Start Up Business Financing – Make Your Dreams Come True!

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Advertising: There’s No Holy Grail

Bring any group of business owners or managers together, ask them the most effective way to promote their organizations, and you’ll get a host of definitive answers. Oddly, few of those answers will be identical.

One may insist on radio spots, another on direct marketing, a third on coupon envelopes, and a fourth may be adamant that billboards are the only logical choice. Each will have named a medium or tactic that he or she believes is the absolute best way to promote a business.

That comes as no surprise. From an early age, our minds are trained to pursue the single answer that’s best for any situation. Whether it’s a question on a math test, a color choice for our living room, a career path, or religious belief, we tend to assume that there is one single best choice to the exclusion of all others.

But when it comes to promoting a business, trying to find that single choice is rarely wise. You’ll see business owners and managers try radio advertising. When that doesn’t produce the results they want, they’ll switch to sending direct mail. When that doesn’t create a jump in sales, they’ll buy cable TV commercials. When that falls short of their expectations, they’ll try a new online strategy… and it goes on and on, all with an air of desperation.

The fallacy in that all-too-common approach comes down to two assumptions: first, that one channel is inherently better than the others, and second, that marketing investments are most effective when they’re limited to that single channel.

For most companies, the best approach is a mix of multiple channels, organized in ways that allows each to build upon the others. The channel that will work best in a given instance depends on a wide range of factors, including the company itself, its audience, the message being conveyed, the environment, and many more.

Just because radio worked well for a company’s last effort doesn’t mean that cable TV wouldn’t be a better choice this time. Or maybe the right channel is direct mail. There’s no simple answer, because there are so many variables. If your audience is broad and diverse, then maybe radio or newspaper advertising is the right choice. If you’re targeting a carefully defined group, such as former customers, direct mail or email will probably perform better.

There are two important lessons here. The first is not to focus on trying to find a single channel that will serve all of the company’s needs, because (with extraordinarily rare exceptions) it just doesn’t exist. You’re more likely to find the real Holy Grail. The second lesson is that before you spend the first dollar to promote your business, you need to do more than a little learning. You’ll really need to understand your customers, your marketplace, your competitors, and the environments in which you do business. And you need a solid, objective understanding of what makes one marketing channel right for one situation, but not another.

Don’t make the mistake of relying solely on the sales representatives who call on you from each of those channels to help you develop that understanding. They’re among the nicest people you will ever meet, and most do want you to succeed. But you can’t afford to forget who employs them and how they are compensated. Ask a newspaper rep how you should spend your budget, and you’ll probably be advised to choose newspaper advertising, and shown research supporting that recommendation. Odds are good that you won’t hear, “I wouldn’t choose newspaper now. I saw a study saying radio works well, too.” It’s not a matter of deceit; it simply means they are loyal to their employer and the medium they know best. Never hesitate to ask for advice; just remember they have a stake in your decisions.

You may find these thoughts frustrating and suggest that marketing really should be easier. I agree, but I’ll also ask you what part of managing a business is simple? Taxes? Personnel? Complying with regulations? As with all those areas, the key is to learn all you can and use that knowledge to make the best choices. If you don’t have the time or desire to learn, find an expert who can help you, the same way you probably turn your income taxes over to a skilled CPA.

But if you think I’m wrong and keep looking for that magical marketing solution, rest assured that you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

Top 10 Best Video Production Practices

When it comes to creating a corporate video you want to ensure that you get the very best services. You may want to upload it on your website and ensure that it will play well on any media device including a mobile device, tablet, desk top or even on TV. You also want to make sure that it will work well regardless of the speed of connection, resolution or content. There are several factors to keep in mind if you want to make corporate video production work well for you:

1. Do not work with a recommendation for “one size fits all”. It is best to use the very highest rendition that you will be generating.

2. Ensure that the audio stream plays in sync with the video stream when editing because sometimes you will find that the tape starts and then the audio comes in later. This looks very unprofessional.

3. It is important in video production that the size of the frame is as large as that of the largest rendition you anticipate. This should not be more than what the original frame size was though.

4. If you will be having text on the tape, make sure that it is legible, crisp and clear. This can be quite challenging if you will be playing both on full screen and on browsers.

5. When shooting it is important that the camera be held steady. When it shakes the encoder will have a difficult time compressing the material and this will mean a lower quality picture and lower quality compression.

6. Background noise should be avoided as much as possible as well. If there is noise from traffic or something else you will find that your dialogue won’t be clear. This includes noisy visuals such as busy wall paper as a background.

7. When shooting in HD it is important to first set your camera to ‘progressive’ for the best results. However, if you had recorded on ‘interlace’ be sure to first de-interlace when carrying out your editing.

8. Lighting is critical. Be sure to use the right kind of production lighting and the proper amount of it so that the quality and the look you want to create is captured and exposed properly. When the scene is dark you will lose its quality when encoding.

9. The frame rate will need to be constant when shooting. This will ensure no stuttering when the tape is played back. It is important that you shoot progressive as well. 24fps will give you a more filmic look vs. 30fps.

