so many choices in business So many choices, so little time.

As I explained a few weeks ago, I have decided to turn my attention to other aspects of my business and make this my last weekly Your Media Moment blog post. I have learned never to say never and expect I will still write this blog occasionally but not regularly.

Your Media Moment will remain an active website and will likely become a collection of landing pages for my other projects. My plans include gathering my hundreds of blog posts into a book (or two!), and developing an online media authority course and mentoring program.  Plus I am developing a podcast which I’ll talk about later in this post.

Years ago someone told me, “Sometimes you have to step back to move forward.” It’s useful to unplug and take a break from what you’ve been doing to get fresh perspective, change direction or redesign your approach.

For example, a few months ago a kerfuffle involving a “virtual” friend upset me a great deal. It had nothing to do with me, but as I watched it unfold in an online group. I was surprised by how  it made me feel. I recognized I control my feelings through what I read, watch, listen to and think about and I consciously pulled back from experiencing the negativity of some social media communities.

Here’s a recent article about social media and why it might make sense to reduce your involvement.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2475453,00.asp

Change is the only constant and every day we have the opportunity to start fresh in some way.  This Fast Company article has some terrific ideas for daily actions that support personal and professional growth:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1839987/what-most-successful-people-do-breakfast

When I began YMM in 2007,  my intention was to coach people for DIY publicity in traditional media (print, radio and TV), but businesses evolve over time.  Now I do more work focused on Done For You digital media asset creation services to help clients with authority positioning through Kindle books, web magazine articles, press releases, social video campaigns, etc.

This year I am also teaming up with Michelle Kane of Voice Matters to launch an audio podcast called “Tuned In Experts” which will have its own website.

The show’s content is aimed at solo practitioners, small business people and entrepreneurs who want to become effective brand publishers and brand broadcasters, using all the fantastic digital media tools and platforms that are now available to tell their story and grow their business.

We will interview experts who specialize in various online skills.  We’ll ask them to share inspiring tales of how they became “tuned in experts”  but most important, we’ll ask these Influencers for practical tips to help our audience become “tuned in experts.” The goal is for listeners to take away something more than a good story about someone else’s success. We want to give listeners what I call “news you can use.”

No podcasts are out there YET.  We haven’t set a launch date because we’re doing this in our spare time. Ha!  Michelle calls it our “worksperiment!”  I like that.

For now, we only have the FB page and Twitter account set up:

https://www.facebook.com/tunedinexperts

https://twitter.com/TunedInExperts

I invite you to connect with us to get our updates, follow our progress and play along.

Until then, as Charles Osgood has said, tongue in cheek, for years, ” See you on the radio.”

Goal Setting, Focus and Time ManagementTime. It’s the one thing none of us can manufacture.  You and I have the same amount of time in a day as President Obama and Angelina Jolie. It’s what you do with your time that counts and how you spend your time is your life.

Time, money, health and relationships are areas of life most people want to improve and that makes these topics a great fit for marketing messages. We’ve all seen headlines like How to Improve your Relationship with Money or 15 minute workouts for Optimum Health that tap into these concerns.

Still, I am not a big fan of “instant this” and “immediate that” even though they are usually effective buzzwords. Do you really believe that $7.00 product will be the one step, push button easy way to become a Grand Master of (whatever), dominate your competition, build a 6-7 figure empire, etc., without lifting a finger? 

An old adage goes, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” And the reality is, marketing online or off is a process that takes time and commitment. Whether it’s digital media content creation, online video, social media or podcasting, you have to take the time to plan the strategy, create and implement a campaign, and then give your plan time to work!

That means you shouldn’t expect your first tweet to attract 10K followers unless you’re a Kardashian. The first video you post is unlikely to get 10K views.  Even something that gives you a fast bump in visibility will likely rise and fall just as quickly.

For example, an online press release or article might hit all the major news and social media sites in one day and give you good buzz for awhile. But it will soon be buried by other people’s content, probably by the next day or even in a few hours! (There are ways to re-purpose content to keep your exposure rolling, but that’s a topic for another day.)

if you stay the course with a strategy that releases  valuable content consistently overtime, it’s likely you’ll achieve the right kind of authority positioning that sustains results.

I recommend you keep at something for 90 days or 6 months and then measure what’s happening. Put a deadline on seeing results, for sure, but don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting “instant” success!

If your content takes off, great but if it doesn’t, you can change course. It’s not a crime to re-design or even quit an activity, if it is not working for you.

A mentor of mine says, “Are you avoiding One Thousand Dollar activities to do 20-Dollar tasks?”

As I phase out my weekly blog, I’ve begun to rearrange my time priorities.

