Category Archives: Creative Business Ideas

Marketing With YouTube

Marketing With YouTube(Photo by Esther Vargas)

If you’ve worked hard to get your website ranked well in Google (or if you’re just starting out, and trying to get your website ranked highly), don’t forget to create a video for your business (even if your business isn’t highly visual or you are camera shy). While Google is the #1 search engine, the #2 search engine is YouTube! The following are some basic tips I suggest to my clients:

  1. Title. Treat your video’s title like you treat your home page’s title. You want a title that will entice someone to click on it and also support your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). Make sure that you use proper keywords in the title.
  2. Description. Like the title, you want the description to be a balance between human-enticing text and appropriate industry buzzwords. Your description should support your title and promise to the viewer (why should they watch it)? Be sure to include in your description a link to your website – since that will help your search engine ranking (a good “backlink”).
  3. Keywords. YouTube allows you to also describe your video using additional keywords. If you’re not sure what to use, start by looking at your competitor’s video keywords.
  4. Audio. If you can, use a microphone to reduce background noise. We forget that a poor looking video with good audio is watchable. A beautiful video with poor audio isn’t.
  5. Video. Unless you’ve hired a professional who knows better, use a tripod to ensure your video isn’t shaky.

If you’re marketing something high-end or with a high-aesthetic, hire a video professional to ensure that your video quality is consistent with your branding promise. Otherwise, your first video doesn’t have to be perfect. The goal is to showcases the experience a prospective client is likely to have with you.

No one will know how many times you goofed up in recording your video. Don’t be too hard on yourself on how you look or sound. Simply having a video is likely to set you apart from your competition.

Both Sides of Marketing

Marketing Effectively To Customers(Photo by Michelle Robinson)

When you think about marketing your business, you generally consider such things as: your offering, your pricing, and your options. That’s logical. But that’s not what your prospective client is really looking for in your marketing.

Your prospective client is looking for “the other side to your marketing” – what their experience interacting with you is likely to be: how easy is it to reach you, how quickly can they get their order, how does what you offer compare to the competition, how can they trust your promises, and how they’ll feel long after they’ve made the buying decision.

Remember: By showcasing both sides of the marketing equation, you’ll create a realistic first impression that will ensure a long-term relationship. You don’t want your marketing to be two-faced.

An Ounce of Free / A Ton of Business

Sample Your Business To Win(Photo by Richard Munckton)

If you’re just starting out, how can you get your business noticed by prospective customers? Give away samples…carefully.

We have all been in stores or markets and stopped to try out a sample of a product: snack foods, drinks, hand cream, or even small servings of main courses. Stores do this because it works on a number of levels: people can’t resist something free, people feel obligated to spend a minute talking with the sales person, and there’s no competition for attention.

The problem with “free” is that people perceive value based on the price you charge. If you’re giving away your product or services, at a subconscious level people are thinking what you’re offering isn’t good. That’s why it’s important to anchor the “free” with a perceived value (“This product or service will be launched at a premium price in the near future, but to gain awareness, we’re simply letting people decide for themselves how wonderful it is”).

Some businesses are even based around the “freemium” model – give the product away, but charge for upgrades to a “premium” model (no advertising, additional features, customer service, customization, etc.). Freemium works well for intangible products like software, where it doesn’t cost the manufacturer anything make hundreds more of the same product.

From your business marketing’s perspective, think of “free” as a way to focus test your new offering. Give people the experience of your offering, but in exchange, be sure to watch and listen to their reaction. It’s likely to be money and time well spent.

Stop Strategizing and Start Doing!

Stop Strategizing(Photo by lafra)

Strategists frequently advise prospective customers that their business needs a fleshed out strategy document. They’ll say, “If you don’t have a map, you won’t know how to get there.” Unfortunately, they’re not quite right.

The problem is, most strategy documents don’t last long enough to take the business to reach its desired goals. If you spend too much time strategizing, you’ll might find your window of opportunity gone. What’s the right balance between strategizing and doing?

It depends on two variables: 1) the size of your team and 2) the amount of resources at stake.

If you have a small budget (a small % of your total revenue), then spending time strategizing isn’t well spent. Yes, pick a short-term goal or two. But beyond that, try out your idea and measure the results.

If you have a small team, your strategy is probably well-established. Maybe not in writing, but it’s the “meat” of your everyday conversations and planning. As you grow your business, your dreams aren’t as easily shared and validated. A strategy document can serve to make clear your goals so everyone can refer to them in their day-to-day efforts.

Remember that when talking to a hammer salesperson, everything looks like a nail.

Your Marketing Laboratory

Your Marketing Laboratory(Photo by iT@c)

The frustrating truth is that doing the right things doesn’t guarantee success. The right things are vital, but luck is huge. All the various marketing books and articles showcase people who’ve “made it”, and tell you what they did to succeed. The implicit part of the story is, “do as I do and you’ll make it just like me.” But it just ain’t so.

I’d love to see a book written examining a group of people starting new businesses (perhaps all that went to the same b-school). Then, see what everyone does. Then, see how everyone does. The “nice” person may lose. The “idiot” may win.

