.

I Hate to Break The News: Effective Marketing is Hard. And Costs Money.

I am honored to present today’s guest post from Tom Snyder.  Tom Snyder, is founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a seventeen year old strategic marketing and communications firm that has embraced the web from the very beginning. Tom oversees the day to day operations of the firm, and lives in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife Marjie and their two dogs. When Tom isn’t busy making his clients look like marketing rock stars, he’s also a wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, political wonk, hopeless romantic and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Mini Guide to Realtime Marketing with Foursquare,” from Penguin Books.

smdeadend 139x150 I Hate to Break The News: Effective Marketing is Hard. And Costs Money.Broadcast advertising: DEAD!  Print advertising: DEAD! Direct Marketing: DEAD! Trade Shows: DEAD! Web sites: DEAD! Email Marketing: DEAD!  Long Live Social Media!!!!!

A lot of folks have been regarding me as a go-to source for Social Media marketing for several years. My marketing firm, Trivera, produced Social Media University, the first major Social Media conference in Milwaukee in 2009 (we picked Phil Gerbyshak as one of our professors).

So what I’m about to say may surprise you.

If I see one more expert blog about the demise of any traditional marketing vehicle at the hands of the next new shiny Social Media object, I just may vomit.

News Flash: NONE of them are dead, or even going away any time soon. And as much as some would like to believe that Social Media is the low cost silver bullet that will allow you to ignore other marketing vehicles, those people are kidding themselves.

Old time Marketers who have been around for awhile (i.e. since before SXSW), will tell you: New platforms don’t make it easier or cheaper to market your business. They never have and they never will.

Decades ago, there were marketers who hoped that this new fangled TV thing would be their savior, and they’d no longer need to use radio to reach their audience. The smart ones (and even the not-so-smart ones) soon realized that they needed to figure out how to strategically use BOTH to reach different market segments.

More recently came the promise that the web was going to eliminate both print and broadcast media. While some forged that path, others stubbornly refused to even pursue web-based marketing. But again, the most successful marketers figured out how to use all of them together. It cost more, but generated an even greater return.

Then came the marketers who rejoiced that email marketing would deliver them from the “high” cost of print and direct mail.  The wise ones found that successful digital campaigns, if done properly, could actually be even more expensive than the printed predecessors. But ironically, while even more expensive, those campaigns could still be more effective…and produce a greater ROI…when combined with direct marketing efforts using personalized URLs.

And now, most recently, businesses who resisted the high investment required for a strategically and professionally architected, effectively-developed, search engine optimized, well marketed web presence are celebrating the coming of “free” Social Media. With messianic fervor, they proclaim “the website is dead” only to be disappointed  as they bounce from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Foursquare to Pinterest with Wac-a-Mole-like effort, only to become serial Social Media failures. Now Instagram Video and Vine are the new shiny objects that will help them achieve their elusive, unfulfilled dreams of amazing success with little investment.

“When this 6 second video I shot for free with my iPad goes viral, my brand will finally take off!”

Gag.

Here’s the deal.  Effective marketing is hard. It requires expertise. Chances are you don’t have that expertise. So you’ll need to find help from someone who does.  And I don’t mean a friend’s son who “knows computers,” a Social Media “guru” whose only credentials are that they’ve been on Twitter since 2009 or even a 30 year old ad agency whose “digital division” is a WordPress theme hack.

An effective marketing campaign is one that will start first with an understanding of your brand (not your logo, but the promise of an experience). It’s only by knowing why your ideal customers love, trust and do business with you, that you can then know where, when, why and how to find more just like them. Once you’ve done that, then you need to understand what will generate awareness, interest, desire, and action for that group, and then be able to effectively (and measurably) execute the plan to make it happen, regardless of the media necessary to get it done. That may mean Social Media, but it might not. That may not mean radio or TV, but it might. It might require email, Direct Mail or both.  PR, content marketing, video, outdoor, and even the back cover of the phone book could each be the  ideal ways to reach them.  One thing for certain: it WILL require a web presence. Whether it’s a micro-site, an informational website, a fully functional eCommerce site, an intranet, the data source for a mobile app or all of the above, there will be a web component. Part of that web component will be the tools to measure the success of every marketing channel being used and monitoring what’s working (so you do more of that) and what isn’t (so you stop doing that).

Obviously a single individual will never have the knowledge and experience to do all of that. So what you really need is a team. A team with a combined knowledge of every one of those media, and how to use them all correctly, either independently or in concert with any of the others. A team that can measure your key performance indicators, and continually improve them.  It requires a team that understands your brand, and can use the right mix of tools to reinforce that brand and increase sales. A team that understands…and can deliver…meaningful Return on Investment. Find that team and let them help you succeed.