Here’s an approach I follow that may help you:

  • Consistently assess my daily activities and drop, delegate or outsource the low value tasks.
  • Decide on 3 profit-producing steps to take daily and schedule time to work on these activities FIRST. (Do not read email or facebook or feedly first. That’s letting someone else’s agenda control yours.)
  • Continually ask myself, “Is this the highest, best use of my time?”
  • Focus on regular action toward my big long term goals, even if progress is only inch-by-inch.
  • Be flexible, not rigid in my time management to allow for serendipity and unexpected opportunities.
  • Build in more time to kick back, relax and have fun!

I hope I’ve given you some ideas to restructure your time and realize your dreams in 2015.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Simple Storytelling Formulas

brand storytelling for businessDo you have a story to tell?  Often people are excited to produce a video or write a book or make a presentation, but feel they have no story.  Rest assured, we all have a story or two and there are many ways to tell a good story. Plus the same story elements can be woven into multiple tales as in the great Japanese film, Rashomon.

Storytelling is an ancient art and  we’ve all met people who were better storytellers than others. Business brand storytelling is an increasingly valuable skill  in digital media. Some lump it into the “content marketing/PR” category, but brand stories are created a little differently, as this article from the Content Marketing Institute explains.

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2014/04/brand-business-storytelling-success/

Stories make you memorable and unique since even two people telling the same story will have their own way of telling it. Telling really good stories about yourself and your business can captivate an audience and become a signature element of your personal brand.

Common elements in most stories are a central character, a compelling situation and a unifying idea or framework. This can work whether it’s a factual story or a fictitious one. Emotion is important to the storytelling process. You want your audience to feel something.  A great story takes them on a journey of discovery.   This Fast Company article makes several good points about why stories are so powerful.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3025676/work-smart/the-simple-science-to-good-storytelling

Stories should be structured with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Anyone who has watched a few Hollywood movies is familiar with one of the most popular 3 step story formulas.

  • The Challenge (Beginning) — This is where the main conflict is set up.
  • The Struggle/Journey/Quest  (Middle) — What the character goes through to resolve the conflict.
  • The Resolution (End) — The breakthrough.  The conflict is overcome and everything works out.

A simple “David vs. Goliath” (small beats big) or Zero to Hero (failure becomes success) story will work 99-percent of the time in a business story. If you pay attention, you’ll see  a handful of simple story structures presented in movies and TV shows over and over in infinite variety. The settting can be ancient Egypt or outer space, but the story underpinnings of conflict-struggle-resolution are the same.

Audiences are used to this type of storytelling and expect these formulas.  You even see the script formula joked about this way:

  • Boy meets girl
  • Boy loses girl
  • Boy gets girl back (or some other happy circumstance)

When you really think about it, it’s not that hard to tell a story and business storytelling is a skill worth cultivating

http://blog.hubspot.com/opinion/why-storytelling-will-be-the-biggest-business-skill-of-the-next-5-years

Here’s an easy framework for a business video.

  • Beginning – Talk about the issue you (or your client) was facing and the pain it caused.
  • Middle – How you struggled to find the answer and it seemed nothing you did could help
  • End – The joyful feeling of finding the solution

I’ve been using my journalism storytelling skills for years to do what is now called “brand journalism.”  The term has its detractors and the definition is still evolving, but I think of it as telling the feature stories that virtually every traditional journalist has been assigned when they weren’t reporting “hard” news.

The late Don Hewett of CBS 60 Minutes was famous for urging his high powered producers to simply, “Tell me a story.”  Whether you’re shooting a video, giving a speech, writing an article or recording a webinar, a focus on crafting and telling great stories is worth the effort.

 



Business Storytelling For Dummies (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Karen Dietz, Lori L. Silverman

Use storytelling to influence people and move them to action

Need to get your point across? Get staff on board with change? Foster collaboration? Increase sales? Strengthen employee engagement? Build customer loyalty? Drive innovation and creativity? Capture best practices? Align people around a goal? Grow your business? Business Storytelling For Dummies can help you do this—and more. Pre-order your copy today through Amazon!

 Discover:

  • Expert advice with real-world examples
  • Proven case studies, tips, and templates
  • How to get results by capturing, crafting, telling stories, and more
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

productivity overloadI don’t think anyone would argue that there’s a glut of information online. We are swimming in what we now refer to as “content.” Good or bad, it’s everywhere, on every device, at our fingertips, all the time.  

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Keeping up with what’s new and relevant in your niche, while still getting your work done, can be exhausting.

That’s why I am always on the look-out for online tools that help me stay focused and make my life easier.

I generally try different apps and programs with the goal of streamlining 3 areas:

  • Gathering and filtering news and information
  • Organizing tasks and projects
  • Time management 

If I like them, they become part of my routine. Otherwise, I drop them and move on. I probably have half a dozen or more tools I use now and then, but here are three online tools I use regularly:

Feedly.com

When Google shut down its RSS reader last year, I scrambled to find a good replacement. (and blogged about the alternatives I tried). The Google reader was where I collected all the blogs I wanted to follow personally and professionally. For years, I blocked out time each week to read them there.

