5 Reasons Why Video Should be a Part of Your Marketing Plan in 2018

From helping boost sales to engaging those tough-to-engage customers, here are five reasons why your business needs to incorporate more video marketing in 2018.

When social media made its first appearance many years ago, content formats were limited.  People oohed and ahhhed over beautiful photography and perfectly written words.  Today, those channels have evolved to feature content beyond still shots and words.  Social media has become the platform for all things video and it’s important that your business invests in video in order to best utilize each social media platform.

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    So why is video important? Here are five reasons why.

    Reason No. 1: Video engages the laziest of customers

    In today’s world, customers have become lazy.  They want everything at the touch of a button.  Video allows them to receive your message in a clear, simple format that doesn’t disrupt their busy social media surfing too much.

    Reason No. 2: Facebook says it’s important

    Facebook has invested in a variety of video features, such as Facebook Live and measuring video engagement, and is the second social media platform with the most videos right behind YouTube. Facebook has become a top place for marketers to reach their audiences so if they say video is king than video is king.

    Reason No. 3: Video can boost sales

    It’s easier to tell your business’ story through video than a lengthy, wordy message. You’re able to visually show your product and services and have voiceover. You can also segment your videos to specifically target different audiences. A video is much more memorable than an everyday post.

    Reason No. 4: Videos can be leveraged across your other platforms

    Videos can be embedded into emails and onto your website, not just your social media. They can also be used in seminars or for in-store demonstrations. When you incorporate video into your marketing plan, you are investing in a content format that can be used in a variety of ways.

    Reason No. 5: The future is video

    As digital marketing expands, video will begin to become the norm. If you invest now, you'll be ahead of the game.

    Making videos for your business does not have to be expensive. In fact, there are many different video programs out there that can be leveraged to help make videos affordable for your business. If you decide to make any changes to your marketing plan this year, my suggestion would be to increase your video budget!

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here. 

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    Next up: 5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

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    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

    And they are:

    1. The know-how behind the program. The program is designed by Babson College, the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship school. A focus is made on on practical business skills that can immediately be applied by business owners, including negotiation, marketing and employee management.

    When was the last time you had access to a nationally ranked entrepreneurial program?

    2.  There is opportunity to access capital. Through the program, business owners learn how to become more bankable and better position themselves to access financing and capital. The program also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with potential lenders and capital providers.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to access the capital you need to grow your business?

    3. It makes your world bigger. On the first day of class, most business owners don’t know one another. By the end of the course, they have not only developed relationships and a support network, but they are also doing business with one another. Not to mention the fact the program exposes business owners to the myriad of resources available to them throughout the region that are ready and waiting to help them grow their business.

    When’s the last time you made a connection that helped your business grow?

    4. It will help you (and force you) to grow. Most business owners who complete the program experience incredible growth—not just for their business but also as individuals. The program teaches businesses owners to think differently, to make tough decisions, and to develop a solid vision for the future of the business.

    When was the last time you were given the resources you need to put together a long-term plan for the success of your business?

    5. It’s free. That’s right—there is no cost. There are no hidden fees or gimmicks to get you to buy something once you’re in. The program is sponsored by Goldman Sachs which means the business owners who are chosen to participate get to do so without paying a cent.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn and grow your business without having to pay out of pocket for it?

    When was the last time you said “This is the year I will focus on growth?”

    This is the year you can make that statement. Look at the program. Take five minutes to complete the simple application before the deadline of February 19th. Go here to learn more, apply, and read about the other business owners who have grown their businesses as a result of the program.

    Don’t you owe it to yourself and your business?

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    Next up: 5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common.

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    And what are these five “secrets” to success? I’ve outlined them briefly below. For a more in-depth look at what makes for a successful small business, check out this podcast I recently participated in.

    1. An Inspiring Vision

    Vision is what establishes a foundation for all critical aspects for the business. An inspiring vision sets the tone for goal setting and other critical managerial behaviors.

    2. An Effective Plan

    This is just crucial. Any good time should be time-bound. It should spell out what needs to take place over a certain period of time. And you need to have a way to measure these goals and your progress toward these goals.

    3. A Disciplined Approach to Execution

    Some businesses are successful despite a lack of discipline. I would argue however that it is very difficult to sustain success over a long-term business cycle without some level of discipline. Businesses need to be driven by a sense of purpose and must have systems in place to assure some level of consistency and accountability in execution. Business owners can also enlist the services of a business coach to instill a strong sense of discipline in planning and execution. 

    4. Financial Mastery

    Business owners need to have at least a basic knowledge of finance and a willingness to routinely seek advice from experts, such as an accounting firm, to understand the relative strength of their business and to guide financial decisions. More specifically, they need to be able to interpret basic financial reports, understand their break-even points, and successfully manage cash flows.

    5. Maintain a Unique Selling Proposition

    The Unique Selling Proposition serves two primary purposes. First, for a business, it answers the question of “Who are we?” And it aligns the company to its unique strengths. Secondly, it provides perfect clarity on the capabilities of the business to prospective clients.