Competition for reaching a market share and turning it into meaningful conversions will never be easy. Neither will the choices of marketing and transactional tools. There are no short cuts.  It will require an investment. But the one thing that will never change is that strategic marketing done right will come back in spades.

And that is the only real silver bullet.

Three Unexpected Lessons Learned After Leaving Corporate America

number three 202x250 Three Unexpected Lessons Learned After Leaving Corporate AmericaOn May 31st, 2010, I completed my last day as a corporate employee. My last work day was May 27th. It was a wonderful Friday, and I turned out the lights in the place as the last manager on duty before a nice long 3 day weekend for Memorial Day. I didn’t turn in my company issued BlackBerry or my access card. My e-mail wasn’t shut down. And I knew I’d see everyone in a few weeks when I got back from some work I had already booked out of state, as my former employer wanted me to work on a project for another 90 days as a consultant.

The lessons I learned started in earnest three years ago. They’re not the things I expected to learn or that I thought I would need to know in order to be in business. They’re not your typical lessons, but they are my lessons.

While my former employer wanted me to be around full-time for 90 days (which would have made my salary nearly 2 times where I was when I left), they didn’t have enough work for me to do, so I worked part-time for 75 days, and then they ended my contract early. They didn’t have enough work for me to do because they didn’t know the scope of the work they were asking me to do, as they’d never done it before. Without a contract, they could just cut off my services at any time – and they did. I also could do whatever I wanted to do, so if I got a better offer from another client, I would work with them and not go in to my former employer that week. That was a verbal agreement we had. It worked for us.

Earlier this year I had a client that provided 25% of my monthly income have someone in their corporate office decide they wanted a full service agency to handle all of their marketing. We didn’t have a contract, so I got very little notice from corporate, causing me to scramble to make up the lost income. Thankfully I had plenty of prospects in the pipeline and I live a fairly simple life so this affected me much less than it could have. In this case, no contract caused me unnecessary stress.

Lesson learned: I’m not saying you have a contract. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t have a contract. I’m saying if you don’t have a contract, be ready for things to change faster than you think. And be prepared with a plan B, C and D – just in case.

Cash flow matters more than profit and loss – and clients who pay quickly are clients I love. Again, my former employer was very good to me. They processed my invoices quickly, and I could walk up to the payroll department and they would cut me a check the same day my invoice was approved. I had another client who would cut me a check within an hour of receiving my invoice. Some other clients paid me within 10 days, which is what the net was on my invoices. And I tried to bill a month ahead.

One client however decided to pay me at their own pace, which was 45 days – after the month was over. So they were not only not net 10 as my other clients were and as we agreed to (verbally) but they were really 65 days behind, as was their corporate policy. I didn’t know this at first, nor did my contact, so the first 2 months, we both spent a great deal of time chasing after accounts payable to find out what happened to my invoice, if it was received, if there were questions, missing paperwork, whatever. Finally we got a name and e-mail contact in AP, and sent an e-mail asking a question. The nice person there responded that company policy was not to pay ahead for consultants, and she would pay me 45 days after the month was over. I wasted a lot of time, and caused myself a lot of stress, because I didn’t know the terms of the company I was working on.

Lesson learned: Get the terms spelled out and agreed to (maybe even in writing) before you plan to pay your mortgage with money you don’t have. And love the clients extra much that can turn an invoice around same day.

One of my clients wanted a robust social media plan to attract new employees. The problem is, none of their potential employees use social media. And if they do use it, they use it to meet potential dates – not to look for a job or to get any sort of news on how to do their job better. To make matters worse, this company actually blocked all social media internally at the company, so my contact had to work with me outside of normal business hours, or on her smart phone, or occasionally on a guest wireless hot spot she could get on periodically in her office. All of these things would have been good to know before I took them on as clients.

I’m not saying these are things my clients should have told me up front. These are things I should have asked before I took on the project. Initially I thought we were going to re-do their website and write blog articles and attract people to them by focusing on search engine optimization, and by sharing their articles. They decided that wasn’t in the budget for the foreseeable future and that my work would only be funded at 50% of the level we initially agreed to, for the “hard work” was off the table.

Lesson learned: What clients say they want and what they can actually do is another thing altogether. Ask LOTS of questions up front before taking on a project – and if the scope of work changes, think long and hard if you can achieve the goals you set out to do.

These are three of my biggest lessons from three years in business. My hope is by sharing these lessons that you can avoid them for yourself, or at least go into things with your eyes a little more wide open. They are not the only lessons I learned. I learn more every day.

YOUR TURN: What’s the biggest lesson you’re willing to share about YOUR business – or your biggest question about being a business owner? Leave a comment below and let’s talk about this.