Several alternative RSS readers were very good and I ultimately began using Feedly.com regularly. I use it for enjoyment reading, to keep up with developments in digital media to help clients, as inspiration for my own blog posts and other content creation and to find interesting information to share with my aspiring media magnet audience on social media.

Google Calendar

I’ve written often about how I live by a daily “to-do” list. It’s my A-1 productivity secret. I put absolutely everything on a running list in my reporter’s notebook. With my personal and business “to-do’s”all in one place, I block time on the calendar to work on tasks associated with each item. I like paper records, but this year I am making an effort to rely more on my online tools.

During my holiday vacation, I worked from a list of 27 items and after those 10 days ended, I am proud to say I had only three items left! Yay! I got nearly everything done and still had time for fun!  For me, a list beats winging it hands down.

WordPress.org

I wouldn’t call wordpress a “tool,” in itself, but the myriad capabilities of its themes and plugins are.

My first blog was hosted on Typepad.com but after several years, I was confident enough to move away from this managed blogging system and try my hand at owning my online platform (what author Michael Hyatt calls your home base) with self-hosted wordpress sites. I took a wordpress class and read a few books to get started, invested in hosting, bought some themes and have continued to experiment and learn new tricks ever since.

I am no webmaster, but I can put together a simple website. I know how to install wordpress, do basic theme customization, set up pages and make blog posts, build landing pages and perform other easy steps.  

Hyatt posted a good free training tutorial for setting up a wordpress blog in 2013:
http://michaelhyatt.com/tag/bluehost-setup

In this example, Hyatt uses bluehost as the hosting service. I use hostmonster, but both give you the ability to install wordpress with cpanel.  CPanel is a common dashboard tool most hosting services offer. CPanel may look slightly different on different hosts, as I’ve noticed when using Hostgator and GoDaddy, but they all work the same way and it’s easy to figure out.

Plugins for wordpress are plentiful and do amazing things. On my sites, I’ve used plugins to create editorial calendars, add author resource boxes, price charts, shopping carts, feature Amazon books with affiliate links, promote social sharing and much more.

Be advised, you don’t want to stuff a wordpress site with too many plugins because not all plugins play nice with others. I goof up sometimes and have had to learn not to panic and find ways to un-do my mistakes. (There’s ample info online to get you out of a jam.)

Also, because I have several sites, I use a service called ManageWP.com that lets me access, update and change my sites, all from one dashboard.

So many cool tools, so little time!  

At the end of the day, if you’re like me, you just want tools that are easy to use and get stuff done. It’s a big plus when a tool is compatible with multiple devices and many are.  That way, you can use them very conveniently whether you’re working on your desktop/laptop, phone or tablet.

That said, every app or program has a learning curve and some are more steep than others. I must admit I’ve abandoned tools because I could not get them to work quickly, even though they might have been useful in the long run.

The good news is, creators are launching new things all the time and many are free, low cost or offer free trials. Once you assemble your go-to toolbox, you’ll probably wonder how you ever lived without it.  

Leave a comment about your favorite tools. I love discovering new ones.

Note to my loyal readers:

At the end of this month, this site will be changing. This week’s post was delayed because I’ve been grappling with decisions about its future and have decided to end the Your Media Moment weekly blog posts on January 27, 2015. I’ve been blogging regularly (admittedly, off and on at times) since 2007.  Now after nearly 400 posts here, I am moving in a slightly rebranded  direction and want to clear my schedule to make room for additional client projects and to pursue other digital media projects for my own business. 

This site will remain but will likely become a landing page for my other programs. The blog posts will be revised and organized into a book. (or two!) I  plan to develop an online media authority course and mentoring program and will be launching a new audio podcast on its own website. The podcast site isn’t set up yet, but stay tuned for more information here and on social media.

It has been my pleasure to serve you with posts I hope have made you more media savvy and advanced your media success journey. 

What Are Your Plans for 2015?

GoodBye 2014 The End 1024x724SEASONS GREETINGS FROM YOUR MEDIA MOMENT & BEYOND!

This is my last post for 2014. I am taking off 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s partly to take a break from weekly blogging and partly to really think about and set in motion my plans for next year.

I must confess I am an inveterate planner and calendar girl. For most of my adult life, I have set goals annually, reviewed and revised my plans quarterly and worked from a monthly and daily to-do list to guide both my personal and professional progress.

You can make plans any time of year, but a fresh start at the start of a new year has special appeal. I never say I am making “resolutions” because I think that word almost invites failure.

Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.
~Margaret Thatcher

I set goals as a teenager but got into a structured planning habit during my first corporate job with the Bell System which used the Management By Objectives system. MBO fell out of favor over time because it could be rigid and in my experience, led to some silly “goal” measurements, but I also saw real results.

Do I always achieve everything I write down each year? If only! I get most of the items crossed off my list, though sometimes not in the time frame I thought I would. Still, the act of making the plan gives me a clearer direction and helps structure my time.