    Brian Alquist is President of actionCOACH and is also a member of the COSE Expert Network. He is an accomplished business executive turned entrepreneur with 30-plus years of experience driving aggressive revenue growth for multiple organizations. Brian helps develop innovative business plans and educational solutions for small businesses to bring about greater prosperity and better life balance for owners. And he effectively coaches small-to-medium sized business owners and employees, leveraging an array of tried-and-true strategies to successfully transition prospects into clients and to improve efficiency that brings about transformational growth.

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    Next up: 5 Tips for Mastering the Side Hustle

    5 Tips for Mastering the Side Hustle

    Side hustles are becoming an increasingly popular option for those of us who want to pursue entrepreneurship without giving up our full-time jobs. At JumpStart’s 2017 Startup Scaleup event, we learned tips for growing your side hustle while holding down your day job at the Mastering the Side Hustle panel.

    Side hustles are becoming an increasingly popular option for those of us who want to pursue entrepreneurship without giving up our full-time jobs. At JumpStart’s 2017 Startup Scaleup event, we learned tips for growing your side hustle while holding down your day job at the Mastering the Side Hustle panel, featuring Robin Doerschuk, founder of The Women’s Leadership Conference of Northeast Ohio, Jason Estremera, founder of CLE Threads, Shibani Faehnle, owner of Bombay Taxi, LLC, and Tiffani Tucker, founder of Have a Slice.

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    Here are our five key takeaways from the session:

    1. Have faith in yourself

    Your side hustle will not be successful if you don’t believe in yourself, period. In other words, “Listen to your gut,” as Tucker said.

    Having faith that you have the skills needed to make decisions, be flexible and deal with whatever challenges come your way is crucial to building a foundation for your business.

    “Everything is a learning process, everything changes all the time - the only constant is you,” said Faehnle. “So, bet on you every single time.”


    2. Listen to everyone - even those who only offer criticism

    Constantly being open to receiving feedback—both positive and negative—is the only way to understand what your customers truly want. And using that feedback to refine your product is a thoughtful and effective way to better serve those customers.

    When reviewing feedback, remember that there’s a difference between haters and people who want to genuinely give you advice, said Estremera. “We have to put our egos aside and determine if a person is being rude” or truly trying to help, he said.


    3. You don’t have to quit your day job

    Instead of rushing to leave your full-time job, appreciate how having that job can benefit your side hustle. For one thing, any monetary investments you make are less risky when you know you have a steady paycheck.

    “Having a full-time job will save you because you won’t run out of cash,” Faehnle said.

    You can also think about using your day job as a platform for marketing your side hustle and getting feedback. Tucker began bringing in baked goods to the newsroom at her full-time job and launched her side hustle at the encouragement of her coworkers.

    On top of that, skills you learn from having a side hustle can actually make you more valuable to your full-time employer.

    “The things I learned from having a side hustle make me a better employee,” Faehnle said.


    4. Striving for balance is futile

    True work/life balance doesn’t exist for side hustlers. There will always be more work to do, not to mention managing family and personal needs. Accept that from the start and you’ll be much better prepared for the often chaotic lifestyle being an entrepreneur while a full-time employee can bring.

    “People ask, ‘How do you stay balanced?’,” Doerschuk said. “You don’t.”


    5. Failure is not a bad thing.

    Treat failure as a learning experience. Failure is inevitable, whether it’s a big, grand failure or a tiny daily task that got messed up, but what you do with that experience is up to you. Learn from your mistakes and you’ll be better able to handle hiccups in the future.

    “Take the risk, fail and learn from what you did; pivot, refine,” Doerschuk said. 

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    Next up: 5 Ways to Get Powerful Customer Testimonials You’ll Actually Use

    5 Ways to Get Powerful Customer Testimonials You’ll Actually Use

    Testimonials are a powerful tool when it comes to converting prospective customers into actual buyers. They also work to confirm the choice current customers have made and will keep them coming back for more. Here are insider tips and ideas for putting together compelling video testimonials that will give your business a boost.

    From Facebook to Yelp to chatting with your next door neighbor, there are myriad ways to seek other opinions and experiences on just about every company or service provider. And, people inherently trust the opinions of other people. When it comes to testimonials, 90% of people say they trust recommendations from people they know and 70% of people say they trust recommendations from people they don’t know.

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    So if you’re a small business owner, testimonials can be a great way to get a lot of marketing bang for your buck. Video testimonials can be created easily and affordably and are extremely effective when done right.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Content Director Shawn Turner took part in a recent panel discussion hosted by New Image Media that delved deeper into how to get powerful customer testimonials. Other panelists featured were Raquel Eatmon, owner and CEO of Rising Media LLC, and Steve Petti, owner and creative director at New Image Media.

    The discussion yielded five expert strategy tips behind great testimonials.

    Tip No. 1: Find good testimonial candidates

    You want a testimonial, but how do you select someone to participate? Ultimately, the ideal person is a brand ambassador for your company; someone engaged and engaging.

