Thursday, July 26, 2007

Top 9 Reasons Video Promotion Is Cool for Small Business. . . and important too

I probably could go up to ten, but Letterman has made that so cliche. I am settling on the nine best, brightest and most important reasons why video should be included in your future marketing/promotion plans.

1. You will either be below the coming wave or surfing on top of it. When they start incorporating technology into presidential debates you know it is here to stay. The use of web video is going to be made easier, faster and more accessible in the future. One of the major obstacles- connection speed- is soon going to be a non-issue. As soon as next year, Comcast is making a step past Verizon in the broadband/DSL/FIOS wars and boosting speed up to 150 Mbps.

2. Who likes all that pesky reading? I think it is safe to say that the Internet has not helped the world wide literacy campaign. Sure there are words, but web content is short, punchy and held to a minimum. If given an option customers would rather see, hear or experience your message.

3. See you later newspapers, hello advertising dollars. By 2010 it is expected that advertising dollars spent on-line will reach $3 billion. Smart, small business owners will see this trend now and will start organizing themselves for the shift. Paper advertising, although not dead, is slowly being moved on line. As the saying goes, failing to plan is really planning to fail.

4. Who am I giving my credit card to? One of the largest obstacles to on-line commerce has been the facelessness of it. People do business with people and if the only Internet presence you have is a JPEG and some text people aren't really getting to know you. A small video clip, introducing yourself or your business, is a first step in creating a personal connection to potential customers. Customers like to see a face, hear a voice feel a presence. No one would want to do business with the Wizard of Oz. That is scary.

5. So you are telling me, I will get more business if I do this. Yes. . . if you put streaming video on your website, especially well crafted clips, you will get more business. Don't take my word on it, look at the statistics. Maybe it is the extra information that is passed through video or that personal connection we just talked about or the feeling of legitimacy that comes from cutting edge technology. . . whatever the reason, video converts into more sales.

6. I can put it there too. With some forethought you can create an Internet marketing machine using video. Post it on youtube, myspace, your blog, your website and countless other places. Tie them all together with some local submissions and you have a powerhouse.

7. Wow, my business is really cool. Traditional marketing, unless you are McDonalds or Coke, can be limiting. Without a fortune to spend, most businesses can not be very creative so most end up with a bland, boring ad in a local paper. It is now time to unleash your imagination and let it roam free. Don't be afraid. . . you can do it.

8. Passion really is all it's cracked up to be. Passion for what you do is contagious. Whether you are an artist or a seller of Velcro, if you love what you do then you will be successful. (There are probably some other important things you might learn in business school, but passion is up there.) Video can showcase your passion to potential clients. You don't have to be a marketing genius to translate your enthusiasm through video. All you need to do is be honest. If you speak from your heart, your passion will naturally come through.

9. Video is cheap. The days of high cost TV production are gone. You can learn to do this yourself and be very successful at it. You need a camera (most consumer models are fine), basic lighting, basic sound and the will to go on. Actually, with some pre-planning, all you really need is the will, because you can always borrow a good camera from someone else.

This is a brief overview of the importance of video. The wave is beginning to crest and now is the time to position yourself out in front of the pack.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Usually the voice fades away first

My mother died in 1996 when I was 25. She had a voice that was less than easy on the ears. Actually, it could practically split your head apart. When she was adamant about something, good or bad, her voice would reach this pitch that only ciccadas could understand.

I no longer can recreate my mom's voice in my own head. She has been dead long enough now that the intricacies of her voice have faded from memory. This saddens me because it seems like an integral part of who she actually was and, now that it is gone, a piece of her has left me too.

There are pictures of my mom and me in different stages of my growing up. I probably have four or five albums full, but they can't hear her voice when I look at them. I have one video clip from Christmas in 1993 that captures three seconds of my mom speaking and moving around. I really treasure that.

This is the reason Joanna and I started the The Video Biography Company four years ago. We are on a mission, encouraging people to document their family history. Virtually everyone now has access to some sort of video camera and it is simpler to document than ever before.

Stories are held in people's heads and once the people are gone the story usually is too. I remember most of the stories my mother told of her life and I will pass them on to my own children, but it is not the same. Those stories were told better in her voice, but my children will not have that joy. Even if her voice made your ears bleed, it was her voice and I loved it.

It all begins with a story. . .

I had just gotten my training wheels off my bike when my father and brother asked me to ride around our neighborhood. The year was 1977 and I was six.

When we came to the first hill on our journey, my bike coasted down with a mind of its own. There was a lump in my throat, but I wanted to prove to my older brother that I could keep up.
The second hill brought all of my courage to a standstill.

I stared down the hill and I just couldn't get my feet on the pedals. By this time my brother and father were both at the bottom of the hill looking up at me. It seemed like they were really tiny.

My father yelled, "C'mon Tim you can do it" while my brother was yelling at me about being a baby. Even though I didn't want to do it, actually every part of me was screaming not to do it, I pulled my sneakers from the pavement onto the pedals. Balancing, teetering on two wheels, gravity finally took over and I started rolling. Immediately, I started screeching.

The hardest part of any endeavor is putting your feet on the pedals. Once you finally make the decision to do something, often times, you can just let gravity take over. It's like what Woody Allen said about life being 99% about just showing up.

Here is the first posting for Video Laundry. The power of the story has been forgotten by many, but we (Tim and Joanna) are bringing it back. Everyday we work with people- families and businesses- to help tell their stories and capture them on video. This is what we are going to focus on.

We are unfolding the laundry (some of it dirty, some of it clean) of our lives and, hopefully, encouraging you to do the same. We will focus on stories, video technology, web promotion and family.

Oh, I never finished my story. About halfway down the hill, I panicked, stuck my feet in the air and listened to my brother jeer me with jabs about my six year old masculinity. My father calmly set his bike down, stepped in front of me and lifted me off in his arms. The bike went hurtling into the underbrush and the tears fell down my cheeks. My father calmed me.

Sometimes, with any new challenge, we need people to step up and help us.