Our culture’s focus on “the winner” creates an underlying “I’m-not-good-enough” mentality, which keeps people constantly looking for “the next trick” to win customers.

That’s why your marketing laboratory is your existing client base. These people have somehow shown up and keep showing up. They haven’t left. They keep paying their bills. You want to clone them. That’s why interviewing them (either directly or subtlety) is vital.

Sometimes the obvious thing to do to improve your marketing is staring right at you.

Focus On The Background

Focus On The Background(Photo by Frank Guido)

First impressions matter. Without a great first impression, you’ll lose people’s attention and potentially their business. But after you’ve gotten their attention, how do you keep it?

We spend too much time optimizing a primary message, while the emotional sway is all in the background. Consider your favorite band. You listen to the lead singer, but without the background singers, the lead singer would not sound as amazing. Or when watching a movie or video – how much attention do you give the background music? The music provides the emotional and atmospheric cues.

For your next marketing message, divide your effort evenly between your “foreground” and “background” messages. Make sure that total effect of your marketing results in prolonged interest and sales.

Keep On Changing

Marketing Variety(Photo by namealus)

Psychologically, after we get used to something, we tend to ignore it – no matter how luxurious it is. Supermarkets know this well – that’s why they’ll regularly rearrange products to capture new attention on existing offerings. What should you change in your marketing?

Don’t change what’s working. If you’re not sure what’s working, then start by measuring actions and reactions. Add analytics to your website. When prospective clients contact you, ask them how they heard about you. Measure your newsletter click-through rates.

Change what’s not working (as well as it once was). Change the images in your marketing. Your marketing channels. Your newsletter timing. Your typography. Your tagline. Your offer. Your headlines. And measure again.

Evolve your business to new heights.

Where’s the Harm?

Safe Marketing

When was the last time you searched online for your website? Since it is likely the first thing your prospective customer will do, it will set the tone for their experience. Imagine if the first thing they saw was “Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer”?

Your website may completely function, but website search engines have identified potential problems. What should you do? This is a job for your website administrator, since it likely involves the low level details of your website.

What would they do? They’d first visit a diagnostic page – a report on specifically what the search engine detected as a problem. Based on the report, they’d likely disable some “infected” parts of the website (areas that a hacker has modified), carefully remove all the “damaged” parts (if you don’t remove all the infection, the problem will reoccur), and reinstall “clean” (non-infected) tools. They may change your passwords. It may take minutes or days depending on the severity of the problem.

Finally, when it appears to be fixed, they would notify the website search engine(s) that the problem is fixed. If their software no longer detects the problem, they will remove the “Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer” message.

You want your prospective client’s experience to be: “Warning: Not buying from this website will harm your life”!

Can Your Marketing Be Too Creative?

Too Creative Marketing.(Photo by Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra)

People often ask for some help creating something “catchy” – something designed to attract the attention of their target audiences. And with the constant onslaught of marketing messages, creative can help your business get noticed initially. But once people are attracted, what then? More creative? More catchy? No.

Once someone’s been attracted to your marketing, focus on the emotional and financial benefits you offer. Being too creative now can actually backfire – since people can get distracted by your cleverness (entertaining them) and forget to buy from you!

How do you keep their interest in your offer without being (overly) clever? Tell a story of how you’ve helped people like them (or better yet, tell a story of your client’s success overcome a problem they had).

A great story is easily remembered and often retold.

Stop Marketing. Start Outreach.

Stop Marketing. Start Outreach.(Photo by malik ml williams)

For many people, marketing is the process of trying to convince people that what you offer should matter to them. Your job is to understand what unmet need people have and show how the product or service you’re offering solves their need. Once accomplished, your job is more about sales – persuading them that you’re providing a great value for their needs.

However, if you’re a local business, instead of trying to convince locally, start reaching out locally. Help those in your community to improve their lives. Find ways to really matter to them,  both as a business and as a citizen. This process is what marketing used to be about – building trust in YOU. Such old-fashioned marketing is slower, but deeper. With modern marketing, people are deluged with marketing messages, and trying to get their attention can be exhausting to everyone. But ultimately trust is built through experience. Give potential customers a chance to build trust in you through your actions (at no cost).

“Old Fashioned” (Cee Lo Green)

My loves’ old fashioned
But it still works
Just the way it isThis love is classic
And not just simply because
I say it is
It’s right on time (right on time)
And it’s timeless (timeless)
And it’ll be right here, for always
My loves’ old fashioned
So be it, I’m set in my ways
Hush child, just listen
Don’t it sound just like the good old days
Well it’s right on time (right on time)
And it’s timeless (timeless)
And it’ll be right here, for always (always)
My love’s right one time (right on time)
And it’s timeless (timeless)
I’ll be right here for always
Oooo… people they gather round, and they wonder how
Are we in love right here and now
I just smile cause true love doesn’t go out of style
Ooh… right on time, Ooh, yes,
Ooh… on time, ooh timeless
I’ll be here, for always