It may seem odd, but for me, following a routine allows more creative freedom. Ideas don’t arrive on a set schedule and I like having everything else mapped out and nailed down. Working from a list frees my mind and I can carve out pockets of time to brainstorm, read and explore ideas that interest me but may not fit into the main focus of my work which is digital media content creation and brand journalism.

As 2014 winds down, I will be busy dreaming and figuring out my 2015 strategy and tactics. Here’s a process that works for me:

  •  BEGIN with the end in mind.  Brainstorm a list of all the things you would like to do, large or small, in 2015. For example, some of my big picture items include write another book, launch a podcast, revamp my eating and fitness efforts and create an online course, all while continuing to consult with existing clients and growing my business.
  • PRIORITIZE the list by gauging your motivation and each item’s importance to you. How badly do you want it? What are you willing to invest or give up to achieve it? Be honest with yourself about how much you care and whether you have or can get what it takes (education, funding, tools, etc.) to realistically accomplish the goal. If not, cross it off! Keep the list “do-able,” not full of impossible dreams.
  • DEVISE meaningful and achievable goals with the items that remain. I aim to be very practical and specific using the S.M.A.R.T. goals approach. Don’t be concerned if some of the things you wrote down seem minor. If it’s important to you, find a way to do it. Why measure your success by someone else’s yardstick? Sometimes getting all the little tasks done can add up to a BIG achievement.
  • CREATE detailed action plans for achieving your top 2-4 goals next year. Break down each goal into smaller and smaller elements and use a a calendar, paper planner or mobile app to schedule the steps you’ll take toward the first one, in the weeks and months ahead.
  • ABOUT TIME. Don’t attempt to reach multiple big goals all at once. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment with a mindset of “by the end of January, I will accomplish this, this and this… or bust!” Overnight success is a myth. Focus on one goal and give it your full attention for at least one month. Embrace the fact you will get many goals realized in 365 days, if you’re methodical and stick with your steps.
  • TAKE ACTION!  When you finish creating the action plan, take one tiny step toward the first goal immediately. Do something fast and easy such as send an email, register a domain name, buy a book or make a phone call. Do it right away to get some momentum going. Big goals start with baby steps and any kind of step will put you closer to the goal than no step!

Reality check: Are all your plans going to unfold smoothly step-by-step just the way you envision them? I doubt it. You will likely get stuck at some point during the year because of life issues, illness, a lack of time, waning motivation, limited skills or resources, whatever. Build in some flexibility and be willing to make modifications when setbacks inevitably appear.  

I make lists but you may prefer doing a mindmap,  making an outline, creating a vision board or using some other planning tool. The method does not matter. What matters is the process of deciding your specific goals, chunking them down into workable elements and then setting your plan into motion to make things happen. 

Creating a blueprint for taking action will minimize haphazard or spur-of-the-moment decisions that could make you lose your way. Not to mention, working the plan and seeing things get done is a great feeling.

Keep your eye on the prize and I am confident by the end of 2015  you’ll discover you’ve accomplished great things. See you next year!

WISHING YOU THE HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAY SEASONS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.

Making Mobile Videos

Hand holds video cameraMobile video is not a type of video the way an explainer video or a testimonial video is.  Those are video content styles, but mobile is a delivery system. 

Over the years many different devices, large and small, have been equipped to play video. Video can now regularly be viewed on smartphones, tablets, desktop and laptop computers and TVs. 

YouTube says 50-percent of its traffic now comes from mobile and research shows smartphones have the edge over tablets for mobile video viewing: 

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2014/11/smartphones-beat-tablets-for-mobile-video-views.html

Plus the mobile video audience is growing. ReelSEO says mobile video watching overall is up 400 percent from 2012: 

http://www.reelseo.com/mobile-video-views-increase-400-per-cent/

What does this mean to video creators?  You have to think about how your audience will watch your video and take into account the different screen sizes, audio quality differences and other potential limitations as you plan your video.

Take creative and technical steps to make your videos suitable for any device. For example, a high resolution, high definition (HD) video looks great on a big screen, but on a tiny mobile screen, the difference between HD and standard definition (SD) videos is hardly noticeable. 

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you design, shoot and edit your next video project.

TECHNICAL

- Record video in the highest quality possible.  Shooting in a mobile only format will limit your choices for sharing the video and make editing more difficult.  Once you load the video into an editing system,  you can save the edited high quality version in various video formats. These are also tools to convert video into mobile-compatible formats.

-For mobile viewing, you’ll want to make your video size as small as possible without degrading the quality.  A small file is faster to download online and easier to play on video devices that may have limited download space.

-Check your video on your own mobile device(s) before sharing it. Make sure your video will look and sound good on whatever player your audience chooses.

CREATIVE

- Design the video look and feel for the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. Avoid editing a lot of small details that would work on a big screen TV but are lost in a video window of 4 inches.  