    • Look for the most excited person in the room at an event. If they’re tweeting or texting, they’re probably feeling inspired by the experience. When they’re excited, it shows on camera.
    • Help interviewees overcome any anxiety about being on camera. Play music or talk casually with them beforehand. Tell them a story or show them testimonials you’ve shot previously. The more relaxed they are, the better they will be on camera.
    • Try to gather people at different stages of their relationships with your organization. It not only showcases a variety of different types of testimonials, but can also help solidify their good feelings toward your business.
    • Don’t forget about internal testimonials. Collect messages from staff about how they care about the customer. This approach helps personalize the business for your audience.
    • Seek comments from industry experts. Authorities in your specific industry area can provide professional opinions about why your business excels.

    Tip No. 2: Use a content calendar

    A content calendar can be a useful tool in planning out all aspects of your marketing plans, and testimonials are no exception. Thoughtful planning for your video testimonials can help you juggle all of the balls you will no doubt have in the air with your small business.

    • Make sure your content calendar includes different platforms so that you’re reaching people with your testimonials across all areas of social media and your website.
    • Put some intention behind your timing and plot out when you want things to hit on each platform.
    • A good content calendar will allow you to see at a glance what topic areas you’re covering on what platforms and at what times.
    • Allow for some flexibility. Don’t make it so rigid that you don’t have space to cover something that comes up last minute. Because things will always come up last minute.

    Tip No. 3: Plan it out

    So thanks to your content calendar, you know when and where you’re looking to place testimonials. But what will the video itself look like?

    • Take some time to think about the colors you might use. Do you have to coordinate with a specific logo?
    • Do it on-scene. Find a good place for an interview where you can capture the emotion and activity of the event; where action can be seen and felt.
    • Don’t make it too over-produced. Allow people to be natural and feel comfortable, both the interviewees and people watching.

    Tip No. 4: Encourage sharing

    The video is done and you’re proud of the work you accomplished.  It’s time to spread the word and get that video going viral.

    • Let your interviewees know when you’re publishing their videos. Send them the URL so they can share it with their networks.
    • Create a balance between promotional and informational material. People are less likely to share if a video is purely promotional. Add an educational element in it or other takeaway; tell them something they don’t already know or something they will find valuable.
    • Tell a story. And then get to the heart of the story, tugging at people’s heartstrings when possible. Find a way to reel in the audience. When the testimonial is more relatable, it’s also more likely to be shared.
    • Call-to-actions can be subtle. A simple fade-in with the website or phone number at the bottom is all you need, and it will help people feel less like they are sharing a commercial.

    Tip No. 5: Get a better ROI

    What’s better than having a great testimonial? Having a great testimonial that you can re-use and repurpose. You don’t always have to be shooting new video, but you can make it look like you are.

    • Slice up a video and save it. Take different segments and use them according to what’s currently trending. You don’t need to use the whole video at once—save parts for later when they have more relevance. Don’t forget to hashtag it!
    • Soundbites are key. Take one testimonial and divide it into several different soundbites to use leading up to an event. Be sure to give them new, creative titles.
    • Post and repeat. Since Twitter is more disposable than other social platforms, you can repost the same video (or different segments of the same video).
    Video doesn’t have to be just a video. Turn a still shot into a graphic or an animated .GIF file.
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    Next up: 5 Ways to Maximize the ROI of Your Holiday Gift

    5 Ways to Maximize the ROI of Your Holiday Gift

    It might seem like a long way off, but the holiday season will be here before you know it. Here are five ways to ensure the gift you give also gifts you a positive impression with colleagues and clients.

    Sending holiday gifts or cards to clients and colleagues is a nice tradition that can produce positive results, but also involve time and expense. As you plan for this year, consider these options for increasing your ROI by creating a positive impression—and doing something different.

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    1. I’m thankful for you

    Send “I'm thankful for you” greetings on the Monday before Thanksgiving. They won't be lost in the sea of year-end holiday cards and can create a more positive impression.

    2. Personalize your message

    Whenever you send your cards, chose cards that are blank on the inside so you can hand-write a short, personalized message.

    3. Use cards from non-profits or local charities

    Consider using cards created by local charities or non-profits as fund-raisers. This way, the card itself becomes part of your message.

    4. The personal touch

    Hand-address the envelopes and even the return addresses. The extra effort will help it stand out in a crowded in-basket.

    5. A gift in their honor

    Five years ago, I was doing the above steps and obtaining good results, but decided to gamble on doing something really different. So, I sent everyone an email indicating that I would be making an additional donation to the local hunger center and animal shelter in their honor instead of sending them gifts or cards. I indicated that the need to help others was great and hoped they felt good about my decision. I hoped this plan would be a win for the organizations that received my donations and a win for me in my time savings and in the positive image it produced. However, I did spend a lot more money than simply buying the gifts, cards and postage would have been. The response was positive. Some people even thanked me for doing such a good thing and several said they would try something similar. I've continued with that plan ever since.

    As you plan your holiday gift/cards program for this year, consider some of these ideas that would work for your needs and values. And ... Happy Holidays!

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication (www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network  Expert, Content Committee member and has been a frequent speaker at COSE events. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

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