10. In addition to the above, see to it that the audio is either mono or stereo and kept to 48 KHZ or 96 KHZ. Keep the audio level constant as well and ensure that the audio tracks are normalized. Optimal dialogue is recorded between -18db and -6db.

What Research Teaches Us and How To Cash In

I used to think marketing research was a total waste of time. Focus groups, panels and surveys… who the hell takes time to do these things? But I found out some fascinating facts. Would you like to hear about them?

Before you start to roll your eyes or break out in hives, think of research as your “silent” business partner. Even if you have no interest in research and how it applies to your business, think again. Even if you ‘half-ass’ it, you’ll be leaps ahead of the competition.

Hint: Most business have no idea how use the facts they find… if they (or hire someone) do any competitive research at all… BUT

When you finish reading this article you’ll soon understand the importance of researching ‘stuff’, how to use it to gain a serious, competitive edge and put more dough in your company coffers.

Ready? OK, let’s roll…

To begin, let me use another word to replace ‘research.’ After all, research’ is a smelly, dirty word to most entrepreneurs. It implies work. Skull work. And lots of it!

Merriam-Webster defines it this way…

re-search:

“Careful study that is done to find and report new knowledge about something”

“The activity of getting information about a subject”

So let’s use the word ‘homework’ instead… well, hell that isn’t much better, is it? Hey, I know… let’s call it ‘profit search.’ Sounds a whole lot better, doesn’t it? And that’s exactly what it is, a profit search.

Years ago, before I finally grew up, I used to think advertising was all about writing cute words that sounded cool and showcasing the words around fancy artwork or pictures.

Fortunately I got over it very quickly and found a several teachers who taught me a few basic, timeless principles. It was the ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ thing.

It was during this same time that I caught the research ‘bug’ numerous years back when I stumbled upon the wisdom an ‘old-timer’ named David Ogilvy.

In case you’ve never heard of David Ogilvy, he founded Ogilvy & Mather in 1949 and built his company to one of the eight largest advertising companies in the world. Yes, you read that correctly-in the world.

Ogilvy is widely considered “The Father of Advertising.” In 1962, Time magazine called him “the most sough-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.”

Though Ogilvy checked out nearly 15 years ago, the ad agency he built still is a major force amongst ad agencies today with offices 450 worldwide in 169 cities.

You may find it interesting that he was a researcher and copy writer before he become an ad executive.

In his book Ogilvy on Advertising he stated “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

That sentence caught fire with me and prompted me to dig deeper about how research could help making my ads (and the ads I write for clients) more powerful and persuasive.

I strongly suggest that you employ at least some form of research in your marketing and see how it could increase your sales.

Here’s five ways you may research to make your ads sizzle and sell more…

Research can help you estimate the sales of new products and how much it’s going to cost to get these sales. You can gauge prospect interest with mathematical models to see whether your new product warrants testing or not.

Along these same lines, you can use research to get customer reactions to new products before you go ‘whole hog’ with production. Better to get a “thumbs up or down” while your new product idea is still in the conceptual stage-else you could be in for a serious loss.

Let research guide you in how your product or service stack up again other products in the marketplace. Once the data’s in, you can make tweaks to make it more appealing. It’s all about what your marketing wants… again, research will be your silent partner.

Research can help you define your target market. Who are they… Men or women? Old or young. Rich or not so rich.

Research can find out what jargon folks are using when talking about your type of product and what factors are important in the buying process.

So there you have it… a few good ideas on how your newest ‘silent’ partner… aka Research can save the day by uncovering details about your customers and prospects that lead them down the purchasing path and earning your more money!

Till next time… I bid you peace and prosperity!

Warmly,

The Importance of Quality Design and Print Finish

Your brand begins, but does not end with, your logo. Whether you are a start up business with little experience or a long standing business that has been trading for years, your logo must be professionally created and thought out by a designer.

Your business logo is your badge and you want to wear that badge with pride as you will be judged on that. This is normally your first point seen by potential customers and will only take a matter of seconds for them to make a decision on whether to use your services.

There is the argument that if you are selling yourself as a business offering cheap services and targeting a certain audience then your logo, website and printed material needs not to be too ‘professional’ as to mislead your audience as they may instantly think that your service is probably too expensive based purely on your business aesthetics. This is why it is important for your brand to reflect the success of the business and your values.

The growth of the business has to be reflected in the brand also which may sometimes mean a redesign as trends change over the years. Looking at Google for example, probably the largest search engine in the world and from it’s humble beginnings has had several logo redesigns.

Every businesses brand needs to reflect their growth, a poor quality logo may indicate a poor quality business or one with little experience. This extends to the printed material you put out also. Marketing your business is important for growth and sales, and the stronger the design and better quality the material, the higher the chance of custom. The two elements of design and print should work together.

Far too many times do we see businesses go all in for the professional design for then to scrimp on the print finish. You must remember that not only are you to be judged on the design of your marketing material but also the quality of the material you put out as this to many reflect the quality of the products the business puts out and you don’t want that.

Keep in minds the facts:

A strong brand requires a strong design.
A business that has a quality service should also have quality marketing material.
The brand should match the growth of the business and not mislead your target audience.
Quality printing and design doesn’t mean expensive prices.