-Simple layouts, large plain font styles and sizes, spacing for small screen clarity and strong colors are all important elements.

-Bigger, bolder images will work on most screens, regardless of size.    

There’s more to both the technical and creative aspects of mobile video creation, but these are some basic points to remember.

If you’re thinking about using a mobile device to make the video, this article recommends a number of apps that help produce quality video on the go:

http://ijnet.org/en/blog/best-apps-film-and-edit-mobile-video-pro

Is mobile video in your marketing mix for 2015?  

6 Ways to Use Video in Business

universe- earthA friend recently shared a conversation she had with her 5 year old granddaughter.  It was some fanciful tale about how the child would fly to another planet when she grew up.

When my friend asked how she would get there, the little girl said she’d find a video on YouTube and build a spaceship!

But, of course! Why didn’t Grandma know that? Today even 5-year-olds know exactly where to go to find out what they want to know on video!

How-to and Show-me videos are just two of the many kinds of videos you can use to attract an audience to your expertise and your business. Most people would rather watch than read a long how-to email or download a big instruction manual. 

With video, you can teach them how to use  your product or explain what your service does. Video lets you share what you know verbally and show what you know visually.

Here are 6 different types of videos to consider.

1-Video Tutorial   

How-to videos are an excellent way to create content that will be searched for, found, and viewed. Many people love to follow a step-by-step video and video tutorials are easy to create. 

The simplest way is to shoot the video on your smartphone or use a webcam.  You sit or stand in front of the camera and show and tell what to do. Here’s an example.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

If you’re teaching an online skill, there’s software that allows you to  record  your computer screen.  Make a video that shows the screen as you take each step and  explain what you’re doing as they see you do it.

Screen capture software ranges in price from free to expensive.  Two popular ones are Camstudio  and Camtasia, but they are two of many.  

2- Demonstration Video

Show-me videos are similar to tutorials, though perhaps a little less educational. Instead of teaching the steps, you’re generally just showing something without any instruction.

For example,  you might open an item you just purchased to let the viewer see what’s inside the box or do a visual walk-through of how something works.  

A “demo” is also used by musicians, actors and other types of performers to show off an individual’s talent to prospective hiring agents.

3- Respond to Customers With Video  

A quick video to answer a customer question, provide more information or clarify how your product or service is working is an excellent opportunity to add a personal touch in your business.  It doesn’t have to be a big production. 

A simple smartphone or web cam video response isn’t hard to do. You could post it on social media or send an email with a link to the video. 

Another idea would be to invite them to a video chat or Skype call.  This gives you a chance for a two-way conversation with that customer.

4- Run a Video Contest

This is a fun way to put out more video content without creating it yourself!   Set up a video marketing campaign for a video contest. 

Contests can be a little tricky and there are rules governing how they’re run, but information is readily available online to help you do it right.

One important tip: make sure you set very clear guidelines for your contestants.  

5- Create a Video Series  

A single video is okay, but a video series can get viewers coming back for more. It’s a powerful approach to turn casual viewers into fans and followers and a series of videos gives you a longer opportunity to convert viewers into customers. 

Be sure your content is constructed in such a way that it motivates viewers to want to see the next video in the series. Plan each video to build on the previous one. 

Make it “must-see” Web TV! A video series is likely to receive more views, more likes, and position you to make more sales.   

6- Grow Your Email List Using Video 

One of the mantras of online marketers is “the money is in the list.”  A database of names and email addresses is a powerful marketing tool for your business. You want to consistently take action to grow a list of interested people you can regularly contact through email.

Video content can entice viewers to join your list by presenting a tip or tool and then offering them a free gift that will help them even more, such as a special report, checklist or e-book. 

People who decide to give you their name and email address are in essence raising their hand to say they want to hear from you.  

There you have it!  6 great ways to use video. Why not put one or all of these different types of video to work for you?

Want more videos?  Check out my Kindle book which offers 30 ideas for creating videos.




This book is a video idea book for anyone interested in getting started with online video who is struggling to come up with video ideas.
Whether you are an author, speaker, service professional or entrepreneur, video can help you promote your expertise and grow your business.
In this book, you’ll discover 30 ideas for online videos. It's designed to give you the motivation to create video to stand out from the crowd, make a personal connection and spread the word about your business, your brand, your cause or yourself.
Why video? There’s nothing like video to boost your online visibility and credibility. Video can be more personal and persuasive than print to help potential customers get to know, like and trust you fast.
K-L-T is important because people want to do business with someone who is likeable and trustworthy. With video, you and your business come to life right before their eyes.
Make your business easier to find. With the click of a mouse, you can post video to your blog, website, YouTube, Facebook, etc. and people can watch your video from anywhere anytime, on their computer, smartphone, tablet, even on TV.
Cisco Systems estimates that, "By 2015, 1 million video minutes --the equivalent of 674 days --will traverse the Internet every second. [Plus] The sum of all forms of video (TV, video on demand [VoD], Internet, and P2P) will be in the range of 80 to 90 percent of global consumer traffic by 2018."
Just think, you could be days away from getting the cutting-edge video advantage over your competitors by harnessing one of the most powerful marketing tools available today.
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Your Content words and arrowsEvery business, whether it’s a solo venture or a global conglomerate, can benefit from a content marketing strategy.

What is content marketing?  The Content Marketing Institute defines it this way:

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. 

Blog posts, podcasts, emails, Twitter tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook updates, Instagram photos, Pinterest pins, white papers, press releases and all the other content you put out into the world allows people to get to know you better and can be the foundation of your business.

Simply put, regularly posted quality content helps attract people who want to do business with you! 

They make a connection with your expertise through your content. If they like what they see, a business relationship can start to take root without you lifting a finger. You create the content once, distribute it in various forms across multiple platforms and it keeps working for you 24-7-365.

Here are 5 steps to consider:

1- What’s My Content?

Compile a list of content ideas. Work from an understanding of the problems your audience faces and the various questions they have. The key to creating good content is to answer their questions in an interesting and entertaining way that provides value. Focus on producing the kind of  content that positions you as an authority in your industry and as an educator and advocate for your customers. 

Explore your competitors’ websites and check industry sites and publications to evaluate their content strategy and come up with more ideas.  Develop a snapshot of the current hot topics in your niche. Brainstorm how your content will add value to the existing body of information.

2- What Type of Content?

Once you have the ideas list done, think about what types  of content you will create and sketch out when and where you will distribute that content to reach your target audience.

There are three overall types of content – print, audio and video – and lots of variety within each category. 

What type of content will work best for your audience?  Blog posts? Infographics? ebooks? How-to articles?  Video tutorials? Are your customers mostly readers, listeners or watchers? 

Don’t know? Ask them in a poll or survey. They’re probably a mix of all three but see how most of them like to consume content and what content they’d like you to give them more of.

During this planning process, I recommend you write down the details in two documents, a content plan (strategy) and an editorial calendar.  This will become the road map you follow.

Creating consistent original content is not easy so be sure you plan how to use the same piece of original content in multiple ways to maximize its effect. Here are two articles from content marketing masters Jay Baer and Ann Handley about how to do it:

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/how-to-make-8-pieces-of-content-from-1-piece-of-content/

http://www.annhandley.com/2014/11/25/simple-content-creation-strategy/

3- Help Prospects Find You

Why make all this effort?  Content marketing is an essential part of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. 

For example, if someone types a question into a search engine looking for help baking cupcakes, they might search for “how to bake cupcakes.”  Ideally, the results they get are packed with solid information on the topic. If you’re a baker, a cupcake shop owner or a baking cookbook author, your content could show up in those results.

The more you publish on your topic, the more you’ll boost your credibility as a “go to” resource. Your search rankings go up and more prospects find you.

Don’t be intimidated that you have to do everything and be everywhere all the time. With the right strategy, you can leverage what you are able to do, even if it’s only a few tasks, to “appear” to be everywhere.

Media Savvy Tip:  Content marketing is powerful, but producing a steady stream of fresh original content creation all alone can be exhausting. That’s why it makes sense in many niches to augment your own content by sharing relevant curated content.  This Jeff Bullas article suggests tools to make curation easier.

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/11/29/4-content-curation-tools-to-boost-your-content-marketing/

4- Produce Great Content to Build a Community

Another way that content grows a business is through sharing. People love to share great content through social media, email and print.

The more useful your content is to your audience, the more likely they will share it. When new prospects see the shared content and check out your website or social profile, they discover more relevant content which can inspire them to want more from you and ideally, become part of your community. 

One of my mentors, Tina Williams, likes to say,

“Build Community Around Your Business and Your Community Will Build Your Business Around You.”

5- Your Content Profit Plan

Perhaps you just love sharing and growing a community with your blog, in photos, videos, social media posts, etc.  It’s fun and it’s what makes the Internet such an amazing place for niche audiences.

However, if you’re in business, profit is important.  Not all of your content has to be ‘buy my stuff” promotional, but at least some part of your strategy should address how you plan to monetize your content to promote hiring you or using your products and services.

Here’s why. Good content helps prospects make buying decisions and become customers. Research shows the majority of people are motivated to buy something after they’ve read about it on a blog.

http://www.corporate-eye.com/main/the-influence-of-blogs-on-purchase-decisions/

In addition, word of mouth marketing information from “influencers,” a peer or shared on social media is highly valued.

So there you have it. Engaging content can increase your visibility and brand awareness, boost traffic to your website, attract leads and convert prospects into fans, followers, subscribers, members and buyers.  Are you using content marketing?

Below this post is a recommendation for an excellent book by the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi.

 




NAMED one of  5 MUST-READ BUSINESS BOOKS BY FORTUNE MAGAZINE

Publishing is the NEW MARKETING.

 
How do you cut through the noise, commotion, and bad information that is right now cluttering up your customers' digital space?
 
Epic Content Marketing.
 
One of the world's leading experts on content marketing, Joe Pulizzi explains how to draw prospects and customers in by creating information and content they actually want to engage with. No longer can we interrupt our customers with mediocre content (and sales messages) our customers don't care about.
 
"Epic Content Marketing" takes you step by step through the process of developing stories that inform and entertain and compel customers to act--without actually telling them to. Epic content, distributed to the right person at the right time, is how to truly capture the hearts and minds of customers. It's how to position your business as a trusted expert in its industry. It's what customers share and talk about.
 
Once we hook customers in with epic content, they reward us by sending our sales through the roof.
 
Epic Content Marketing provides everything you need to:
 
* Determine what your content niche should be to attract and retain customers
 
* Discover and develop your content marketing mission statement
 
* Set up a process for creating and curating epic content
 
* Learn how to leverage social and email channels to create--and grow--your audience
 
* Measure the performance of your content--and increase your content marketing budget
 
With in-depth case studies of how John Deere, LEGO, Coca-Cola, and other leading corporations are using content to drive epic sales, this groundbreaking guide gives you all the tools to start creating and disseminating content that leads directly to greater profits and growth.
 
Whether you're the CMO of a Fortune 500, a digital marketer, or entrepreneur, "Epic Content Marketing" gives you the tools you need to vanquish the competition. Start your epic journey now!

Check out EpicContentMarketing.com for book bonus material and to download "20 Epic Examples of Content Marketing"
List Price: $25.00 USD
New From: $12.30 USD In Stock
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video_chatting_pc_400_clr_5162When a visitor arrives on your website, do they stick around?  You want to do everything you can to get them to linger, explore and learn more about you.

Online video is without a doubt one of the best methods for keeping the right visitors on your site longer. When you align your  content with what your ideal customer wants, it’s easier to get visitors to consume more on your site and the longer they’re there, the better chance you have to makie a connection, establish a personal brand, win their trust as an expert authority and/or make a sale.

People go online for many reasons, often to search for solutions.  whether they want answers or to be entertained, if they find your site and you don’t deliver, they’ll be gone in an instant. And the second that visitor clicks away, you have lost them; they are unlikely to ever return.

Studies show a video on a site can increase the average amount of time a user spends on a site by about two minutes. That’s two whole extra minutes to convert them into a customer!

Over the past few years, the Internet has become a highly visual place.  If all you have is text on your website, you are missing a great opportunity to attract and hold more attention.

If someone sees nothing but words, they will most likely  read only the headline. If it does not grab their attention, they are gone. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have them read the first paragraph, but it’s even better to have something on the page to catch their eye like photos and video.

When a new visitor arrives on your website, you have very little time to make a good impression or seal the deal, but it is not difficult to get people to watch video. If you have a video front and center on the page, there’s something that compels people to click that play button.

People today simply don’t want to read pages and pages of text. Given a choice the majority will choose video content over copy. Most people are conditioned to watch rather than read. 

People have usually spent years slumped on the sofa watching hours and hours of television. In the past decade, they’ve added browsing YouTube!  Now with a smart TV, they can easily switch back and forth between TV programs and online video.

As a business owner, this trend works to your advantage. It’s a great time to use digital media to build a platform to showcase your expertise. It is much easier and more interesting to establish your authority, show personality, educate, inspire or convey a marketing message in a video than it is in text.

Do you remember “Show and Tell” in grade school? Did you enjoy it more than reading the lessons? Do you still remember some of the presentations? I certainly do.

Your videos can use the same approach. Show people the features and benefits of your product or service in visual form. Tell them exactly how it is going to help them.

If you sell a product, show viewers how to use it, how it works and what to expect. We all know people who refuse to read manuals or instructions.  Sometimes  following written information is confusing. Video demonstrations and step-by step tutorials are a different story and less easy to misinterpret.

If you offer a service, do a video with a brief outline on how you work.  Show examples of how your service helps people solve problems and tell their success stories. It’s especially persuasive to see individuals who have benefited from your service talk about their experience themselves. (testimonials)

Naturally, you still need some copy on your website; search engines can’t “read” video, at least not yet. Plus both consumers and search engines want to see a variety of relevant content on a site. Mix it up! Include different types of quality content in videos, photos, articles and infographics.

Putting videos on your website will help people stick around your site longer. Distributing your videos beyond your website, on social media sites, on video-sharing sites, in email, etc. will increase your visibility and drive more traffic to your website.

You notice I said videos? One video is nice, but one is never enough. A single video won’t make much of an impact in the marketplace.  To see real results, your video marketing campaign should widely circulate multiple entertaining, informative videos online as a magnet to attract your target audience. 

I recommend you produce individual videos for various purposes on your site (ie – landing page, about page, thank you page, sales page) and/or create the online equivalent of television with your own Web TV Show/ Channel on YouTube or another platform for what I call “You-TV.”

Just be sure your video content is engaging and useful to your target viewers so they watch all of it.

If you are not using videos, it’s time to take a serious look at it. Online video is a powerful tool that can grow your business by turning more visitors into fans, followers and ultimately paying customers.

game_plan_whiteboard_1600_clr_36162014 is shaping up to be the year of the whiteboard video.

High end animation (think Disney) has always been appealing, but it is also labor intensive, time-consuming and generally expensive; that level of animation was out of reach for the average small business.

A few years ago, simple animated storytelling became possible at a more affordable price. Online programs like Videoscribe, Go Animate and Powtoon started the trend with lower cost tools that anyone could use to produce doodle-style animations and cartoons without any graphic art training or video production experience.

This year has seen the release of even more animation and sketch video programs with more features.  The list of tools includes VideoMaker FX, Easy Sketch Pro and the newest one. Explaindio.

graph_explanation_visualsFor decades, coaches, business people and professors have made presentations on physical whiteboards. By combining images with the words they were saying, the presenters could illustrate and reinforce their ideas, making it easier for people to understand concepts. There is more than one learning style and involving multiple senses aids the learning process, helping students absorb and retain information better.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

For most online video today, the goal is “info-tainment” and animation and sketch videos can deliver that, making even a dry subject more interesting to watch. But while these new tools make the work of creating a whiteboard video easier, they won’t help you develop the content for your videos. It’s still up to you to to craft a story and skillfully choose and weave words and images into an effective video.

This is where creative professionals have the edge because their business is storytelling. They know what it takes to tell a good story visually, how to condense and simplify complex topics, how to deliver a persuasive marketing message and the elements that motivate people watching a video to take action.

The most popular use of the whiteboard is for an “explainer” video, but there are certainly other storytelling possibilities. Adding fun images and a bit of humor can make almost any message stand out.

For example, using animation can make a sensitive subject easier to tackle visually than live action video.  I remember a public service announcement on TV about depression a few years ago.  It featured rounded stick figure characters to explain this complex topic and presented important mental health information in an engaging way. I don’t know if I would have remembered the message so clearly, if the video had used actors, just like every other PSA.

USES OF WHITEBOARD VIDEO

  • Advertising – Whiteboard presentations can make great commercials online and on TV. Remember the old UPS whiteboard commercials from a few years ago?
  • Marketing – Use whiteboard video stories on your website, on sales pages, landing pages, on your YouTube channel, on social media, etc.
  • Learning –  this video style lends itself to delivering education and training.  Animation can add visual punch and sizzle to all kinds of instruction.  Your video can even have the same look and feel as a classroom presentation, but you don’t have to stand in front of a camera!
  • Entertainment – tell a funny story, produce an online cartoon series, create an animated skit with a unique character or take viewers on a fantastic adventure featuring your own Super Heroes. Animation and sketch videos can free your stories (and your imagination) from the limitations of the real world.

TOP TIPS FOR BETTER VIDEOS

  1. Keep it short. In general, 1 – 3 minute online videos work best.
  2. Don’t just jump into the software. Plan out your project step-by-step with a script and/or a storyboard. Work out the entire story – beginning, middle and end – on the computer or on paper before you begin. Planning saves time and produces better results.
  3. Avoid too much information.  Resist the urge to stuff everything into one video.  You will confuse the viewer or worse yet, BORE your audience. Less is more. Include only enough information and images to deliver the message concisely and succinctly.
  4. If you are dealing with data, don’t make it all about the numbers, facts and figures. Include some attention-grabbing images and  “wow” information or you will put the audience to sleep.
  5. You do not have to try to match a picture to every word you say. In TV, we’re taught a storytelling approach called “touch and go.” You reference something both in your words and pictures and then can talk about something unrelated to the image.  Make another word/image “touch” anchor and go on again, and again, as the story unfolds.
  6. Study other whiteboard presentations.  A quick online search or visit to YouTube will uncover dozens of examples. Look for videos in your niche. Take note of what you like and don’t like and keep those things in mind as you create your own videos.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I don’t recommend whiteboard video as the only type of video you use. Mix it up. A steady diet of one thing, no matter how clever, is bound to lose its effectiveness over time.

Plus trends and fads come and go. Right now whiteboard videos are all the rage online and you see them everywhere on the Internet but you rarely see that style used on TV anymore, even though that UPS whiteboard commercial was hot about 7 years ago.

Still these new animation programs are relatively easy to use.  If you want to take a stab at making your own simple videos, they are worth a try.

Are you using whiteboard animation or sketch video or thinking about doing it?  What are your challenges?  Please leave a comment.

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